Hercules: The Turkey Day Wars

Happy Thanksgiving readers and friends, and welcome back to another Rotten Ink Turkey Day update all about the one and only mighty hero of Greece, the slayer of the Nemean Lion, the pride of Olympus and the hero who has been a main stay in culture and media as he has muscled his way into books, movies, TV, comics and video games. Of course I am talking about Hercules! Writing about Herc on this holiday as truly become something I look forward to doing; this sword and sandal hero was always one of my favorites growing up as his labors and adventures always captivated me. So while your turkey or ham is cooking and those potatoes are waiting to be mashed, let’s take another turkey day adventure with the one and only Hercules and this time the company who has brought us this adventure is Radical. So sit back, hit mute on the football game and get ready to spend some quality time with Herc and me here at Rotten Ink!

As I am sure you readers know what I am about to say and it may come as no shock, but I am going to say it anyway: I am a fan of the legend of Hercules from the myth all the way to cinema and have always enjoyed the fact you could take this hero and place him in any situation and watch as he saves the day. I mean think about classic style films “Hercules Against The Moon Men” and “Hercules Against The Mongols” that took our hero out of his normal settings and had him battle people and things not from his era.  Somehow, they just worked. But one of the biggest adventures Hercules has ever had was from the myth and would be his 12 Labors. Ever since I was a kid, one of my favorites of his 12 Labors was when he took on the Nemean Lion, a true battle of man and beast. The Nemean Lion was a massive beast that had super sharp claws and his skin could not be pierced by weapons. He tormented the people of Nemea and was rumored to been created by Typhon and Echidna. King Eurystheus was in charge of giving Hercules his labors, and his first one was to kill Nemean Lion who was a super lion and who was said to be unkillable, Hercules started his journey by buying arrows and talking to locals about the location of the beast, and once he found its cave, he blocked one entrance and forced the lion to fight him in closed combat where he was able to nab the lion into a headlock and choke the life out of it. Once dead, Herc used the animal’s own claw to skin it and carried the dead animal back to the kingdom where he both amazed and scared the King who banned him that moment on from entering the Kingdom after his labors. Hercules would go on to wear the hide of the Nemean Lion as part of his armor. I am not sure why I like the first labor as much as I do….I am sure it has to do with the fact I have always liked lions and Hercules and having them fighting each other in a death match is pretty epic. I want to also say that The Nemean Lion, while dead in the mythology world, just might live again in the pages of Sparkle Comics, but you will have to wait and see how and what comic it comes back in. And I want to say this is just the start of Hercules’ Labors as we will be taking a bigger look at his labors on another update in the future.

In 2014 Radical Comics was able to have a movie made based on their Thracian Wars comic series thanks to Paramount Pictures who released it worldwide to the joy of modern sword and sandal fans. The film was directed by Brett Ratner and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hercules along with such actors as Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and Reece Ritchie and was a great action film with lots of Hercules moments of power…well sort of. The film is about Hercules and his friends creating a legend about himself that allows them to get paid in order to do amazing things like defeat the undefeatable and wage one man wars, all the while the story goes out about it being Hercules, when in fact it was he and his crew. But they soon find themselves being tested when one kingdom doesn’t buy into the stories, and Herc and his crew must fight for their lives. I really do like the twist in this film as it makes you wonder if Hercules really the son of Zeus or is it all made up in order to build his legacy, then at moments he is as great as he says he is…so I think it is really up to the viewer to decide. I saw the movie in the theater when released, and it was fantastic even making the # 5 spot on my “Matt Goes To The Movies 2014” update for Superhero Movies and was one I recommended to friends who ended up seeing it and enjoying it. Oddly enough, in 2014 another Hercules movie was in cinemas called “Legend Of Hercules.” While entertaining, it was not in the same league as this one. The film did poorly at the US box office only bringing in $72,688,614.00 on a budget of $100 million and was 46 over all at the cinema. But it did however bring in more than many other cult films released that year like “Purge: Anarchy”, “Robocop”, “Dracula Untold”, “Muppets Most Wanted”, “John Wick” and “Birdman” to name a few. So if you like Hercules films or just like fun action films starring The Rock, make sure to check this movie out!

So now that we have chatted a little about Hercules in myth as well as in modern cinema, I think it’s time we get to the comic review of the five issue mini series from Radical, because I am sure you are ready for some tasty thanksgiving dinner like I am! So let’s get into this one. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for pulling these comics for me when released. Yep, this is a comic mini series that I made sure to get when released as I worked for Mavericks at the time and had to check out a new Hercules book. I want to also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and you are 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 join Hercules as he goes to war, we should get to the comic reviews.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 1  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $1.00     Radical Comics     # 1 of 5

Iolaus and Meneus are traveling to a poor and sloppy kingdom on Amphiaraus’ promise of gold and victory as the young King has hired Hercules and his crew to bring Thrace back together by winning a war. But these barbarians of the Kingdom all take turns making fun of Hercules as well as his mother to try and get under the skin of Meneus and Iolaus before Herc arrives. But once Hercules and the rest of his crew show up, their words and mood changes as they see they truly are warriors and can back up their words and Hercules is a man with a loyal & brutal band of friends. But when Hercules is pushed too far by the words of one of the barbarian warriors, he is forced to kill him and orders his friends to kill every man and woman in the throne room and they do just that! Hercules, who was hired to bring Thrace together and train these barbarians to fight, became their Grim Reaper, as he delivered nothing but brutal death. After the slaughter Hercules and his men soon find out that the king and his guards were not the true King and his men as outside is the true King Coyts and his men looking well armed, trained and angry.

