Marvel’s Razor Toed Assassin…The Death Of The Tarantula

Death in comic books is nothing new.  In fact, many heroes have gone to the big comic rack in the sky and when they do, it’s been covered on major news outlets. Who doesn’t remember when DC killed off Superman via a beat down by Doomsday in the 90’s or when Marvel killed Captain America in 2008 via an assassination?  Most recently even Archie Andrews, the fun loving iconic character and poster boy for Archie Comics, was killed when he was shot trying to protect one of his friends.  Even Wolverine of the X-Men could not escape Death’s grip. But when most comic villains die, no one makes a big deal about it.  Sure, when Norman Osborne’s Green Goblin bit the big one and when Kraven The Hunter killed himself, it sent shockwaves through the comic world, but there were no major stories in newspapers or on TV. And then you have guys like Baron Blood, Baron Zemo and Egghead who die and it seems that no one cares.  The comic world just moves on like nothing happened…well this update is about just one of those types of death that seems to be forgotten by modern comic readers.  The death we are looking at today is that of The Tarantula! So let’s dress in black and remember the life and crimes of Anton Miguel Rodriguez aka The Tarantula in his last story arc that took place in Amazing Spider-Man.

Tarantula_Tombstone

So we should start this remembrance of Tarantula by doing some bios for the major players in this 4-issue story that leads up to his demise, but first I would like to talk a little about my past. When I was a kid, my brother and I had a lot of comics, and many of them were Spider-Man issues that our Mom and Grandma would pick up for us at garage sales.  The rest would come from some antique stores in our hometown, Waynesville, or local comic shops like Mavericks and Bookie Parlor, and man we had a blast reading them! I can even remember sometimes my brother would even read the Spider-Man comics to me out loud as I played with toys listening to the adventure. There is four major story lines that I can remember from the Spider-Man comics of my youth, and one of them is the death of Tarantula.  I can remember for some reason liking Tarantula and always considered him a major bad guy in the Spidey universe, even though he was in reality a minor character. And when I first read these issues I was shocked that they just killed one of his bad guys off in such a horrific way. But I do feel it’s time right now for us to take a look at the characters that make up this tragic death in comic history. Some of these bios I took from Marvel.com while others I wrote myself or found elsewhere.

Spider-Man (bio)

Amazing Spider-Man

Bitten by a radioactive spider, high school student Peter Parker gained the speed, strength and powers of a spider. Adopting the name Spider-Man, Peter hoped to start a career using his new abilities. Taught that with great power comes great responsibility, Spidey has vowed to use his powers to help people.

The Tarantula

The Tarantula

As a revolutionary terrorist in the small fictional South American republic of Delvadia, Anton Miguel Rodriguez was expelled from his small organization after murdering a guard without reason during a robbery. Anton then went over to the side of the repressive fascistic-dictatorship government, where they created the Tarantula identity for him to serve as a government operative and his country’s counterpart to Captain America. After alienating his masters, Tarantula embarked on a criminal career in the United States. He is also the second bad guy to take on the persona of The Tarantula.

Will-O-The-Wisp

Will-O-The-Wisp

Jackson Arvad was the chief scientist for electromagnetic research at the Brand Corporation until a laboratory accident shattered the “magno-chamber” in whose vicinity Arvad was working. The disaster thrust Arvad’s body into the magno-chamber’s electromagnetic field. This caused the molecules of Arvad’s body to gradually disperse, and he was left there to die by his superior, James Melvin. However, Arvad did not die and he soon discovered that he possessed a certain degree of mental control over his body’s molecules. Each time he relaxed control over his molecular structure, it became more difficult for him to resume a solid state. Fearing that his body’s molecules would drift apart and he would be unable to reintegrate them, he contacted criminal scientist Dr. Jonah Harrow. Pretending to help him, Harrow implanted a tiny receptor in Arvad’s skull so that he could disrupt the Wisp’s mental control over his molecules. Harrow then forced the Will-O’-The-Wisp to carry out certain criminal activities to advance Harrow’s plans. During this crime spree, the Wisp encountered Spider-Man, who later tried to persuade him to resist the man controlling him. Will O’ The Wisp finally decided to turn against Harrow, but upon realizing the Wisp’s intent, Harrow activated the device in the Wisp’s skull and dissipated him.

