Marvel Horror Showcase – The Golem

In the 1970’s Marvel Comics unleashed a batch of Horror themed characters on readers as the comic code was loosening their grip on previously strict rules allowing horror and monsters to enter the inked pages of comics once more. They had such ghouls and creatures as Dracula, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider, Daimon Hellstrom, Frankenstein’s Monster, Living Mummy, Godzilla, Jack Russell the Werewolf by Night, Zombie and Golem to name a few, and while many of them had long lives in the pages of Marvel Comics, some of them only lasted a small handful and have faded away from the comic spotlight. Today for this update we are going to take a look at one of their Horror themed short lived characters, and I have chosen Golem as I think this hero monster needs his time in the sun and for a new generation of Marvel Horror Comic readers to discover or even think about once more. In fact I am thinking that this will be the start of a new themed update series I will call “Marvel Horror Showcase” and will allow me to breakdown a classic Marvel Horror character and share my connection to them as well as share some history about the character. So if you’re ready to be spooked by Marvel Comics, let’s take a macabre journey with the thing that walks like a man called The Golem.

The Golem’s origin in the Marvel Universe is as follows: in the city of Prague, the people were being oppressed by evil tyrants and wise man Judan Loew Ben Bezalel created a massive man shaped statue out of rock, clay and blood. The Golem was used to avenge the people and did just that. After his work was done for the people of Prague, The Golem wandered around helping the innocent against evil people. Once the massive creature did what he could for mankind, it walked its way into the desert and allowed the sand to cover him up hiding away from mankind. And once he is uncovered in modern times The Golem once more becomes a protector for innocent mankind and binds itself to the family who uncovered it and has awoken it from its long slumber. The Golem is mostly a protector, but in the wrong hands he can also be used for pure evil as it is a creature of emotions of those it’s bound to. While The Golem might not be a true icon of Marvel Horror, he has made his small mark in the Marvel Universe.

When I was a youngster some of the first Horror Comics, I ever read were the Marvel Horror books as well as a few of the Gold Key titles, and I would say Marvel was my introduction to Horror Comics over all and that is where I discovered the comic series Strange Tales and in those pages I discovered Golem. The Golem was one of those characters I can remember reading his adventures and wondering why he was not a fully fledged monster on a rampage, but learned to really enjoy his superhero adventures. One thing I always liked about Golem was that he always seemed one step away from going fully fledged rampaging monster as he can be controlled, and if the demons got ahold of him he would have become full evil and really scare mankind. I also have heard that The Golem has become a member of the monster team S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Howling Commandos alongside The Living Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster and Zombie to name a few. Plus over his comic book run he even took on The Thing from the Fantastic Four!

I really owe a lot of my love for Horror Comics to the Marvel Horror as they were the first ones I read and can even say that I collected as I was obsessed with getting my hands on issues of Werewolf By Night, Godzilla and Tomb Of Dracula. But enough gushing about Marvel Horror, let’s get into looking at the Strange Tales issues that The Golem appeared in as well as the issue of Marvel Two-In-One he appeared in. I want to also remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s take a look at the first Marvel Horror character I have chosen, the one and only The Golem!

Strange Tales # 174  ***
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics    #174 of 188

Professor Abraham Adamson along with his nephew Jason, niece Rebecca and his helper Wayne Logan are searching in the desert for a mythical creature called The Golem that is said to have been buried in the sand many decades back. And as Wayne and Rebecca are digging, they find the massive body of The Golem and with some chains and digging equipment they are able to bring it to the surface once again! But while they are happy to have found their discovery, a few miles away a war wages on and man is killing man all in the name of land. The next day Colonel Omar and his men ask to refresh at the camp of Professor Adamson who grants them shelter and a place to rest. But The Colonel and his men show their true colors as they are at the camp to loot it as they are deserters of the war and during the looting Professor Adamson is shot and killed. The rest are taken as prisoners, but the war criminals made a mistake as the soul of Professor Adamson finds its way into The Golem who once more comes alive. The Golem finds the soldiers and makes quick work of them ending their lives with ease and once done he finds Colonel Omar who has a gun to Rebecca’s head, and with speed The Golem crushes the gun and kills Colonel Omar as Rebecca, Jason and Wayne all notice a look in the creature’s eye that reminds them of Professor Adamson.

Strange Tales # 174 does a fantastic job of bring comic readers into the myth and horror world of the character The Golem! Our creepy tale has a Professor being murdered and his loved ones kidnapped and with his dying breath is able to call on the living statue The Golem who was created to fight evil to avenge him and save his family, and that’s what happens. Professor Abraham Adamson is a good man who loves the history of The Golem and has spent many years of his life to learn of the legend as well as find its location. But while he is super smart, he is a little too trusting as he allows soldiers to stay at his camp and they end up being the ones to end his life. Rebecca, Jason and Wayne are good people who are a part of Professor Adamson’s team to find The Golem and get a shock of a lifetime when they watch as the Professor is gun downed and The Golem walks and kills. Colonel Omar and his men are cutthroats who steal what they need and have no issues with killing as long as they are not caught. The Golem is a silent avenger who reacts and takes action when danger to the innocent is around, and it’s clear he only walks the Earth again due to the tear of the dying Professor. This comic has the Marvel Horror feel as it has deaths and a monster but does downplay the violence as the kills of The Golem are hidden in all panels. The story was written by Len Wein and edited by Roy Thomas, and to me that’s a great pairing for 70’s Horror Comics. The cover is great and eye catching for those who love the creature runs amok flare as it showcases The Golem smashing a jeep and reaching for a woman. The interior art is done by John Buscema, and all his work is fantastic. While the Horror for this character is downplayed, the macabre aspect is not, and this issue is a fantastic read for those of us who love classic monsters of myth and legend.

Strange Tales # 176  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics   #176 of 188

Rebecca, Jason and Wayne look at The Golem in shock as the dead bodies of the soldiers are all around them, and decide that they need to get The Golem back to the University in Florida as that was their uncle’s wish. As they are loading The Golem onto a ship, they are visited by more soldiers who want to keep the statue in their country but they are attacked by The Golem who is about to kill them as well until Rebecca orders it to stop…and it does! As the soldiers run off, the Adamson family and The Golem hit the high seas set to return to America. Evil wizard Kaballa The Unclean and his winged demons has set their sights on The Golem as Kaballa thinks he can control the creature who can help him on his conquest to conquer the world and sends his wing demons to attack the ship and bring him The Golem. The wing demons attack, and The Golem once more comes to life and along with Wayne saves Jason who has heavy barrels fall on him, and Kaballa learns that The Golem needs to be on land to get his power, but when things get super bad The Golem powers up and tackles all the demons into the water and as they die one of them fires a bolt and blows up the ship and The Golem is forced to swim or sink and as he paddles by Rebecca, Jason and Wayne jumps on his back as they all end up on an island.

This second macabre tale has The Golem on his way to America on a ship, and we find out that a demonic wizard has his eye on controlling him and sends some demons to attack him and see what he is made off. In this issue we also learn a little more about The Golem as he understands English and can take orders from those it cares about. Plus we learn that it needs to be on land in order to have its full power and strength. We also learn that The Golem does not care and will kill if he feels that innocent people are in danger and in a rage almost kills more soldiers who really didn’t do much besides get upset that Americans are taking more of their culture away. Wayne Logan in this issue also shows he is a hero as he does what he can to try and bring down the flying demons and risks his own life trying his best to help The Golem. Jason is useless and causes The Golem to use up some of his strength in order to save him as when the demons attack he is in the way. Rebecca in this issue is kind of in the background but it is shown she can control The Golem as it listens to her. Our issue’s bad guy is Kaballa The Unclean who controls an army of demons and for some reason thinks that The Golem will make him more unstoppable, and all he really does is watch as his demon minions get their butts kicked. This issue brings in supernatural elements to the Horror and Superhero atmosphere this story has already delivered. I like the idea of The Golem being a killing machine that now must fight demons in order to protect its human friends, plus I feel that he is now facing baddies that are a challenge…but also I feel that adding the demons in also takes away the classic feel of The Golem myth and just turns it into a cheesy Doctor Strange style story. The cover for this issue has a classic 70’s Marvel look and is eye catching for readers like me. The interior art is done by Tony DeZuniga and has a more Horror Comic look. Over all this is a good issue that just took the story in a more cheesy supernatural mystic Marvel way. Let’s see what the third part of our story has in store for us and let’s see what island our heroes are on.

Strange Tales # 177  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics   #177 of 188

Kaballa The Unclean is upset that his winged demons have failed him and decides that he will next send Fire Demons after The Golem as he really does think that with his power he will be able to conquer the world! Meanwhile at the University of Florida, a Dr. Yeates does not believe that The Golem is real even after his assistant Saudia Yamal shows her tests that prove The Golem is alive! Rebecca, Jason and Wayne all try to prove that The Golem is alive, and yet Yeates does not want to hear it and when he gets the chance he decides that he is going to use a blow torch and melt the monster just in case he is proven wrong and The Golem is alive and he is not able to fill the seat at the University left behind by Professor Adamson. But when he turns on the torch, he is greeted by the fire demons whose appearance makes The Golem come alive to protect Yeates as well as Rebecca and Wayne who mistakenly shown up at the lab. The fire demons are powerful and hurt The Golem with their extreme heat, but before The Golem goes down, he gets his second wind when he thinks about how much he loves his new human friends and with his bare hands he takes down the fire demons. And defeated again, Kaballa sits back on his throne and thinks of his next attack plan.

In his final appearance in the pages of Strange Tales our monster hero The Golem once more battles demons in order to protect humans from being killed and wronged and finds more about his own powers as it’s not only the land that fuels his power but also love. The Golem in this issue also shows that he is starting to share a mind link with Rebecca and Wayne as they can hear little of its thoughts. The Golem is also starting to learn who and what is a threat and when he should attack and when he should just remain solid like a statue. Dr. Yeates on the other hand is kind of a scumbag as he would rather destroy the creature instead of being wrong on his prediction that it’s all a hoax, as he does not care about The Golem nor the history of it; all he wants is to move up at the University. Jason, Rebecca and Wayne all kind of take a back seat in this issue as they are more just around at the university and are the ones who delivered The Golem there and are the ones it wants to protect. The Fire Demons are powerful and are good fighters as they almost bring down our living clay creature, and Kaballa once more just watches the battle and is evil and ate up with craving power. Once more this issue plays up on the mystic supernatural aspects and mixes in Horror slightly as it’s clear that comics like Doctor Strange was popular at the time for Marvel and they wanted to add it into this simple plotted Horror Comic. The cover for this issue is okay but does lose the Horror and is clearly more mystic looking. The interior art is done by Tony DeZuniga and is good and fitting for the direction of this series. In the letters section of this comic they talk about the fate of The Golem and the people of Marvel say that they could not figure out what to do with The Golem so they pulled the plug on him and his story in the pages of Strange Tales and decided to turn the comic over to featuring Adam Warlock instead. And we would have to wait a little time to get an end to The Golem’s tale and it would come in the pages of Marvel Two In One and that’s what we will take a look at next.

Marvel Two-In-One # 11  **1/2
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics   # 11 of 100

The Thing and his girlfriend Alicia Masters are rushing to the train station so they can get to Disney World in Florida for their vacation, and everything seems to be working against them as the cab driver who took them to the station argued with The Thing for a short time and even the train almost left without them! And once on the train the other passengers treat The Thing like he is a monster and even all sit away from him and Alicia. Meanwhile at Sam Pedro University in Florida’s Ancient Cultures Department, a small group is meeting next to the Golem with Professor Yeates who is arguing with Jason Adamson about if the stone statue can indeed come to life and fight, and this spins the wheels of both who view the Golem differently as Jason knows it is a protector against evil and believes his uncle’s spirit is inside the stone statue. Meanwhile Kaballa The Unclean has figured out that he can take control of The Golem by separating him from Rebecca and Jason and allowing his own evil will to be what guides him. Kaballa also uses the weather to his advantage and uses water to separate the kids from The Golem and unlucky for The Thing, he must tangle with The Golem who is more powerful and more brutal than the Fantastic Four member and is able to knock the hero around. As The Thing tangles with Golem, it gets flashes in his mind that his foe is sending him and risks it all to build a bridge to the college so that Rebecca and Jason can be near Golem and try and get him back under their control. As The Thing builds the bridge our of cars, poles and what ever he can get his mighty hands on he must also fight off demons who are attacking trying to keep him from his goal as Kaballa only needs a few more minutes before he takes over totally! The Thing is able to build the bridge and Rebecca and Jason rush to their monster friend and as they try and get Golem under control Kaballa attacks them and this forces the Golem to use his powers and vanquish Kaballa! In the end The Golem is now frozen in place as Jason and Rebecca plan on watching over it and The Thing and Alicia can now start their vacation.

The Golem in his final appearance in a classic Marvel Comic has our monster going on a rampage as well as once more being brought in by the power of love form his human friends. In this issue Kaballa The Unclean almost gets full control of The Golem and uses weather and demons as his defense to try and keep his control for the time that’s needed to become it’s full master, but what he didn’t count on was that The Thing of super team the Fantastic Four being in town and helping the Adamson family regain control. In this issue Jason and Rebecca are helpless to help The Golem and spend most of the issue arguing with Professor Yeates and being stuck at the college and watching as their friend and protector is being possessed and going on a massive rampage! The Thing is a hero that is lucky or unlucky depending on how you look at it to be in the area as this is going on as his power is what saves the day for the world as if Kaballa would have gained total control everyone would be in some serious trouble. Kaballa The Unclean is as sinister as ever and in this issue before he is defeated is so close to getting what he wants and starting his take over of the world, but as always his ego and self titled nature lead to his defeat. The Golem in this issue starts out being the stone protector the world needs to being a rampaging monster that Horror Comic readers want, to ending up a frozen statue that is stuck in the middle of Florida. This final story in the classic arch of Golem seems a little rushed and to be honest The Thing and him really don’t fight as much as they should, showing Marvel really just wanted to end Golem and his comic run. In fact Golem really brings down Kaballa pretty easy and it would have been great if they decided to have Golem be a ramping monster by the end of the story and not just a good guy statue frozen until a later date. I mean as a bad guy it would have been great to see him tangle with Man-Thing who is also set in Florida or even do battle with The Hulk, Thor, Werewolf By Night and Luke Cage to name a few. While after this appearance Golem would go on to make cameos in a few other issues this really does mark the end of his comic star. The cover for this issue is fantastic and captured my attention when I seen it as a kid, and the interior art is top notch and done by Bob Brown and has that Marvel flare. Over all I would have loved to seen more of the Golem in comics and really wish they would have left him bad for awhile to allow the above mentioned battles before having Rebecca and Jason once more get him under control. If you like Marvel Supernatural Horror, then I would say give this a read, as it’s a fun one. Check out the art below to see some of the styles used for this series.

So as you can see, Golem was and is a pretty cool Marvel Horror monster that had a short run that delivered some scares but mostly supernatural action. While Marvel seemed to really give up on the character and never allowed him to fully live up to his potential of becoming a good Horror Comic character, he still was able to leave his bloodstain mark on it no matter how small it was. And while writing this I also thinking about the next character I would like to cover for next Marvel Horror Showcase and I am happy to say that I have chosen IT The Living Colossus to be the next Horror subject! But enough of talking about a future update, let’s talk about the next one as I will be taking a look at Horror Hosts Iris & Retina from Mondo Smash A’GO-GO! So until next time, read a Marvel Horror Comic or three, watch a classic Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Join me next update as it will be a blast talking about these Dayton, Ohio Hosts!

The Atlas Comics Hunter Of Demons

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, friends and readers. For this update we will be stepping away from the heroes of Marvel & DC and will be once more entering the short yet amazing world of Atlas Comics to take a look at one of their many heroes that never got a fair share in the world of comic books. I am talking about Demon Hunter who sadly only lasted one issue before the company went out of business. On this update we will also take a look at other demon themed things! So get ready to bash some demon scum as we take a journey with Atlas Comics and the warrior known as Demon Hunter.