This first issue started out a little slow and was worrisome onwhether it would deliver a fun Hercules adventure, and by the end it turned into a bloodbath slaughter that would make Conan The Barbarian happy! The comic’s plot is this: Hercules and his crew are hired mercenaries who arrive at a terrible kingdom with a jerk King and a room full of drunken slobs that end up pushing the son of Zeus’ buttons that leads to them all getting slaughtered only for Hercules to find out he has been set up as the real King is outside with his massive army! Hercules is very cocky in this issue and partly lazy and is willing to start a war over being insulted. He also very much depends on his crew in order to win battles as well as scout the way of the land before he even arrives. I also like that he is wearing the hide of the Nemean Lion. His crew are loyal to Hercules and are amazing warriors who are brutal and all have their own weirdness from one having visions to another who is a cannibal. The fake King and his drunken goons are rude and crude and all find themselves very dead and have no skills when it comes to battle! While we barely see King Coyts in this issue, you can tell he is going to be one proud and strong fighter. The one thing that I liked in this comic is the fact that while Hercules is our main hero, he is also very arrogant and showcases that he is not fully a good guy. I also really like the fact that this comic is very bloody and had kills that would fit in most Horror Comics! The cover is very cool and very eye catching for fans of Sword and Sandal and Greek Mythology style comics. The interior artwork is done by Admira Wijaya and is pretty great and very fitting for this style of comic. So I will say the first issue is a great set up for this mini series and was a great way to try and bring Hercules back to the world of comic books. So with that let’s see how Herc and his crew deals with the army that is waiting for them at the end of this issue.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 2  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 2 of 5

Hercules and his crew stand their ground as King Coyts and his army order them all to stand down and follow him into the hall where Herc and them slaughtered all those people only to find that King Coyts set them up to test how brutal they were as fighters. Hercules and his crew have now gotten the jobs to train the soldiers for war and Coyts’ daughter seems to have taken a liking to Hercules, but our heroes also seem to be very on edge on this job they have taken as things just seem very odd. Plus the army’s general Sitaces seems to also to be keeping an eye of Hercules. After months of training, the army is ready for war and they decide that night to kill a young boy to appease their God, and this act sickens Hercules and his crew. Sitaces makes his army and Hercules attack small villages and slaughter all the people they come across, and finally right before the big battle, Sitaces must return to King Coyts and tell him of their victories and as he leaves, it’s clear Hercules and his people have been set up as they are attacked by a sky full of arrows!

In this issue Hercules and his band of warriors are paid lots of money, wine and good times in order to train an army of soldiers who are just brawlers, but along the way they soon find that this army are scum and they kill to bully and their general seems to have another mission and that’s to ride the world of them! Hercules in this issue is a great teacher of war and seems to be pleased with spending time with the King’s daughter as well as have the thrill of battle, but while enjoying it all, he also seems to be on edge and aware. We also get to know female warrior Atalanta who is a lesbian and has a love hate friendship with fellow member Meleager a warrior who was a ladies man and has fallen head over heels in love with her. Sitaces is a very bloodthirsty warrior in King Coyts’ army and rocks a wicked scarred face and seems to not value any human life. And as far as King Coyts, he is a man drive by ego who will do what ever it takes to be the ruler. I really like the ending of this one as hundreds of arrows are falling from the sky and could kill not only Hercules and his crew but also any of the army who have been left behind with them. This also makes you wonder if Sitaces set them up or if it the scouts did! The cover is great and eye catching for fans of Hercules and Sword and Sandal and the interior art by Admira Wijaya is great and fitting. Over all a great second issue and one that helps build up this adventure for Hercules. So with that let’s see how Hercules escapes this deathtrap.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 3  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 3 of 5

Hercules and his crew are like lambs to the slaughter as the enemy is all around them and they are stuck in a valley, but like all heroes Hercules pushes back and drives his enemies lead by Lord Rhesus back and now have them on the ropes. Hercules himself, while wanting to end the battle, is also very mad at one of his crew Tydeus, who is bloodthirsty and not listening to orders causing them to be at odds. Hercules and his crew now have Rhesus and his guards backed against a cliff, and it’s clear they are not going to just give up and push the fight until only Rhesus is left standing and instead of dying at the hands of Hercules flings himself off the cliff! As Hercules and his crew sit for a while, an arrow comes from nowhere and kills Meneus and this sets Hercules into a rage who rips the attacker apart with his bare hands. Once they bury their friend, they head back to King Coyts with a story of victory and also slightly accuse Sitaces for the set up, but it’s quickly smoothed over as Hercules goes off with the King’s daughter and a big feast is planned. Later that night after the feast Hercules sneaks up and hears King Coyts praying to his Gods in order to get the power to his newly trained army to attack Greece and Mount Olympus!