James Melvin

James Melvin

James Melvin was the president of The Brand Corporation and is a sleazy and greedy man who will do what ever it takes to make himself rich.

So there we have a look at the power players in this game of life and death for The Tarantula. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having these issues in stock, and before we enter this look at his demise I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So with that let’s pay our respects to The Tarantula.

Amazing Spider-Man 233

The Amazing Spider-Man  # 233  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #233 of 441

J. Jonah Jameson has called a meeting in his office over a missing two bit hood named Nose Norton who has some information that could lead to one of the biggest busts the city has ever seen of a corporation called BRAND.  Jameson has already paid for the info and is mad his informant is M.I.A., and worse those he can hurt have placed a hit on his head. Jameson has offered a $1,500.00 bonus to whoever works for him and finds Norton! This news piques the interest of Peter who needs to money for school and to help Aunt May as well as Ben Ulrich, newshound and friend to superhero Daredevil. Meanwhile a South American company has hired the terrorist The Tarantula to find and kill Norton, who is hiding out at a small gin joint, and when Ben gets a tip Peter follows him and together they track down and find Norton just as The Tarantula does and with a quick change Peter becomes Spider-Man and takes on The Tarantula just as Ben and Norton exchanges words which leads to Norton being shot by two private detectives hired by BRAND, as Spider-Man makes a fool out of Tarantula by beating him quickly.  He changes back to Peter Parker, and he and Ben notice that Norton being shot and a South American terrorist being called in to make a hit all seems way too odd.

This is what a good old classic Spider-Man comic is all about.  On one side you have the action of Spider-Man, and on the other the day to day drama of Peter Parker. In this issue Spider-Man is as wise cracking and smart assed as ever before and really does his best to try and find Norton in order to get the bonus money to help pay off his student loans as Peter Parker and to help Aunt May with her retirement center idea she wants to build. Spidey gets to make fools of some low life scum and gets to put a beatdown on The Tarantula. Peter Parker in this issue has two plots going on, one is just getting the bonus money and the second is he captures the eye of a cute blonde named Amy who is thinking of flirting with him to get back at her current boyfriend Lance Bannon.  The Peter parts are good, but let’s be honest we all read for the Spider-Man parts! The Tarantula, whose real name is Anton Miguel Rodriguez, in this issue is down and out and while once a major player in his home country, is now just a petty arms trader who had to change his name, and by getting this hit he could make himself a top player again! He tries so hard to beat Spider-Man in the fight and busts out not only his poison tipped boots but also claws that drip the same deadly poison, but this has no effect as Spidey still gets the upper hand leaving him defeated on a garbage ship floating in the water. The story is really good and has a noire feel with Nose Norton being a wanted man from all sides because of information he knows, and his only hope is to trust no one! The story really makes me want to see how it all plays out and what BRAND and this South American guy want from Norton that no doubt will end in his death! Not to mention how will Ben Ulrich come into play. Reading this comic again after all these years really just makes me want to read more and more classic Spider-Man issues cause I am having a blast reliving this storyline! I should also say the art is done by John Romita Jr. and Jim Mooney and is good solid work, and the issue had a great Rotten Ink smell! So let’s move onto the next issue in this story and see where it goes.

Amazing Spider-Man 234

The Amazing Spider-Man  # 234  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #234 of 441

Nose Norton is in a coma as Ben and Peter come up empty handed on the photo proof that the BRAND Detectives shot first. But the big news is that one of the BRAND Corporations facilities has been blown up by Will-O-The-Wisp who blames the company for giving him his ungodly powers. Meanwhile across town Tarantula is feeling beat up with broken ribs and a bruised ego after losing to Spider-Man in their last fight.  He is visited by a BRAND Company doctor who informs him that they wants Spider-Man out of the way and will help him do so by making him just like Spider-Man! Meanwhile in Peter Parker’s world, he has a run in with Amy Powell who tries her best to flirt with him, but she is blown off by Peter who still is hung up on a past breakup. Peter Parker goes to BRAND to try and get an intern job and see what secrets he can dig up when he comes across James Melvin, a slimy government weapons maker who is nothing but bad news.  With the help of a spider tracker and the building’s air vents, Spider-Man follows him to a giant lab were they dip Tarantula into a vat of chemicals hoping to make him strong and Spider-Man like and use him as a agent for the company. Spider-Man has heard enough and busts from the vent and tries to stop it all just as Will-O-The-Wisp comes busting in to destroy the lab and building.  As Spider-Man fights with Wisp, who thinks Spidey has been paid by BRAND to stop him, Melvin uses a new ray gun that hurts Wisp and as Spider-Man pulls his confused “friend” from harm’s way, The Tarantula comes out of the vat deformed and looking like a human spider!

