Marvel Horror Showcase – The Zombie Simon Garth

Marvel Horror was a gateway for me to the world of Horror Comics. As I have stated before the likes of Werewolf By Night, Man-Thing and Tomb Of Dracula all were comics I would read late nights in my nearly darkened room. One of my favorite past times was reading a Marvel Horror comic as it rained or a thunderstorm raged outside. I would grab an issue I had not read and listened to the storm as I read the eerie story that unfolded on the pages. But one classic Marvel Horror Monster that seems to not get as much respect as he should is Simon Garth, also known as The Zombie who was the main character in Marvel Horror Magazine “Tales Of The Zombie”! So I feel it’s my duty as a comic reader to bring you an update that is long overdue and one in my “Marvel Horror Showcase” themed updates based on Simon Garth The Zombie. So sit back and enjoy this spooky and yet heroic update.

Simon Garth was a mean businessman who treated everyone near him badly as he felt they were below him and his successful ways. One day he made the mistake of his life when his behavior and snooty ways lead to him firing his gardener, and this sparks his former employee to snap and kidnap Garth and stab him to death near the swamps of New Orleans! Once dead he takes the body and forces a Voodoo Queen (who happens to also work for Garth) to turn him into a mindless zombie that can be controlled with two necklaces that are worn by the zombie and the one who wants to control him. The gardener filled with a new sense of power uses the Zombie to do his will, but soon finds that even the undead can fight back when a line is crossed and he was commanded to kidnap his own daughter and instead fights the order and kills his master! For a while The Zombie wandered the Earth with many people controlling him when they got the amulet necklace, and at one point the necklace went missing and he roamed around until he could get it back and that was only after having a run in with Spider-Man. Sometime later the amulet landed in the hands of vampire Lilith Drake, and this time around Zombie had to team up with Spider-Man to get it back, and once they get it back Zombie returned to his slumber for years. His body would be found and taken to a morgue where he would once more rise and this time took a corpse bride before returning to his slumber. The Zombie would later be recruited to be a member of the supernatural team “ The Howling Commandos” alongside other Marvel Horror characters like Man-Thing, The Living Mummy, Golem and Frankenstein’s Monster. The Zombie would rise from time to time, and his most recent appearance came in 2018 that is the issue we will be reviewing shortly. As you can see, while Zombie is not a major character in the Marvel Universe he is one that is well loved by us readers who have always enjoyed the dark world of Marvel Horror.

Tales Of The Zombie started in 1973 and was a Horror Magazine that was created by Roy Thomas for Marvel Monster Group, and the character Zombie was taken from the 1953 Atlas Comic Menace # 5 with the character being created by Stan Lee. You see, in the 70’s Horror Comics became big money as the Comic Code Authority had become more relaxed and allowed werewolves, zombies, vampires and ghouls back in comics and violence and blood could also be added. The series lasted for 10 issues and had one Annual, and along with original stories, each magazine also had reprints of classic horror comics as well as showcased some other characters from their horror line like Brother Voodoo. Tales Of The Zombie came to an end in 1975 ending his spooky ride for a time, but like any good zombie, you can’t keep him down. Simon Garth The Zombie would return and make appearances in such Marvel Comics as Daredevil, Spider-Man, S.H.E.I.L.D., Deadpool and Marvel Zombies to name a few. Even in 2008 for the Marvel Max line, The Zombie once more had a mini series that lasted four issues and entertained readers who enjoy this character. His most recent comic appearance was in 2018 with Marvel Zombie a one shot issue that brought him into the world of an alternate Marvel Zombies universe. Who knows what Marvel has in store for the future of Zombie, and one wonders if he ever will get his own series or mini series ever again…and this even makes one wonder if he ever will make an appearance in a Marvel Movie Universe or TV show! One thing for sure, if you have never read a comic book featuring Zombie, I would say do yourself a favor and get an issue or two and give them a read.

Over the years Marvel Comics has dusted off the Zombie when someone working for them had a great idea for him, and this made his fans very happy! And one cool thing that happened in the world of Marvel in 2018 was when they released a One Shot issue of Zombie and set it in a world of gloom and doom, and this is the comic we are going to review for this Marvel Horror update as I stated earlier. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this copy in stock. I want to remind you readers that I am grading this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready to walk on the undead dark side of Marvel, let’s take a look at Zombie!

Marvel Zombie # 1  ***
Released in 2018     Cover Price $4.99     Marvel Comics     # 1 of 1

The Marvel Universe is in bad shape as a plague has infected the world and has caused most of the population to turn into bloodthirsty zombies. Simon Garth is wandering the decayed world enjoying his undead life, some humans still remain and are protected by The Defenders that are Daredevil, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Moon Girl, Devil Dinosaur 2.0, Hawkeye and Misty Knight who fight off the zombie horde. While the heroes battle the horde, young Donny finds a necklace and puts it on and during the fight he falls and is about to be eaten alive by zombies when all looks dark he is saved by Simon Garth and the pair start up a friendship. The heroes return to base and Moon Girl has figured out a way to use a bomb to dispose of a large section of the zombie horde. When Donny returns to base with Simon at first the heroes were going to kill the zombie until he proves he is different and a hero like them, but then things turn bad again when they want to use him to wear the bomb and become their suicide bomber! Falcon is another hero that is still alive and he returns to base with news that a massive horde is on the way and that they need to act soon, and this sets the suicide bomber plan into action. Donny is upset by the decision that Daredevil made to send his friend on a death mission. When the time comes Donny talks to Moon Girl about the original Devil Dinosaur and compares their friendship to his friendship with Simon and this causes Moon Girl to take the bomb off him and The Defenders die when they are swarmed waiting for the suicide bomber to appear. In the end with the heroes gone, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 2.0 go their own way as do Donny and Simon Garth.

This was a great read, and I read this comic in the middle of a cemetery on a chilly day with my car windows down. The plot of this comic has the world being overrun by zombies with only a small amount of people and heroes left alive. And when a young boy finds the necklaces of Simon Garth, he controls the zombie and he chooses friendship over the fate of the world. Donny is the main character of this comic, and while he is a youngster he has lived his whole life in a world filled with flesh eating zombies, and when he befriends one he chooses to save the life of one undead creature to the masses as he allows all the rest of the worlds superheroes to be eaten alive. Think about that… Donny allows the world’s only hope to survive to be killed in order to have a “friend”…. Simon Garth is a zombie with a mind who is living in a world filled with zombies who only want to feed and kill. He is a good soul who protects those who has his necklace. Daredevil is the leader of The Defenders and with his crew of heroes, he thinks that there is a hope to save the world, and sadly his master plan backfires due to a young kid’s selfishness and leads to his own death as well as that of all his fellow heroes. What works the best for this issue is the fact is a self-contained issue and has a “Marvel Zombies” meets “What If?” feel to it. I like the aspect of Simon wandering the world filled with other zombies that he has nothing in common with and is almost super thankful when the young kid finds the necklace that controls and bonds with him. The comic does have some blood and violence and proves that Marvel still knows how to do Horror. The cover I have is amazing and very eye catching, and the interior art is top notch and done by Stefano Raffaele. If you like classic Marvel Horror characters, make sure to check this out as it’s a great read. Check out the art below to see the style of Raffaele and see how Simon Garth looks like in this issue.