Demon Hunter was created by David Anthony Kraft and Rich Buckler for Atlas Comics and made his first and only appearance in 1975. Now I’ll do a quick bio of the character and kind of give you a sneak peek at what he can do before we get into the comic review a little later in this update. Gideon Cross was a solider in the army who had to do some things that changed him to his very core. Once out he was lost and felt like a man out of place. One day he headed to a place that was said to be cursed by a cult called the Harvester of Night Cult who end up giving the lost solider power and turn him into a supernatural hitman for evil. Armed with his ability to cloak himself as well as his powerful axe, he is a murder for hire who is paid in blood for his services. While he starts off as a bad guy where human life is cheap, he ends up finding his way and learns that the cult he serves is not the right way. Demon Hunter would last only one issue for Atlas Comics and the character would have a rebirth of sorts at Marvel Comics when David Anthony Kraft and Rich Buckler created a very similar character named Eric Simon Payne aka Devil-Slayer for them in 1977 in an issue of Marvel Spotlight.

Demon Hunter is a character I first discovered as a teenager while shopping at local comic shop Bookie Parlor. At the time I was buying any and all Atlas Comics as they were ones that owner Hal had introduced me to. I found the first and only issue in one of his cheap bins and can remember reading it once I got home and enjoying it as I found it to be on par with Marvel Comics I had read from the same year it was published. And when planning what Atlas Comic character to cover this year, the first one that popped into my mind was Demon Hunter and I am glad to be able to chat about him a little on this update as I do feel he is a pretty great character.

Here in Ohio, we had a ride that was called Screamin’ Demon and later just The Demon at Kings Island, one of our areas longest running amusement parks. The ride was designed by Intamin AG and Anton Schwarzkopf and was known for its massive loop, and in 1977 Arrow Dynamics made a coaster with this design for Kings Island that was called The Screamin’ Demon that had riders enter a loading station and get into a cart and would be follow the track through a massive loop and then be forced to do the same loop again going backwards! Each ride would fit about twenty people and was a pretty popular coaster for its time at the park. The ride was an attraction and remained a must for park goers for many years…that was until 1987 when Kings Island decided to sell the ride to Camden Park located in West Virginia who would call the ride Thunderbolt Express. The ride run until 1999 until a massive board malfunction left it down and out, and it was scrapped in 2004 ending its reign of being a classic Amusement park ride. While it might have went to the big scrap yard in the sky, for those fans of early Kings Island the Screamin’ Demon remains a great ride memory. For those wondering if I ever got to ride the Screamin’ Demon, the sad answer is I did not.

When I was a teenager, I lived in a big house in Kettering, Ohio that had a big side yard that was complete with a weeping willow tree and a massive two-car garage that had a shed and a tool/work out room attached. One night my cousin Stephen came over, and it was getting late. We were hanging outside when we noticed a weird glowing red light coming from the yard of the neighbor who lived behind us. The glow was super bright and a weird hissing noise was filling the air. This weird light and sound caused use to creep to the fence and peer past bushes to see what this was and standing in their yard next to a blocked up boat was a weird looking man with a hood or mask on who had a very weird and eerie red glow around him. Stephen and I watched this strange figure standing in the glowing red light for a minute or so, and then his parents came outside and he left while I still stood outside for a while and my imagination was already going crazy as I was in movie mode in my brain saying it was a demon straight from Hell!! In reality it was just the homeowner welding his boat…or was it??!!! I can remember that the idea of a demon living behind my house was even an idea I toyed with when it came to films for Independent B Movie. Fun and weird times was my teenage years as the love of all things Horror always played into my everyday life.

One of my favorite current female rap/pop singers is Iggy Azalea as I find her to be the top of that game with a great voice, top-notch rhymes and seems like a person who loves what she does and is who she is! On August 3, 2018, she released an EP to the masses called “Survive The Summer” that features a total of six songs and sadly was only a digital release…but a few physical ones were made and thanks to an Ebay seller, I was able to get one and do this quick write up for this update. I want to also say that this EP was her final release for Island Records as she parted ways with them and is now signed to Empire with a new release in the works as well as a possible tour. While many of the songs on this EP are fantastic and showcase Iggy’s style, the opening track and the title of the release “Survive The Summer” is the weakest track on the release as the other five songs are really solid. My favorite track is “Kream” where Iggy raps about cash and ass and the track has a great club sound. My second favorite track on this release is “Tokyo Snow” that as well has a club sound and also seems like it should be used in a crime film. Over all this is another great release from Iggy Azalea and shows that she is for me the true queen of the rap game.

Well as you can see Demon Hunter is a character who was very short lived but was able to help spawn a Marvel Comics character so his legacy still lives on slightly. And again for you comic readers who have not ever read an Atlas Comics issue do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Demon Hunter, The Brute, Tiger-Man, Iron Jaw or any other of their short lived characters and be ready to read solid and fun classic 70’s style superhero, barbarian, war and horror adventures. It really is a shame Atlas could not survive the war for shelf space between Marvel and DC in the 70’s. Well let’s get to the review for the one and only issue of Demon Hunter that I will be grading on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s see just how bad these demons are and how well Gideon Cross hunts them…oh and I want to also thank Bell, Book and Comic for having this issue in stock and also a thank you to the Bookie Parlor who introduced me to Atlas Comics.

Demon Hunter # 1  ***
Released in 1975    Cover Price .25    Atlas Comics     # 1 of 1

Gideon Cross with his shadow cloak becomes Demon Hunter a man who fights demons on Earth and in Hell in order to keep them from taking over and works as a gun for hire via a cult …but he also finds himself working for mafia crime boss Mr. Severs who has a price on his head and right before he is to be killed by a sniper Demon Hunter takes down the would be assassin. Once back and he collects his blood payment he gets another mission and that’s to kill the wheelchair bound mobster Harvey Aldous who wants Severs dead! After going with Severs on a dug sale as his bodyguard his employer makes big money and Demon Hunter heads to the airport to travel and finish his mission on ridding the world of Aldous. While at the airport he starts to question the motives of the cult he is a part of and also learns that Mr. Severs has been reported as to have committed suicide, and the cult has send demon Hamremmiz to kill him off as they have picked up on his thoughts of questioning their motives. After a very quick fight Demon Hunter dispatches the foul creature and returns to the cults hideout and watches as they kill a man and bring a demon up from hell to possesses and take over the corpse! Demon Hunter leaves the scene of the horrific crime and tries to figure out a plan to bring down the cult and even has the idea of having his own target Harvey Aldous join him in the fight, not knowing the man killed and possessed was indeed Harvey Aldous who has set his sites on killing the Demon Hunter.

This supernatural superhero comic was a fun read when I was a youngster and still is at the age of 39! The comic does a great job of mixing in elements from multiple comic genres like Superhero, Horror, Crime and even a dash of Thriller into one issue that showcases a supernatural superhero that was a former war vet who works for the mob as well as a cult and yet still thinks he is a good person…but only after they turn on him and want him dead. Demon Hunter, as a normal man, lost it all and found a new purposes in life after given powers of the occult from a cult what want him to do jobs for people and take samples of their blood before doing it. He has a magical cape as well as a sword that he can use on his enemies and that includes both humans and demons. Demon Hunter is kind of a stone cold cocky kind of slayer who thinks he is the end all be all, but also seems to have no real common sense. Like let’s be honest, only after watching them kill a man and throw his heart into fire does he finally realize the cult is evil….come one Demon Hunter you are not that dumb. He also weirdly takes a grandstand against evil after working for the Mob and even killed for them. It’s clear that Demon Hunter is a broken person with broken views. The main villains of this issue are the members of the cult Harvesters Of The Dark who not only have black magic and demons on their side they also have money and power it seems! They seem to have no loyalty to their members if they are to question the group’s motives and while they do like the dark world they also seem to be very motivated by money. These bad guys really are bad and mess with dark forces and have learned to use them to do very bad things. Plus now that a demon is inside a mob boss like Harvey Aldous who knows just how dark and evil they will get…as sadly the world never found out as this comic never got a second issue leaving us on a major cliffhanger. And like many of Atlas titles the true potential of the character as well as their story arch never was met. The cover for this comic is fantastic and is very eye catching and rivals anything DC was releasing at the time. The interior artwork is done by Rich Buckler and is great stuff and could easily fit in at Marvel Comics at the time. While this is an incomplete story due to the companies closure this comic is still an amazing read and is worth checking out if you enjoy classic indie superheroes that are mixed with a little bit of supernatural thrills. Check out the artwork below to see the style of Rich Buckler.

Demon Hunter is for the most part a forgotten superhero from the age of Atlas, but for those of us who have read his one and only comic adventure he added his flair to the world of comics. With so many more Atlas Comic character left for me to cover, you readers and Atlas fans do have many more updates to look forward to that will showcases these great heroes. But for our next update we will be walking away from the world of Supernatural Superheroes and will be taking a look at a Biblical/Sword & Sandal hero that is known as Samson! So until next time, read a indie comic or three, watch a indie movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for an epic adventure good time.

Spider-Man Has The Power To Slay Dragon Man!

Who doesn’t like listening to music on vinyl? Growing up I have fond memories of listing to the likes of Weird Al Yankovic, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Motley Crue and the WWF Wrestling Album to name a very few. But I also have some good memories of listening to comic books on vinyl…I am sure you long time comic readers remember Power Records released by Peter Pan Records as kids of the 70’s and 80’s grew up with these. I for one checked them out all the time from the library in Waynesville and most of the time the vinyl was missing, but my brother and I did have some of our own that we got from garage sales. One of my favorites from this series is the one featuring Incredible Hulk called “At Bay” that had old jade jaw taking on Abomination and Rhino at the Hulk Buster Base, a very fun listen and a good adventure for one of my favorite superheroes. Plus thanks to Power Records, I first discovered Holo-Man, an original superhero that I have covered here on Rotten Ink before. For this update, we are going to have some fun and not only chat about Power Records but also just some fun stuff going on in my life as well as in comics! So grab your record player and crank it to 11 as it’s time to power out with Spider-Man!

Synthetic Plastics Company was a plastic manufacturer that was founded by Daniel Kasen that opened in the 1920’s in New Jersey. Their main products were buttons and game pieces like poker chips, and they made a good living at making this stuff. But they would get into making vinyl records after World War II when Daniel’s brother entered the picture and they opened Peter Pan Records, that would spawn many other side labels like Power Records, Diplomat Records and Parade Records to name a few and would push for cheaper made vinyl records so the could sell them at cheap prices. These labels would mostly focus on children releases based on popular properties like Bugs Bunny, Sesame Street and Batman as well as Gospel, Comedy and budget releases and would crank out releases as they owned the press that made them. But while many listeners had these cheap made releases, they also knew that the sound quality was very poor and this was something that stuck with this company all during their time in business. Over the years and with many name changes, many of you might be shocked to know that Synthetic Plastics Company is still around and switched their home base from New Jersey to Florida and are now called Inspired Studios and are just shell of what they used to be, but it’s still very cool knowing they are still out there.

So with us talking about record companies and music, let’s take a look at the newest CD release of Dee Snider of the 80’s band Twisted Sister that was released in July 2018 and a release that I have wanted to check out for some time. Growing up, I was fan of Twisted Sister as well as Dee Snider’s other band Widowmaker, not to mention a big fan of his Horror Movie Strangeland and loved watching him out class the PMRC at the infamous 1985 Senate hearings. The release is called “For The Love Of Metal” and was released by Napalm Records and has 12 tracks. So let’s sit back, relax and get talking about this release shall we? When popping in this CD, the first thing I noticed is that Dee Snider has not missed a step when it comes to delivering amazing rock n roll vocals to heavy songs. And I must also say it blew me away just how heavy and rocking this release was. I also noticed that Dee also sounded a little bit like Alice Cooper in some of these songs and to be honest some of the songs even sound like they could have been song by him and released on “Brutal Planet”. I would say that my favorite track on this release would be “I Am The Hurricane” followed by “For The Love Of Metal” as both tracks I think really do capture the attitude and singing talent of Dee. Over all if you enjoyed Twisted Sister and like the singing style of Dee Snider this is a release that you should check out as one thing is for sure Dee Snider is a true icon of Rock N Roll!

What’s really crazy is to think that here in the Dayton area we have very little music shops left as places like Armadillo Records, Renaissance Music, CD Connection, Trader Vics, Gem City Records, Dingleberry’s and NRM Music are all shops of the past and all we have left is Omega Music, Toxic Beauty and Skeleton Dust and a few other mix media stores like Second Time Around, Game Swap Kettering and Buybacks to name a few who have solid and good music selections. I have so many great memories and moments at many of those long gone record shops and pretty much grew up visiting Renaissance Music and even to this day Geoff Burkman, who was the owner of the shop remains one of my close friends. Renaissance was a very cool place and one that I always felt at home at. The store had an amazing selection of music on vinyl, cassettes and CDs and was my go to store to get my 80’s hairbands. It was also the place I would get Horror Movies on VHS and later DVD as well as get posters, buttons, fanzines and Horror Indie Comics. It was a place over the years I would sit and chat with Geoff for hours about music, movies and comics. Even in school for one of my classes, I job shadowed Geoff for a class report and we watched Dawn of the Dead together that day on Laserdisc. I can still see and hear the old Renaissance Music TV commercials in my mind from time to time as they would have Geoff wearing a Godzilla mask and talking like Mr. T and calling himself Mr. G…classic. In fact many years later, Geoff would play Mr. G again in episodes of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre. Geoff Burkman and Renaissance Music also appear in the Independent B Movie film Wolf Hunter directed by Matt Hoffman as well. NRM is another place I used to love to go as it was in the Town And Country Shopping Center that was near the High School in Kettering I went to for a short time, and I can remember cutting class and going their to pick up music to listen to on my Sony Walkman. And that’s just the two stores as I have great memories of all the stores I mentioned above and miss the atmosphere of a good classic music store and searching for the next album of a band I liked or even discovering new music. No matter how the world changes, you just cannot sell me on digital media and that goes for music, movies, comics, video games and books. For this blogger, physical will always be the way to go. Below are some of the closed music shops that brought lots of tunes to this metal heads ears when growing up.

So as you can see, in my opinion music and comic books go hand and hand as both have been a main source of entertainment for me growing up. And I am going to say this, I really wish an indie comic company would return and make classic style Rock N Roll Comics like Revolutionary Comics headed by Todd Loren did back in 1989-1994, and yeah, I know companies like Blue Water tried but failed and I am talking about comics done by fans of the bands doing unauthorized comic issues on bands like Cinderella, W.A.S.P., Danzig and Billy Idol to name a few. But let’s move past a dream I am sure will never be made true and let’s focus on Spider-Man and this adventure made just for Power Records. I want to remind you all that I grade this comic on a 1-4 star scale and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s see what Spidey has in store for us as he takes on a massive Dragon Man!

Spider-Man Power Record # 0  **
Released in 1974       Cover Price $1.49       Marvel/Power Records     # 1 of 1

A group of college students and their teacher are out looking at the stars. Two students sneak away to make out while stars fall from the sky that turn out to be Dragon Men lead by the massive Draco King Of The Dragon-Men, who have came to earth with the plan to take it over. At the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson is mad as the story of the Dragon-Men has broke and none of his reporters have covered it yet. He sends Peter Parker to get some photos of the aliens or lose his job! Peter Parker turns into Spider-Man when his Spidey Sense goes crazy when he passes sewer manholes, and this leads him to travel around the sewer system where he finds Draco and his Dragon-Men who have a giant laser gun they plan on using in New York that will leave all machines and humans paralyzed! Spider-Man is able to trick Draco and the Dragon-Men and use his webbing on the guns controls and floods the sewer, washing away them and their fancy massive gun. Spider-Man later is back on the streets of New York and finds in the newspaper that the bodies of the Dragon-Men had been found and are robots and not aliens at all. To clear his mind and gaze at the stars above, Spider-Man sits on top of the Empire State Building and is lost in thoughts when Draco appears and shares that he is no alien but is really a missing scientist who fused his own blood with that of a giant iguana and has transformed into a massive fire breathing dragon humanoid. As Draco attacks, Spider-Man uses his fast speed to dodge him and Draco falls 20 feet onto a roof below. As Spider-Man rushes down to check on his foe, he only finds a small iguana there that crawls away into a crack in the wall.