Spider-Man is knee deep in trouble in this issue as he not only has to deal with Tarantula but now also James Melvin and BRAND as well as Will-O-The-Wisp! And while he knows Will-O-The-Wisp is a confused being, he still lands a jaw breaking punch in their fight to try and snap some sense into him. Peter Parker in this issue dwells on his love for thief Black Cat who he thinks is dead, and even gives the cold shoulder to blonde cutie Amy. He also shows that years of science work pays off as he gets to enter the BRAND Companies facility under the fake story of an intern interview. Will-O-The-Wisp is a light ball of rage as the only thing on his mind is revenge and with that means blowing up buildings! Tarantula, poor guy, is beat up pretty bad and falls for a plan that leaves him looking like a spider version of the horror character The Fly. Plus the plot thickens as Norton is in a coma, BRAND is clearly an evil business empire, Tarantula is now a walking freak of nature and Will-O-The-Wisp is a nut who wants to teach his one time tormenters a lesson, making this a fun story line. The art in this issue is done by John Romita Jr. and Dan Green, and this is twice that Romita Jr. has had a second artist with him, wonder why that is…my guess is they had him working on so many books at the time that the second artist was there to help him get them done on time. So let’s move on and see just were the story takes us in this next issue!

Amazing Spider-Man 235

The Amazing Spider-Man  # 235  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #235 of 441

Spider-Man toss the injured Will-O-The-Wisp to the side and starts to fight against the freak version of The Tarantula.  Spidey learns that while he is strong like him, Tarantula is lacking the spider sense that allows him to know when punches are coming. Will-O-The-Wisp wakes up as Dr. Melvin is trying to take him prisoner.  While he has been weakened, Wisp turns into his light ball and enters the fight against the mutated Tarantula.  As those two go at it, Spider-Man saves people from the destruction their fight is causing.  Wisp and Tarantula fall into the near by water and are believed to be dead via drowning. Spider-Man quickly turns back into Peter Parker and leaves the BRAND facility and returns home to find all his pictures he just took are trashed due to the radiation the machines in the lab were giving off. Mean while J. Jonah Jameson gets some bad news that his big news story on the corruption of BRAND has to be canceled as the government says that if they run the story it will ruin their case against the giant company that they as well are trying to bring down. Spider-Man breaks into James Melvin’s home and watches as Will-O-The-Wisp also appears and confronts Melvin who realizes that he was once Wisp’s boss and that his own actions lead to an accident that left his one time employee into his light energy being! Will-O-The-Wisp uses mind control and is about to have Melvin kill himself when Spider-Man comes to the rescue and this causes the two to exchange blows, but a scream stops them in dead tracks when they see Melvin in the arms of the even more mutated Tarantula!

The more you find out about BRAND, the more you dislike this fake comic world company as they even have ties to the oil companies…yep they are icky. The issue has a really nice touch when they have a government agent come and speak to the Daily Bugle staff that was working on the write up about BRAND, and he shares all types of past comic book activities that were connected to them. Spider-Man once more uses his brain and follows leads and learns some things about his enemies just by hiding and listening.  He also seems to act as a voice of reason to Will-O-The-Wisp whose obsession with revenge has clouded his mind and leads him toward killing. Will-O-The-Wisp’s backstory of a scientist pushed too hard from his boss that leads to a horrible accident is straight out of a 50’s Sci-Fi B-Movie. Wisp also comes off as a good guy who is doing bad things because he thinks it’s the right thing to do to make the wrongs right. James Melvin is a fat slimy creep who is doing bad things to make himself and his employers rich, because with a slimeball like him money talks and the world’s safety comes last. Tarantula who is a mutated freak now seems to be becoming more and more spider like and losing the human side of himself as his appearance keeps changing for the worse. Artwork is this time around done by John Romita Jr. and Frank Giacoia and as always looks great. So with us coming up on the last issue, I want you to ask yourself if you don’t know how this is ending already how do you think Tarantula is going to die…pick now and see if you’re right as we head into the final issue in this story line.