This one shot Marvel Zombie issue to me proves that they as a company should do this more often! Why not make a one shot issue based on Tomb Of Dracula, Werewolf By Night, Living Mummy, The Golem and Man-Thing to introduce the classic Marvel Horror characters to new readers as well as deliver something new to their long time fans. I truly do think they should make these type of comics a Halloween season tradition. They should also use Simon Garth the Zombie more often in the regular Marvel Universe. For our next update, we will be walking away from Horror and will once more be stepping into the wrestling ring as we take a look at GLOW wrestler Sunny! So until next update, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Get ready for the original wrestling Sunny days next update so I will see you then.

Malibu Comics Ultraverse Memories: Exiles

Remember back in the 1990’s when both Marvel and DC had some competition when it came to superhero comics with companies like Image and more important to me Malibu, who had some amazing heroes like Prime, Mantra, Prototype, Sludge and Night Man to name a few fighting for readers’ attention. Malibu also had many superhero teams like Freex, The Strangers and Exiles with the latter being the topic of this update. It’s sad that in modern times the comic industry is struggling to gain readers and most fans of superheroes don’t read the issues and only know the character from the movies or TV shows based on them. Now that I am thinking about it, I do believe that Sparkle Comics is trying to keep the world of Indie Superheroes alive with such comics as Black Jack, Silver Bullet, Black Lion and Spring Heeled Jack…so I feel good that the company I own with my friends is doing its part! Also this update really did make me miss the days of when comic companies took chances and comic shops had way more variety for readers to choose from. Around here in Dayton, I would say Bell, Book And Comic and Super-Fly Comics do the best job of offering more indies and even locally made comics to their customers and are inviting to readers. So if you are ready, let’s take a quick look at Exiles from Malibu Comics.

Malibu Comics was struggling in late 1993 as sales had dipped. The comic market was being flooded with comics and gimmicks that were hurting many of the independent companies as buyers just were not buying as many comics; the interest was fading as big events and foil covers started to annoy. And going into 1994, things got worse for Malibu as they did what they could to stay afloat and even started to cancel lower selling series as a way to cut costs and stay around in the industry. But like all mega money sharks, both DC and Marvel smelled blood in the water and opened up their checkbooks and both made bids on buying out Malibu to own their characters, logos, back issues and their coloring style and most importantly, so that the other company didn’t own it! And on November 3, 1994, Malibu was sold to Marvel Comics who became the owner of so many great superhero characters. Marvel wasted no time canceling all of the Ultraverse titles and re-launching some of the more popular ones and even crossing them over with such Marvel Characters like Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk and Wolverine all through 1995. But by 1996, Marvel Comics pretty much walked away from the Ultraverse and cancelled all their titles and just stopped using the characters sending them to the long box in the sky and leaving readers and fans of the characters wondering if they ever would return. Over the years rumors have always been talked about in comic shops, comic podcasts as well as websites about the return of the Ultraverse as well as what Marvel could do with the characters to add them into the Marvel Universe.

So before we get into the comic reviews, I am going to take a few moments and give my opinion on how they could add The Exiles into Marvel and where they would fit in. So let’s use the core original group of Exiles that includes the likes of Trax, Deadeye, Tinsel, Dr. Rachel Deming, Mustang, Catapult, Amber Hunt and Ghoul and say that events of the original comic series change when the worlds of Malibu and Marvel meet in modern times. We will also say that all of Marvel’s past Exiles teams were around, just in namesake only and had nothing to do with the original team made by Deming. I would love to see The Exiles be mixed in the world of X-Men with many of the members being mutants – they fit it really well, and to start I would love to see Dr. Rachel Deming use her team as the alternative to the X-Men and allow them to be more flashy in order to make citizens see them as stars and heroes. I would have it that Dr. Rachel Deming and Professor X have a respect for each other, they just have different ideas on how to get things done with their mutant teams. I would also have it that Dr. Rachel Deming and her Exiles open their own school of gifted students as a way to recruit for Exiles. This of course would cause friction between the two mutant groups, and while their respective leaders respect each other, the teams themselves do not and do what they can to outshine the others. I would play up on Wolverine and Mustang really disliking each other and clashing lots. While rivals, I would also make sure to have The Exiles come off as good guys who just are the Pepsi to X-Men’s Coke and are more flash as they have decided to not hide in the shadows in a world filled with super beings. The Exiles could not only be a team in Uncanny X-Men and other X-Men titles but could also spin off into their own series. One thing that would be great for The Exiles is that many of their team members are powerful and could hold their own against the likes of evil mutants like Magneto, Sabertooth and Black Tom to name a few. Just a thought of mine to bring them back, and sadly the way things look for Malibu is that Marvel and Disney have zero plans for them and if the rumors are real, the deal Marvel made when buying them was so bad that the fate of these characters are forever sealed in limbo. That’s right, the story goes that if Marvel does any new comics with characters created by Malibu they have to pay a percentage to the former owner of Malibu as well as the creators of said characters leaving the profits very low for comics being sold and not worth the time and resources Marvel would put into them…or so Comic Store Urban Legend goes.

As you can see, Malibu Comics is a company over the years I find myself thinking about what could have been if they could have survived the Comic Book Crash of the 1990’s and even what they could be if Marvel would do anything with the characters. But we are now at the point of the update for the reviews, and I want to remind all you readers that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star system and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic and Game Swap Kettering for having these comics in stock and making this update possible. So if you are ready, let’s gear up and hangout with The Exiles.

Exiles # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95     Malibu Comics     # 1 of 4

Amber Hunt is a high school student who one day is bored in class when an explosion rocks the school, and she sees that bad guy Supreme Soviet along with his Cybernoids are fighting with members of the superhero team Exiles (Trax, Deadeye & Tinsel) all over her! The battle leaves many of the Cybernoids destroyed, Supreme Soviet tricked and defeated, and Trax injured and having to be rushed back to their base. They also take Amber Hunt who still is confused and angry on why she is being targeted. Once at the island base, Amber meets Dr. Rachel Deming who is the keeper of the team as well as the one who has cured them all of the Theta Virus and soon will also cure Amber Hunt who is infected and has special powers she just doesn’t know about yet. While there, Amber is acting like a brat and even meets team member Ghoul who she also treats terribly! Meanwhile in L.A. Supreme Soviet visits his boss Mr. Malcolm Kort who wanted Amber Hunt killed and for his failure Supreme Soviet is forced into a tube and injected with a virus that kills him and shows that Kort wants to really use this virus as a bio weapon! Meanwhile in a neighborhood in San Diego a young man named Timmy is taking out the trash when he is surrounded by Bloodbath and Bruut who have been sent by Mr. Kort and thankfully Exiles members Catapult and Mustang are near by and step in to help the kid from meeting his maker. The heroes get the upper hand but when Bruut attacks Timmy’s mom an accident happens and Mustang with his electric powers falls into the water from the broken sink and fries and kills Timmy’s Mom as well as Bruut! Bloodbath knocks out Catapult and escapes with Timmy.