This Spider-Man adventure was an original story made just for Power Records, and while entertaining, you can tell it was rushed and was not a priority to Marvel who did not bring their A-Game. This comic’s plot has Spider-Man on the hunt for Dragon-Men who are said to be from space and are now in New York and have a sinister plan to take over thanks to their massive fire-breathing leader Draco. Spidey, being the hero he is, not only tracks them down but also exposes that the Dragon-Men are robots and not aliens, destroys their massive destructive weapon and as well figures out that Draco is a mutated missing scientist! Spider-Man in this issue is the friendly neighborhood web head we all love and is filled with one liners as well as the fighting skills to back up his mouth. I also have always liked that Spidey uses his mind to also figure out how to stop the baddies and not just his fists. Peter Parker even in this issue has some pressure as his boss J. Jonah Jameson threatens to fire him if he doesn’t get pictures of the Dragon Men for the paper, and he also has to blow off the attention of Mary Jane Watson in order to get said pictures and this upsets his red headed love interest. Draco is a massive fire breathing dragon man who has a massive ego and wants to rule the world as he feels his superior mind puts him above normal humans…even if he started out as one. The Dragon Men are just robots who do what their creator asks, and while threats, they are by no means as threatening as such super villains as Green Goblin, Rhino or Shocker. While I am thinking about it, this story almost feels like it could have been an issue in the “Spidey Super Stories” comic series as it’s fast paced and the villain is over the top in appearance. The cover is pretty great and eye catching as it also reminds me of a cheesy b-movie poster. The interior art is also good and is done by an unknown artist as no credits are given. Over all this is a fun read and is a must for fans of classic 70’s Spider-Man adventures, but keep in mind the story is not mind blowing and is just a middle of the road adventure that feels like a back up story. Check out the artwork below to see what you get in this book and record set.

The Book and Record Sets should make a comeback in the world of comics as they were a fun way to bring in younger readers as well as add a new level of fun for older readers. In our modern world with digital, CD and Vinyl all still being around for us to listen to audio on, I am going to guess it’s only a matter of time before a company does it again…heck, maybe Sparkle Comics will bring this trend back! Now it’s time for us to leave New York and let Spider-Man do what he does best and that’s stop crimes. For our next update we will be heading to the world of snack food to take a look at Jell-O Man! So until next time, read a comic or three, listen to a CD or two and as always support your local Horror Host! So let’s get ready to meet next time and talk about a mascot for snack food.

 

Marvel’s Fastest Gun In The West…Rawhide Kid

Once upon a time western comics were all the rage for young readers, and cowboys like Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, Billy The Kid, Roy Rogers and so many others entertained and captured imaginations. In fact besides comic books, westerns also use to rule the box office as well as TV airwaves and cheap paperback novels, and it seemed like every kid wanted to be the cowboy when playing “Cowboy And Indians”. But like all super popular media, it, of course, also had a big fall and has lost its hold on the youth today who seem to prefer video game heroes to those from the old wild west. Growing up, I loved films like Once Upon A Time In the West, Magnificent Seven, Young Guns and Quick And The Dead, not to mention the classic true tales of Billy The Kid, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok! Plus no joke. The Rifleman is one of my all time favorite TV shows, and Lone Ranger was a hero of mine when I was a kid! So while westerns in media even by the time of my youth were not as popular of a genre, they still had their hooks in my entertainment. I mean let’s be honest, many of you readers growing up have played Cowboys and Indians and even looked up to the likes of Roy Rogers or John Wayne. For this update we are going to take a look at a western hero from the Marvel Universe and after looking at all the options, I decided to take a look at Rawhide Kid and his 1985 mini series. So get your spurs on, find a trusty horse and let’s head out to the wild west and see what Marvel has in store for us when it comes to Cowboy heroes. This update will be a quick one and should be a fun one for fans of classic Marvel western heroes.

Some of you younger readers I am sure do not remember the Rawhide Kid as Marvel Comics over the years have not really done much with him besides give him a MAX series and turn him into a raunchy character to try and be edgy in 2003, and then in 2010 he had another mini series put out this time again simply released by Marvel. But before we dive too deep and start the review of Rawhide Kid, I want to share a little of the character’s back story and history with you readers who might be unfamiliar with Rawhide Kid’s slinging ways. As a baby, Johnny Clay had most of his family killed by Indians, and he was left behind as his brothers fled and one was even captured and taken. Ben Bart, a fast Texas Ranger gunslinger, took in the infant Johnny and raised him as his own family on an old ranch, where Johnny at the age of 18 became the fastest gun in the west. One day Johnny heads to town for supplies, and while away, some gunslingers sneak onto the ranch and kill Ben and this sparks Johnny who finds the body to become on a quest of revenge. Once tracking them down and out-dueling them both in a gun fight, Johnny turns his adoptive father’s killers in and decides to change his name to Rawhide Kid and to use his fast shooting skills to help others. And after having it out with an evil ranch owner that leaves the man shot, the Rawhide Kid becomes a wanted man when a sheriff fails to see that the Kid was only saving the day. But even as a wanted man, the Rawhide Kid used his gun skills to help people and to fight crime. Over the years Rawhide Kid has teamed up with the likes of Two-Gun Kid, Kid Colt, Phantom Rider and even Iron Man! This character ran from 1955 -1979 and lasted 151 issues for his first solo run and would come back in 1985 for a four issue mini series. While Rawhide Kid is not a popular Marvel Comic character nowadays, he was one who made his mark for the company and is one that deserves respect for being one heck of an entertaining western comic character. Growing up, I read many of his adventures from comics that my Grandma Brassfield would buy for my brother from garage sales, and can remember enjoying them pretty well but still always preferring the superhero and horror comics. If you like classic western movies and TV shows and also enjoy reading comic books, give Rawhide Kid a chance as the early stuff is lots of fun and holds a real classic feel. Oh and I should also note that Rawhide Kid’s drink of choice is milk, and him asking for it at bars and saloons is a running gag in the series.

Cowboys also made a mark in the world of video games with most modern gamers agreeing that the Red Dead Redemption series is one of the over all best games going! But one of the earliest western games I remember was for the Atari 2600 and was called Outlaw and has you having to outdraw an outlaw in order to score points. And when getting this update together I figured it would be fun to take a small NES Challenge on a western themed game for the Nintendo and decided to settle on Gun.Smoke released in 1985 by Capcom. So I picked January 22, 2019 as the day to play this game and hooked up the RES (Retro-Entertainment System) and was ready to just sit back for a few minutes and just have fun and play this game and see how far I could get. My goal this time around is to not even beat the game but to just replay it after all these years, I want to thank Game Swap Kettering for having the game in stock for me to buy and make this quick play a reality. So after pouring myself a tall glass of water and eating a good meal of home made chicken and dumplings, I set out to take a shot of surviving the 8-bit wild-west! And the game was just as fun as I remember as I just ran around shooting all the baddies in town with my goal being to collect a bounty put onto the head of a criminal. The longer I played the more I enjoyed it, but also the longer I played it my hands became more and more cramped as the game forces you to always move up and you must be dodging and shooting at the same time. Capcom should make an updated version of this game and make it like an alternative to Red Dead Redemption and have the player play as a man on the side of the law whose goal is to capture some of the worst gun slingers the wild west has ever known…just an idea. If you enjoy classic NES games and also like wild west shooters, make sure to check out Gun.Smoke as I think it’s a forgotten gem for that system that is worth your play time.

I am not a big soda drinker, but from time to time I do enjoy a good soft drink, and for those wondering it really is hard to pick between Pepsi or Coke as each I think go well with different types of meals with Coke being the best with Pizza and Pepsi going well with Mexican food. But in October 2018 I must say I had one of the worst sodas I have ever tasted (minus those weird ones like Ranch and PB&J) and it was called “Moxie Original Elixir” and my gosh it had one of the worst after tastes of any soda I have drank as it tasted like cough syrup…it was so gross! So this is just a warning for you cola soda drinkers, stay clear of Moxie unless you have a bad cough cause who knows it might help ya!

While working on this update, I got thinking about the old steakhouse Ponderosa that was really inspired by the old west and flavors of the past as well as the TV show Bonanza. Growing up here in Ohio, we had a few of them around and I can remember that my Grandparents on my Dad’s side really loved eating there. I can remember eating the salad bar and loading up on small steaks and baked potatoes and chatting with my brother about toys, comics, video games and horror movies as we ate. But while they were popular places to eat here for a while, they faded away from the Dayton market and all went out of business with the longest one to hold on being on Airway Road. So I wanted to have a meal at Ponderosa in order to celebrate Rawhide Kid and Marvel Western Comics and to relive a little bit of my youth. The nearest Ponderosa is over an hour away from where I live and is in Hillsboro, and after calling up my pal Josh Weinberg, we hit the rode to have a good lunch at an old staple restaurant for our family growing up. The only downside is that I no longer eat red meat and must find some food I can eat from a place that is a steak house. We hit the road on January 15, 2019 to the good old Ponderosa, and on the drive there we chatted a little about the future of the Wolf Hunter movie series as well as a wrestling and baseball talk. It took a little over an hour to get there, but once we did, the place was pretty epic and from the outside was one of the biggest Ponderosa’s I have ever seen! The setup inside was very nice and clean, and Josh and I decided to eat the salad bar buffet. Our waitress was super cute and looked like she could have been a model or a pop star country singer. I chose water as my drink of choice and during my lunch I had chicken wings, mashed potatoes with two types of gravy, mac & cheese, green beans, ham and chicken noodles. And I must say it was all pretty good with the mac & cheese and chicken wings being the stand out and the most tasty. Over all while the inside was very Texas Ranch looking, the meal was good southern style cooking and flavors. On the ride back we talked lots more about MLB aka the Cincinnati Reds and had a hoot as we spotted in someone’s yard a statue of the Apple Pie Tree from McDonalds. It was worth the drive to eat once more at Ponderosa Steakhouse and over all was a fun cold day in Ohio. Below are pictures I took on that day.

So now that I have my belly filled with some good old Ponderosa food, I think it’s time we sit around the campfire with a cup of coffee and start our look at Marvel Comic western hero The Rawhide Kid and the 1985 mini series I have chosen to cover for this update. Now I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready readers and friends, let’s review the Wild West adventures of The Kid! Oh and I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this whole mini series in stock.

The Rawhide Kid # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75       Marvel       # 1 of 4

The Rawhide Kid is an old man now and is making his way atop Nightwind to town when railroad workers spot him, and the oldest member of the team shares the story of Rawhide Kid being the fastest gun in the west and how he avenged the murder of his adoptive father. After hearing the story, a young city boy on the rail team decides to quit his job to follow Rawhide Kid into town and asks him to train him in gun slinging. Rawhide Kid finds a saloon to relax in as the youngster also enters the bar and hears some of the men talking about the greatest gunslingers of the west and he chimes in Rawhide Kid and points him out to everyone as being the best! The saloon owner refuses to serve Rawhide Kid a good breakfast now as he thinks he is an outlaw and worse as he is about to leave some of the railroad workers have shown up for lunch and bait Rawhide into a massive fist fight that he is winning and is broke up by Sam the town Sheriff and friend of his who takes his old friend to the jail in order to give him a place to rest. That night the City Boy breaks down the wall of the jail to “free” Rawhide Kid who was not even locked up, and this makes the town go crazy as they all start firing at him and his new young goofy friend! But Rawhide Kids still keeps them safe and the Sheriff is able to calm the towns people down, as the City Boy comes to learn that the Rawhide Kid is really in town to put a flower on a grave of a young kid he gunned down in the city many years back.

This Marvel Western Comic is lots of fun and this first issue was a fantastic read to kick off a mini series as it blends his old adventures and his current story really well and brings new readers up-to-date on who the character is and was. The plot of this issue has the Rawhide Kid now an old man who returns to a town that he killed a young gun slinger in and soon finds that the town dislikes him and look at him as an outlaw, that his friend is now the town Sheriff and he also has a young city boy who idolizes him and wants to learn to become a gun slinger like him. Rawhide Kid is an aged fast draw gun slinger who is a man that is haunted by his past as he has taken so many lives with his guns. Plus I like that even though he is an old man he don’t take guff from people who want to try and test him and his legend. I also like that he just wants to avoid trouble and that all he really wanted to do in town is have some ham, eggs, bread and of course a glass of milk before visiting the grave. The City Boy is a young man who gets wrapped up in the stories of how great Rawhide Kid is and decides that by being trained by him will lead him closer to fame and fortune instead of working hard for his money. While he is a good kid, he also is a screw up and causes Rawhide Kid lots of issues with the locals in this issue. The townspeople are all mostly judgmental who hate Rawhide Kid due to old wanted posters that use to hang, forgetting that he was the one who gunned down a madman who killed many of the townsfolk many years back. Sheriff Sam is the only one who seems to know that Rawhide is a good man and he has to be the voice of reason when it comes to them getting trigger happy. And Nightwind is still the same old fast horse long time readers love. It’s great to see that Rawhide’s trusty horse is still alive and helping his owner to get out of tough spots. The comic does a great job of building up a good story that shows our hero is an aging man who still is as skilled as he was in his youth as the world around him is changing and his good deeds are out shined by damning words from the past. The cover is great and has a real classic look and the interior art is done by the iconic Herb Trimpe who is one of my favorite classic Marvel artists. I am surprised on how much I enjoyed this issue, and I am very much looking forward to reading what’s to come in issue two. So with that let’s see what Rawhide Kid gets up to in his next adventure.

The Rawhide Kid # 2  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75       Marvel       # 2 of 4

Rawhide Kid and City Boy board a train to get out of town and to check one of Rawhide’s bank accounts in a nearby town as he is owned money from a writer who has been writing dime store books about Rawhide Kid’s past adventures as well as tall tales about him and who has not paid! While on the train City Boy gets real nervous when two men approach and even tries to shoot them with a gun he has hidden in his boot causing panic on the train and for Rawhide Kid to also be the target of the two men who turn out to be the law as City Boy is a wanted man! Rawhide Kid and City Boy escape the train and the law as City Boy shares his story of how he accidentally murdered his old boss in Chicago defending the honor of his sister. The pair find an old abandoned shack and spend the night there only to wake up and find that they are in the practice area of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show! And after some talk Rawhide Kid joins the cast of his traveling road show as does City Boy. While working for the show he runs into the writer who he makes pay him all the money owed and also runs into Annie Oakley who was an old fling of his. But the lawmen also show up and he and City Boy must race off as Oakley and the rest of the crew run distraction.

This second issue has Rawhide Kid once more being on the wrong side of the law thanks to his new student City Boy. We find out his real name is Jeff Packard and he is wanted for murder back in Chicago of a slaughterhouse owner who employed him and his sister. Our plot of the issue has two main storylines with one being City Boy and his running ways from the two officers out to get him and the other is Rawhide Kid who has been ripped off by a writer who owes him lots of back pay money for books he wrote about the living legend. Rawhide Kid is very noble and not only wants what’s owed to him but also wants to teach and protect him from the law who wants to take them both in. Jeff Packard aka City Boy is a young man who still has the idea of being a gunslinger will bring him money and tells a tale of why he is wanted in Chicago that involves a man using and abusing his sister, and when thinking about it, I am not sure I believe him and I think he killed the man in a botch theft as City Boy is very much into money and is saying this in order to get the help of Rawhide Kid to escape the law. What really is cool about this issue is the fact they add in real Wild West people like Wild Bill Cody and Annie Oakley and have them at the Wild West Show! Makes me hope that more real cowboys show up in this mini series! The over all feel of this issue is the great chase as our heroes spend the issue on the run from the law who are outclassed by the fast and adventures style of Rawhide Kid who always is one step ahead of them. The cover for this issue is great and holds a classic western comic look and once more Herb did the interior and is fantastic. Over all this second issue is, as good as the original and I cannot wait to see what issue 3 has in store.