Amazing Spider-Man 236

The Amazing Spider-Man  # 236  ***
Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #236 of 441

Tarantula is holding a passed out Melvin in his arms as Will-O-The-Wisp informs Spider-Man that this mutated menace is under his control now.  Little do they know the head of the oil company is watching what’s going on via a TV chat box trying to figure out a way to cut ties with BRAND and leave them holding the bag for all the bad deeds they have done. Tarantula breaks the mind control when his brain drifts further away from being human and that more of an animal who wants to eat! Will-O-The-Wisp knocks the mutated freak out as Spider-Man saves Melvin from a doomed death and leads Wisp on a city wide chase after he hides Melvin in a safe spot. Meanwhile a news crew have spotted Tarantula and are following him, as Spider-Man tricks Wisp into flying through a machine that mixes up his body molecules he takes him to Melvin to try and talk sense into him that the best revenge he could get is by turning him in and not killing him. As the pair get to Melvin, they see that Tarantula is about to eat him for a midday snack! Spider-Man fights with the Tarantula who now has very little left of his human brain as well as his body now is more like a giant spider. Wisp comes to and takes Melvin to safety and hypnotizes him into telling the police all the bad things he has done. In the end Spider-Man watches as Tarantula looses control and leaps off the building towards the cops below who all open fire on him as he splats on the ground below. In the end Peter Parker at the Daily Bugle watches the news report with the staff on BRAND and James Melvin being under investigation by the government as well as the oil company who are in fact the puppet masters pulling all the evil strings.

So for those of you who guessed that Tarantula was going to die by leaping off a building and getting shot and splatting on the ground, consider yourself a true cheesy comic bad guy fan…and for those who got it wrong, maybe next time. This issue marks the death of Anton Miguel Rodriguez as The Tarantula, and it’s a sad end as when he as the giant spider leaps from the building he begs the cops below to kill him. Tarantula was a prideful character who could not stand losing a fight to Spider-Man, and his ego and pride are what lead him to accepting the offer of BRAND who wanted a fighting machine to protect them and do their own bad wishes. Spider-Man keeps going even when he is worn out and tries his best to not only save the a-hole Melvin from death but also talk sense into Will-O-The-Wisp not murdering the slime ball all the while fighting off the crazed Tarantula.  So needless to say I think he’s earned a rest day of eating chicken wings and watching pro wrestling. And it looks like Will-O-The-Wisp has learned that while revenge can be sweet, murder is not and he puts his faith in the law system to bring down BRAND now that Melvin has squealed like a pig on all the bad things going on at BRAND. So as you can see while things got better for Will-O-The-Wisp, they didn’t work out for Tarantula whose only release was in death. The art in this issue was done by John Romita Jr. and Frank Giacoia and once more is that classic Spider-Man look we all grew up loving. Check out below for The Tarantula’s transformation during this comic storyline. 

Tarantula 1Tarantula 2Tarantula 3

Back in the day when a character died in a comic and you were young, it meant something and no matter how small the character was it had an impact on the reader. And The Tarantula’s death had that effect on me as over all the years of reading comics his death and Kraven’s has always stuck out. The fact he turned into a giant spider and leapt to his own death was shocking for me at the time and also in a strange way always made me think of the old film The Fly. So with this let’s take a moment of silence for The Tarantula.

Tarantula dead

The next update will be a little silly and a little less filled with grown men dressed as spiders as we take a look at yet another photo comic based on a Jess Franco film that has an old woman dress as a spider…thats right it’s Mari Cookie And The Killer Tarantula.  So make sure to come back for that cheesy good time. So until then read a comic or two and make sure you appreciate all your favorite villains as they might not be around forever.