This first issue of Exiles is a very good solid read that showcases the style and world of the Ultraverse. It also sets up that our heroes the Exiles are a team of powered beings who are brought together to do the right thing and are watched by after Dr. Rachel Deming going against entertainment tycoon and evildoer Mr. Malcolm Kort and his band of super powered hired guns. The story while it is your normal superhero fare the main plot of the issue is the Theta Virus and one side wanting to cure it and the other side wanting to use it to gain power as a weapon. The Exiles are a rag tag team that has many members who all have special powers and in this issue we meet Trax, Deadeye, Tinsel, Ghoul, Catapult and Mustang all who work well together and have one goal and that’s to save the youngsters who are virus carriers. This far I think my two favorite members are Tinsel as I dig her look and she can fly and fire energy from her hands, I also like Catapult who comes off as a surfer metal head guy who has the power to easily lift and throw things. I also like Ghoul as he is a green skinned zombie who we gather can talk to the dead…but he has not done much yet to make him a favorite. Dr. Rachel Deming who is the watcher of all the team is a very wise and smart woman as she has the cure for the Theta Virus and I am going to guess she as well has some sort of powers. Amber Hunt is a terrible young lady who is self centered, rude and mouthy who treats not only the Exiles like crap even after they saved her life but also fellow classmates as she calls one young lady a “cow” as they are trying to get away from the opening battle! Mr. Malcolm Kort is cold blooded and has no loyalties to even his own hired super powered beings as he will kill them if they fail him! Speaking of his hired guns Bruut, Bloodbath, Hot Rox and Supreme Soviet all are trained killers who don’t mind killing women and children as long as they get paid! This far I like the story that is being set up and it makes me wonder what the outcome will be once the Exiles and the Kort side clash all over a virus. The cover for this first issue is totally 90’s and for me not very eye catching as it looks super cheesy. The interior art is done by R.R. Phipps and is really good and embodies the art of the 90’s superhero titles. So with this lets see what happens next in issue two and see if Mustang can get his revenge for accidentally murdering a young man’s mom.

Exiles # 2  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95     Malibu Comics     # 2 of 4

Mustang and Catapult are standing in the home of Timmy with the bodies of his mom and super villain Bruut when they are surrounded by the cops who want to take them in for questions, but Bruut is not dead and awakens and goes on a rampage that leave many cops hurt and dead and both Mustang and Catapult can not stop him from escaping by stealing a helicopter. And before the remaining cops can regroup our heroes escape and head back to their island base with news of their failed mission. While back at the base news is spreading of the fight at the house and Dr. Rachel Deming tells Amber Hunt it’s her choice on if she wants to be cured of the virus as it will cause change and Amber learns she has the power of fire. While Malcolm Kort and his team of scientist are trying to force Timmy into letting them “cure” him so his pain will stop as his hand keeps growing and shrinking back to normal. Rachel Deming now calls on the Exiles team and the order is to do a full attack on Kort’s entertainment building and get Timmy back before he can be turned into a henchman tool for evil. Before the Exiles leave Amber informs Rachel that she will take the treatments once the team is back from the rescue mission. In the end young Timmy is being treated by Kort’s science team and things go wrong as Timmy turns into a massive beat man with tusks and breaks free and knocks even the Exiles out of his way as he escapes into the city.

In this second issue the Exiles are forced to face lots of difficult things from one of their members accidentally killing a woman, being caught on camera and now the world knows that they are in town as well as must face a failed mission that clearly looks like is going to cause them major problems in the very near future. The Exiles try so hard to keep their existence low-key, as the world is not keen on the super powered humans walking among them. And worse is the team itself is torn about if they should come out and be seen or hide in the shadows and save the world. Dr. Rachel Deming is clearly in charge of the group and she also knows that they must do all they can in order to save as many of those infected by the virus as they can and do so before Kort and his goons turn them into raging monsters. Mustang in this issue feels terrible and he blames himself for the death of Timmy’s Mom and his powers of electricity is what lead to her neck being crushed by the unstoppable Bruut, even though he played a part in the death he is over taken with guilt. Meanwhile the rest of the team are ready to go to war and try and get the kidnapped kid back and cure him before he is mutated by the bad guys or killed by the virus. Kort once more shows he is an evil man as he forces a young man to be experimented on and all he cares about is power and control. Meanwhile his goons Bloodbath and Bruut one time partners are at odds as it’s clear within their group its all about the money and every super powered man for themselves. Poor Timmy in one day looses his mom, learns he has a deadly virus, is kidnapped and then forced to be turned into a raging monster. And man I cannot see this hulking tusked monster tangle with the Exiles in a battle that I am sure is going to be epic. The one thing that does stink about this issue is that one of my favorite characters Tinsel is just a background team member, and it’s a shame as I would have loved to seen her kick some butt. The cover for this second issue is way better and eye catching as it showcases our team looking like they are ready for action. The interior art is done by R.R. Phipps again and is good stuff. Over all this second issue is very entertaining and has locked me in as a fan of this team this far, and I cannot wait to read the next issue.

Exiles # 3  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95     Malibu Comics     # 3 of 4

Timmy lands on the street below and is confused and just wants to be left alone, but also landing on the ground is Tinsel as well as Ghoul who try and talk to the enraged teenage monster who don’t want to hear it and just our heroes luck they are attacked by Hot Rox who takes them both prisoner as Timmy escapes deeper into the city. The remain Exiles team chase down Timmy who hides in a closed mall and they try to talk to him, but he attacks causing destruction and injuries before turning back into a young man and running off into the night. Meanwhile back at the lab Amber Hunt is trying to push Rachel Deming’s assistant into given her the treatment as she don’t wanna die from the virus and has no faith in the Exiles returning, the assistant refuses. While back at Kort’s building Ghoul has been thrown into a waste bin and barely escapes as they set it on fire with the hopes of killing him. Meanwhile Bloodbath has Tinsel in his room and is about to sexual assault her, but she is able to use her power and blind him (as she is blind as well) and he grabs his guns and fires wildly into the air and sadly kills her as Ghoul gets to her way to late and this sets him off for revenge!

Well Malibu Comics and Exiles gone and done it they killed off my favorite hero on the team and did so very brutally! You see Tinsel in this issue is taken prisoner and we learn she is also blind and needs her visor in order to see and when she wakes up she is in the room of Bloodbath who wants to rape her….and when she fights back and tries to get away he shoots her a dozen times ending her life! Why would they let a hero die like this? Don’t get me wrong it was very effective and wants me as the reader want to see Bloodbath get his, but it also makes you a little mad at the rest of the Exiles besides Ghoul as they left her in the hands of the baddies in order to save a teen who is now a monster who just wants to be left alone. That is pretty much the major plot of this issue is the Exiles trying to reach a scared Timmy who is now a massive wooly mammoth monster man who don’t trust anyone. Kort and his goons pretty much stay out of the hunt for Timmy as they figure they will just attack and get him back once the Exiles do all the hard work and get him to a safe place. Bloodbath is enemy # 1 for this comic reader as I am glad he is blind now and hopes it permit and that Ghoul once he catches up with him is able to eat his heart out! I must also say I do also really like the look of Timmy as the monster who is called Mastodon because he seems like he could be a villain for the Incredible Hulk and is well designed. The cover for this issue is also very eye catching and is a perfect cover for a 90’s superhero comic. The interior art once more is done by R.R. Phipps and is great stuff and has the 90’s look but yet also still holds a very 80’s style as well. This third issue is a great read and I cannot wait to read issue four that is the final in this very good series.

