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.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Leprechaun (1993)

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day ! For this update I think we are going to revisit that nasty little movie monster killer The Leprechaun! Last time I covered him was way back in 2013 when I reviewed the very cheesy BlueWater Comic series and that was also for Saint Patrick’s Day. For this update, we will be looking at the Trimark promo comic released when the film hit theaters, and it will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update so we can really breakdown the 1993 movie as well as Leprechaun the character. I am also doing this update in honor of the SYFY network’s newest Leprechaun sequel that is being released today. So if you’re ready to drink some green beer and look for the pot of gold on the other side of the rainbow, let’s dive into this pint size terror killer.

To start off this update, we need to take a look at our title killer of the film, the one and only Leprechaun, and while he has been in several films, we will only be talking about his killing abilities and flaws from the first film only as that is what this promo comic is based on. The Leprechaun is an over 3 feet tall supernatural creature who has a wicked nature and a thirst to kill those who make the mistake in taking his gold from him. The Leprechaun is very cunning and is a trickster and can use his size and appearance to scare his target victims leaving them open for the kill once panic sets in and they notice they are being stalked and hunted by a mythic creature with a frightening face. The Leprechaun also uses magic in order to dispatch his victims as, while he is not earth shattering with his powers, he can in fact use them on those who stole his gold and ones that get in his way. He also has no issues using his bare hands nor any weapon or item he can find around him on the sad person who crossed his path. He also has razor sharp fingernails that can also be used in hurting a human as well as his teeth that he will use to chomp down with. And all the while he also makes puns and jokes during his violence causing the victim to feel helpless and weak. He also can regrow body parts that have been cut off and can heal from wounds pretty fast. Oh and lets not forget, he is also good at leaving traps to capture his victims! While The Leprechaun is powerful, he does have weaknesses like four leaf clovers hurts him and leaves him powerless and open to attacks and is the true way of stopping him if one is placed on him. If he is forced to swallow the clover, he melts from the inside out. He also has a weakness for dirty shoes as he feels like he must polish them, once more leaving him open for an attack or for a person to get away from him. He is also very much empowered by his gold and is weaker without it, once more leaving him able to be hurt from counter attacks. He also can be hurt/stunned with more direct attacks like using a gun on him. While he can be stopped, this pint sized terror is a force of evil and when stolen from he has no issues ripping your guts out!

So now that we have taken a look at the Leprechaun and his powers and ways of killing, we should now take a look at the original movie that spawned him. For this part, the film’s plot write up is taken from our pals at IMDB with the production notes and thoughts being written by myself. So if you’re ready, let’s travel back to 1993 and enter the world of the Leprechaun.

Leprechaun (1993)

When Dan O’Grady returns to the U.S. after stealing some Irish leprechaun’s pot of gold, he thinks he can settle down and enjoy his newfound wealth. He thought wrong. The leprechaun followed him and O’Grady barely gets away with his life, having locked the little monster in his basement. Ten years later, J.D. and his spoiled daughter Tory move in. By accident, the leprechaun is released and almost immediately the annoying creature starts to look for his gold, not displaying any respect for human life.”

Mark Jones was a man who made his name producing TV shows and cartoons, and one day decided he wanted to direct and make a movie and choose the horror genre to make his debut. Inspired by the film series Critters and the breakfast cereal Lucky Charms, he went to Trimark and pitched the idea that became the company’s first home grown theatrical film release and brought them to the dance. Mark Jones wrote and directed the film and got a million dollar budget and began casting bringing in such names as Warwick Davis to play the Leprechaun, Mark Holton, Ken Olandt, Shay Duffin and a Jennifer Aniston in her first feature role! Gabe Bartalos was brought in to do the special effects that took three hours to apply and forty minuets to remove. One of the main shooting locations was Big Sky Ranch that was also used back in the day for locations for The Waltons and Little House On The Prairie. Before being released, the film received a massive push from Trimark as they really wanted this film to be a big hit and help bring them more attention and money to make future films. The film did okay for Trimark at the US Box Office bringing in $8,556,940.00 on a budget of only $1 million! The film ranked number 117 for the year and beat out such other cult films as Dazed And Confused, The Meteor Man, Children Of The Corn II, Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm, Surf Ninjas, Mr. Nanny, Warlock: The Armageddon and Ernest Rides Again to name a few. While this film might not have been a box office smash nor is Leprechaun as iconic as other Horror Killers like Michael Myers or Leatherface, he does have a cult following and has made a mark for sure in the world of horror.