Mari Cookie Logo

MarvelProbe: When Pixels And Ink Meet

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today I would like to talk about video games; right now on the home console market PS4 is kicking the butt of its competitors, the Nintendo WII-U and the Xbox One and with the Steam Box and even rumored Amazon Game System in the works this generation of gaming is going to be an interesting one. Most modern Triple A titles are like playing a movie as they are heavy on plots and the graphics are top notch.  Games of this style would be like Assassins Creed, Halo, God of War and Legend Of Zelda.  When playing a game like this, you are treated to beautiful breathtaking cut scenes that help draw you deeper and deeper into the plot. Also popular nowadays are the tiny mobile games that kids and adults play on their smart phones and tablets and most of these style games have very little plot and are quick play games that can kill boredom when waiting.  Examples of these games are Planets Vs. Zombies, Minecraft and Angry Birds. But for me mobile games are just kind of bland and when I want to play a video game, I want to pop in a cart or disc and grab my controller and play. In this day and age a player does not have to use much of his or hers imagination like they did back when Atari 800 or 2600 ruled the home game market with wire thin plots and pixels that were kind of in the shape of whatever your character was suppose to be. While I am sure gamers now look at classic video games like Pac-Man, Frogger and Q*Bert as primitive, nothing could prepare them for text adventure games! Yes, in the 1980’s text based games were very popular, and while some of them had some graphics at the top of the screen, many of them did not and looked like just a bunch of words on a screen waiting for simple commands to further the “adventure” along. Think of text games like the book series called Choose Your Own Adventure where by reading and making a decision, you have your character’s fate in your hands, because let’s be honest kids want to read a bunch of text in order to play a video game….right? Text based games have been made about all types of things from Dracula to World War II but some of the most popular ones were based on Marvel Super Heroes and would you know they also made comics based on their text based adventures and that’s what our main subject will be all about! So get ready to have a text not texting good time as we jump into the world of pixels and ink.

questprobe hulk screenQuestprobe Spider screenQuestprobe Human Torch Screen

Adventure International was an early video game company run by husband and wife Scott and Alexis Adams who specialized in making games for the home computer market like the Commodore 64 and Apple II that started in 1978. Scott Adams was a big name in the world of video games throughout the early 80’s, and he was mostly known for making top of the line text based adventure games.  This helped his company lock a partnership with Marvel Comics in 1984 to make a text based game series that would focus many of their top heroes.  In fact, 12 games were planned in the line as were comics that would come out alongside the games via Marvel. The first three games to come out were adventures based on The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and Human Torch & The Thing from the Fantastic Four. The main plot had the heroes being studded by a unknown figure called Chief Examiner who would place them in odd places and situations to see how they would react to them. But sadly Adventure International hit a financial snag and closed up shop in 1985 leaving the 4th game,which was based around the X-Men, unfinished and the remaining titles in the line canceled. While his company may have closed shop Scott Adams still continued to make computer games throughout the years and even as of 2013 made a comeback after 10 years of not creating his own game made a text game called “The Inheritance” and remains an icon of PC Gaming.

Questprobe SpiderMan C64Adventure International logoQuestprobe Fantastic Four Atari