The Rawhide Kid # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75       Marvel       # 3 of 4

Rawhide Kid and City Boy have made camp outside of a town were Rawhide is teaching him how to be fast with a pair of six shooters. Meanwhile the law has hired a former slave now turned bounty hunter to bring in the pair of “fugitives”. While at the camp, Rawhide Kid goes for a quick swim as City Boy goes to make breakfast and is attacked by the law and Bounty Hunter who informs him that his sister is fine and is now to be married off, but thanks to Rawhide Kid and Nightwind, they are able to free City Boy and they ride off to find shelter and a place to hide and regroup in the near by town. Once in town they find that it is made up of former slaves and all the males have been killed and the women and children are hiding in the church and tell Rawhide kid that a hate group killed all the males and are returning for them all because they want the town cause oil has been discovered under it. The Bounty Hunter leaves the law behind and tracks his bounties down to the same town. Once the Bounty Hunter finds them in the church a showdown is about to happen until the hate group shows up and they have to join forces in order to save the locals as well as themselves. In the end the good guys win and kill and chase off the hate mongers and the Bounty Hunter drops out of turning them in and decides to stay in the town and help them rebuild and protect them from others trying to steal the oil. Rawhide Kid and City Boy ride off still on the run but also as heroes.

Wow this is a great issue and shows that Rawhide Kid is a good man who does what’s right and is also teaching City Boy the same morals. This issue has Rawhide and City Boy being hunted down by a skillful Bounty Hunter who ends up joining with his bounties in order to protect a town that is being slaughtered by a group of hate and greed filled men. Rawhide Kid is still a man trying to avoid his legend as he knows that much of it was made up by writers and storytellers, and while some think he is an outlaw, he is really a man who does the right thing and even risks his own life to save others. He also has zero tolerance for those who hate due to skin color and has no issues standing up for what he thinks is right and putting haters in their place or even six feet under. So I have to say I was wrong about City Boy as it looks like he was telling the truth about killing the man over his sister, and he in this issue is learning not only to be fast with a gun but also how to be a better person and to help others. The lawmen are desperate in this issue and go looking for help to capture their “outlaws” by hiring a bounty hunter and once more when they go for the arrest they fail. The Bounty Hunter is a former slave who also fought in the civil war and is now super skilled with a gun and always gets his man and seems very happy to be hired to take down a legend like Rawhide Kid, and in the end he learns that he needs to also look at valuing innocent human life and not just look at all people as dollar signs. This issue really does take a look at racism and does it in your normal Marvel Comics way and shows that they tackled all types of issues in their comics. One of my favorite moments in this issue is when the Bounty Hunter tricks members of the hate group into a barn and traps them inside and burns them alive…very brutal! The cover for this issue is great and showcases true comic western action and interiors is once more done by Herb and is fantastic! With the next issue being the final in the series, I am wondering how this will all wrap up and if City Boy will be reunited with his sister and if Rawhide Kid will find the retirement he so badly wants. Well let’s not delay and see what issue four has in store for our cowboy hero.

The Rawhide Kid # 4  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75       Marvel       # 4 of 4

Rawhide Kid has a terrible nightmare about having to save a faceless woman from a pack of skull faced baddies who all represent death while the town around them burns! City Boy is startled but warns him that it sounds like one of the tall tales from one of the dime novels written about him and they go back to bed after Rawhide burns the book in the campfire. The next day they ride into town and Rawhide Kid finds it’s the same town from his dreams and after City Boy goes to feed the horses a woman runs to Rawhide asking for help and out comes a pack of men who are the law looking for City Boy! Rawhide Kid tells the lady to warn City Boy to leave town and out smarts and moves the lawmen who warn him they will never give up till they get him! Rawhide Kid finds City Boy who is sick of running and is going to stand his ground against the lawmen and even sucker punches and knocks out Rawhide Kid who tried to talk him out of fighting. When Rawhide Kid comes to he finds that City Boy has been shot dead by the Lawmen and in a dazed state he refights the ghosts of his past leaving them once more dead. When he comes to he finds that he has killed all the lawmen who killed his new friend and this also allows him to bury his past and embrace his legend and to move on in what’s left of his life into the sunset.

This fourth and final issue in the mini series brings together all the stories that ran through it and gives a closing to Rawhide Kid who just wanted to retire and get away from his legend. The plot of this issue has Rawhide’s nightmare of a burning town with people trying to kill him coming to life and while he is able to face his inner demons and let go of his past, he also loses his new friend City Boy in the process. Rawhide Kid is an old man who has a bad rep with some people and others view him as a hero…and all he really wants is to be left alone and enjoy the time he has left on this world without having to fear that some upcoming gunslinger wants to put a bullet through him. The thing about Rawhide is that he is very loyal to his friends as well as to his morals of what he finds right, and because of this as reader I found myself feeling bad for him as trouble always seems to find him. In other words Rawhide Kid is a western hero who has baggage and guilt for those he has had to gun down in the past and would love to just disappear and never shot another person again. Poor City Boy I really did judge him all wrong, and he is no liar or coward in fact he is a young man who has warped views on how to be a good guy and what it means to be a true gunslinger, but means well. It’s crazy that in this issue he is gunned down and his body is just left on the back of his own horse for the town to see…no wonder Rawhide Kid has to go all quick shot on some lawmen ass! The major downside to City Boy dying is that he does not get to see his sister before he died. The lawman in this issue are very cold blooded and seem to get joy in trying to gun down the “outlaws” and are proud the shot and killed a young man who only killed to protect his sister. But while they are cocky at first, they all end up dead when they piss off Rawhide Kid who out classed them and leaves them all dead in the dusty streets. The end gun fight between the lawmen and Rawhide Kid is well down as he is still dazed from being knocked out by a sucker punch and envisions old baddies he has killed as well as loved ones he has lost, and with each re-kill or re-lose he is letting go of his past that haunts him. This mini series is great and really shows that Marvel has always made the best western themed comics with some of the most interesting original characters. The cover for this issue holds a little horror element to it and is very eye catching and as I have said before Herb Trimpe’s interior art is amazing! If you like westerns, cowboys and classic Marvel Comics check out this mini series!

So while Marvel Comics has left the Wild West far behind and have not had an ongoing series for decades their ones from the past live on for readers to discover at their local comic shops as well as conventions. I would recommend tracking down such titles as Kid Colt Outlaw, Two-Gun Kid and of course Rawhide Kid if you enjoy old western films and comics as they are really entertaining reads. For our next update we are going to stay in the world of Marvel and take a look at one of their most popular Superheroes The Amazing Spider-Man…but there is a twist as we will be looking at his Power Records Book and Record release that features an original story! So until next time cowboys and cowgirls, read a comic or three, watch a classic western film or two and as always support your Local Horror Host! See next update for a web slinging good time!

The Bright Colored Fur Balls Known As The Popples!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my place on the World Wide Web that brings my past and present together and allows me to chat about things I enjoy from comic books, movies, video games, music and Horror Hosts. It’s crazy to think that it’s already 2019 and 2018 is in the history books. Before we start our look at Popples, I am going to answer a few questions that I get asked by readers and friends about what are some of the most popular posts on this blog! I will break them down and share the top two posts for some of the most popular update themes, “Horror Host Icon” and “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic,” the ones you readers seem to love the most and the ones I get the most requests to cover. The “Horror Host Icon” updates are hands down one of my most popular themes as they hit home for many of you readers who grew up watching Hosts on TV and even modern viewers who catch their favorite’s on the internet. The top three most read Horror Hosts I have covered as of this posting are: Morgus The Magnificent being the most read Icon update followed very closely by both Commander USA and USA Saturday Nightmares! As for the From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update that has been the most read, that honor goes to Phantasm and is followed by I, Frankenstein and The Willies! So there you have it and with more updates in both of those themes, who knows what updates will be the top in 2020! So with that out of the way, I think it’s time we once more visit that magical world of Star Comics and chat about their mini series based on the popular 80’s plush dolls The Popples. So get your cool 80’s gear on and let’s travel back to when plush dolls were cool and no one had a smart phone glued to their face.

Popples were stuffed dolls that were weird looking animal creatures who could roll up into a ball and were a craze for a short time in he 80’s. So let’s take a look at Popples: the doll, cartoon and comics! American Greetings company Those Characters From Cleveland (TCFC) was the company behind the creation of Popples as their employee Susan Trentel was the designer who invented the roll up action of the dolls as she drew inspiration from rolling up socks! Susan was also the designer who brought to life Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake showing that she was a pioneer of 80’s toys and characters. She along with Thomas Schneider created the first Popples prototype. They went to toy company Mattel, and in 1986, these stuffed dolls were unleashed in toy aisles as well in the world of cartoons thanks to DIC Entertainment and comic books thanks to Star Comics. The dolls would last until 1988 and would have many waves and styles released during this short run including Pocket Popples, a line that was almost like action figures. The cartoon would run for 44 episodes and would go off the air in 1987 with three episodes never airing. The comic series would last for 4 issues and would come to an end in 1987. This sadly is much like many of Star Comics releases based on toys and cartoons. But while the Popples did not make their way into the 90’s and the toy industry moved on, they had two short lived comebacks with the first being in 2007 when Playmates released new Popples figures that only lasted four releases and in 2015 Netflix did a new cartoon series for their streaming service and toy company Spin Master ended up doing a toy line based on this new show. What does the future have in store for the Popples? In 2018 they were sold to Hasbro leaving them open to be made into more toys, cartoons, comics and even video games!

Growing up a kid of the 80’s and 90’s was glorious. As you have heard me say before, we had so many amazing movies, video games, comics and toys and it really was a great time growing up! In these times before the internet was all the rage, many of the big deals that were the talk on the playgrounds was stuff like video games, wrestling, comic books and the newest toys that were on everyone’s must own list…and I can safely say that while I heard them mentioned from time to time and even saw some of the girls have them, the Popples were never a major deal at my school. I remember my neighbor Joanna had some and that’s how I got to first interact with one, and while it was cool that they could turn into a ball, I never did want one as by the time they were released so many other toys, games, comics, horror movies and one special girl were on my radar. Now I need to stress I had nothing against the Popples, they were just clearly more geared toward girls and they were just not something many boys were flocking to. In fact I can remember many toy ads for these plush dolls showing up in comic books I was reading at the time, showing that the toymakers were really trying to make youngsters pay attention to them and help create the demand for them to be on every child’s Christmas and Birthday list. So while Popples were around and a part of my youth, I never really had a major connection to them and by all accounts they just were viewed by my friends and I as girl toys.

So like all good 80’s toys at the time Popples were just not dolls and action figures as these little puffballs have graced all types of other merchandise! The Popples also had the cartoons released on VHS. They had their own vinyl records, books, coloring books, lunch box, board game, shirts, cake pan, bowls, TV tray, stickers, valentine cards and much more. In other words the Popples were everywhere, and they were being pushed to really be a powerhouse in the kids market. While they had a good run, they never did capture the market like Care Bears, Smurfs and Strawberry Shortcake did before them.

Stuffed Dolls in the 80’s and early 90’s were very popular among the youth as besides Popples ones like Pound Puppies, Care Bears, My Pet Monster, Rainbow Brite, My Buddy and Teddy Ruxpin were all on kids must have lists and many of my friends as well as myself had many of these plush. So let’s now dive into the world of Star Comics who made a very short lived comic series based on the cartoon version of the Popples and see how well they were as kid comic stars. I want to think both Lone Star Comics and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock and making this review possible. I must also say that I am very shocked and yet really not that Star Comics decided to do a comic series based on Popples in 1986 as they ignored some vey popular toys from the time like Teddy Ruxpin, Jem And The Holograms, My Pet Monster, Nerfuls and so many others. Plus I still really wished that they would have done a comic series based on one of my childhood heroes and icons Commander USA, who was a Horror Host that would have made an amazing kids comic book hero. But let’s not talk about would could have been and instead, let’s focus on what was, as we take some fun adventures with the Popples. Oh and what would an update be without me reminding you all 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.

Popples # 1   *1/2
Released in 1986      Cove Price .75       Star Comics      # 1 of 4

Youngsters Billy and Bonnie have gone into New York to go shopping, and after some time passes, the Popples decide to follow them and wind up wandering the city. While walking the streets they come across a dog who has stolen an orange from a stand and follow it back to a limo where they find Alice the young daughter of the ambassador, who has decided to run away from home and hide in her father’s car. Some of the Popples follow the dog into the mansion and find out the young girl’s babysitter is really Madam Spy who is looking for top-secret information! When Alice decides to go back home, the Popples warn her of Madam Spy and they all escape in the limo as a Popple uses magic to drive and Madam Spy puts on jogging shoes and gives chase! Madam Spy wants to get to the Ambassador first so she can take him hostage and find out the big secret, and Alice with the Popples want to get to him to warn of the spying! In the end the Popples and Alice warn her father of the danger and Madam Spy and her helper are arrested with Alice learning the big secret is she is going to be a big sister! In the end the Popples find Bonnie and Billy who hide them in their shopping bags and set out for home.

This Star Comic first issue based on an 80’s toyline is not very good and is so far the weakest I have read from Star to date as I found this kids comic very boring and the characters of the Popples really annoying! The plot of this issue has the Popples going to New York and helping a sad young girl to warn her father of the evil Madam Spy who wants to steal all the secrets he has. The Popples who are the heroes of this comic are riddle talking, bouncing around little fuzzy goofballs who just want to have fun and help capture a spy by accident by stumbling in on the crime. Plus I need to say the Popples also all have weird names like Potato Chip, Party and Puffball to name a few. Madam Spy is the main baddy in the issue and she is by no means dangerous, she just really wants to steal secrets and bring them to the league of spies. Alice, Billy and Bonnie are all just goofy kids who enjoy shopping, oranges and having fun. The thing about this kids comic is that it really is kind of dull and never once did I feel like Alice, her father or the Popples had any danger around them. The cover is pretty eye catching and has that true 80’s kid comic charm, and the interior art is good and done by John Costanza and has that Star Comics style. Over all I don’t have much to say about this issue besides it was a below average read, and it makes me hope the rest of this series is not this bland.

Popples # 2   **
Released in 1987      Cove Price .75       Star Comics      # 2 of 4

Bonnie and Billy come home from school super sad, and the Popples find out that they have both lost their positions on the sports teams and are down in the dumps over it. Some of the Popples stay home to try and cheer up the kids while the others go to the school to see who replaced their friends on the teams. And while there, they meet Tina Terrific a young lady who never jokes and laughs and is good at everything and have replaced Bonnie as head cheerleader and Billy as quarterback. All the other kids fear and dislike her as she shows them all that she is the best and likes to rub it in their faces. After practice a Popple tries to make Tina laugh and find himself being kidnapped by her, and as the others find out the all give chase to get their friend back and that includes Billy and Bonnie. Finally the Popples are able to get their friend back and try to make Tina laugh, and even inform her that people dislike her over her behavior and attitude. This upsets the young girl who runs away and into Billy and Bonnie who end up inviting her to a party at their house and find a new friend in her as she also changes her way of thinking and becomes a fun person.

Issue two brings this kids comic in the right direction as it offers a lesson as well as a fun and goofy adventure for our heroes the Popples. This time around the Popples meet a young girl who pushes herself to be the best at everything and has an ego about herself that drives her peers away, and our fuzzy little friends must show her the error of her ways. This comic has a message and that’s make sure to have a little fun in your life and don’t treat all other around you as if you’re better than them, it also has a message of don’t judge people before you really get to know them. The Popples in this issue are the same fun loving, cheesy joke spewing fuzz balls who just seem to be wandering through life spreading joy and laughter. Tina Terrific is a lonely young girl who has no friends and is so good at everything she walks around school like she’s pro wrestling icon Ric Flair! The thing is she is just a sad youngster who would love to have friends but doesn’t know how to make them. I want to also point out that Puzzle Popple is a jerk as he with no thought tells a young kid that nobody likes her, I mean my gosh I was surprised he didn’t just tell her to kill herself! Puzzle Popple, you’re a terrible little creature with no respect. The pacing of this issue is better than the first issue and while better is still about and average kids comic based on toys. The cover on this issue is just okay and nothing special and this time around again John Costanza does the interior artwork. Over all not a terrible issue and was entreating for the most part, so let’s see what issue three has in store for us.