I can remember in 1993 when Leprechaun was being released to theaters as of course my brother and I wanted to see it and our Dad laughed at the trailer of it, and this of course meant we did not get to see it in theaters! When I was a young Monster Kid, movies with weird creatures and monsters were ones I always felt like I had to see and Leprechaun fit that bill. And of course not much has changed as I still love these style of movies! When I was finally able to see Leprechaun, it was when it came out on VHS and my brother Bryan rented it, and I can remember we both enjoyed it for all its cheesy goodness and years later I can remember watching it with my friend Jason Gilmore and he as well always really enjoyed it! In 1993 I can also remember clipping the newspaper ad from Dayton Daily News and keeping it along with other Horror Movie ads for a short time. Later I bought the film on VHS as well as DVD and even at one point remember owning the movie score on CD that was sadly stolen during a move. Even now in 2019, I find myself enjoying the original film as well as most of the sequels with the reboot Leprechaun: Origins being my lest favorite, and I really cannot wait to see the new film coming to SYFY called “Leprechaun: Returns” that should be premiering the day this update goes live. It’s odd to think that growing up the Leprechaun films have always been a part of my childhood as I have so many good memories of this series like hanging out with my friend Dave Wean watching Leprechaun 3 and eating Spaghetti-O’s while off from school, and watching Leprechaun In Da Hood and making out with my then girlfriend Misty on our couch right after moving in together and even watching Leprechaun Origins with my gal Juliet while a thunderstorm was going crazy outside. While not my favorite of the lower level Horror Movie series, it’s one I do enjoy and recommend watching them all if you like a little cheese and humor with your horror.

The Leprechaun was such a cult hit that even Saturday Night Live got in on poking fun at it via their Wayne’s World skits that were the shows most popular at the time and was based around two goofy guys Wayne and Garth and their cheesy public access show called Wayne’s World. And during some episodes as well as the second movie as Wayne armed with a flashlight would torment Garth by acting as if he was the Leprechaun! The segment on the show was really funny and Juliet and I break out reenacting the segment at home from time to time. I don’t want to spend too much time on this but also wanted to show it a little love and respect.

So now that we have chatted about The Leprechaun and his ways of murder, I think it’s time we take a look at a promo comic that was released by Trimark in order to help promote the film. I want to thank an Ebay seller who had this comic for sale and I am happy to say that the money I spent on this film went towards a charity. I also want to remind you all 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’re ready lets dive into this first comic based on the horror movie Leprechaun.

Leprechaun # 1  **
Released in 1992       Cover Price FREE       Trimark      #1 of 1

In Ireland Farmer O’Grady follows a rainbow to the end and finds a pot of gold and rushes to sell it to the local jeweler and gets a large sum of money for it all, but unbeknownst to them all, the Leprechaun has arrived and wants his coins and jewels back! The Leprechaun starts off with burning down O’Grady’s farm and then starts his killing spree starting with the Jeweler and makes the terrified man’s fingers turn into snakes and attack himself. Then he goes after all those who bought his gold and jewels from the shop! His path of death includes decapitating a woman, makes a man’s head explode, drives one crazy and even electrocutes another! We then find out that Farmer O’Grady is on a plane on his way to start a new life in America, and in the baggage area The Leprechaun is hiding as the Farmer has kept one of the coins…and he wants it back!