Man, this was one pickle that I was sure would leave Hercules injured, but instead sees him win against all odds and end a war with one brutal battle. This issue’s plot has Hercules and his crew being set up, and they must fight for their lives in order to escape the valley. Once they do so, they lose one of their own members to a sneak attack and return to employer only to learn he is a scumbag who wants to over throw Greece and kill Zeus on Mount Olympus! Hercules in this issues shows why he is a true iconic fighter as he does not stress over the attack and leads his group to a victory. He also shows he is pure power as he rips a man apart in a bloody gory rage! His crew are all great fighters and sadly their youngest member Meneus is killed with an arrow to the head and Tydeus is out of control and is a warrior who just enjoys killing and eating his victims! King Coyts and Sitaces are pure scum who both crave power and terror as they just used Hercules and his crew to train an army for them that they will in turn be used to attack them and their homelands! What I really like about this comic series is that while Hercules is our “hero,” he really is no hero and is just a demi-god doing bad things for others in order to get gold! I also like that his crew, while all warriors, do seem to care about each other, well all but Tydeus who cares about no one but himself even if the others watch out for him. The cover for this issue is great and the red brings out the wicked look of Hercules who clearly is in a rage for war. The interior art once more is done by Admira Wijaya and is good stuff. Over all this is another great issue in this mini series and makes me look forward to reading the final two issues.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 4  ***
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 4 of 5

Hercules is talked out of attacking the King in the temple, and this is a bad thing as he finds the tracks of Hercules in the snow and places he and all his crew under arrest until he can figure out a way to kill them all. Hercules tries to use his charm on the King’s daughter but soon finds that she has been using him all along and spying for her father and for him escaping and plotting against the King, Hercules is taken and tortured by Sitaces who is taking joy in his evil deed! Sitaces admits that he has been with the King’s daughter and he was not the one who set them up, all the while he is whipping and burning Hercules’s flesh. But Hercules has had enough and with his power he breaks free and smashes and kills two guards as well as breaks the back of Sitaces and brings the dungeons walls down on top of him! Hercules then rushes to his crew, and they make their escape in a bloody fight that leaves King Coyts in a rage and wants all of them dead! Hercules and his friends regroup around a campfire and decide that they will not run to Greece, and they will bring the fight to Coyts as they want to bring him down.

Wow! This fourth issue is great and showcases just how badass Hercules is as he bashes, smashes and slaughters any and all who get in his way. In fact I would say that this is the best issue this far in the series and is action packed and had a real feeling of dread and danger as the issue’s plot has the King and his army holding and bullying Hercules and his friends until they have had enough and push back! I also like the fact that the King’s daughter was just a pawn in her dad’s game as she in real life hates Hercules and Greece and was only using him to get information. Hercules in the issue really has been pushed as not only does the King plan on attacking his homeland of Greece but he also has been used and now abused and this means war in his eyes. His crew are also being treated like scum and are forced to stay inside a building and are not being feed and bullied into not having weapons and are all marked for death. King Coyts is a ruler who has used and abused his way into being even more powerful and is wanting to bring down Greece and Zeus as he has zero respect for those Gods. His daughter as well is scum as she uses sex in order to try and manipulate her target. And Sitaces the army leader is sadistic and gets what he deserves as he is broken and crushed leaving him a none factor now in the coming blood battle. This issue is filled with lots of action and lots of blood and feels like a true Sword And Sandal film from the 60’s with added modern style gore. Plus I really like the cliffhanger of Hercules and friends gearing up for a battle that they are the underdogs in, but they show no fear in the face of death. The cover is great and Admira Wijaya’s interior art is as always solid. Over all this issue is a great one to build up to the final in the mini series and is making me really looking forward to see how this adventure comes to an end.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 5  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 5 of 5

Hercules and his crew sneak back in the kingdom and start their slaughter and take out many of the guards by setting a fire in their quarters while they sleep. Once inside the castle, Hercules and his friends kill even more guards and even ram a spear into the King’s Daughter! King Coyts sees that his days are numbered and runs to make his escape as Hercules and friends follow him into a chamber of mazes and traps. But after dodging traps and almost capturing the evil King, Hercules and his crew find themselves trapped in the chamber as Coyts escapes….into the waiting ax of Tydeus who beheads the King and will dine on his brain after he frees his friends. Once free Hercules and pals find the gold room and steal all they can carry and as they leave the castle, they are greeted by Rhesus who they thought was dead and now has a new army and allows Hercules and them to leave with their lives, but not the gold! In the end Hercules and some of his friends sail away on a new adventure as Tydeus and others go their own way ending The Thracian War.