Popples # 3   **1/2
Released in 1987     Cove Price .75      Star Comics      # 3 of 4

The Popples are on a camping trip with Billy and Bonnie and have decided that they wanted to explore the wilderness for awhile and have fun by building a campfire and telling stories. Meanwhile at one of the nearby cabins, a young man named Seth who only watches TV that features aliens is forced to go outside by his mother and freaks out when he sees the Popples in the woods as he thinks they are aliens! As the youngster runs for his life he runs into real aliens Yuckle, Buckle and Clive of the Kelvin Empire who look like normal people and decide to investigate these fuzzy aliens the youth is telling them about. And once the aliens find them the Popples welcome their new friends to spend time around the campfire and play and this scares the aliens out of their minds! The aliens think that the Popples are bloodthirsty war machines and run for their lives as the Popples chase them thinking they are playing chase, the aliens make it to Seth and them have themselves beamed back up to their mother ship. With the aliens gone the Popples end up talking and playing with Seth who learns they are not aliens and has made new friends.

Issue three of the Popples this far is the best in the series as it really captures the true fun and silly nature of a kid’s comic and brings more personality to them. The plot has the Popples on a camping trip were they meet a new friend who is a fan of Sci-Fi films and as well unknowingly save the Earth from an alien invasion as their fun ways chase them off. The Popples in this issue are in nature and enjoying life by playing and telling stories by a fire, and thanks to their good nature attitudes they are able to scare off aliens who wished to do us all harm. The Aliens who look like little kids start off as war focused and fearsome on wanting to take down Earth and soon turn into cowards when they come face to face with the Popples magic. What makes this issue work for me is the fact it’s a camping issue as I feel that kids comic based around doing this activity always makes for a good atmosphere and brings back so many memories of being a kid running around the woods. The cover is pretty good and is eye catching with the use of the color yellow that always makes a cover stand out. The interior art once more is done by John Costanza who really does great work in the world of kids comics done by Star as it has a really cartoonish look. Over all this is a solid and fun read and mixes Kids comics with Sci-Fi comics and this far is the best issue in the series, I wonder if the next and final issue will be as good or better…so let’s not wait and find out.

Popples # 4  **1/2
Released in 1987     Cove Price .75      Star Comics     # 4 of 4

Bonnie and Billy are down in the dumps as they do not have enough money to buy their mother a gift for her birthday, and this even has the Popples a little down. But when Billy comes home with a flyer for a pet show that pays $50.00 to the winner the Popples are go out into the world and is going to find a pet for their friends they think could win. While across town at the mansion of the Van Ritz their pet French Poodle Prince who is sick and tired of being treated like a puppy by his owners and escapes the house via the fireplace that turns his fur black and while on the streets he is being chased by a dog catcher and is saved by the Popples who take him to Billy and Bonnie as their new pet they name Champion! But things look rough as Champion due to being babied his whole life does not know any tricks or the ones he does he completes them all wrong. But the Popples and the kids don’t give up and end up training Champion so well that he becomes the winner of the contest! But during his award ceremony Champion has an itch and by scratching he knocks off the black color and the Van Ritz come alive when they see their lost dog Prince is in fact Champion! So the Van Ritz’s get their dog back and Billy and Bonnie win the money and end up buying a puppy for their mom for her birthday.

The fourth and final issue in the Popples comic series from Star Comics is a pretty good read for fans of these fluffy plush dolls and those who love 80’s kids comics. This issue’s plot has the Popples and their human friends finding a stray runaway dog and training him to win a dog show so they can get the prize money and buy the mom a great birthday gift. This one is fun as it really felt like a cartoon episode that you would have seen on Saturday Morning Cartoons back in the 80’s and as well had a little Harvey Comics feel. That’s the one thing that for me always set Star Comics apart from the other Kids comics being made in the 80’s and even early 90’s is they always delivered entertaining adventures for home grown characters as well as others that came from toys and cartoons. And while I do think that the Popples is one of the weakest series they released, it still holds lots of nostalgic fun for a reader like me who grew up in the 80’s and know what the Popples are. The Popples not only in this issue but in the whole series are silly, happy go lucky fuzz balls who enjoy pranking, partying and laughing and its clear P.C. Popple is the leader of this group as he has the true magic touch and can do what ever he wants just by snapping his fingers. Billy and Bonnie are just good kids who enjoy as well having a good time but also show they focus on being active and doing the right thing. This ones cover is ok and is eye catching for fans of these guys and once more John Costanza does the interior art and shows that he has true talent for drawing kids comics. Over all this comic series was just ok and this could be one of the cheesiest and lowest rated from me this far on Rotten Ink, but I still had lots of fun reading it and revisiting the 80’s and when Popples originated no matter how little they impacted my youth. Check out the art below to see the style of Costanza and see what I mean that his style really does fit for kid’s comics.

So now that we have had a fun time with the Popples and shared some flashback memories with many of you readers, I think my next update will be something cool from my past that did mean something to me and impacted my youth and that’s the original Star Trek and the film Wrath Of Khan! As I promised back on my update for the Marvel Comic Star Trek series, I think it’s time to start the adaptations of the films and our next update will do just that. So until next time, read a comic or three, buy a 80’s toy or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for another space adventure with Captain Kirk.

 

American Hero: Captain America

It’s that time of the year again, when we as a nation celebrate our independence by grilling out meat and setting off fireworks while hanging out with family and friends, sharing a good drink and fun stories. That’s right, it’s July 4th and here at Rotten Ink that means I am going to take a look at an American themed comic book hero, and this year I decided not to mess around and go straight to covering the one and only Captain America! We will be talking about his first issue and his very early history before Marvel owned his rights and he was being published by Timely Comics. As always, I will try my best to make this update go by super fast as I know that many of you like myself have cookouts and fireworks in your future for tonight. And I will say that while this is my first time talking about Captain America, it will not be the last time I talk about this Star Spangled Avenger! So with America pride at a fever pitch this holiday, it’s my great honor to bring to you this American Icon Captain America update!

In 1940, Joe Simon was messing around with a new idea for a comic book war hero and doodled a character he loosely was calling “Super American,” but after thinking about the name of this new character he decided that the world of comics had so many Supers and that’s when he came up with the name Captain America! Then he came up with the character’s sidekick Bucky who was named after his friend who was a basketball star in his high school. After pitching it to Martin Goodman, who was the publisher of Timely Comics who later would become Marvel Comics, the comic series was green lit and went into a quick deadline production. Simon brought on his long time friend and calibrator Jack Kirby to do the art as well as really design and bring the character to life. Simon and Kirby would add in their views about the horrors of what the Nazis were doing at the time, and it was their way of taking a stand. Also brought on board to help bring Captain America alive was Al Liederman who inked, and Howard Ferguson did the lettering. The first issue was released on March 1941 and was a hit with comic readers of the time and became the top American themed superhero of the time, a title he still holds to this very day. The comic became one of the biggest comics and printed media of its time showing that the American people needed a superhero like Captain America. During this time MLJ was upset as they felt that Captain America’s shield looked too much like the symbol on used on the chest of their patriotic hero The Shield and this caused Simon and Kirby to change Cap’s shield to look more round. This of course became iconic to the character’s look. The character would run for many years and even tried his best to stick around after superheroes fell out of favor with comic book readers. During this time he created a team called the All-Winners Squad and even dated a superheroine named Golden Girl. But while they tried to save Captain America from the hero crash by adding in elements of Horror, Romance and Science Fiction, his time in comics came to an end in 1954. But that was just the early days as Captain America was destined to be brought back to comics thanks to Marvel…but that’s for another update.

Steve Rogers was a young man who had a hard life as by the time he was out of high school he had lost both his father and mother and wanted nothing more than to join the army and join the fight against the Nazis in World War II. But due to his small size and health issues, he was not accepted, but was selected to be apart of a secret project called “Operation: Rebirth” lead by Professor Erskine. This project involved a super solider serum that would turn a man into a perfect physical super solider and the key to win the war. Steve takes the serum and takes blasts from a vita-ray machine turning him into a true solider of super nature, but Steve would be the only super solider made as the Nazi’s sent a spy who kills Erskine and this forever seals the secret of the serum. Steve Rogers was sent to fight in World War II as a counter-intelligence agent and a costumed mascot for US that was given the codenamed Captain America! During his early adventures he got a teen sidekick named Bucky Barnes, he fought Nazi’s and super agents like Red Skull and even changed comic companies and became a member of the team The Avengers! Over the years, he has battled such baddies like Baron Zemo, Crossbones, Serpent Society, Baron Blood, Batroc the Leaper, Baron Von Strucker and Hydra. He has faked his own death via an assassination, fought against Iron Man in a superhero Civil War as well as was in a Secret War on another planet. He became a hero named Nomad as well as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D and even had turned into a werewolf. Captain America is a hero who has a rich history and many great stories in his own ongoing series as well as Avengers and cameos he has made in others books as well as mini series. This is just a very, very brief look at Captain America, and I think if you enjoy the movies being done by Disney via Marvel Studios or even enjoy reading comics you should do yourself a favor and go to your local comic shop and pick up some classic Capt comics and enjoy the stories that will unfold in the pages.

Hands down Captain America is one of my all time favorite superheroes alongside the Incredible Hulk and has been since I was a very young kid. I can remember talking comic books on the playground with fellow students and them making fun of the fact he was one of my favorites and they would all use the term “boring” when talking about him…now thanks to the Marvel Universe movies from Disney, those same people are now fans of the character! But let’s not harp on the past as it’s a holiday and we should be up and ready for fireworks! I do want to share some of my connection to Captain America as besides always being one of my favorite superheroes, one of my first ever comic books was Captain America # 185, one of my favorite action figures was my Mattel Secret Wars Captain America figure and the only arcade machine I own is Captain America And The Avengers! I want to think Mavericks for having this reprint comic in stock and would also like for remind you all that I grade on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So lets sit back and enjoy July 4th and take a look at the true American icon Captain America!

Captain America # 1  ****
Released in 2017     Cover Price $1.00     Marvel Comics     # 1of 1

German spies have made their way into the US Army and have been sabotaging and causing lots of mischief and this makes it hard for our top rated officers to trust anyone. But Mister Grover has a top-secret project in the works and takes two top ranked officers with him to witness it.  They are lead to a secret lab by Agent X-13 where they watch as skinny Steve Rogers, a man who could not get into the army, is injected with a serum that makes him smarter and stronger and the hero that America is needing. But as the experiment is done, one of the army officers turns out to be a spy and shoots the Doctor, shoots the remaining serum and also shoots and kills Mister Glover! Steve Rogers springs into action and is able to stop and kill the spy and after is sent out to find the spies and help win the war against the Nazis! One night while getting into his Captain America suit, he is found out by Bucky Barns, a youngster who is the mascot of the troop and becomes Cap’s teenage sidekick. A stage show that features a pair predicting terrible events is getting lots of press and even gets the attention of Captain America and Bucky who go and see Sando And Omar and quickly find out that the pair are spies for the Nazis and have set up the attacks they predicted! Cap and Bucky bring them down, and they find out that Sando is the true mastermind of this con and defeat him.

As you can see, to me the first appearance of Captain America is one of the biggest milestones in the history of comic books and for the most part is a very classic and standard comic superhero story as it should be as this is one of the originals to set that bar. The plot of this issue has a group of American agents and scientists taking an unhealthy young man named Steve Rogers and using him as a test subject in a experiment that turns him into the ultimate soldier with a mission to protect America and smash enemies like the Nazis. Once Steve becomes the masked hero, he is discovered by a youngster named Bucky Barns who becomes his masked sidekick named Bucky and together they beat up and stop the sinister plot of Omar and Sando who plan on doing harm to Americans. Really the plot of this first groundbreaking issue is that simple, and yet so good. What works is the fact that Captain America is such a great hero who represents a time in the world when a hero like him is really needed as things were so grim and many of people lived in fear and with unknown futures. Captain America himself is a noble man who loves his country and the people who make it up and is willing to risk his own life to save us from evil of all types.  He also is not afraid to crack some heads and bust some crooks when he see’s injustice. Bucky is a goofy teenager who idolized Captain America and upon finding out who the man behind the mask is turns into a skilled crime fighter himself who is always at Cap’s side when the battle starts. The issue’s main baddies are Sando And Omar, a pair of spy conmen who set up terrorist attacks and then predict them at a live stage show, and once found out they are beat up and brought to justice faster than you can read the words “Marvel Comics”. The cover for this True Believers reprint release is well-done and very eye catching for fans of Captain America and also rocks and amazing cover price of only $1.00! The interior art is done by the true legend of comics Jack Kirby and showcases some of his earliest work and his first time drawing Captain America, truly amazing classic comic book work. This is such a great read and fans of classic Marvel, Jack Kirby, Captain America and classic style Superheroes should 100% check it out. A perfect classic comic book with one of the most iconic heroes of all time and one that I can say I truly enjoy from cover to cover. This reprint comic also has a backup story from one of the early Marvel Comics issues and is as well worth the read. Check out below for a look at some of the classic style Kirby art you will see in this issue.

Well for me Captain America is the best patriotic superhero ever created as his comics and adventures has always been my favorite to read when comic to costumed heroes. I could go on and on about Captain America but for this Holiday update I will just leave you with this, if you have never read a Captain America comic do yourself a favor and grab an issue or two from the 60’s through early 90’s and enjoy a classic hero of the Marvel Universe. So I want to thank you for spending a part of your July 4th with me, and I hope you have enjoyed some cooked out food and are with loved ones to watch some fireworks on this American holiday. My next update will be about my Monster Bash vacation, and we will take a look at the fourth film in the Romero Dead films Land Of The Dead and the IDW adaptation of the film! So go enjoy Independence Day, and I’ll see you for the next update!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Killdozer!

Back in the 70’s and 80’s made for TV films were very popular and were the networks’ way of trying to keep viewers staying at home instead of heading to their local cinemas. And in 1974, thanks to ABC a Horror/Science Fiction hybrid film based on an old 1940’s novel was unleashed on viewers and sparked a cult following…that film is Killdozer! This made for TV movie not only got the comic book adaptation treatment from Marvel Comics but also has been talked about in TV shows like Beavis And Butt-Head, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Tonight Show as well as in the film Planet Terror. In fact, some people think that the real life rampage of Marvin Heemeyer, who used a bulldozer to cause panic and destruction in Colorado, was inspired by this film and even the media used the name Killdozer when covering the tragically ending event. So as you can see, this film really has become a cult film and is the newest entry in my From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. So put on your hardhat, as Killdozer is ready to strike fear into our hearts and souls!

Before we get to the film and the comic, we must first get to know and understand our “monster.” Killdozer started out as a normal giant bulldozer that was doing work on an island. It makes the mistake of trying to remove a metallic rock that fell from space, and in turn, the alien rock takes over the bulldozer and turns it into a human killing machine that runs on its own and seems to have a mind as well with one goal, to kill. Killdozer does not talk, does not listen to reason, and almost seems to like to stalk its human prey before going for the kill. Killdozer’s power came from the rock that fell from space and not much is known about its full power and whether the glowing blue life force that left the rock to enter the bulldozer was indeed a living being. Killdozer pretty much ruled the small island it was on and used much of the environment against the humans. Killdozer is massive in size, and his main tools for killing are its large blade plate with its other tools of death being its continuous track that can run over and crush as well as its ripper that can shred human flesh. Killdozer can withstand fire and explosives and even can keep moving without fuel. But while Killdozer might seem unstoppable, it does have some weaknesses like it can be tricked and out maneuvered as it is slower moving, and it as well does not like electricity. So while Killdozer can be stopped, it will take lots of will to live and strategy to do so, and while only a machine with a mind of it’s own, it still is a killing machine that humans should be afraid of.