This super short Horror Comic acts as a prequel to the film and sets up how the gold coin got to America as well as how The Leprechaun did. The plot is pretty paper thin and has a farmer finding the gold of Leprechaun and the sadistic little killing machine wants it back. Farmer O’Grady is a man who falls into luck when he finds the gold at the end of a rainbow and is able to sell it off and better his life even moving to America with the money he got…but sadly, we do not get to really get much character development from him as he is just kind of a bookend character for this short comic. The Leprechaun is filled with rage when he finds his gold missing this shows that this rhyme speaking mythical creature will kill in brutal ways! I like that it shows he very much enjoys killing people and even likes to get creative with his kills. The comic is filled with violent acts but does not show blood and gore and the kills are done in shadow, off panel or in a comedic way making the comic safe for readers of all ages. While this is a quick and fun read that does do a good job of feeling like it is a part of the film it’s based on, its small page count and rushed story also kind of hurts it as the kills fly by way too fast. The cover is fantastic and is just a drawn take of the film’s poster and is 100% eye catching for fans of the flick as well as Horror Comic readers. The comic’s interior art is done by William Clausen and is well done in spots as The Leprechaun looks great…the victims not so much, but to be fair it all does have a very underground comic book look and feel to it. Over all this promo comic is a fun read and captures the silly spooky nature of the film it was made to promote and is great for collectors who love comics based on films. Check out the art below to see the style of Clausen used in this comic.

So as you can see, Leprechaun makes a great character for comic books and while this Promo Comic nor the BlueWater Comics could do him full justice, they both show that with the right writer and artist a solid comic could be made and could help add to the character’s Horror legacy. I hope you enjoyed drinking your green beer and reading about this Horror Flick icon of murder on this update, and I also hope you get home safe and watch Leprechaun Returns on TV! And I have said it once and I’ll say it again, I do not understand why more companies don’t do promo comics to advertise their upcoming film…and I am not just saying this about Hollywood films, I am also looking at you Indie creators! I mean so many amazing Horror Movies have been put out over the past years that would make for a great comic series or promo that readers and fans would love to get their hands on…but yet nothing! That’s why I do want to send a big shout out to comic companies like Eibon Press, IDW, Blood Scream Comics and Dynamite who do deliver some amazing Horror Comics based on Horror Movies. For our next update we are going to stay in the world of Horror and do another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update as we take a look at the promo comic for The Giant Spider Invasion! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for an arachnid good time!

Amazing Wiggly Jiggly Jell-O Man!

Who doesn’t like eating a big old bowl of Jell-O for dessert after a good meal? It’s been around for over 120 years, has been enjoyed by billions of people in that time and has become a food product that is a major part of American pop culture. When working on blog updates this year, I needed a quick and fun update to fill a small time frame and looking through my comic collection I found my copy of the promo comic The Adventures Of Jell-O Man and Wobbly and knew that I needed to talk about it as it’s a perfect quick update topic about something very weird and yet very fitting for Rotten Ink. Why don’t more companies make promo comics based on mascots of their products? Like why aren’t comics based on say The Burger King, The Green Giant and Chuck E. Cheese? I also always question why Indie Horror Filmmakers don’t make comics based on their films, as many of them would make amazing reads and are a prefect way to promote the fright flick. But let’s not harp on what should be, and let’s talk about what is and that’s Jell-O Man! So if you’re ready for this quick update, I am ready to talk all about this fruit flavored snack.

Pearle Wait created Jell-O in 1897 as he and his wife May found out a way to add fruit flavors to powdered gelatin. In 1899 they sold it off to Genesee Pure Food Company owner Orator Francis Woodward, and thanks to new ways to make, package and store food, he was able to get his new product onto store shelves. At first it was not a hit with shoppers. In the early 1900’s they really started to push the product more, taking out ads and adding new flavors to the line even making cookbooks to hand out that used Jell-O making it increasingly a household name and a must eat for after family meals. And from there it really did become a hit with shoppers. When Genesee Pure Food merged with Postum, they became General Foods and started to add more products to the Jell-O line as well as more flavors and kept really pushing it as a brand that was in many cupboards all over America, and for years this was the case. But starting in the 1960’s and all the way to the 80’s, sales for Jell-O started to decline, and they had to once more use ads and celebrities to bring sales back and to try and bring in a younger clientele…and once more it worked! Over the years Jell-O has had many ups and downs in sales and has lost many of the flavors they used to make, but one thing is for sure, they are not going anywhere soon and still remain a very popular dessert that is now added to all types of other meals. Jell-O has now also become a very iconic brand and has sparked all types of merchandise based around the brand as well from molds all the way to shirts and even a comic book.