Hercules and his friends have gotten revenge after being set up and have stopped an attack on Greece but as always walked away empty handed when it comes to being paid for training an army to fight. So everything they did in this war really only caused death to people and only made them look like heels in the eyes of the people who witnessed their slaughter and training of a tyrant’s army. Hercules in this issue really just wants to end the life of King Coyts and his daughter and wants to stop the planned attack on Greece and while he does get to stop the act of war and gets to kill the daughter of his enemy, he is sadly not the one who gets to kill King Coyts. That honor went to Tydeus who is crazy and is a berserker when it comes to attacking and is really the most scummy of all of Herc’s teammates and by all accounts is just a cold blooded murderer. King Coyts is not only scum but also a coward who runs when it comes to battle and the odds are not in his favor. His daughter, on the other hand is a fighter and does not die without putting up a fight. The issue while bloody and filled with action seems to be more of a fast paced issue and the action seems to go by way too fast. But with that said, I will say that I do think Radical Comics really does know how to make a good comic mini series based on Hercules and writer Steve Moore shows he really does understand the world of Sword And Sandal. Plus the art by Admire Wijaya is very fitting and is perfect for this style of comic books. The cover for this issue I have is also very eye catching and reminds me of Frank Frazetta. Over all this is a great mini series and was an enjoyable read and fun review this Thanksgiving update, and I would recommend if you like Hercules to check this series out. Below is some artwork from this series so you can see the style of Wijaya.

Thanks once again for spending a part of your Thanksgiving holiday with me here at Rotten Ink as I am sure you’re much like me and are very much looking forward to diving into a tasty dinner and a chatting with family and loved ones. So next year, meet here again and we will once more talk about Hercules and cover another comic adventure of his! But to wrap this up as mashed potatoes are calling my name, make sure to spend some time with your loved ones as the Christmas season is just around the corner. Oh and I must also share with you that my next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update, and we will be traveling to Skull Island to once more visit Kong! So until next time, read a comic or three, eat a second plate of food and as always support your local Horror Host. See you all back for another tour of Skull Island on our next update.

It’s The Final Plague Countdown!

Animals can be a person’s best friend, but they can also be very scary and can not only kill and eat you but also can spread diseases and wipe out hundreds, if not millions, of people with the likes of plagues and rabies. Today’s update will be a quick one focusing on scary animals, pets, disease and a comic miniseries by Action Lab Comics’ horror branch, The Danger Zone, called The Final Plague. I have to say that Action Lab: Danger Zone has locked itself as a great company for horror comic readers as they not only do original series but they have also teamed up with Full Moon Entertainment to bring us high quality comics based on their films like Puppet Master and Gingerdead Man. The one thing that is really cool about Action Lab is that their Editor In Chief Shawn Gabborin is very interactive with the readers and loves comic books in general, something that I feel is lacking in other companies that are just doing series for money and not with love and the enjoyment to entertain.  I think Shawn and Action Lab are in this comic game for all the right reasons. So get into your hazmat suit as it’s time to walk among the infected animals from the twisted world of The Final Plague!

action-lab-and-danger-zone-logos

The Black Plague spread across Europe from 1346-1353 and infected and killed up to 200 million people all thanks to fleas on rats that infected people through bites and contaminated food supplies. In 1975, the first case of Lyme Disease was diagnosed.  It is also spread from tick bites with symptoms that include fatigue, a bullseye rash and feeling like you have a bad case of the flu.  If not treated, it will cause brain issues as well as infects joints and organs. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow Disease, not only infects cows but also humans who eat meat from an infected cow.  It causes major brain and nerve issues. Swine Influenza, aka Swine Flu, is a virus that infects pigs who can then pass onto humans.  In 2009, an outbreak happened that left around 203,000 people dead. The Bird Flu, or Avian Influenza is a sickness that kills birds and can spread to humans via infected meat and the process of preparing the infected bird for slaughter. And let’s not forget Rabies, a disease that infects animals minds and causes them to go mad with rage before death finally comes for them.  If a human is bitten by an infected animal such as a dog, cat, raccoon or opossum they as well are driven mad. These are just a drop in the hat of the viruses and diseases that we as human beings can be infected by thanks to our animal friends that we share this world with.

rats-that-spread-the-plaguereal-tickswine-flu-pig

If the fact that animals and their viruses and diseases can infect and kill us all doesn’t have you creeped out, let us not forgot that many animals are also man-eaters and will feast on our flesh with their razor sharp teeth and claws. Over the years bears, tigers, wolves, dogs, cats, alligators, hippos, sharks, hogs and so many others have killed and eaten humans. Let us also not forget that many animals and insects like spiders, frogs, snakes and gila monsters can poison you with their toxins and rancid bites. So in other words, nature is scary!! Growing up, my mother was scared of dogs and hogs, while I was scared of that bison at Fantasy Farm and many other people in the world have fear of animals from spiders to roaches all the way to mice some animals can also scare people to death just by being around them! Growing up I had lots of dreams about being attacked by animals with the most recent being about me in a outdoor shopping mall along with some friends looking at paperback books and music CD’s when all of a sudden the outdoor mall was under attack by grizzly bears! All the people started to run as the bears attacked, and I found myself alongside one of my friends in a metal locker as one of the bears tried so hard to break in and eat us! Almost all my dreams about attacking animals have been about grizzly bears…I wonder if in a past life I was attacked by one….who knows. But one thing is for sure, when you are out in the woods watch out for predator animals as you might just end up being lunch for one.