Growing up the only text based games I could remember playing were ones that my Uncle Thurman would bring to our house in Waynesville when he and my Aunt Teresa would come visit us as kids. Most of the ones he had were more like dungeon and dragons and were the strict text ones with no graphics and were all for Commodore 64. I can remember one time looking through his massive collection of games all on floppy disks and finding Dracula and asking him if we could play it but after several tries the game never did load.  That’s one of the downsides to Commodore 64, it had lots of issues loading and when it was loading the time to get your game to start was very long. Imagine kids of today who already complain about the install times of modern games trying to play a full game on Commodore where you had to wait for it to not only load the game but also most of the times each level! But I will move on and over the years text games seemed like an oddity to me and captured my attention as I never could wrap my head around why gamers of the past found them to be hours of fun, and I got a reason to buy some when I started to review Video Games on my old website for my production company Bloodline Video a few years back under the name of Xmortis. So after getting a complete working Commodore 64 with the datasette reader and floppy drive from Game Swap, I looked for a text based game that I could review and it came down to one called Wolfman and the other being Questprobe: Incredible Hulk and when a cassette version of Questprobe popped up cheap on Ebay it became the lucky winner. The game is text based but does have graphics that for the time are really fun and try their hardest to look like comic book art.  I have to admit playing the first few times I hated it and was so frustrated by the lame commands that I would get bored and shut the game off or even gasp! Die in the game! How could I let The Hulk, one of my favorite comic characters, die in a lame text game is what I kept thinking, but finally I hate to admit it but I used an online walk through for what commands to give him and beat the game by cheating. The review never made it up on the site, and I hope to someday get back to Bloodline’s site and return it to the review and production glory it once was. As for now how I feel about Questprobe Hulk, I hate to admit it but I do like the idea of it, mostly cause it was the first video game based on Hulk. Below is the cover box for the game as well as some screen shots for you to feast your eyes on and enjoy all the pixel goodness.

Questprobe hulk 1-1Questprobe Hulk C64Questprobe Hulk 1

Marvel Comics had a great thing going, not only did they have characters in video games now being written by Scott Adams but they could also get a 12 issue mini series from it that would help boost the sales of the game as also the game could boost the sales of the comics. This team up was truly a time when ink meet pixels, and the team up would have been perfect if not for the game company’s sudden shut down. Marvel during this time I am sure had a tough decision to make as they could continue a comic series based on games that were no longer being made or they could do the unthinkable and just cancel the mini series and leave fans hanging on what and who Chief Examiner was and what he wanted…and Marvel did what they always do they pulled the plug and walked away from the idea and as time passed did kind of wrap up the story in Marvel Fanfare # 33 where they printed the X-Men story and later in Quasar they added in the story of Questprobe. So on this update we are only going to cover the three issues released in the original mini series and will be graded on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to thank the vendor at Fright Night Film Fest for having issue # in stock and Lone Star Comics for the remaining two issues. So let’s pop these comics into the datasette player and type in the load keys and enjoy pixels and ink together.

Questprobe 1

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

A race of peaceful aliens are preparing for an invasion from other aliens who are war hawks and want to kill them all as well as their planet.  They all turn on Durgan, a member of there council who wants to fight back and not just roll over and die. When Durgan leaves the meeting he knows that something has to be done so he dons a giant helmet and calls himself the Chief Examiner and heads to Earth to steal the powers of some of our top super heroes to use in a fight with the invading aliens. On Earth The Incredible Hulk is facing off with the National Guard and after making short work of their tanks, he heads off to find a place to sleep and does so in a cave on the side of a cannon. When entering the cave, the Hulk sees the Natter Energy Egg and the Blood Red Bio-Gem right as the two explode.  This event makes The Hulk tired and he falls asleep turning back in Bruce Banner and finally getting some piece and quite. Banner’s rest is quickly cut short as Chief Examiner enters the cave and tells him that he needs to have him walk through a door portal so that he can drain his power! Banner fights back and runs from the cave but soon learns that the cave is high and he is fallen to his death! Before he hits the ground he turns into The Hulk as the Chief Examiner tries to force him to enter the door portal, The Hulk doesn’t like to be told what to do and goes on a rampage to smash the dome headed alien into the ground, during this fight a group of white water rafters are knocked over when Hulk goes under water and breaks off one of the sides of the canon and pins Chief Examiner down, but by doing so the huge rock is blocking the river and causes the rafters to fall into the raging water. The Hulk dives in and pulls out all the males and see’s that the female is stuck in a whirlpool! The only way to get to her is by jumping into the portal doorway and he does so losing some of his power yet saving a young woman’s life. The Chief Examiner leaves with his prize the stolen energy as The Hulk waits to make sure the woman is okay and to remain some energy and leaps off into the sky.