When I was a youngster, I can remember that if I was not feeling well my mom would heat up Jell-O and make a hot drink for me that was suppose to help settle my stomach as well as deliver a shot of energy. I can of course remember eating classic Jell-O from time to time and can safely say my favorite flavor was Lime. To this day I get cravings for it! My mom used to also make this multiple layer Jell-O dessert, and man was it fantastic and something that was a joy to eat. It’s very odd to think about, but when I was a kid Jell-O did seem like a very big brand and like it was made just for us kids, but it was also something adults enjoyed. The way this product was marketed was very smart as it made kids crave it and adults think it was a great treat for youngsters. Next I will talk a little about the commercials shown when I was a kid and the celebrity they used.

Growing up Jell-O was everywhere from snack packs that kids in school had while eating lunch, all the way to TV ads that were played during cartoons and kid shows, and at this time, the spokesman was comedian Bill Cosby! Way before he went to jail, he was considered on of the world’s top comedians who entertained young and old alike with the likes of The Cosby Show and cartoon series Fat Albert. Growing up I was a big Bill Cosby fan as I watched not only the two aforementioned shows but also liked him on “The Electric Company” as well as his movies like “Ghost Dad”, “Leonard Part 6” and “The Devil And Max Devlin” and even when I got older, I bought many of his stand up routines on CD. When he was the spokesman for Jell-O, I can remember seeing the commercials and finding myself craving it as a snack as well as wanting to try such things as Jell-O Jigglers that allowed you to eat it with your hands. Plus having Bill Cosby sell the product gave it credit to parents when they wanted to treat their kids to a tasty treat. I don’t want to go too much into it, but let’s just say that I was really disappointed in Mr. Cosby when the terrible things he did came to the light, as he was always an American Icon and was considered Americans’ Favorite TV Dad. But while he turned out to be who he was, the memories of trying to sell me Jell-O when I was watching cartoons will always be a fun, silly and will bring a smile to my face.

Back in 1981, a comedy metal band was created and called themselves Green Jello and toured around performing silly and heavy songs and building a small following. Their big break came in 1992 when they released the song “Three Little Pigs” and metal fans as well as fans of pop rock music went crazy for it! The song was off their Cereal Killer album and because of the popularity of the song, Kraft Foods swooped in and filed a lawsuit against the band as they claimed a trademark infringement on the name Jell-O. Of course the band lost and had to change their name to Green Jelly and all their music releases as well as their merchandise had to have the name change. While the band’s name is one of the factors that made Kraft mad, it was the slogan they used “Green Jello Sucks” that really set them off. The band was a one hit winder with Three Little Pigs being their claim to fame, but keep in mind, they are still a band to this day and still have a cult following. I also want to say that the band was also sued by Metallica for stealing a rift from the song Enter Sandman as well as Kellogg Company for the use of Toucan Sam that they used in art and video and called him “Toucan Son Of Sam”.

So as you can seem Kraft is very protective of their Jell-O brand and have always tried to keep up their family friendly image safe and untarnished, but they cannot stop culture. The rumor going around the campfire is that they dislike the popular party drink called Jell-O Shots that takes the product and mixes it with mostly vodka. This “drink” is very popular at college bars, parties and even Horror, Comic and Anime Conventions. But the thing that bothers them the most is Jell-O Wrestling, a sports entertainment activity that mostly has young women in skimpy cloths rolling around an inflatable pool filled with Jell-O as men cheer. This event goes hand and hand with mud wrestling and is played up as a sexy sport and has even spawned many leagues as well as websites. I just wanted to touch on both of these things as they do go hand and hand with the legacy of Jell-O and is part of American culture.