So as you can see Killdozer! is a several ton terror that is driven by unknown powers from space and almost seems like it could be a prequel character to the Stephen King story and movie Maximum Overdrive! Now we are at the point where we will take a look at the film and its legacy as well as my first time viewing of the film. The movie’s plot will be taken from our pals at IMDB, and the rest will be written of course by me. So let’s take a look at the film that was inspired by a book that sparked a comic.

Killdozer! (1974)

“Construction workers building an airstrip on a small Pacific Island encounter an ancient non-material lifeform which has lived in the ruins of an ancient temple for millenia. The entity is of course malevolent and commandeers the earthmoving equipment to the general detriment of all concerned.”

Killdozer started out as a novel by Theodore Sturgeon and was released in 1944. Thirty years later, ABC along with Universal Television developed a made for TV movie based on the book in order to scare viewers and keep them from going to the cinema to watch a horror film. The film premiered on February 2, 1974 on ABC and was met with mixed reviews by critics and viewers. It would be many years before Killdozer! made its way to home video when Universal, through their DVD-R on demand service called The Vault, released it. Killdozer! It was released on TV the same year as these other Horror Films scared viewers on the big screen: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, The Bat People, The Ghost Galleon and It’s Alive, to name a few.

I watched Killdozer! for the first time on January 16, 2018 via the Universal Vault DVD-R release…and I must say that while it’s was nothing too special, it had a fun early 70’s cheesy horror film feel to it and was very entertaining. What worked for this movie was the atmosphere as it was set on a very small island that gave our contract workers a very small area to hide in from the killing machine. The film starred Clint Walker who was in other made for TV Horror movies like Scream Of The Wolf and Snowbeast. It co-starred Neville Brand, who was in a number of Horror Films that include the 1977 Tobe Hooper film Eaten Alive, and they, along with the rest of the cast, do a great job pulling off that they are scared of a killer bulldozer. Another thing that shocked me is how good the score for the film was as it added to the over all Sci-Fi and cheesy nature of the film and was done by Gil Melle, who did scores for such other films as The Sentinel, Blood Beach, Frankenstein: The True Story and Death Scream, to name a few. Over all I must say that if you enjoy movies that have machines that running wild and try to kill every living person they see, then Killdozer! is one you will want to watch. I should also note that this film is bloodless, and all the deaths do not show harm coming to the characters.

Killdozer! found itself getting the comic book treatment the same year as the film aired on TV thanks to Marvel Comics and their series called Worlds Unknown that features cool science fiction and horror stories in every issue.  They have covered the likes of The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, to name a select few. And for issue 6, they adapted Killdozer! and even played up the fact it was also a made for TV Movie! I want to thank Amazon for having this in stock for this review. So before we frightfully dive into this comic, I need 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. So let’s travel into the comic world and see what kind of mayhem Killdozer! has in store for us.

Worlds Unknown # 6  **
Released in 1974     Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 6 of 8

A war in space that took place long before our written time caused a killer cloud that took over machines and made them act as if they had a mind of their own. And during this battle, one of these machines was blown out of space, and it fell to Earth on an island where it remained for many centuries! Tom Jaeger and six of his workers are dropped off on the island a billion years after the cloud has fallen, in order to make a landing strip for the air force in three weeks. One of the workers finds a temple and after hitting it with his bulldozer, he unleashes the cloud that takes the machine over and kills the worker driving it and turns its attention toward Tom who does his best to shut the machine down. The bulldozer does not stop there and targets and kills two more of his crew, causes Tom’s own workers to think maybe he is the one doing the killing. But once the Bulldozer goes on a rampage again, Tom and his worker Chub figure out a plan to stop it once and for all by making it enter the water and then electrocuting it! As they set their plan into motion, Al the other living crew member tries to sell out his fellow man, but if does not work as Tom’s plan kills the Killdozer.  He and Chub then watch as Al loses his mind.

Marvel Comics tried to take the novel and movie based on Killdozer and make a comic adaptation of them, and sadly, after reading it, they fell a little short. The plot is about seven construction workers on an island who become the target of a killer bulldozer that has been taken over by a cloud alien from outer space, and the humans must stay strong and together in order to stop the dozers killing rampage. The story has elements of the film as well as some of the novel and blends them together to sadly make a mediocre horror comic that does not pack any major chills and all the kills happen off panel. While it is only mediocre, it still is a fun read and it’s very cool to see Killdozer itself as a comic character. I do enjoy that in this comic Tom’s crew start to turn on him and wonder if he is the one killing them off until they finally see the Killdozer roaming around on its own. I also liked the idea of a temple being built around the cloud from an ancient civilization in order to keep it prisoner. The downside to this comic is none of the characters are that likable nor do we really get to know them at all. The pacing is fast and yet still pretty lackluster. Tom is a focused man who tries his best to warn his crew of the Killdozer! and Al is a coward who is willing to throw his fellow man under the dozer in order to save his own butt! The rest of the crew members are throwaway characters who are all manner of generic. The cover to this issue is very eye catching and showcases Killdozer about to kill. The comic interior art is done by Dick Ayers and is well done and has that classic 70’s Marvel look. Over all, this was a fun read and is a cool comic for fans of the film or novel of Killdozer but is not what I would called a must read for Horror Comic readers. Check out the art below to see Killdozer in all its Marvel Comics glory!

So while Killdozer did not set the comic world on fire, it was still very cool to see a comic based on a made for TV horror film. And while Killdozer has a very small cult following, it still made its mark in the world of Horror Films and Horror Comics, no matter how small the mark is. My next update will be about another DC Comic Superhero that I feel is very under used, and that’s Hawkman! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for our flying adventure with Hawkman.

January The 13th: The Muppets Take Manhattan

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hercules Once More Wants You To Marvel At Him This Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s hard to believe that we are once again at our big Turkey Day update and that means we will also be going back to Ancient Greece or in the case space as we are going to once more check in on Hercules from the Marvel Universe and the second mini series of him having adventures in space after being kicked off Mount Olympus for partying too much by his father Zeus! We also will be chatting a little about the character again and some of my memories of the Marvel version of Hercules, and we will also have a very special announcement about an upcoming Sparkle Comic that I will be writing and editing! But if you’re like me, I can smell the ham cooking and am looking forward to eating some mashed potatoes and rolls so let’s get this update started! Well I should say also that I am thankful for my family and friends all who have made my life so much better! I am thankful for Sparkle Comics and Blood Scream Comics as it’s a great outlet to be creative with friends and entertain readers! I am thankful for my cats Leslie and Streets J who add joy to my day-to-day life! I am thankful for my job as it’s a fun place to work and my co-workers are all outstanding people! I am thankful to Baron Von Porkchop as doing a Horror Host show is a dream come true! I also want to thank all my friends who use to make shot on video films with me back in the day of Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video as those films were so much fun to make! Oh I also want to say a very big THANK YOU for spending apart of your holiday with me here on Rotten Ink. So let’s catch back up with our good pal Hercules!

Growing up, I read lots of Marvel Comics from all decades as my brother and I would collect whatever issues we could get our hands on. And I can remember reading issues with Hercules in them mostly in the pages of The Avengers, Thor and Marvel Premire and while I enjoyed his antics in the pages of those comics I was never a diehard Marvel Hercules fan and that’s shocking as I loved the legend of Hercules but I think he just got lost in the shuffle as Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor got most of my comic reading attention when it came to Marvel. In the Marvel Universe Hercules is an egomaniac that is a party animal and rushes into battle as he fears nothing and thinks his power and strength cant be topped. He is also a womanizer who even at times looks down on the female heroes and not in a mean way but more he is just so out of touch. Oh and he drinks a lot and is drunk at times causing issues. But while he does have flaws and its more because he is a fish out or water a hero out of his own time he does have lots of positives as he is very loyal to his friends and would sacrifice his own life to be the hero of the day. Plus in the Marvel Universe Hercules is strong and powerful but is not on the level of Thor or Hulk and has lost many battles even once being put into a coma by The Masters Of Evil. I also remember a story arch that had Hercules being fearful of battle and trying to hide his fear from other heroes, this took place in Thor Comics and that helped add another layer to the character for a short time. I also remember the multiple time that Hercules took on The Incredible Hulk and while good fights old Herc was always outclassed. The character as of recent time has been more of a background player even though he took over Hulks book for a while during the aftermath of the World War Hulk arch that had the name change to “The Incredible Hercules” and ran from 2008-2010 before being cancelled and going back to The Hulk. He also played a good part in Marvel Zombies as well as the long running event that was called Secret Empire and was apart of the underground team to bring down Hydra. So while Hercules in the Marvel Universe has never made his way to the films nor has he ever really been a major player he has to be respected as he has did his best to add to the Universe and brought a classic Greek hero to the world of Marvel Comics. What I would like to see Marvel do with Hercules in 2018 would be that he is on the outs with his fellow Gods and in order to get the respect and honor back he is given new labors that test his wits and might and even turns him into almost a anti-hero as he is forced to fight even fellow heroes as well as take a side in wars fought among men. Just an idea and a way to make Hercules be front and center as Thor and others are not sure his motives and he himself having to act under the will of his angry father who wants his son to be more vengeful. But I am sure Hercules will always be what he is in Marvel and that’s a solid background and team member of a massive team.

So now is the time for the major announcement about a future Sparkle Comics comic that is in the works and will be released sometimes in 2019 that will have me doing the stories and have the super talented Jeff Potter doing the art,  For those who don’t know, Mr. Potter has done the art for the Sparkle releases of Adventure Man # 1 based on the 80’s knock off generic toy of the same name as well as the comic based on the old shot on video film from Independent B Movie Farmer Joe # 0.  Both are top notch amazing comic books if this Editor In Chief says so himself! So I am sure you are now really wanting to know what this title will be, and I am going to share this with you my blog readers first before it hits the Sparkle website or social media that we will being doing a ongoing comic series based on the Greek Hero Hercules that will be inspired by the classic Sword And Sandal films from the 50s and 60s.  The first issue will have Herc taking on the Cannibal Cavemen! This is a project that I am very pleased to be doing as growing up I loved watching those classic films that starred Steve Reeves, Reg Park and Alan Steel as I found them to be lots of fun filled with action, adventures, drama and even dashes of science fiction.  The world of comics is lacking this type of comic starting Hercules. and I am proud that Sparkle will be able to bring this series to comics shops in Ohio as well as via online. So I hope that this has made many of you readers happy, and I hope many of you will check this comic series out once it”s released in 2019 and that it takes you back to the days of watching Hercules films on Saturday Mornings and reading his adventures in the pages of Charlton Comics. Check out the raw image of the cover for our first issue and again very much looking forward to creating this comics stories and quests.

So there it was, Sparkle Comics is doing a Hercules comic series that will be starting in 2019 that will for sure please fans of this classic Greek Demigod hero. So we are now at the time of the update when I have to start the comic review, and it’s kind of sad to think that this will be the last time we will be visiting Marvel Comics’ version of Hercules on Thanksgiving as he only had two classic mini series and with this one we have covered them both. To be honest, I am not really sure why I think of Hercules and Sword And Sandal films on this day but ever since I was a kid, strangely, I have….I wonder if when I was a kid maybe my dad had something like the Steve Reeve Hercules films or Three Stooges Meet Hercules on the TV on Thanksgiving….or if it’s because most of the Hercules films are considered Golden Turkeys? Whatever the reason, I will do my best to always cover a Hercules comic series on Turkey day and or at least some sort of Greek Hero book. So before we travel back to space and catch up with our pal Hercules, I do want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a 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 with that, let’s see what our old pal Hercules is up to on his second space mini series adventure!

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 1   **1/2
Released in 1984     Cover Price $0.60    Marvel     # 1 of 4

Hercules has taken sides in a battle in space over a planet that is used for mining and two sides are fighting over the riches that are present one side is rebels the other is the government and Herc and Recorder are on the side of the government and after bringing down the leader of the rebels who turned out to be a Skrull this battle also leads to the death of one of Hercules closest friends in space as he has been hanging out with for over 40 years and this is a sign for Hercules to move on deeper into space to find a new adventure. Once arriving to the new planet Hercules and Recorder meet Officer Tyne Pryntess who is an officer and who allows our hero to stay on the planet but she must interview Recorder to get information. While checking into his hotel room Hercules spots a beautiful woman who ignores his charms and this makes him want to have her even more! Meanwhile on Mount Olympus Ares The God Of War is mad and braiding his fellow Gods about growing old and fat and even condemns Zeus for allowing humans to have free will, this angers Zeus who turns Ares into ash and storms off. Hercules soon finds his dream girl who’s named Sasha who is a model and as she is on stage he corners her only to find out she is a he and is a Skrull who is in hiding as he was to be killed on his home planet! While Hercules forgives the Skrull but the crowd does not and Herc is forced to flee with the Skrull and Recorder as he does not want to hurt anyone. So after escaping they escape the planet with the help of Tyne Pryntess. We cut to the throne room of Zeus on Mount Olympus and the father of all gods tells his brother Pluto that all the Greek gods must die!

This 2nd series starts off with a bang as our plot takes Hercules and his robot friend Recorder deeper into space as Hercules losses a friend to a war that was caused by a Skrull, meets a woman he wants to get with that’s a Skrull and ends up befriending the shape shifting alien and is able to escape the planet. But while the plot of Hercules adventure is space is fun the real interesting story that is brewing is the fact Zeus is aware he is loosing his footing with mankind and is now on a warpath of killing his own godly children and starts by killing Ares as he speaks the truth of the God’s loosing their followers on Earth. Hercules in this issue is still very brave and is on the side of what’s right as he opens the issue helping the Government stop a group of Rebels who are hellbent on killing. He also shows very much he values friendship and that he has a big heart as the death of his friend truly bothers him. But as always while he is a hero he also spends most the issue trying to swoon women and push them into kissing or falling in love with him!! Recorder is around and once more filled with facts and advice and is still a great character but I will say he seems to be not as fun loving as he was in the first series. Skyppi is a Skrull who is a fugitive on his home planet and hides himself as a super model in order to earn money to survive, so far he seems like an older Skrull who fears death on his home planet will be cool to see if he joins Hercules and Recorder for this whole mini series. Officer Tyne Pryntess seems like a really good person and she can tell when people are lying as well and calm even the most wild of beasts, makes you wonder if she will come into play more in this series. Over all this first issue is a great way to kick off the 2nd space adventure for the Prince Of Power and I really cant wait to see how the Zeus storyline plays out as his path of killing rage is very interesting. So as I am smelling the ham cooking lets move onto the second issue and see what its has in store for us before dinner. Oh and I want to say that I really dig the cover of this issue as it showcases our three traveling heroes.

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 2 of 4

Hercules along with Recorder and Skyppi are trying to escape the planet in the chariot and are being chased by the police who are willing to shoot them down! Hercules jumps from the chariot and stops the police from chasing them but while doing this the chariot crashes and leaves Recorder hurt and in need of repair and they rush to get him repaired. Meanwhile a crazed Skrull hater named Red Wolf is on a rampage and is killing Skrulls on a space station including a politician! Red Wolf is shot down and turns into a normal human named Rojohn Smythe and is taken to jail. Meanwhile Hercules and Skyppi get Recorder to a repair shop only for themselves to be under attack by the stations police force when they get a call that Herc is now a wanted man! As Hercules gets arrested Skyppi turns into a bug and escapes as Recorder is still left in the repair shop. Back on Mount Olympus things are going bad as Zeus is on a killing spree and is taking the lives of his fellow Gods with only Apollo able to escape as he rockets himself into space. Hercules wakes up in jail from a nightmare and due to Zeus actions he has also aged, and worse he is sharing the cell with Rojohn who explains that he cannot control Red Wolf as it’s a spirit that lives inside him that hates Skrulls! As they chat Skyppi shows up to break them out and this triggers Red Wolf who goes into kill mode and attacks the old Skrull! Hercules stands up for his friend and fights Red Wolf around the jail and this leads them to the airlock and when it opens Hercules saves the life of Red Wolf who in turn respects Herc and runs distraction to the guards so Hercules, Skyppi and Recorder can get to the chariot and head to Mount Olympus to see what is going on with his father as the nightmare he had shook the Prince Of Power to his core.