Exiles # 4  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95     Malibu Comics      # 4 of 4

The Exiles decide to give up tracking down Timmy and return to the base so they can regroup and figure out a better plan. While at the lab Amber Hunt decides that she is going to just sneak and give herself the treatment so that she can survive the virus. Meanwhile Ghoul makes contact with the soul of Tinsel and gets the name of her killer Bloodbath and sets his sights to really get revenge and massacre the super powered hitman. As Bloodbath gets painkillers and head back to his room he is attacked by Ghoul who is crazed with anger and after a brief fight he is able to kill Bloodbath and not only end his life but also his soul! And once he drained him Ghoul grabs some guns and starts his one-man war against Kort and his people. While at the lab Amber has done the treatment wrong and the machine is over loading and the Exiles and Rachel Deming are rushing back to try to stop the explosion as well as save Amber from dying. Ghoul blows up the generator at the Kort building and the explosion seems to have killed anyone in it. While back at the Exiles Lab the tank and machines explode and kills many of the Exiles in the process as Heather the Assistant, Trax and Mustang are all killed with Catapult, Deadeye and Rachel Deming are all severely injured. In the end, Amber Hunt is now a flying flaming super powered woman who’s selfish nature has killed many.

This comic series had guts as many of the team members meet their maker by the end with most being killed by the hands of a terrible narcissistic spoiled teenage girl that they were helping who ended up dooming anyone around her when she decided to treat herself. This issue’s plot brings everything together for the most part but also leaves lots of things unanswered as this was a lead in to a series called “Break-Thru” that they wanted readers to buy next…and that was always one thing that annoyed me about Malibu Comics and their Ultraverse as they tied in all their comics together so in order to finish stories you would have to buy another title in order to do so, and that was some of the silly stuff Marvel Comics also did very badly in the 80’s and still do it somewhat to this day. Amber Hunt is a terrible person who becomes even more terrible when she gets power beyond most other heroes in the Ultraverse. When you really think about it all the true evil villain of this comic series is Amber Hunt as she is narcissistic and does not seem to care about others or how her actions effect anyone around her. Rachel Deming is a woman who does want to help those with powers, but also slightly seems to be doing so to stroke her own ego as some of her decisions help lead to the teams downfall. Ghoul in this issue is a true badass as he goes for revenge of the death of his friend in the last issue and does so in a brutal way…Ghoul is very cool and a great character that walks the line of superhero mutant and horror character. This series really is a great read and shows why Malibu Comics was a great alternative to Marvel and DC as they delivered good solid stories about interesting characters who had a vast world. The cover on this fourth issue is not as eye catching nor as cool as the three issues that came before it, but while a little plan it still ok. The interior art is once more done by R.R. Phipps and is good and has a very 90’s comic look and to be honest has what I would say is the Malibu Comic house style. For me Exiles is a great series and one that fans of X-Men and all their clones should check out as these characters and stories could fit in very nicely with the Universe that Marvel Comics created for their readers. Check out the artwork below to see the style of R.R. Phipps and see what I mean when I say this looks like Malibu Comics house style.

Exiles is a great team from Malibu Comics who never got the respect from Marvel Comics when they bought the characters rights way back in 1994 and even when they did use the team they only did so in name only. It’s a shame as I do not think comic readers ever will see new adventures of the Exiles as I do feel they had many more in them, but truly only time will tell if Rachel Deming’s team will see a new series. For my next update, I will be stepping away from comic books and will be once more taking a look at a Horror Host from the Dayton area as I take a look at Rayne of Studio Cinema! So until next time read a Malibu Comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a spooky good time.

 

Earthworm Jim Saves Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve! It’s crazy to think that another year is almost over and that we are about to celebrate another Christmas here at Rotten Ink. This time of the year is always very special for me and makes me think back to my youth and all the cool toys, games, music, comics and books I used to get for the holidays as well as always makes me think about how lucky I am to have so many amazing people in my life as I have a great family, amazing friends and am blessed to be able to have so many creative outlets like Game Swap Kettering, Sparkle Comics, Bloodline Video, Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, Radio, Rockstar Pro Wrestling, Rotten Ink and so many other top notch projects that allow for me to have an outlet. As I have said here before, one of the coolest Christmas gifts I ever got was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and that’s why I always think about classic video games around this holiday as if brings back great memories of playing them with family, friends and even trying to beat games myself! So for this update I have decided to take a look a video game character that made his major splash on the Sega Genesis that spawned a cartoon and even a comic series, and this cheesy character is the one and only Earthworm Jim! So if you’re ready to take a trip with Rotten Ink, Marvel Comics and Earthworm Jim this Christmas Eve, you should find a comfy chair, pour yourself some eggnog. and as we all wait for Santa, I think it’s time to have a classic game flashback.

Earthworm Jim was a normal worm on the planet earth that spent his days digging around in dirt and avoiding being eaten by birds. Meanwhile in space Psy-Crow, a feared bounty hunter, accidentally drops a cyber space suit from his ship that falls to Earth and Jim who is on the run from birds looking to make him a meal hides inside it and the suit evolves him into a more human-like life form with intelligence and a goofball charm. But with his new found power and mind, he becomes a marked worm as Psy-Crow on the orders of the evil Queen Slug-For-A-Butt is set for death and Jim himself now wants to meet the Queen’s lovely sister Princess What’s-Her-Name! And so began Earthworm Jim, space explorer and hero, who armed with his ray gun has saved worlds as well as those who are in need. Earthworm Jim in his cyber suit weighs around 154 pounds and stands about 5’8” and has super strength and a heroic heart, but he also is a little goofy as he still is a worm! Say what you will about Earthworm Jim, but he is the hero we didn’t know we needed.

Earthworm Jim is a side scrolling game that was created by Doug TenNapel and was a fun silly concept that captured the attention of not only gamers but also game publishers. The first Earthworm Jim game was released in 1994 for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo and has Earthworm Jim avoiding his enemies and trying to save Princess What’s-Her-Name! The game over the years would go on to be on many other systems like Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, Nintendo Game Boy, PC and Game Boy Advance. The game was super popular and by 1995 the sequel Earthworm Jim 2 was released and continued the story of the first game and was released for Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, PC and the Sega Saturn to name a few. This game was a hit but was not fully embraced by gamers and critics as the game did not change enough to warrant its quick release to cash in on the popularity of the original. The game series took a break for a while, and it was not till 1999 when the world got Earthworm Jim 3D that was only released for the Nintendo 64 and has Jim fighting to wake from a coma and must battle his rogues gallery who have all entered his mind. This game was not well received and marked the end of the series for home consoles.