From Bill Cosby to alcoholic drinks to a comedy metal band, we have talked about many different things connected to Jell-O, and now I feel it’s time we talk about their short lived mascot named Jell-O Man and his trusty dog Wobbly and their comic book adventure. And I think while I read this comic, I am also going to eat some lime Jell-O and enjoy this promo issue. I want to remind you readers 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 if you’re ready, let’s see what Wobbly and Jell-O Man are all about.

Adventures Of Jell-O Man # 1  **
Released in 1991     Cover Price FREE     General Mills     # 1 of 1

“The Outrageous Origin Of Jell-O Man And Wobbly” Dr. Goodtaste along with his friend Snackens and robot Grabby are watching a computer that helps stock all the world’s stores with Jell-O products and this is upsetting Grabby who wants to also be able to eat some of this tasty snack and has an idea to do so and uses the energy from a experimental hologram laser cannon to super power his own robotic energy! Grabby traps his one time human friends in the lab and reroutes all the delivers of Jell-O products to be delivered to him as he wants it all for himself. But in the lab Goodtastse and Snackens watch in wonder as the hologram of the Jell-O logo transformers into to two beings made of the tasty snack, Jell-O Man and his dog Wobbly! Jell-O Man helps the humans escape the lab and returns and tricks Grabby into self-exploding and allowing Goodtaste to set the delivers back on track. “The Natural History Mystery” this story has Mrs. Sherman and her fourth grade class on a field trip to the museum when someone steals all the Jell-O snacks that were for dessert! But one young man calls up Jell-O Man who, along with Wobbly, vows to get their snacks back, and after wandering around the museum, he finds that the dinosaur called Snackosaurus has stolen them and after tripping the beast up is able to take back the snacks and save the field trip. “The Outer Space Case” has Jell-O Man and Wobbly on the planet of Gumongo to introduce them to Jell-O, and unbeknownst to them the evil Shoveler has followed them and steals all the snack from their refrigerators while the aliens sleep. The next day Jell-O Man comes up with a plan to capture The Shoveler and uses Jigglers to do so, as Shoveler bounce around on the giant Jell-O Jigglers the aliens and Jell-O Man bring him down and save their tasty treat from being stolen ever again.

This promo comic features three silly stories featuring Jell-O Man and his dog Wobbly and does its job of making readers think that Jell-O is a tasty treat that all kids love to eat. The three stories are pretty normal, kids comic stuff and has Jell-O Man’s origin as well as takes him to a museum and space to show that people all over the universe love pudding and gelatin. Jell-O man is a cool as ice hero who only worries about making sure people have Jell-O snacks to eat! He also sports cool whip hair and can detach his head and use it as a weapon to take down his enemies. He also talks like a cool hipster of the time and even at one point seems to be hitting on the school teacher as I think he wanted to show her his wobbly jiggler…yeah, I know that’s a cheesy joke. Speaking of Wobbly, he is pretty useless and only runs around and says “Yeah, Yeah” lots, so in other words he is a useless sidekick. Our villains in this comic are the robot Grabby, the purple dinosaur Snackosaurus and the shovel handed freak named The Shoveler, and while they are all bad dudes, none of them are major threats to mankind as all they really care about is stealing Jell-O…but if I had to pick one that I would say could more easily turn rouge and bring down mankind, I would choose Grabby as he seems very power hungry. The over all feel of this comic is fun and upbeat but spends most of each story really hammering home the idea that Jell-O is what we all need to be eating at all times and if you don’t have it, your life is depressing. None of the adventures seem that dangerous nor do the stakes really feel that big making it really just one big commercial ad for the Kraft products. The cover for this one is pretty eye catching and showcases our hero Jell-O Man and his trusty sidekick dog Wobbly. The interior art is done by Richard Howell and has a very simple style to it and yet also very cartoonish in spots and is perfect for this style comic, you long time readers will also remember that Howell did the artwork for The Shadow War Of Hawkman that I covered sometime back. Over all this is a fun promo comic that is nothing special but serves its purpose in delivering a goofy good read for kids and promote the product it was based all around. Check out the artwork below to see the style Howell used for this comic.