Wow this second issue is really good and if you dig Hercules in the Marvel Universe this is one that is worth a read! The plot of this issue has Herc and his pals escaping one planet that leaves Recorder damaged and in need of repair all because Hercules was careless and only wanted to fight and not get his friends to safety, and when getting them off the planet finally they end up at a space station that has a Skrull hating possessed killer who has his eye on Skyppi! Hercules in this issue learns a lesson that his careless love for battle does have downsides as it leads to a friend being hurt, he also learns that using a combination of fighting and brains is the best way to win a fight! One thing as well that happens to the ever cocky Hercules in this issue is that he is growing older as his father Zeus kills more of his fellow Gods and this worries the Prince Of Power as he don’t know what’s going on at Mount Olympus but knows something is wrong for sure! Recorder and Skyppi are great sidekick characters and while they are under the protection of the Lion of Olympus they also are looking out for him as they try their best to be his voice of reason. Red Wolf is a spirit who for some reason 100% hates Skrulls and wants to kill as many of them as he can! While Red Wolf is a bad spirit he does knows respect when his life is saved and in turn does what he can to help Hercules escape the space station. I really liked the look of Red Wolf as it was a weird mix of Native American, Sabertooth and demon! Zeus has lost his mind and is really on a killing spree on Mount Olympus and is truly the main villain of this comic series! The only God this far to escape is Apollo who has fled for his life and by the looks might be on his way to find Hercules to try and get help. What I like the most about this series this far is the fact Hercules is traveling around causing a mess were ever he is going and while he is having a space adventure his home on Mount Olympus is crumbling! Cool cover and great interior art work by Bob Layton and another fun issue in this mini series….man I can smell that ham cooking even stronger so lets move on to issue three!

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 3   **1/2
Released in 1984      Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 3 of 4

We start on a moon planet and a group of tomb raiders are being slaughtered by someone who is setting traps by using jewels and leaves the only survivor Shreck left to enter and retrieve the pure power that awaits him inside! Meanwhile Hercules along with his friends are traveling back to Mount Olympus when he gets a call from Mentor that he needs to rush to Titan as something bad has taken place. As Hercules arrives he soon finds out that Apollo is there and as well has aged and is near death, before the God of Light dies he tells Herc that all that awaits him back on Olympus is death. Mentor takes Hercules to the side and takes him to the great space computer ISSAC to see what is going on at Mount Olympus and soon finds that all of his fellow Gods are dead besides Zeus! Meanwhile Shreck finds what he is looking for and that’s the tomb of the late Captain Marvel and he steals the dead heroes power bands and heads to Titan and attacks just as Hercules is set to leave for his home. While Hercules, Skyppi and Mentor all try and hold off the now powerful Shreck who is doing his evil deeds all in the name of Thanos, Recorder and ISSAC are trying to find a weakness in the power that was once the mighty Captain Marvels. As Shreck knocks out our heroes in a brutal battle and starts his destruction of Titan, Recorder gets the information he needs to give to the awakening Hercules and the prince of power sets the plan in motion and tricks Shreck into a power core that overloads him and ends his path of terror once and for all. As Mentor and says farewell to Hercules, the might Zeus sits on his throne on Mount Olympus and awaits the arrival of his last son.

This was an entertaining issue that adds one last side quest to Hercules before he can make his way home to find out the answers he is seeking. This one has Hercules and his pals defending Titan from a power crazed madman who is a follower of Thanos and who has robbed the grave of Captain Marvel to do so! Hercules in this issue is still very much fun loving and looking for fighting action but he also really seems to be worried about his home and all his fellow Gods that live there. Plus as always he sticks his own neck out in order to save his friends and the innocent people who could be injured unjustly. Recorder is super helpful in this issue as he is quick minded and along with the worlds Super Space Computer come up with a plan to stop the threat in its destructive tracks. Skyppi as well tries what he can to help by shape shifting and trying to keep Shreck at bay, while he is a downbeat old Skrull he still shows he very much is a loyal friend to Hercules. Mentor, his son StarFox and computer ISSAC all live on Titan and try to warn Herc on what’s awaiting him on Mount Olympus and also offered shelter to the dying Apollo. Shreck is a soulless scumbag who follows the words and evil teachings of Thanos and robs a grave of a beloved superhero in order to still his power bracelets to bring death to all those who ever wronged his idol. Shreck is a true scumbag and a terrible person and even sent in his own friends to get what he needed and knew that they would keep dying…Shreck is a terrible person so once he is brought down you find yourself very happy. The sad part of this issue is seeing Apollo very old and dying with Hercules by his side telling him that their home is no more and that Zeus as turned against them all. I think the best thing about this issue for me was the last page that had Zeus sitting on his throne holding a bloody axe and awaiting the arrival of his last son alive. Cover of this issue is so-so and the interior art by Bob Layton is good and I should also say that he also did the story for this mini series. So with that this issue is good and a nice set up for the final issue and with that lets move onto the fourth and final issue.

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 4  ***
Released in 1984    Cover Price $0.60    Marvel      # 4 of 4

Hercules arrives at Mount Olympus and finds it in ruins and all his fellow Gods dead and gone. His father with anger and hate in his eyes sits waiting for him to enter and challenges him to a fight that will leave one of them dead! Hercules refuses to fight his father and this angers Zeus who also creates a marble Horse Monster to go after and run off Recorder and Skyppi and attacks his son! Zeus beats Hercules up and damages his arm and blinds him in one eye, he also alerts his son that his fate is with a pearl that he had placed in a vat of fire and just as the father of all Gods is about to kill his son, Hercules smashes the walls around them and buries Zeus under the rubble. Meanwhile Recorder and Skyppi trick the Marble Horse and push it down a hole and return to find Hercules weak and possibly dying from his wounds, as they try and get him to Apollo’s Chariot the Mighty Zeus breaks free and is hungry for blood! As Recorder takes Hercules away Skyppi stays behind and takes the form of Herc to try and trick Zeus but it does not as Zeus grabs Skyppi by the neck and “snaps” it just as Hercules comes back for him and this trigger the Prince Of Power to fight his father and he gives the king of Gods a butt whopping! Just as Hercules is about to smash his father with an axe he drops it and Zeus informs him that he has passed the test and that he would like for Hercules to be the new role model of mankind as he and the Gods time has long been over, and that he never really killed the other gods they are all just in another dimension were they will all live and Hercules as well can decide if he wants to stay or join his fellow Gods in this new dimension by getting the pearl from the fire. As Zeus leaves Hercules is filled with joy knowing his father has only testing him and not truly mad and decides to stay and go on more adventures with Recorder and Skyppi!

Hercules The Prince Of Power fighting The Father of The Gods Zeus in a bloody battle is the plot of this issue, and man, was this a fun one to read! The fact that Zeus is like a crazy axe wielding maniac filled with rage and a cocky attitude makes him a very evil foe for Hercules, but after almost beating his son to death and forcing his own son to almost beat him to death we all learn that this was just a test to see if Herc has learned a lesson and if he would like to join the Gods in a new dimension or if he would like to stay on Earth and do good for humankind. In this issue Hercules shows that he is not only loyal to his family but also his friends, and when pushed, he will do the right thing even if it’s fighting his own father to the death. He also shows that he can be hurt badly as his father blinds him in one eye and almost removes one of his arms from a powerful blow with his axe. I also really like that Hercules decides to stay on Earth and by doing so his wounds are healed and his aging goes away. Skyppi and Recorder show that they work well as a team as they outsmart and defeat a massive foe made of stone and even risk their own lives in order to try and help save Hercules. Zeus starts the issue out being a monster who it’s clear could kill Hercules and his friends with ease, but by the ends shows that he is a loving father and an ancient god that knows his time has passed. This second mini series continues the adventure of Hercules in space and ends with him back at Mount Olympus and delivers a very fun and entertaining read that is sure to please fans of this character as well as fans of the old Sword And Sandal films. The cover of this issue is pretty great and shows a evil looking Zeus standing over a defeated Hercules and is eye catching, and once more, the story and interior art done by Bob Layton is fantastic and is great classic 80’s Marvel stuff and makes this even more enjoyable. So as you can see, this was a solid 4 issue read that delivers adventure and drama and throws in just enough Greek mythology to make it fun for fans of comics and history! Check out the art below to see a sample of Layton’s style, and to sum it up, this was a great read for Thanksgiving 2017.

So ends Rotten Ink’s journey with Marvel’s version of Hercules. It was a fun ride filled with space and gods, and I would like to think that Hercules, Recorder and Skyppi are flying around on Apollo’s Chariot this very night chatting about battle and eating turkey! Speaking of eating, dinner is ready, and I am hungry and looking forward to spending sometime with my family on this holiday. So I am going to wrap this update up and hope that you and your family and friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Out next update will be about The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils, a weird 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip off that was unleashed on the readers. So until next time, eat a turkey leg or two, watch a football game or three and make sure to watch a Horror Host on this Holiday evening! Once more Happy Thanksgiving to all of you friends, family and readers.

 

Body Count The Forgotten Horror Series From Aircel

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place for me to share my past, present and future! On this update, I want to chat a little about independent horror comics and my love for them! Growing up I was a avid comic reader, and super heroes like “Captain America”, “Batman”, “Spider-Man”, “Superman” and “The Incredible Hulk” were what I was reading at almost any given time as those were comics that we could find at the local grocery stores and comic racks at convenient stores. Besides the superhero comics, I also read lots based on toy lines, books and cartoons like “G.I. Joe”, “Masters Of The Universe”, “Transformers”, “Conan The Barbarian” and “Thundercats” that were also easy to find. The only horror comic titles I had were copies of “Werewolf By Night”, “Swamp Thing”, “Tomb of Dracula”, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, “Godzilla” and “Man-Thing,” all mostly obtained at garage sales that acted as another source of a way for me and my brother to get comics. Growing up in a small town like Waynesville made it super hard to find out about other comics as it did not have a comic store (besides antique store Spencers that carried back issues of Power Man and Secret Wars 2). The closest ones around were Dark Star in Yellow Springs, Mavericks in both Kettering and Centerville and my all time favorite store Bookie Parlor that was also in Dayton/Kettering, and my parents would only take us to these stores from time to time when I was really young and more so when I was around 12 or 13. I can remember discovering that comic companies like NOW, Innovation, Eternity, Malibu and Epic were cranking out comics based not only on super heroes but also horror and science fiction comics and being blown away at the huge selection that comic shops had us readers able to choose from as I was used to the magazine section of Big Bear and Hearts in Lebanon where I got most of my comics from other than the subscriptions that my Mom and Dad would finally break down and get me and my brother. The good old Marvel Comics subscriptions through the mail was where I would get my issues of Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Amazing Spider-Man delivered to my waiting hands, but the worst part about it was our mailman would fold the issues in order to place them in our mailbox leaving the issues with a bend down the center! But while I loved my super hero adventures, I was a Monster Kid so I also loved to read about the night time terrors of Dracula from the pages of Tomb Of Dracula, the inner struggle of Jack Russell the Werewolf By Night, the stomping rampage of Godzilla as well as the burning touch of Man-Thing who I always enjoyed more than Swamp Thing in the comic world…I know it’s because I am a Marvel Guy. The only independent horror comics that I owned and had access to were from Gold Key and Whitman and were such things as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and some very beat up and in some case coverless issues of Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery that my brother Bryan shared with me. But my love for horror comics really exploded when visits to the local comic shops started to happen more often and my parents started to enjoy the fact I was reading a bunch and encouraged me to choose comics and even paperback novels I would enjoy.

The first time I walked into the Bookie Parlor, I was a fan as the owner Hal and his wife Sue were super nice to me and my brother, and after coming in for a few times and spending money Hal would start to let me know when he got new back issues of Hulk and Captain America in. At the Bookie Parlor, I discovered Atlas Comics and its characters like The Brute, Son Of Dracula and their series like “Tales Of Evil”. And at Bookie Parlor is where I found comics by Epic based on the Clive Barker films “Nightbreed” and “Hellraiser” and started my obsession with the Nightbreed and Rawhead Rex cross over. It was also where I discovered Eternity Comics and the fact they made comics based on Full Moon Entertainment films likes “Subspecies” and “Puppet Master” that I had to have and read. Claypool was another comic company Bookie Parlor introduced to me who made comics based on “Elvira Mistress Of The Dark”!

At Mavericks Cards and Comics in Kettering, a place I would later work for, I met owner Jack who always treated me and my brother like we were his friends and would also give us discounts as well as free comics.  During these early years is when I met Jason Young who years later would be one of my closest friends as well as Jeremy Hoyt! While shopping Mavericks I discovered NOW Comics who made comics based on the TV Show “Twilight Zone” and horror film “Fright Night” as well as Innovation who did comics based on the films “Psycho”, “Child’s Play” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street”! Another independent comic company Mavericks introduced me to was Apple who did weird adult horror comics like “Dracula In Hell” and another company, Blackthorne, who shocked me with comics based on the film “Waxwork” and TV Show “Werewolf”. Between these two stores my want and need for horror comics was in full effect as I would buy whatever ones I could get my hands onto, from comics based on killer “Jack The Ripper” to ones based on classic monsters like “Phantom Of The Opera” and even ones that I had no idea what they were even about before buying like “Body Count.”  All I knew was that I needed to read them all! During this time I also started buying Topps Comics as they had many amazing titles out like “Dracula Frankenstein War”, “Bram Stokers Dracula”, “Satan’s Six”, “Jason Goes To Hell” and “Jason vs. Leatherface” and with Dracula Frankenstein War started my first ever comic store pull list. During this time was also the birth of me having to have all the comics based on horror films as many of the films I loved had adaptations and new comic killing adventures for them as such titles as “Re-Animator”, “Halloween”, “Army Of Darkness”, “Night Of The Living Dead”, “Blair Witch Project”, “Pumpkinhead” and so many more from many different comic companies all had comics based around them. For me the comic killing sprees for these movie monsters was another way to add to the characters’ legacy and a way for fans to get a little more while waiting for the next film.

During this time as well I didn’t give up on Marvel Horror as I went out of my way to get more and more issues of Werewolf By Night and the others as they also filled the need to read horror comics. During this time was a true magical age for horror comics as besides the companies mentioned above you had Arrow, Fantaco, Aircel, Northstar, Chaos, Dead Dog, IDW, Avatar, ONI, Fangoria and many others publishing and making horror themed comics from the late 80’s thru the mid 2000’s with each delivering blood and gore filled issues. But during what I call the Golden Years of Horror Comics also came the crash of the 90’s when Marvel and DC once more went to war to dominate the shelf space at comic shops and by putting out so much product, they forced many amazing companies to go under as did cut throat politics in the industry among small press companies. The companies that have fallen to the comic rack in the sky that I miss the most and wonder what they would be making now if still around have to be Topps Comics, Fangoria Comics and Dead Dog Comics all of whom were some of my favorite companies going and all who delivered some amazing horror comics into readers hands. During these years horror comics were coming out less and less, and many of them were not based on horror films as they were just original titles mostly based on vampires or zombies with 2003’s Walking Dead from Image being the biggest horror comic title in years.

We are now in 2017, and over the past two years, independent horror comic companies are back on the rise and are making some amazing and entertaining stuff. While the bigger companies like Image, IDW, Boom and Devil’s Due are putting out horror comics with titles like Lord Of Gore, Godzilla, Kong Of Skull Island and Walking Dead, it’s also the smaller guys who are coming into your comic shops and online stores with some amazing stuff that is bringing back the boom of these comics that has been long dead for to long.

My favorite small press company is Eibon Press, run by Shawn Lewis who is also the owner of t-shirt company Rotten Cotton.  They are doing amazing comic books with releases based on Italian director Lucio Fulci movies like “Zombie” and “Gates Of Hell”! They also have titles based on such films as “Laserblast”, “Maniac” and many more including an original series called “Bottom Feeder” in the works. Another cool thing about Eibon is that they have what’s called the Eibon Sleeve that is like a record sleeve for your comic.  They also back it with all types of great stuff like stickers, trading cards, bookmarks and even vinyl records!