This is a fun Hulk adventure that is a cool tie in for a video game and explains the strange world that the Hulk is found in during the text based adventure Game. The plot is pretty simple and has an alien who’s planet is under attack who travels to Earth to steal powers off powerful humans so that he can use it against the attackers, the first one he targets is Hulk cause of his brute strength. He tries to force the Hulk to enter his black doorway that allows him to steal/mimic his power and only does so when he forces The Hulk to make a decision to save a woman’s life and jump through the door or let her die and avoid the door. The Hulk in this issue is the simple minded version who just wants to be left alone and knows that his brute power is the best way to keep everyone away, this is my favorite version of the Hulk as he is the one truly grew up reading and the one that made me a lifelong fan next to the TV Show. I love the fact that while The Hulk is a “monster” in the eyes of humans he risks his own safety in this comic to save the life of one of them and by the end the humans seem to have a new respect for the green skin goliath. The Chief Examiner while not a full bad guy still is going about getting help in his planets soon to be war all the wrong ways, not once does he even try to explain to the Hulk why he needs his power nor does he even tell the power house about his planets upcoming doom or asks if Hulk would come back and help. Plus it’s great when The Hulk pins Chief Examiner down with a giant stone and how easily in the alien’s mind he gave up and knew that the Hulk could kill him with one punch. The comic’s art is done by the amazing Mark Gruenwald and inked by John Romita Jr. making for one powerful team that turned in a great looking comic, and the cover is amazing and is also what’s used for the video game. So in this first issue Chief Examiner gets the power of the Hulk, and now who’s next on his hit list of stealing powers?

Questprobe 1-1 artQuestprobe 1-2 artQuestprobe 1-3 art

So in this first issue Chief Examiner gets the power of the Hulk, and now who’s next on his hit list of stealing powers? Let’s jump into issue two and see what he has planned for Spider-Man!

Questprobe 2

Questprobe # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     Marvel Comics    #2 of 12

Spider-Man is feeling a little down in the dumps as the city is hot and he has a lot on his mind as his personal life is a mess. Meanwhile in prison, Quentin Beck comes up with a plan to escape so he can don his Mysterio outfit once more and challenge Spider-Man to a final fight! While on a distant planet the peaceful aliens watch as The Black Fleet conquers another planet and is heading their way, as Durgan also known as The Chief Examiner sets his sights now on steal/borrowing the power of Spider-Man to mix with that of the Hulk he already has taken. Tuskar is a student of Durgan and wants to find his old teacher and see if he can help as it’s shown the Black Fleet really just wants the Red Bio-Gem’s cause when put together they hold massive power, and the kicker are the Gems are alive and are kind of evil! Mysterio shows up to the Daily Bugle and holds everyone hostage as Spider-Man shows up to save them and the two fight it out, all the while Mysterio is using cheap and dirty FX inspired tricks on his foe. The Chief Examiner shows up and tries to get Spidey to go through his portal but web-head thinks that Examiner is just a costume change for Mysterio as they both wear domes over their faces, in the end Spider-Man figures out they are not the same person and is forced to dive into Examiner’s portal to escape an attack by Mysterio that leaves our hero weak, and just as Mysterio is to finish off Spider-Man the Red Bio-Gem uses its power to make The Chief Examiner try and steal the power of Mysterio given Spider-Man some breath time and getting his energy back to beat Mysterio and watch as The Chief Examiner disappears.

This issue is a good one and is a fun story to break up the normal story line that was going on in the main Spider-Man comic series at the time, but I will also say that it almost feels as if the writers of this issue in this mini series didn’t talk to the ones who made issue # 1. Because now I am not 100% sure if Durgan is The Chief Examiner or if the Red Bio-Gem on his planet is, as both seem to be in control of the dome headed power stealing loony. The Chief Examiner seems to be a little more polite in this issue and less forceful in making Spider-Man get into his portal than he was with The Hulk, but in this one he seems to be almost a ghost as nothing is under the robe making me scratch my head to as how then in issue # 1 Hulk was able to pin him to the ground and make him fear for his life. I kind of am so-so with the idea of the Red Power-Gems being alive and having the Energy Eggs around them as a way to keep them in line.  Yep, if the egg feels they are in danger it blows up killing the gem and it’s power. Spider-Man is as he was in the 80’s, filled with one liners and drama with girlfriends, but I wouldn’t want the web slinger any other way. Mysterio was the perfect  bad guy to use in this issue as he does look a lot like The Chief Examiner making for Spider-Man to have an almost “Who’s On First” kind of moments as he jumps from room to room. We will have to see what Tuskar is all about and if he will play out as a major player in the next issue. The art is by Al Milgrom and has that 70’s style Spider-Man appeal, the cover as well is just taken from the video games cover box. One smart move they did in this issue is they ask the question want to see what happened to Spider-Man’s power once he entered the portal, cause if you do go buy the game! Over all a good issue two that sadly leads us to the final issue in what was to be a 12 issue mini series.