Jell-O Man was not a major hit in the world of mascots, and while he starred in some commercials, his main claim to fame is this promo comic as over the years of comic book shopping at stores I have seen this comic in many of .25 and $1.00 bins. And doing this update about a promo comic makes me look forward to covering more of them in the future. My next update will take us away from the world of Jell-O and place us into the world of Horror as for Saint Patrick’s Day we will be re-looking at the one and only Leprechaun! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a green beer 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!

Rottweiler And His Indie Superhero Friends

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! For this quick update I think I am going to take a quick look at a superhero I discovered in a cheap box at New Dimension Comics in 2018 and got the one and only issue of this hero for only .50! When finding this comic, it made me think about how many independent comic superheroes are in the world that only lasted a handful to even one issue. Take a moment and think of some of the comics in your collection that fit what I just said…go on and take a moment and look. It makes you wonder whatever hero you’re thinking of could have been if only they lasted longer. Would they have been super popular now if they would have lasted and have video games, TV shows or movies based on them? It really does make me wonder if these characters could have been bigger to readers if Marvel and DC did not hog so much space on comic shop shelves and newsstands with their mountains of Spider-Man and Batman titles. So if you have some local comic book shops in your town that carry old cheap back issues in .25 to $1.00 bins, do yourself a favor and dig through them and see what kind of independent comic treasures you can find of forgotten superheroes like Rottweiler. And make sure if you’re in the Cranberry, PA area and love comic books, make sure to check out New Dimension Comics as they have lots of great comics at good prices and not only have a big $1.00 bin but also have a room that’s filled with $3.00 comics from the Golden and Silver Age! But if you’re ready, I am ready to take a look at masked superhero Rottweiler!

The comic company who brought the world Rottweiler was called August Comics and what follows is all that I could find about it. The information I gathered is from multiple websites as well as hearsay and things that I pieced together. It looks like August Comics was created in 1987 and was a very short lived company with only two titles under its belt, Stormbringer that lasted three issues and Rottweiler that lasted one. From what I have found, I think Paul Burke was not only one of the editors but also might have been the owner of August Comics. The company had smaller print runs but did make it into Diamond Previews and was a speck on the industry. But while they might have been small and not known by most comic readers and collectors, they did have a small fan base and have left a legacy behind for readers to discover in discount bins comic shops wide. And I for one am glad I found out about them as while on vacation. This was one of the comics I bought and read that night.

So as you can see, not much is out in the world about August Comics or the people who created it, and that was all the info I could dig up when looking for information. So let’s take a look at some other cool things going on in my life from the past few months. Last year, I had to have a pre-show for my birthday horror movie marathon way early as I had to work the PPV for Rock Star Pro Wrestling on September 7th and would have gotten in way too late for any movie watching! So we had the pre-show on September 3, 2018 as it was Labor Day and both Juliet and I were off from work. We started it off with the 1970 Kaiju film “Space Amoeba” about beings from space coming to earth to trying to take it over by entering an octopus, crab and turtle and making them giant monsters. Next was “The Creeps” a Full Moon film about Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, a Mummy and a werewolf coming to life thanks to a weirdo who wants to use them to take over the world, the only issue is they are all small! The 1987 shot on video film “Soultangler” was up next and is about a crazed doctor who is experimenting on putting part of his soul into young women he has kidnapped off the streets and can jump from dead body to dead body. And the final film of the night was the 2017 monster flick “Mountain Devil,” a documentary/found footage style film about a man and a Bigfoot he claimed to have killed in the hills of PA. Over all this was a pretty fun time as the heat outside was in the 90’s and the Horrors of the TV screen kept us entertained as we munched on a cheeseball. The Golden Turkey for this pre-show hands down for us both was Mountain Devil as it was so boring…and I mean boring, and worst it offered no scares at all. The Bigfoot is hardly seen, and it’s just mostly old white guys talking about Bigfoot. For me the best film of the Pre-Show was Space Amoeba as I found it to be a solid giant monster film, plus it was cool to see Gezora in action! And Juliet as well picked Space Amoeba as her favorite of the night! Fun time spent with some spooky Horror Movies and made me look forward to the main event day on the 8th!