In my youth, I can remember spending many of hours playing both Earthworm Jim and Earthworm Jim 2 for the Sega Genesis at my friends houses as well as at my cousins Dino and Norman’s. Shocking enough, I never did ever buy my own copy of the game and always just played it with them or borrowed it from them for a short time. Sadly I have never played Earthworm Jim 3D as it just never was on my radar as by the time it was released I was all about the Sony Playstation when it came to playing games. One other thing that is crazy to think is that games like Earthworm Jim helped spawn many other weird themed games like Conker, Crash Bandicoot, Banjo-Kazooie and Boogerman to name a few, and yes I know Boogerman was released the same year as Earthworm Jim. Say what you will about the Earthworm Jim series of games, but one thing is for sure, if you grew up in the 90’s and played video games they were on many of our must play games list.

Did you know in 1995 a cartoon series was released based around the adventures of Earthworm Jim? Released by Universal Cartoon Studios and airing on Kids WB starting on September 9, 1995, this series followed Earthworm Jim as he is being attacked by all types of baddies who want his power suit for their own evil plans! This cartoon was part action, part adventure and part silly as it played up on the over all goofy nature of the character and its universe. Voice actor Dan Castellaneta played Earthworm Jim, Jeff Bennett played Peter Puppy and Kath Soucie voiced Princess What’s-Her-Name showing they had some great voice talent on this show. The series only lasted for 23 episodes and ended its run on December 13, 1996 making it a very short run cartoon that built a very small cult fan base from those who grew up in the 90s. The cartoon has made its way to home media on both VHS and DVD with the latter being the complete series. This was a cartoon I can remember seeing from time to time, but was not something I watched often as I was a little older when it was released and was more into other shows at that time. But if you like this cartoon, make sure to do yourself a favor and get the DVD set put out by VEI and relive this classic toon.

In the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s toy company Playmates was one of the kings of the toy aisle as they delivered figures based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek, The Addams Family, Toxic Crusaders, The Simpsons, Dick Tracy, Skeleton Warriors, Flash Gordon, Coneheads and Zorro to name a few and along with these figures they also did Earthworm Jim ones based on the cartoon and video game! These figures were released in 1995 with a total of eight figures being made with three of them being different versions of Earthworm Jim. Also in the line was Princess What’s-Her-Name and Peter Puppy as well as baddies Psycrow, Henchrat and Bob! Each figure also came with weapons as well as a mini character like goldfish # 4 and Snott! The series of toys never made it to a wave two even though they made an appearance at Toy Fair with figures of Evil Jim, Queen Slug-For-A- Butt and The Hamstinator all planned. The figures were really cool and fit alongside Playmates other figures. Growing up I did not own any of them but do remember them in stores, to be honest it’s a little crazy that I did not at least buy Earthworm Jim as I was a fan of the game even in 1995!

Back in the 90’s Marvel Comics had already closed down their kids comic branch Star Comics and absorbed many of those titles under Marvel Comics proper like Muppet Babies and Thundercats to name a few. But they also had Epic Comics still going as it was a creator owned branch that was founded in 1982 and featured comics based on Horror Movies like Hellraiser and Nightbreed. In 1994 they tried to open a branch called Marvel Music that was comics based on musical acts like Alice Cooper, Rolling Stones and Billy Ray Cyrus and this was very short lived as by 1995 this branch was history and all titles canceled. But out of the ashes of the weirdness of Marvel Music and the cool kid friendly comics based on cartoons and toys of Star came Marvel Absurd a branch that would have issues of weird teen style comics based on popular toons and video games of the time. Some titles in this branch was just carry overs from Marvel Titles like the Nickelodeon cartoon “Ren And Stimpy” plus the hit MTV cartoon “Beavis & Butthead” that switched over to this branch way into their series. And the new title launched for this branch was “Earthworm Jim” based on the popular video game at the time not to mention the silly parody comic “Marvel Riot” that lasted only one issue. But like most things at Marvel Comics at the time as soon as it started in ended as its whole run was from around 1994-1996 as the brand was just not super popular for Marvel. But I want to take a moment to let you readers know that in 2020 I will do a Top 10 Countdown Of Things That Should Have Gotten An Absurd Comic!

So as you can see, Earthworm Jim was a perfect fit for the short lived Marvel Absurd comic line as he was wacky, weird and over the top! And not so surprisingly, this comic series is a little hard to get and the issues hold a decent price on them to get so I want to thank sellers on both Ebay and Amazon for having them in stock and making this holiday update possible. I want to remind all you readers 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 are ready to see what Marvel Comics and Earthworm Jim have in store for us, let’s get to the comic review section of this update.

Earthworm Jim # 1  ***
Released in 1995     Cover Price $2.25      Marvel      # 1 of 3

Queen-Slug-For-A-Butt, Major Mucus and Doc Duodenum have entered Heck and asked the underground ruler Evil to let them hire an army of evil lawyers so they can sue Earthworm Jim for all the years of stopping their evil schemes! Meanwhile Jim himself is on a “date” with Princess What’s-Her-Name and they are attacked by Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head who take them prisoner, as Professor wants the cyber space suit and Psy-Crow wants to eat Jim once he is out of the suit!!! As Jim escapes the grip of Psy-Crow his suit runs amuck in the lab while talking goldfish Bob and his catmen have Princes What’s-Her-Name prisoner and force her to agree to marry him as they fake that they will kill Jim if show don’t! Meanwhile the escaped worm Jim finds himself in the prison area and meets many failed experiments that are being locked up and that includes a small puppy man named Peter Puppy, and once Jim finds these creatures need help he returns to the lab and gets his suit back by beating Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head, heads to the dungeon and frees the creatures and along with Peter jumps on a rocket to stop the wedding of Princes What’s-Her-Name and Bob!

This comic is super silly and really is Absurd and that’s a great thing as a comic based on Earthworm Jim needed to be this way. The plot has all of Jim’s bad guys wanting to defeat him with some trying to hire lawyers to sue him with others wanting to kill him and steal his suit to build an army of super soldiers! But while the lawyers do not find Jim in this issue, they are still on the lookout for him as his main nemesis are Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head who kidnap him and his Princess girlfriend and want him dead in the ground! Earthworm Jim in this issue is heroic and slightly goofy but shows that he will always stand up for the little guy and do whatever it takes to do the right thing! I love how Jim in this issue also finds his inner hero when he meets a group of freaks that have been created and kept prisoner and knows he must set them free! Princess What’s-Her-Name also shows that she is a great person that is able to take care of herself as she mops the floor with many catmen! I also feel bad for her as she thinks her man Jim has been tortured and even cut by his captures, and this makes her agree to marry a goldfish. Professor Monkey-For-A-Head and Psy-Crow are the issues main bad guys as they are teaming up with the idea to finally bring down Jim once and for all and they are cruel and seem to get joy in this sick game they are playing. Bob the goldfish as well is a sick man who is a terrible creature who is trying to force love in order to gain power. We shall see how the lawsuit goes if the Lawyers of Heck come into play in one of the further issues. Over all this is a very fun action, adventures, comedy and silly comic that brings the video games/cartoon character to life on the pages of a comic book. The cover is fantastic and very eye catching and captures that 90’s style, the interior art is done by Barry Crain and is top notch and does capture the fun nature of the Earthworm Jim universe. So with this first issue being great, let’s see what the next issue has in store for us.