man-eating-bearman-eating-tigerman-eating-baboon

While the world is filled with real life animal attacks, Hollywood wanted to also cash in on the idea of when animals attack and has graced both the big and small screen with films based on just that idea. Who can forget such classic animal run wild films as The Birds (1963), Willard (1971), Frogs (1972), The Night Of A Thousand Cats (1972), Jaws (1975), Grizzly (1976), Day Of The Animals (1977), Piranha (1978), Cujo (1983), Rats: Night Of Terror (1984) and so many more! Let’s also not forget when Hollywood decided to make the animals bigger because regular sized ones just couldn’t cut it.  So they delivered Tarantula (1955), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Food Of The Gods (1976), The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), Alligator (1980) and Island Claws (1980) to name a select few. To this day, Hollywood is making when animals attack style horror films, as they understand people’s primitive fears of animals that kill and can’t be reasoned with. Do yourself a favor if you’re into horror films, have some friends and family over and have a Horror Movie Marathon with all killer animal films and then go for a walk in the woods the next day and see if you can spook yourself from the sounds of nature around you.

day-of-the-animals-posterhouse-of-a-thousand-cats-posterrats-1984-poster

Over my lifetime I have had many pets who have added friendship and entertaining moments that will stick with me forever. Droopy was the first dog in my life as he was around when I was really young.  Sadly, he was stolen while the family went on vacation.  You long time readers will remember I spoke about him on my Foofur update. For a short time after Droopy, my dad rescued a little tiger striped kitten from the side of the highway/  Some a-hole put him in a bag and left him to die…he was bitten badly by fleas, and we took him home nursed him back to health and found him a forever home.  Both of these were before I was even in kindergarten and were our Kettering pets. Also in Kettering was Roxanne, a cockatoo bird that we rescued from outside.  She lived with us for many years and even moved with us to Waynesville and was such a sweet bird who loved us all. Moving to Waynesville, we found a baby opossum that was orphaned when its mother was hit by a car.  I named him Baby Chuck.  He stayed with us for a while, and we had to feed him milk via an eye dropper. Baby Chuck would find his permanent home at a nature reserve thanks to a nice older man who allowed him to live on his land and grow old. My neighbor raised mice and after begging and, I am sure, whining, my parents allowed me to have two of them, females that I called Grey and White.  They were my best friends and both of them loved just hanging out with me while I played Nintendo, read books and comics and even watched TV. Sadly, White passed away from a tumor, and Grey passed away from old age…it was a very sad day for me as I loved them both and they were part of the family for sure as my parents and brother as well enjoyed their tiny friendship. Later on I would get another mouse, this time a male that I named Ben. He was also a lovable little guy who enjoyed his life with me as my friend pet. We also had a big aquarium and many fish, but one was very special as we had him for many, many years.  He grew to be the biggest gold fish in our tiny glass pond, and we called him Gil.  He sadly passed away from old age, my Dad really loved that silly fish. My Aunt Laverne and cousin Nick gave me a hamster that I called S.P.G, named after the pet hamster from the BBC show “The Young Ones.”  While most of the time he was friendly, he did have a nasty habit of biting.  He lived a long life that was filled with many blood drawing moments. When moving back to Kettering, my parents bought me a German Shepard puppy that we named Stella.  She was a goofy dog that I had many adventures with as I was the new kid and she was my best friend as by that time both my parents worked as did my brother and that left me home alone a lot.  She was like me always, ready to run around and discover the world around. Stella was a great dog and while she was scared of almost everything, when she thought I was ever in danger she would turn into a protective beast ready for a fight.  I can remember one time some neighbors set off fireworks and she jumped in front of me and was ready to fight the bright sky lights. Stella lived a long life and sadly had to be put to sleep after old age kicked in and she had major medical issues that left her forgetting how to eat and drink…it was a very sad day. When I got older and moved away from home and in with my then girlfriend Misty Altick, I got her a kitten she named Neptune, but I called him Poops.  He was a silly cat who grew up to be a chubby very loving cat.  I used to make up stories about him being wanted by rival cats and how he was this ultimate badass. During this time, I also got an older female cat named Gracie who was on a final sale at a local pet store.  Gracie was very odd but loved me with all her little heart.  Funny enough, she hated Misty and when we first got her she spent many nights hissing at Misty as well as scratching her. Gracie and Poops had babies together later on and each of them found homes, but they lived with us for awhile and they were all very lovable little creatures who loved to sleep, climb and scream at me.  We named a few of them Poops Jr., Grizz, Midnight. Sadly when Misty and I broke up, I had to leave the cats behind and she would later on give them away to her friends.  I wonder what has happened to them many nights. About 11 years ago, while dating Jennifer Perkins, she bought me a kitten from a local pet shop that I named Leslie.  She has been my best pal for so long that I cannot imagine not having her sleeping on my chest at night or sitting next to me as I write these blogs. Leslie is truly my favorite pet I have ever owned! Also about 6 years ago, my current girlfriend Juliet and I took in a stray male cat from around our apartment that I named Streets J. Cat.  He is a Norwegian forest cat who is as goofy as goofy can be and is a well loved addition to our little home, even if Leslie hates him! So while nature can be scary, they can also be very lovable and add so much to the lives of owners who have pets. Below are pictures of Leslie and Streets, the two current goofy balls that share my life with me.