On September 8, 2018 I held a Horror Movie Marathon Birthday Bash that had Juliet and I loading up on snack food and planning good eats for the day as always we have breakfast casserole, potato chips, and I decided that I wanted home made Burritos for dinner! We started off the marathon with the 1957 Universal Science Fiction Horror Movie called “Monolith Monsters” that is about giant space rocks that grow when in contact with water that are taken over a small town as well as killing people as it drains them of their body water! The second creature feature was “Curse Of The Swamp Creature” about a crazed scientist trying to make monster slaves out of transformed humans. We next watched the 1993 film “Little Devils: The Birth” about pint sized devils running amok in a boarding house. The fourth fright flick was “The Suckling” about a baby fetus that is turned into a killing beast by toxic waste that sets its anger on people at a brothel. Our next film was suppose to be Blood Mania the final film of Herschal Gordon Lewis, but a messed up DVD made us watch “Conrad Brooks vs. The Werewolf” that has Conrad Brooks and his brother battle a werewolf to the death. “Evil Bong 777” was next and had the Evil Bong and her stoner allies in Vegas on the run from Sexy Hell! Shot on video film “Burglar From Hell” was next to scare up some deaths as a killer comes back to life to torment a neighborhood. The eighth film was “Mental Scars” about a masked killer slashing his way through people silly enough to be in his junkyard. The supernatural slasher film “Thorn” about a masked madman killing his way to get to a young woman that is special to him in some odd way. Horror Comedy “Pool Party Massacre” about a madman killing off pretty women at a pool party was the next shocker. We then watched the French Horror movie “Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls” about female zombies who rise from their graves to get revenge on those who lead to their deaths and more! And the final film of the night was the 1989 film “Shocking Dark” about a group of well-trained soldiers fighting for their lives on a mission against mutants! As always a fun time spent watching the horror pictures on a rainy day for my Birthday!

So after all the films were over, Juliet and I sat and talked about them and we both agreed that the Golden Turkey of the day was Evil Bong 777 as this film seemed to have no real plot and was only used to make something quick to open the way for a part 8. It was a real let down as this one was just really bad…minus the cute ladies of the cast who were the highlights. Now onto our favorite films of the day I would say that my # 1 was Pool Party Massacre as I really enjoyed this campy modern Horror Comedy that was filled with great kills and attractive women. My # 2 was Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls while not a perfect film and clearly cut in spots this French Horror movie had a gritty feel and I loved the looks of the films dead girls. And my # 3 was Little Devils as I found it lots of silly fun with mini monsters who have weapons like acid and flamethrowers to kill humans! Juliet’s top three are as follows # 1 Revenge Of The Living Dead Girls, # 2 Little Devils and # 3 Shocking Dark! Plus I want to also say the next day it was still raining outside so we watched the 1963 film The Slime People and the 1963 Kaiju film Atragon!

So I am sure you’re also wondering what killer won the Golden Chainsaw Award for the amount of kills they pulled off! The winner, with well over 10 confirmed kills, was Frank The Tank from the SOV Horror Movie Burglar From Hell! That’s right, the rotten undead burglar turned killer Frank racked up the body count and snapped a lot of necks to win it all! The best kill from this rotten faced killer was when he shoveled a man’s guts while he sat on a toilet…yep, Frank is one sick zombie! So here is to you Frank The Tank for making this Horror Movie Marathon a little bloodier!

So now that we chatted about August Comics as well as a Horror Movie Marathon I held for my Birthday, it’s time we take a look at Rottweiler, a superhero who was gone before he could really start. As I said I found this comic at New Dimension Comics in Cranberry and want to thank them for having this comic in stock and making this update possible and allowing a reader like myself to discover the character Rottweiler. And as always I would like to remind you that I grade 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 let’s see what Rottweiler brings to the table of indie superheroes.