Questprobe 2-1 art

So The Chief Examiner has collected the powers of The Hulk and Spider-Man but can he now get the powers of members of the Fantastic Four? Lets read issue # 3 and find out!

Questprobe 3

Questprobe # 3   **1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     Marvel Comics    #3 of 12

Johnny Storm and his blind girlfriend Alicia Masters return to the Baxter Building the base of The Fantastic Four to retrieve some books but while their they get a visit from The Chief Examiner who wants Storm’s powers! Johnny Storm flames on and turns into The Human Torch just in time to fight some robots that are being controlled by The Examiner who has taken over all of the electronics in the Baxter Building. After destroying many of the robots Human Torch is sprayed with water and tuned back into Johnny Storm and he and Alicia try and escape as The Chief Examiner still is forceful that Torch goes through is portal so he can have his power! Johnny and Alicia get onto a secret elevator to try and escape and give Johnny time to dry off to become Human Torch again, meanwhile She-Hulk has returned home from grocery shopping and rushes to Johnny’s aid as The Chief Examiner forces them out of the Elevator he uses a fantasticar to try and kill She-Hulk who knocks it away and it bounces off the wall and heads towards Alicia Masters and Human Torch rushes to save her from being crushed just as The Chief Examiner places his portal in front of them tricking him into going through and stealing the power of the Human Torch and poof he’s gone and they are all safe.  The Power-Gem during this time also overhears that Durgan wants the help of Tuskar to gain more superpowers and to stop the Black Fleet. The Chief Examiner then pops up onto the alien planet that The Thing is on after the events of the Secret Wars and uses a twisted version of The Baxter Building to trick him into going through the portal and stealing his power.

This third issue is good but not nearly as good as the first two issues in the series and almost seems like a filler issue that has a touch of rush feeling. The first target is The Human Torch who The Chief Examiner tricks into getting into the portal by placing it between him and Alicia who was in danger, his intent to kill She-Hulk shows that the character is really at odds with being controlled by The Power Gem who is starting to really be the main villain of the series. It’s clear that The Human Torch is the main focus hero of this issue as the second target The Thing’s brief moments at the end of the issue is kind of a waste and not nearly as interesting as all the others who have been tricked before him. Weird enough as well is the fact the main story of Durgan also seems to be a second thought in the issue, making this one that’s kind of bland to talk about so lets just go ahead and wrap it up shall we. I will also say its odd that The Chief Examiner didn’t want to try and steal the powers of She-Hulk instead his first thought is to try and kill her, I am sure her power on top of Hulks and The Things would make him even more powerful and a force to be reckoned with.  This issues art is done by Ron Wilson and is clearly a Fantastic Four style art. Cover is like the game same as the others and I must say while again a fun read it was also very lackluster and lost the “epic adventure” feel that the other two issues had.

Questprobe 3-1 artQuestprobe 3-2 artQuestprobe 3-3 art

It’s truly a shame that this mini series and video game series was cut so short as they had so many more Marvel heroes that could have been made into both.  Just imagine this series continuing not only with the already planned X-Men but also Captain America, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Iron Man and Thor to name a few. I truly feel that Marvel let all the fans down of the comic mini series and the video game series by just stopping the story arch before anything was really settled. But I guess that truly was the Marvel way just stop production on series without a second thought about their fans. So next month is September, and it will be the kick off to Rotten Ink’s second Halloween update that will go up on October 31st. For those who remember last year we took a look at comics based on Hammer Horror films well this year will be a little different and something I am super happy to bring all you friends and readers. But our next update will be a secret but I will drop you a giant hint when I say he hates New York! So until then think about it, plus play a video game and read a comic or two.