leslie-beans-catstreets-j-cat

So as you can see, nature can be scary as well as sweet and brighten up you life, and with that I think, it’s time for us to jump into a comic series that I have been very hyped to read ever since I found out about it in late 2015. As you long time readers know, I am a big fan of horror comics and love to discover and read new series and issues that catch my attention, and The Final Plague did just that after finding it on Action Lab’s website and seeing the cover for issue one with a hooded man holding a rat eating a human eyeball made me have to track down the series.  For some reason it was really hard to find the single issues as the graphic novel was all over the place. But thanks to the team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Lone Star Comics and Amazon I was able to get the complete single issue run! And while I am sitting here writing, this my cat Leslie wants me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. See having pets sure can be helpful when you have a blog like this as they can remind you to place the star grading for the over 100th time.

the-final-plague-1

The Final Plague # 1  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 1 of 5

It’s 2012, and for some reason rats and other pets has become more aggressive and seem to be diseased. A lab in New Jersey has found that their lab rats have been bleeding from the eyes and are becoming very violent.  One even spit its own blood into the eyes and mouth of a lab assistant causing her and the mice to be put into quarantine. Meanwhile in New York, a drunk homeless man is attacked by a pack of crazed virus infected rats! In Iowa at the Michaels family farm, they are having issues with these rats in their cellar, and when one goes on the attack Helen, the mother of the family, has to cut off its head to get it to stop attacking their daughter Sarah.  She orders her husband Robert and son Thomas after dinner to go to the cellar and kill off the rats that are scratching at the door. Helen is sick with cancer but is still trying her best to be the backbone for her family and cooks a roast for dinner, and she finds out her husband has invited Alan, the town’s exterminator, over for dinner and help to kill off the rats in the cellar. During dinner Alan is telling the family about how the whole town is being infested with pests and that business is booming as everyone wants these aggressive animals exterminated.  After dinner Alan goes into the cellar to kill some rats when something goes wrong and he screams and comes up stairs covered with rats who are eating his flesh!

The Final Plague’s starting story is this: animals are acting really odd and have gotten some sort of virus that is making their eyes bleed as well as hungry for human flesh and are becoming aggressive and hard to kill.  This is spreading throughout the United States,  but we mainly focus on the Michaels family in Iowa as they have a cellar full of nasty rats who end up attacking the local exterminator! Plus we throw in the lab workers in New Jersey who are gearing up to understanding what this virus is. The Michaels family are good hard working country people who are taking care of their farm, and mother Helen is a strong person who, while ill with cancer, is still doing all she can to provide and help her family including cooking and even bashing rats to death that make an attempt to attack her family. The character who gets the worst attack, besides the drunken bum, is Allen who by the end of the issue is running around swarmed with rats all that are biting and ripping at his flesh. So far I am kind of digging the flow of the story as it’s clear this is just the start of something way worse that will lead to many human deaths and the animals around the globe will be the cause of it! The character I am liking the most at this point is a tie between Robert and Helen both who are hard working people who seem to enjoy farm life as well as family life. The issue is not a blood bath but does have some of the red stuff that helps add to the horror of it all. The cover is amazing and super eye catching. I wish the hooded character who appears on it was actually in it, but sadly he is not and to be honest, he is what made me want to read this series in the first place. The art inside is interesting and while not the style I normally like, I will still say it’s solid and is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown who clearly does have talent. Issue one was pretty cool and a nice build up issue for this story so let’s hope that issue two gives us some more clues to why this is happing and if Alan will survive the attack of the rats in the Michaels’s farmhouse.

the-final-plague-2

The Final Plague # 2  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 2 of 5

Alan is torn to shreds by the killer rats that now attack the family and bite Robert several times, but he and his son Thomas are able to capture many of the rats in an old toolbox that they now plan to burn in a fire! Alan is dead, and the family is in shock.  The only thing they can do is call 911 in order to remove the body of Alan and tell the local law what has happened. Meanwhile, back in the lab in New Jersey, they find that the rats are almost un-killable and that they have a strange fluid in them as well as give off a foul smell and this worries them as it could sweep across the world and infect many more animals. All around animals are attacking humans, from dogs eating an old woman and then turning on the cops, to the Michaels family cat who is returning to life after being part eaten by the rats! The Michaels Family leave the farm as the town sheriff Frank starts his investigation into the death of Alan and the rats that are crazed in the basement. Meanwhile the scientist are having issues of their own as the army have taken over the lab and have it on lockdown until the CDC can show up, and the lab assistant bitten by the rat is now a crazed cannibal who has attacked and killed a fellow worker!