Earthworm Jim # 2  **1/2
Released in 1996     Cover Price $2.25     Marvel     # 2 of 3

Evil, the cat leader of Heck, is upset at his lawyers and orders them to get the job done this issue or they will all way the price! While Earthworm Jim and Peter are lost in space, as they cannot find the hideout of Bob and even after getting directors from a Gas Station planet it takes them sometime to find their way. Meanwhile Bob is gloating and bullying his soon to be wife Princess What’s-Her-Name, as a cat slips a bomb into the Princess bouquet! Meanwhile Earthworm Jim has found the directions to stop the wedding, as Bob now knows that Jim is on his way to stop the wedding! Even Queen-Slug-For-A-Butt the sister of Princess What’s-Her-Name shows up for the wedding as this will truly give Bob power. Once Jim and Peter arrive they take a mutated hamster and head to the ceremony to save the day. Jim just in time is able to save the Princess before they say the “I Do’s” and Bob climbs into a mega mech suit and puts a hurting on Jim, but lucky for Jim he is able to crack Bob’s fishbowl and wins the day! As Jim, The Princess and Peter celebrate the Heck Lawyers have arrived and worse the bomb in the bouquet is about to explode!

Earthworm Jim and his puppy friend Peter are on a mission to stop a forced wedding that will see Princess What’s-Her-Name being the wife of the cruel goldfish Bob…and along the way Jim must fight off catmen, not get lost and come face to face with Bob who also now has a massive suit that is more powerful! I like in this issue that Earthworm Jim once more has a good heart and so wants to be the hero, not to mention he is still shown to be a total goof who it seems by luck is able to save the day. Peter Puppy is shown in this issue that when pushed he can and will turn into a dog monster, making him a good ally for Jim to have. Princess What’s-Her-Name who is a great and loving character shows she is willing to ruin her life in order to protect the life of her wormfriend Jim! Bob is such a jerk and when he don’t get what he wants in this issue spends his time beating up Jim, oh and he also seems to love to boss around his catmen henchmen. The Lawyers From Heck at the end of this issue finally find Jim, but worse just as they have the bomb planted is about to blow. The issue is filled with dumb humor as well as some zany action and adventure moments making for a good read. I also really enjoy the fact that both Pinhead from Hellraiser and the Creature From The Black Lagoon have cameos in this issue and Pinhead is shown as one of the Lawyers of Heck and Gillman is the Preacher for the wedding. The cover for this issue is lots of fun and has a James Bond feel to it and the interior art for the start of the comic is done by Barry Crain and is great with the later part of the issue being done by Manny Galan & Carlos Garzon and is just so-so. Over all this was a good issue, and I cannot wait to see how this series ends.

Earthworm Jim # 3  **
Released in 1996     Cover Price $2.25      Marvel     # 3 of 3

Earthworm Jim is being surrounded by all his rogues gallery as well as Lawyers from Heck as they were their for the wedding of their evil friend Bob, but things turn good when Peter by accident sneezes the flowers with the bomb in it into the crowd of baddies and the explosion leaves most of them down and out! As Earthworm Jim, Princess What’s-Her-Name and Peter escape the planet the Lawyers try and figure out where he went now so they can serve him papers. Peter would like to go back to his home world and Jim agrees to take him, but he soon learns that Peter when hurt, scared, mad or even slightly annoyed will turn into a wild dog beast that is looking for a fight! They go back and fourth with Peter raging and threatening to fight Jim that is until the Princess has had enough and puts them both in their places. Now at Peter’s home planet, they have been followed by Evil and the Heck Lawyers who know have decided to kill Jim and just sue his estate! But before Evil and them can commit the murder Jim and his people are attacked by a giant red dinosaur and Jim is stomped into the ground and is loosing the fight, but lucky for him Princess What’s-Her-Name gets into Jim’s suit and powers up her already massive power and she beats the Dinosaur with ease. With Peter home and Jim back in the suit, the puppy ends up asking if he could just go home and live with them as he now knows that his planet is a terrible place to live. Jim and The Princess agree to take Peter to their home planet and while there Peter ends up saving the day as he attacks and eats Evil and chases off all the Heck Lawyers after becoming the dog monster! In the end Earthworm Jim and Princess What’s-Her-Name continue their date and all ends well.

This third and final issue is fun, but is the weakest issue in the series as I feel they waste so much time with the joke everything sets Peter off in becoming the dog monster…and while funny maybe the first couple of times it wears thin pretty fast when its back to back to back, making me as a reader kind of be annoyed with the Peter character. It almost seemed liked they ran out of story ideas and just made this final issue filled with lots of filler moments. The plot has Earthworm Jim and Princess What’s-Her-Name taking their new friend Peter to his home planet, and they are being stalked by Evil cat ruler of Heck and his demonic army of lawyers as well as trying to survive the planet that is filled with all types of creatures all want blood and kills. In this issue, Earthworm Jim is still a hero but also shows that he can be defeated and also can have a short fuse when annoyed time and time again. As I said before, Peter is pretty annoying in this issue and spends almost all the issue being triggered by everything and going back and fourth into becoming a monster and a normal puppy man. Princess What’s-Her-Name is as always a hero and shows that she don’t even really need Jim to be her hero as she has the power and mind to take care of herself. Evil and his Heck Lawyers are pretty silly and like in the other issues just kind of fumble around and miss their chances to strike. The threat in this issue is around but the stakes don’t seem as high as really this whole issue’s purpose is to get Peter home, and to this reader I kind of feel that this is just a average read with not real thought put into the story and was made to fulfill the contract made with the people who made Earthworm Jim. The cover on this issue is great and eye catching, and the art in this issue is all done by Barry Crain and is good but also seems rushed. To sum it up, this is an entertaining comic mini series based on a very goofy video game character, and I am sure will please fans of Earthworm Jim. Check out the art below to see the style of Barry Crain and enjoy.

So before we end this update, I really wanted to share some of the Horror Movie characters that have cameos in this series. The first one I spotted was Pinhead from the movie series Hellraiser in issue # 2 who is on the planet Heck and is one of the Lawyers that has been hired to bring a lawsuit against Earthworm Jim. It was pretty cool seeing him as Marvel Comics under their Epic line use to make Hellraiser comics. Also in issue # 2 was Gillman from the Universal Monster movie Creature From The Black Lagoon as he is the preacher that is marrying Bob and Princess What’s-Her-Name! Sadly I think these two are the only two Movie Monsters in this series, but I must say this is very cool and I wish more comics would add little Easter Eggs like this more often.

So I hope you enjoyed this Christmas Eve update all about Earthworm Jim and it helped add to your holiday season with great memories of playing the video game, watching the cartoon, playing with the toys and even reading the comics. This time of the year really is filled with magic and makes me always think of my youth and all the great memories of Christmas pasts. So I don’t want to take up more of your holiday with my ramblings, but do want to let you know that our next update will be my Films Of 2019 update and will be the first update of 2020! So until next time enjoy your time with loved ones, have fun opening your gifts and always watch out for each other. Oh and make sure to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Incredible Coloring Hulk!