Action Lab has a sub company called Danger Zone that has put out some great spooky series and mini series like ones based on Full Moon films “Puppet Master”, “Gingerdead Man” and “Trancers” as well as original titles like “Final Plague”, “Southern Dog” and “Blood & Dust”. While it seems at this time the Full Moon comic deal has come to an end, I have faith that their editor-in-chief Shawn Gabborin will unleash more horror themed comics to the market.

Small publisher Lion Forge has released the series “Night Trap” alongside other horror themed books like “Mad Balls” based on the spooky toys. This company prices their comics at a great price at $2.99 each and sadly seem to be gone or on hold as I have not seen much from them in Diamond Previews as of late. But while their fate of physical comics is up in the air, they still tried to make a small mark for Horror Comic readers.

Rough House Publishing run by Derek Rook has brought back two classic horror comics from the graveyard as they have released “The Dead Omnibus” as well as new issues of “Gore Shriek” with a comic based on the remake of the film “Nightmare City” coming soon. This is a company I cannot wait to see what else is coming from as rumors of music and other cool media items have surfaced as has lots of gossip about what’s in store for the comics they are doing.

The Blood-Shed Publishing has a series called “We Kill The Dead” on the way that showcases over 20 movie slashers from independent horror films doing battle with a government elite team. This is a mini series and rumors of new horror comics from them have been floating around. This is one comic company that is attached to a horror news website that you might want to keep your eyes on.

Space Goat is a company that has been around since 2014 making comics as well as board games. They have also delivered some great horror comic titles like “Evil Dead 2”, “The Howling”, “Zombie Camp” and “Forty Coffins” to name a few. And I also want to give a shout out to Titan Comics who have been doing their best at delivering entertaining spooky comics like “Anno Dracula”, “It Came” and even have Hammer Horror comics with “The Mummy” and rumor of “Captain Cronos Vampire Hunter” coming soon! Plus American Mythology is doing some great comics and even one based on the Adam Green film “Hatchet” as is Alterna who has titled like “Croak” and “The Chair” to name a few so as you can see the world of horror comics has lots of great companies doing amazing things.

When opening Sparkle Comics alongside Jason Young in 2016 and after getting friends and amazing artists like Damien Brunk, Jason Gilmore and Scott Scarborough joining the comic making family, I knew we had to make horror comics so we even opened a branch we are calling Blood Scream Comics that is slated to showcase gore and more mature style horror comics with the all ages and teen horror comics coming out via the Sparkle label. Sp far for Sparkle Comics, we have the free online comic called “Don’t Play With Monsters” that features foolish kids coming across monsters who are not as cute as they appear. “Shocking Macabre Theater” is an anthology comic that has Dayton, Ohio horror hosts Dr. Creep, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop sharing twisted tales with a stranded motorist. We also have “The Wolf Hunter” based on the shot on video film of the same name that was directed by Matt Hoffman who also played the title role and has The Wolf Hunter killing werewolves in the state of Ohio. We have a series called “Unknown Creatures” that features tales of cryptozoology creatures with the first issue being about the Flatwoods Monster! We also have 12 page issue # 0’s in the works that are based on shot on video films from Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video that will feature stories based on “The Sadness”, “Farmer Joe” and “Scars” and will allow our readers the chance to vote on which horror baddie will get a full # 1 issue! With many more amazing horror comic titles in the works, we hope to entertain readers with spooky, gory and twisted tales. One thing I am the most proud of is that via Blood Scream Comics we will be doing issues based on the films of Paul Naschy as well as have comics based on films from such companies as Warlock Home Video, Massacre Home Video, Brain Damage Films, Scream Time Films and Nevermore Productions in the works as well as comics based on pro wrestlers who fit the horror theme! So there are lots of great spooky reads are coming your way via Sparkle and Blood Scream Comics.

Sorry for being so long winded; it’s just I really do think that it’s a great time to be not only a horror comic reader but also just a comic reader in general. And I really do feel that horror comics have a bright future with many of these companies turning out very high quality comics that are well written and well drawn driving the market back up for the independents. But let’s get focused on the comic I have chosen to review for this spooky epic update and that’s Body Count, a silly horror comedy comic that I discovered at Mavericks Cards And Comics when I was a teen and bought and read and enjoyed for the wacky killer and the large chested heroine…oh and the over the top kills. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for making this update possible and having these issues in stock so that I could own them again and cover for this review. So if you’re ready, check your brain and taste at the door and let’s dive into a late 80’s and early 90’s horror comic that will have you screaming with fear and laughing after with joy. I also want to note that even as a youngster I never could find the 4th and final issue so this will be my first time reading how this story ends! Oh yeah I grade these 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! So lets take a look at Body Count!

Body Count # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 1 of 4

Winter Falls College is a high priced school where the students are watched by the hotheaded Dean Burns and make fun of simple minded janitor Wanker. Professor Chill is a science teacher and has caught the eye of his student and assistant Becky who will does what she can to get him to notice her.  From short shorts to tights shirts, she brings her A-game, and together they are working on a formula that will in theory turn a nerd into a jock.  After they leave to get some dinner, a pair of students looking to steal knock over the formula and rush away telling Wanker about the mess in the lab. Wanker, being simple minded, takes a taste of the formula goo and it starts to melt him and flings his body into a deep sea divers suit.  He dons the helmet and becomes a crazed killer, and his first victims are the two thief kids that meet their ends with a mop through the head and a telescope through the eyes! When Prof. Chill and Becky return to the lab they find the dead bodies as well as the missing formula and call Dean Burns who heads to the lab to cover up the murder. Meanwhile Wanker is still on his killing spree and drops power cables into the pool killing three students by electrocution causing a power outage and as he is leaving the pool area, he catches Dean Burns and makes him drink Drano! As Chill and Becky leave the lab, they find the bodies and guess that Wanker must have drank the formula and is now a killer and is headed toward town!

This comic is just as silly and over the top as I remember it being when I first read it in my mid teen years. The plot is very much like an 80’s B-movie horror film as a geek puts on a mask and murders those who tormented him, the setting is a college, and the victims are all mean spirited and selfish people who are killed in horrific ways. Professor Chill is our hero, and while smart, he is also pretty goofy and has a hint that he does not really know what they heck he is doing in the lab.  While a goof, he still remains calm with all the bodies pilling up around him and it’s clear he is thinking of ways to stop the killer. Becky is a typical hot chick who showcases her amazing body and uses it to get her way, but when the killing starts she also becomes hysterical and screams her head off in fright! While she is just a scared woman now, it’s clear that she is in for the long haul with her man Prof. Chill. Wanker is just a simple minded janitor who is mistreated by both staff and students and after tasting the foul smelling formula goo, he transforms into a brutal killer who is on a rampage of revenge.  He also turns ugly and disfigured from the goo and wears a diver’s helmet as his killing mask. Wanker is cold and brutal with his best kill being the telescope through the eye as it’s so brutal and gross, it made my own eyeballs hurt! The gore is slightly over the top.  Not on the level of Arrow Comics’ The Dead but it’s more brutal than IDW’s The Fly: Outbreak so Gorehounds have a little splatter to make them happy. The true nature of the comic is also horror comedy as many silly lines are delivered by characters as is cheap sexual jokes that are fitting and add to the cheesy fun of the comic. The cover is okay and does not truly do justice to what the comic is about and the art inside is cartoonish and done by Dave Cooper, fitting for this style of horror comic. Over all, this is an above average horror comedy comic that acts as a build up for this four issue mini series.

Body Count # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 2 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky, along with a device they created that picks up the chemical that created the killer Wanker, head out into town to see if they can find him before he kills again. Meanwhile two fisherman in a boat are not so lucky as the now farting and stinky Wanker sets his sights on them and kills one by crushing his head and leaves the other in a state of shock wandering the roads when he runs into Chill and Becky who take him into town and try to warn the law of the killer on his way. Meanwhile Wanker has found a new pair of college victims who are on a motorcycle joyride as he decapitates the man with a fish and causes the woman to be flung from the bike and smash into a tree! Chill arrives at the police department, and the Sheriff and Deputy rush off to the College before they even could hear why they are running! As Prof. Chill and Becky wonder what they can do to stop Wanker, the police run into the killer that leaves the Deputy dead from a ricochet bullet and the sheriff is bull rushed into some bushes, After the screaming stops Wanker appears, this time around bigger in size!

The rampage of Wanker continues as he makes his way closer to town with murder and destruction on his sick and twisted mind. Professor Chill and Becky come up with a tracking devise that goes off when the killer is around and can also be used to save others, as it’s a warning to the approaching death dealer. They also try the best they can to get help and rush an injured scared to death man to the local law office only to be greeted by the world’s worst police officers! So as you can see the pair of scientists have done all they can up to this point to try and save lives of the townspeople. The Sheriff and Deputy are as backwoods as they come and think everyone is an alien or a communist and are easily slaughtered and out smarted. Wanker is now turning worse and is smelling terrible, becoming more ooze-based with even more of a thirst for blood. He is slowly making his way to the town and killing almost anyone that gets in his way, but oddly enough he allowed one of the fisherman to live! It’s shown that bullets can’t kill and stop Wanker as he is shot a number of times by the Sheriff and simply shrugs them off like Michael Myers from Halloween. Plus at the end of the issue, he grows in size and makes you wonder: did he eat the sheriff or can he body jump like in the films The Hidden and Jason Goes To Hell. The best kill in this issue has to be the decapitation of a collage age brat on a motorcycle with a fish! It’s an over the top and dumb kill but is hands down my favorite in the issue. The blood and gore is once more present and not terribly over done. The cover this time around is better and shows Wanker in all his slimy glory, and the art once more is done by Dave Cooper and is well done for this style of horror comedy comic. And just like the first issue, this one is holding up to what I remember and was a fun read and makes me look forward to reading the next issue again after all these years.

Body Count # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 3 of 4

Becky and Professor Chill are at the bar in Winter Fell and trying to get the locals to believe them about the Wanker Killer that is heading their way, but no one does no matter how hard they try. Meanwhile Wanker stalks and kills a young man on a date by ripping his head off and than turns his attention to the young man’s girlfriend who is running toward town to warn others. Chill and Becky next try to warn the town barber shop of the killer’s rampage but she as well meets her fate by the hands of Wanker who snaps her neck. Chill and Becky run around town trying to warn people of the killer after the barber shop also gives them the high hat as does the post office and the mayor who allows his bodyguard to beat up Chill on his front lawn. In the end Chill and Becky spot Wanker now in town and run to the town’s switchboard operator, and they phone the National Guard and talk to General Howitzer who tells them they are on their way.

The plot thickens as now Wanker is in town and no one believes the warnings being given by Chill and Becky who try every major place in town to spread the coming of a killer. Chill, who feels responsible for the Killer as his formula is what turned a nerdy janitor into a head crushing killer, must push as hard as he can to inform the townspeople as their deaths would be on his hands…kind of. After being beat up and called a communist by all the towns people he almost just walks away to let them deal with the approaching death, but he is reminded that he loves this little town that has acted as away for him to score with collage chicks and get away from his nasty wife. Becky tries to help spread the warning the best she can, but sadly she is just eye candy and no one really listens to her. Wanker is shown to be using the Sheriff’s body as a suit as he has half way crawled up the bodies back and controls it. Wanker is stronger now and after killing a couple on a date has entered town to cause some major damage. This issue only has two deaths and while violent, they are not super gory and a little toned down, with the best being the head rip off from the shoulders of the boyfriend. The story in this issue reminds me of “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” and “The Blob” as no one is listening to our heroes as everyone thinks their story is to over the top, and this brings more of the B-Horror Movie aspect out of this comic series. The cover is pretty good and once more captures what this series really is all about and the interior art is still done by Dave Cooper and is fantastic for this goofy, gory comic. This issue is filled with lots of humor and once more is a mix of redneck humor, slap stick and adult humor all done at the expense of Becky. Another fun issue just like I remember it and is the lead up to the last issue in the Winter Fell rampage of Wanker and his over sized divers helmet. So let’s move onto the fourth and final issue and discover how Wankers is stopped…or is he, as this will be the first time I have read issue four as I never could find it, so it will be a first time read for me!

Body Count # 4  **
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 4 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky wait in town, and the pressure hits Chill who feels bad about the rampage of Wanker as his formula goo is what created him! But before they can wonder if the Army can stop the rampage, they show up lead by the crazed and kill hungry General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur who’s first plan of action is to blow up the bar with his tank as Wanker is inside killing off drinkers, but his attack fails to stop Wanker! The next target is the barbershop as Wanker enters it and kills off the barber and a man looking to get a shave, this time The General hits the business with a missile from a helicopter…it as well fails as Wanker is spotted again alive and unwell! Chill informs them that if they can capture it alive he might be able to cure Wanker and the Army turns on the Professor calling him a monster lover and boot him and Becky off the tank and head back into the hunt for the killer. As Becky and Chill hide the Army finds Wanker who is not scared of the tank and guns and charges causing The General to panic and order for the big bomb to be dropped, as the plan does so and the atomic bomb goes off our story ends with Chill hugging Becky and wondering what effect the radiation will have on Wanker!

The final issue is by far the weakest issue and I am pretty sure even in my middle teens I would have not been a super fan of this overly plotted army based issue that seemed to be rushed and with a very weak ending for the killers rampage. Prof. Chill and Becky are once more thrown to the side when the army gets mad that they want to cure the killer and not kill him like they want to do, but by the army turning on them and chasing them off is what saved their lives as they were able to hide as the bomb was dropped. These lovers are more just waiting to be saved as they have done all they could to save the townspeople and watch in horror as not only Wanker kills those who were rude to them but so does the army! The Army and their leader General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur are fools who like to blow things up and really have no plan of action of how to really stop Wanker besides just that blow things up…reminds me of the army in Return Of The Living Dead. The townspeople are all crazy and rude and none of them want to believe that a killer is heading their way ready for mayhem and murder, and they get what’s coming to them for being such scummy people. Wanker who is still using the body of the Sheriff as almost a suit of armor is finally in town and wants to make his body count rise hire and hire by knocking off the towns people, and he proves that he is not even scared of a whole army as when they finally have him cornered he don’t back down he lunges forward to take them all one and their tank! His brutal and quite nature makes him like Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and Michael Myers (Halloween) but not taken as serious by the writer and creators of this comic mini-series. The issue has some blood, guys and kills but they seemed very toned down this issue as does the art done by Dave Cooper that seems very much rushed and lacks the appeal and moody nature of the issues that came before it. The cover as well is not all that great as it just showcases the army…yep, not the killer or even something that shows it’s a horror comic at all! While this might not be the best Independent Horror Comic series of the late 80’s and Early 90’s and by most accounts I am sure this is forgotten and issues can be found in .25 or $1.00 boxes around the world at comic shops, to me it is one that stands out and one I can remember picking up from Mavericks all those years back and reading them while sitting in my room in Waynesville and wondering just how the story was to unfold as I never could find this final issue….and after all these years finding a copy and reading it, while I am little disappointed in the way Wanker’s rampage came to an end I do enjoy the fact it was left wide open for another mini series that sadly never was made. If you love horror comics from the 90’s that have a hint of humor in them, I suggest you check out Body Count, as it is sure to please or at the very least entertain you slightly. Below is some artwork samples from the Body Count series and I should also note that artist Dave Cooper is known for his work on such comics as Suckle and Bent as well as he worked on Nickelodeon Magazine and co-created the cartoon “Pig Goat Banana Cricket” for the station.

I see lots of great horror comics on the horizon for us readers, and it really is a great time to be alive and a comic book fan. Body Count was one of the early independent horror comics I read and after all these years, it kind of holds up as I still find it entertaining, silly, bloody and gory with a lackluster ending. I would love to hear from you friends and readers about what horror comic you first remember reading when younger and even what horror comics are you reading now.  Leave me a comment as I would love to hear from you about this. So for our next update we are leaving Winter Fell behind and joining a underrated Superhero from DC Comics, the super android The Red Tornado! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you soon for some DC Comics talk…