The plague is spreading in this second issue.  The Michaels family leave their farm as the local law shows up to investigate the death of the towns exterminator while the government is now taking over the lab and want to declare a level 4 emergency! The Michael Family is scared, confused and strong as they do what they can in order to help the dying Alan with father Robert even being bitten several times by the infected rats. The scientists want to do what they can in order to figure out what is causing this plague, but they have a thorn in their side thanks to the army! The animals that are running wild and eating flesh this go-round are rats and dogs.  Plus it shows that a dead cat is coming back and that humans can be infected making me wonder what the fate of Robert Michaels will be as he has been bitten twice. The issue is drenched in blood and gore as people are killed as are animals complete with guts exposed showing that this Danger Zone comic is not pulling any punches. This second issue was the hardest one in the series for me to find, and I am glad I was able to find it and do this review. The cover this time around is an infected animal and is ok but not nearly as eye catching as issue one.  In fact, I am sure it was lost in the crowd of brighter and more appealing covers when it was released. Again the interior artwork is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and once more is good but not what I normally like in my comics as it’s just a little to sloppy. Well issue two is done and the plot is ticking, so let’s see what issue three has in store for the world as the diseased animals are on the loose and want to eat and infect mankind! I also want to note that the hooded man from the cover of issue one does not show up in this one either and that’s a letdown.

the-final-plague-3

The Final Plague # 3  **
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 3 of 5

At the lab an attempt is being prepared to enter the holding cell to restrain the infected lab assistant who is now being called Patient Zero as she has bitten, chewed and consumed the poor man that was stuck in the cell with her. The Michaels family take Robert to the hospital to get his rat bite looked at and soon finds that it’s a madhouse filled with lots of victims from animal and human attacks.  When news breaks on the TV that those bitten are infected with a more violent version of rabies, Robert has to be quarantined even though he is not showing signs of the infection. Meanwhile all over the world this sickness is spreading, and two drunk hunters are killed by a deer that has been infected! At the lab it’s learned that the animals infected are in fact reanimated corpses and that in humans it speeds up death.  When Patient Zero dies, we will soon find out if she comes back from the dead.

This third issue is very talky and is used to add more light to the plague and what its cause and effects are to humans and animals alike. The lab is where we find out all the information of the plague and with the Michaels Family, we find out that not all who have been bitten turns into a crazed flesh eating maniac. The issue makes you like Robert Michaels and his family even more are they clearly stick together during the bad times and support each other during them. The lab workers and the Army are dragging their feet on really trying to figure out what this plague is and spend more time arguing and chatting than getting down to the dirty work of cracking the code of how to treat and cure it. The issue, while bloody, is nothing too special as we have one infected man shot by the police in the hospital and a deer rams a trucks windshield and impales the hunters inside with his antlers. The cover, while creepy, is not every eye catching, and the art inside done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown once again is just okay and not the style of art I like. This issue is middle of the road, and it took me two sittings just to finish it as I got bored pretty quickly with the lab portions of the issue. So far this series has been okay but not nearly as cool as I was thinking it would be when first seeing the covers.  With that, I am just going to move onto issue four as this third issue was just kind of a filler issue with some long chatting to explain the plague that could have been summed up in about two pages.

the-final-plague-4

The Final Plague # 4  **1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 4 of 5

In the lab they find out that humans once infected do go into a wild rage of bloodlust, but when they die they do not come back as the virus can not take over mankind’s body structure. While at the hospital Helen Michaels and the kids are watching the news as the world is falling apart and cops and news reporters are being attacked live on air by cats, rats and dogs! The cops at the hospital watch as one of their own outside is killed by a pack of infected zombie dogs that rip him to pieces, and this causes them to lockdown the hospital.  After the dogs bust in through the windows, they are forced to evacuate the hospital and have to leave the infected humans behind, but Robert is taken as he is still not showing any signs of being infected. As the cops clear out the hospital, in Chicago zoo workers Miranda and Austin are still at work protecting the animals when a man who has been bitten enters the zoo and frees the tigers and lions.  The man is eaten by the lions and this infects them.  Now Austin and Miranda are stuck as the infected lions are waiting for them outside.