When I was a kid I can remember sitting in my room, at the kitchen table or in front of the fire place with crayons in hand coloring in one of the many coloring books based on a cartoon, comic or movie character. Some of my favorites growing up was ones based on Batman, Inhumanoids, SilverHawks and Masters Of The Universe to name a few, but my all time favorite was an Incredible Hulk one that was released in 1979 that I would color in and give the crudely colored in pictures to my mom as gifts when I was a youngster. For this countdown to Thanksgiving update, I am feeling the need to get into a nostalgic frame of mind so I have chosen to take a look and review three old coloring books that featured original very kid friendly adventures of The Incredible Hulk! So get your Crayola Crayons ready as it’s time to color in a good time on this update.

Growing up the Incredible Hulk and Captain America were my favorite superheroes followed very closely by Spider-Man. And when growing up I had a subscription to all three of those comics at one point as well as Uncanny X-Men and looked forward to reading them as soon as they arrived in the mail…and I need to note that our Waynesville mailman did not listen to the “Do Not Bend” warning on the package and would fold it long wise to fit in our mail box! I can even remember renewing them to get more issues sent, and this is how I got to read such story lines like Cap Wolf and the first appearance of Carnage among many other great arcs. The Marvel Comics Subscription was a wonderful way for me to be able to read modern comics since I had to always wait until we could get to Big Bear to go grocery shopping in order to get the issues I needed to complete a story I had started sometimes even missing issues here and there. The good news is that for modern comic readers who don’t live around a comic shop and dislike digital comics like myself, Marvel Comics still offers the subscription service via their website! I just wanted to briefly talk about how much this helped my comic collection as a kid and how it helped me stay up to date on many of the storylines at that time. Below are some cool ads that used to be in the back of Marvel Comics that would tell you about your savings getting your comics this way. Oh yeah and also notice how two of them feature this update’s hero the Incredible Hulk!

The Hulk has been going strong for Marvel Comics for over 57 years and has had many ups and downs in his publication history and over the decades has turned from having a child like mind to having the mind of a genesis. He has turned from grey to green and back to grey to green again. He has tangled with the Army, The Hulkbusters, Abomination, The Leader and even Dr. Doom in many of his issues. But besides the Marvel Comics, The Hulk has also had many other fights and adventures as he has also graced movie screens with Hulk released in 2003, Incredible Hulk from 2016 as well as all four Avengers films! On CBS The Incredible Hulk became a TV Show that ran from 1977 to 1982 for a total of five seasons and had Bill Bixby playing David Bruce Banner and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno as The Hulk! The TV Show started after a made for TV Film and would also go on to have three more movie specials that were The Return Of The Incredible Hulk (1977), The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988), The Trail Of The Incredible Hulk (1989) and The Death Of The Incredible Hulk (1990). He has also had his fair share of adventures in pop-up books, paperback novels, coloring books, video games, recorded audio, comic strips, cartoons and even the weirdest, toilet paper! And let’s be honest, this does not even count Fan Films and even your own adventures you made with your action figures, board games and Colorforms. So as you can see, The Incredible Hulk and his legacy in entertainment goes far beyond the world of Comic Books and has made its way into all types of media given fans even more ways to enjoy their favorite hero.

Did you readers know that in 1983 a game was being made based on The Incredible Hulk for the Atari 2600 that was going to be released by Parker Brothers? Well if not, you know now! The game would have had you play as Bruce Banner with your goal being to get through levels and avoid getting too mad and turning into The Hulk, but the trick was each level would get harder and harder. The game was to be the second in the team up between Marvel Comics and Parker Brothers with the first one being Amazing Spider-Man that was released for Atari 2600 in 1982, but sadly with the video game crash of 1982 came lots of games that never got released to consumers…and sadly The Incredible Hulk was one of those games. It would have also been a two player game meaning you and your sibling or friend could have taken turns playing as Banner and seeing how many points you could rack up. The game did have some press before it was set to be released that included ads and even a cover box design building the hype for gamers and comic readers. Over the years gamers have searched, begged for and hoaxed a prototype for this game and as of this update none have been found leaving the world without at Atari 2600 game based on The Hulk. Will a prototype for this unreleased Incredible Hulk video game ever turn up? This blogger, gamer and comic reader sadly doesn’t think so but if it ever does I for one will buy it on a cart and have an Atari 2600 Challenge update all about it. Below are some of the graphics used in the pre-promotion ads for this game so check them out and try to imagine what could have been.

So way back in the day I was one of the founders of a club called the “Dayton Board Game Society” and on July 11, 2012 at our first meeting we played the board game The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four that was released by Milton Bradley in 1978. At the time we only had a total of three members as it was a private club and besides myself, Stephen Alexander and Josh Weinberg made up the group. I would love to share my thoughts from 2012 with you readers here about this Hulk board game so here is my review from back then: “This one was a surprise for me and I found myself liking the simple yet fun game and this would get my rating of 2.5 out of 4! Growing up I was a huge fan of The Incredible Hulk and this game has you being a member of the Fantastic Four trying to cure the Hulk as he rampages the board! While the game is a basic spinner game, it’s more fun as you the player is also forced to move the Hulk to block and steal other players cards. Very fun game.” At some point I should get the lads back together and play this board game again and see how an older me feels about it. Check out below for some cool pictures from that day.

So as you can see, The Hulk truly is one of Marvel’s most iconic characters and is one that has always captured my imagination as I have always found the character to be interesting and appealed to this Monster Kid as he always had a dash of classic horror to him like a little Frankenstein’s Monster and even some Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. So let’s get into the main attraction of this update, three coloring books made by Whitman Publishing that feature original very kid friendly stories centered around The Hulk. I really cannot wait to revisit the one I had as a kid as I have not seen it for well over twenty years at this point! So I want to remind you readers 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, their entertainment value and their art and story. I also want to stress I am going to grade these a little differently than normal comics as the stories in these are going to be really silly and goofy so I will cut them a little slack. So with that grab your green and purple crayons, and let’s get to these coloring books.

Incredible Hulk: At The Circus  *
Released in 1977     Cover Price .49     Whitman/Marvel   # 1 of 3

The Circus is in town and The Incredible Hulk is working for them doing all types of fun things like lifting heavy weights as well as setting up the tents. The owner of the circus is Mr. Barnes and as he is counting the money, a masked baddie named The Stuntman enters and steals it and sets the trailer on fire! The Hulk smells the smoke and sets into action and saves Mr. Barnes, puts out the trailer by throwing it into water and then starts to chase The Stuntman to get the money back! The chase goes all over the circus with The Stuntman always being a few steps ahead, and The Hulk gets a good idea along with fellow circus worker Rubber Man to roll him into a ball and crash into the villain, and it works leaving Hulk saving the day and getting the money back!