The action and bloody kills are amped up in the issue as we follow the Michaels Family and the cops who are in the hospital now under attack by crazed dogs who want to kill anything they can get their jaws on. While the lab workers and army know that they must find a way to cure the animals of the world as well as the humans who will die from the bites, but lucky will not come back from the dead. We now add in zoo workers who are stuck at work as giant cats are running wild and infected await them outside. The cops at the hospital are clearly heroes as they are risking their own hides to save people from the hospital.  The down side is they are having to leave some sick patients behind as they are unable to run. The Michaels Family are as likable as ever, but they kind of take a backseat in this issue as they are reunited once the dogs attack the hospital. The lab workers and army also take a back seat and are as bland as before.  While good characters, they are also the ones who sadly have to have the boring talk in order to explain the virus. The zoo workers Miranda and Austin are likable and I hope in the 5th and final issue we get more from them. The best kill of the issue was when the cop outside the hospital is attacked and killed by the dogs that shred him like rice paper in a paper shredder! The one thing I am liking so far about the series is that all the main characters are likable and you find yourself cheering for them to get past all this madness that is happing around them.  I also must say I like the idea of animal zombies on the loose looking for human flesh to eat and infect! The cover on this issue is pretty dang cool and showcases an infected lions around human bones, and for me next to issue # 1, this is what caught my eye and made me want to read this series. The art inside once more is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and looks just like the rest of the issue so far in the mini series. Issue four was leaps and bounds better than issue three, and I can’t wait to see what happens in issue five and how they plan on ending this creepy plague story.

the-final-plague-5

The Final Plague # 5   *1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 5 of 5

While the lab workers and army are talking about waiting for the CDC and what they can do to try to discover a cure, the facility falls under attack as the animals are freed by a lab doctor who has been infected that leaves rats and monkey that are crazed on the loose and slaughtering any human they can find! The army general and two scientist are the only ones to make it out alive, but they soon find that the world outside is also in bad shape and they are the only ones who have a clue of what the virus is and are the only hope to treat it. While the cops lead the doctors, nurses and Michaels family out of the hospital and get them all to their cars, but the dogs are waiting and kill many of the survivors.  The Michaels family leaves the hospital and soon return to their farm and find that their animals have been killed and infected.  The family’s bull charges wife Helen and son Thomas knocks his mom out of the way and is killed by the bulls horns, as the young man dies in the arms of his family the series comes to an end.

This fifth and final issue is a MAJOR letdown as nothing is answered and there is no real ending to the story as so many questions and characters are left high and dry. The plot of this issue is just to kill off most the army and lab workers during an ape and rat attack that leaves only three survivors, and to get the Michaels Family out of the hospital and away from the dogs and back to the farm and to have the son meet his end by the horns of a infected bull. But here are the things that this final issue left wide open and for this horror comic reader made this series fall apart: What happened to the zoo workers that were trapped by the lions outside? Why is it that Robert Michaels is not being affected by the nasty rat bite to his shoulder, and is he the cure to this outbreak? What is the virus and why is it bringing animals back from the dead? Who is the hooded figure that appears on two of the five covers but never appears in the actual comics? I mean I get it, he is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but come on and put him in an issue at least! And this is just a small amount of issues that are left out in the cold in this final issue and again made this long time horror comic reader very upset and kind of ruined the experience of my read. At the end of the comic they also acted as if the series was going to continue in late 2014, and this never happened as we are now in 2017 and no new issues are slated to be made, making this mini series a dead end read. But I don’t want you all to think that I hated this series as it had some positives: the characters are all likable, the story in the raw is fantastic and could blossom into something really cool if given more time. The characters go through a change as well as The Michaels Family grow together and even have to face heartbreak when one of their own dies.  The cops and army do what they are suppose to do and stand their ground to protect and serve, and the scientists do what they do best, they science and talk about things that bore normal people to tears! The acts of murder and mayhem are well done and the red stuff flows like wine as animals bite and rip flesh and faces are even ripped off! The cover for issue five is pretty great with the hooded plague man holding the body of Thomas Michaels spoiling his death for sure.  The art is once more done by the chaotic style of Tony Guaraldi-Brown, and this wrapped up a comic series I was so hyped to read and even though I feel it let me down slightly I still enjoyed it and would say that fans of films like Day Of The Animals and Wild Beats will enjoy it. Below is some artwork from this series so sit back and enjoy the crazy animals and their killing ways.

the-final-plague-art-2the-final-plague-art-3the-final-plague-art-1

So now that The Final Plague is stagnate waiting for a series to come along and wrap it up, I think we should leave the world of animal viruses behind and step into the squared circle again as we take a look at another pro wrestling icon as we talk about the one and only Kevin Nash! I would also like to take a moment and tell all you readers and friends that if you enjoy comics, make sure to think outside the box of just getting issues from Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse and give companies like Action Lab, IDW, Eibon Press, Sparkle, Rough House, Boom and others a chance as each company is making some amazing stuff.  So again give the independent comic companies a chance as they are sure to entertaining just as much as the bigger companies. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you back for an Oz of a good time or is that Diesel of a good time?

kevin-nash-name-logo