The first thing I want to say about this Hulk coloring book adventure is that it’s barely a story and for the most part makes zero sense as the plot is just laughably bad! No joke, the plot is The Hulk working for a circus and loving to entertain people, getting back stolen money from a cheesy masked bad guy. The Hulk in this book is always smiling and seems to be high on life, I mean why in the heck is he working….Hulk just wants to be alone not setting up tents and hanging out with clowns! This is like opposite day Hulk as he just does not seem himself at all. The Stuntman is super lame and is so terrible he even tries to use a child as a hostage in order to get away…this guy is better left out of the comics, and I am glad this is his only appearance as this coloring book adventure should never been spoken of. The cover for this one is also really bad and has The Hulk on a trapeze looking very misshapen, and the interior art is just ok and while looks nothing like the comic art it does have a very kid friendly look. Over all this first coloring book adventure is pretty bad so lets move onto the second and the one I had growing up! Oh yeah check out the art below to see the art style of this one.

Incredible Hulk: Dot To Dot  **
Released in 1979     Cover Price .59     Whitman/Marvel   # 2 of 3

Alien race The Greenies are attacking the planet Big Zero and blow it up and only one of its citizens escaped named 00-6 and he has chosen Earth to hide out. But he makes a mistake and lands at a speedway as a race is going on causing panic as he uses his number blast power to make a racecar disappear as well as a near by tree and the picnic basket of Bruce Banner who was about to enjoy his lunch. This angers Banner who turns into The Hulk who charges 00-6 who uses his number blast and figure eight spaceship to try and escape, but Hulk follows and the pair are soon both captures by the Greenie King who looks like the Hulk! He informs 00-6 and The Hulk that is plan is to steal the color green from Earth and replace it with other colors causing a green out all thanks to the robot that is called Green Machine! Hulk does not like what he hears and is ready to smash both Green Machine and Greenie King and knocks out the King with one punch but is late with Green Machine who is on his way to Earth! 00-6 uses all his life power to make a number three flying machine that Hulk rides and is able to cut off Green Machine in space and knock him out and return to Earth on it. In the end Hulk is happy to be back home taking a nap under a tree.

Dot-To-Dot was a coloring book I loved as a kid and now looking at it as a 40 year old man, I must say this is super cheesy and super simple and really just middle of the road when it comes to a kids comic style adventure. The plot has The Hulk teaming with a number alien against a race of aliens and their robot that want to steal the coloring green from Earth as they use it as energy. The Hulk in this coloring book goes from being ready to smash 00-6 to becoming his friend to being Earth’s protector in a short amount of pages and while he is not fully Hulk of the comics in attitude, he is close enough. 00-6 is a small goofy little alien who uses number to fight against is foes, he is a good guy but also a little goofy when it comes to who he thinks are his enemies as he sees a tree as a threat. I also like how he uses all his numbers in order to save the world and dies for doing so…he is the Earth’s unknown savior. The Greenie King looks like Hulk with a crown and is an ego driven ruler who cares nor for others and only his needs. The Green Machine is a robot man who is into stealing the color green on the word of his King. The story really is super simple and is hard to break down so I will say I enjoy how Hulk goes to space, I like how he rides a space board that looks like the number three, I dig when he drops the name of the Silver Surfer. The cons are that the plot is lame, the villains are no threat and 00-6 is super goofy. The cover is pretty cool and has the Hulk being surrounded by numbers as an Unknown Artist did the interior artwork that is pretty well done. Over all this coloring book I loved as a youngster did not hold up and is pretty cheesy and for Hulk fans only. Check out the art below to see what you get with this 1979 coloring book.

Incredible Hulk: Wisdom Of The Watcher  **1/2
Released in 1980     Cover Price .69     Whitman/Marvel   # 3 of 3

The Hulk is in the desert to get a break from mankind, and while lonely he at least is not being attacked, that is until a small craft appears and uses gas to knock him out! Hulk turns back into Bruce Banner and finds himself on a craft and confronted by his enemy The Leader who places a device on Banners neck that will allow him to take control of The Hulk and use him as a weapon to take over the world and beyond. The Leader after making Banner turn back into The Hulk runs him through some tests to see what his body can withstand and how strong he truly is and once his questions are answered he shares his plan with Hulk that will have him travel to the moon and steal an artifact from The Watcher who makes his home on the moon. The Leader sends Hulk to the moon, and he is greeted by The Watcher who tells him to look around as he will not interfere in his quest all the while The Leader is in Hulk’s head giving orders as old jade jaws is trying to fight off his mind control. The Leader pots a red orb and he knows that is what he needs and to take it Hulk must fight a massive alien who has also shown up to steal the orb! Hulk defeats the alien easily and takes the orb as The Watcher witnesses him vanish back to the lab of The Leader who puts the orb on his head thinking he can learn the knowledge of all the planets and instead it over loads his mind knocking him out and allowing Hulk to free himself from the mind control and wonder away all the while The Watcher knew this is how it all would end.

This final coloring book issue of Incredible Hulk I have from Whitman is a pretty fun read as it’s pure kids comic stuff! The plot is very simple and has The Hulk being tricked and mind controlled by his foe The Leader who wants to use his power and strength in order to travel to the blue side of the moon and steal a powerful orb from The Watcher. And things go bad for The Leader when he finds out some knowledge just can not be learned no matter how smart you are. The Hulk in this issue feels a little off as at some points he is the mad kid like hulking beast and others he is mentally trying to free his mind from the control and comes off super well spoken. It’s like the writer of this coloring book forgot from time to time on what comic character he was writing this story about. But while the writing is a little flawed on how The Hulk acts, it’s still great when he is the Hulk we all know and love and is complaining about mankind. The Leader is as sinister as ever and wants nothing more than to gain power and knowledge and to rule over the whole world…he is such a smart slimy character that is easy to hate as he just oozes ego. The Watcher is as natural as ever and while he could mess people and events up he decides to play by his races rules and just watch, even if people are stealing from him. The Alien thief is big and bad and is no match for the might of The Hulk and gets his butt kicked really quick! One thing I did like about this coloring book is the fact The Watcher stayed true to who he is and just sits back and watches as all the events unfold, when he could have easily sent The Hulk away and then went to Earth and smacked The Leader around. The cover for this book is great and has The Hulk punching an alien in the face as The Watcher watches while space is in the background as well as what I would guess is the moon. The art inside is once more done by the Unknown Artist and is pretty good with sometimes characters looking a little off. Over all this is a fun short and silly Hulk adventure that brought joy to the kids of the 80’s and beyond. Oh and this one only had one small part colored in and that was The Watchers eyes were colored in blue. Check out some pages below to see how this one looked.

While coloring book comic character adventures are not the best written nor drawn stories, they still are part of the character’s history and it was fun to travel back and give them a read for this update. Plus I always enjoy taking some time to chat about The Hulk who I should cover way more often here on my blog. I am not sure if I ever will do another coloring book update based on a classic superhero, but if I choose to do so, I will cover Captain America. For my next update I am thinking I am going to put up the crayons and gear up to once more spend Thanksgiving with the mythology hero Hercules as he does 12 labors of superhuman challenges! So until then, make sure to stay young at heart my readers, and make sure to read a Marvel Comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for another Turkey Day Herc adventure!

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!