Rottweiler   **
Released in 1987     Cover Price $1.50     August Comics      # 1 of 1

Masked costume superhero Rottweiler chases off a pack of dogs that are attacking another dog, and once the pack runs off, he stays with the dog who is bleeding and dying. Rottweiler remembers back to his past when he was Mark Evans, a man who was working as a janitor at a lab and is bitten by a dog and must fight for his life to escape and when doing so passes out from the bite and the loss of blood. Mark awakens in the hospital and is hallucinating and attacks a nurse before busting out the window and heading into the woods, and this upsets his girlfriend who had just came to the hospital to visit. Mark feels different and almost like a wild dog himself and it’s clear the government has done something to him or the dog who bit him as they have sent out soldiers to get him back. Mark is able to take out some of these soldiers but ends up being caught again and taken back to the hospital. Back to present day and the dog passes away in the arms of Rottweiler, who starts to leave when he sees a cat and chases it away.

Rottweiler had a great story and a character that could have had an impact in the world of indie comics if August Comics would have stayed in business longer than under a year. This first and only issues in this series had the ground work for the characters origin that has a young man being bitten by a dog and this bite as well as his health care turns him into a superhero with the instincts of a dog. Mark Evans is a man with a job to do and that’s be a janitor to a lab that houses dogs that have had tests done to them, and while he is a normal guy, you can tell he really does not dig his new job. As Rottweiler he is filled with rage and power and wants to stick up for the underdogs of the world. He also changes who he is as Rottweiler, wears a full body suit and has an attitude to boot. None of the other characters in this comic have any development with the only thing known about any of them is that the army knows what’s going on with Mark and want him unharmed so they can study him. While the comic is a good read and is a great one to set up the story of Rottweiler, it does have some minuses that take away from it all. For one the comic has no major villain in place for Rottweiler and besides holding the dying dog and the backup story in the comic, we hardly see him in his costume leaving us with just a whole lot of Mark. The cover for this issue is pretty generic and is black with blood splatter and almost looks more like a Horror Comic than a Superhero one. The interior art is done by Ted Whittenbarger and is pretty good solid independent stuff and has that late 80’s feel. The one thing about this comic as well that I should say is that only 5,000 copies were printed, and if you like small press superheroes, you should give this one a read.

I feel the need to cover more independent and forgotten heroes and companies, as this update is a celebration of these micro heroes. ME Comix was a very small micro comic company that seems to have been owned by creator Pierre R. McNeil and was based out of Atlanta, Georgia and had a very small go at it all. From the way things look, the company only released two titles that each only lasted a total of two issues and both were all done by McNeil who at one point had a call out for artist and writers to join his dream of what ME Comix could have been. The first comic series was T-Bird Chronicles that was released in 1986 and that was followed by Peter Risk Monster Masher in 1987. And after 1987 they seemed to have closed for good or only made comics on even a smaller level. I have to give McNeil lots of credit as he was a man with a vision and chased his dream to be in the comic world and did so no matter how small its impact was…he did it. It also really makes you wonder what could have happened for ME Comix if Peter Risk or T-Bird would have hit it big with readers, or if other artist and writers would have jumped on board and created new characters that could have been the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spawn or Prime. Wonder what kind of stuff ME Comix would be making in 2018 if they were still around. And next let’s take a look at the comic shop that stocked the first issue of our next forgotten hero.

Bell, Book And Comic in Dayton, Ohio is one of my favorite comic shops in our area as it’s one that took the place of the Bookie Parlor in my eyes as it has amazing back issues as well as paperback books, toys and cool board games. The shop is run by Pete Bell, who has always treated me with respect when shopping and has helped me many times getting comics needed for this blog! The thing that sets them apart from the other comic shops in our area is that they have a massive Horror Comic section as well as section that has $1.00 number 1 issues and in this section on August 28, 2018 is where I found T-Bird Chronicles, which made me fully decide to make this update bigger and really showcase some amazing heroes from small time comic companies from the past. They also have a very cool cheap bin of comics that are three for a $1.00 as well as have a section for Milestone, Malibu, Valiant and other indie companies. So if you love comic books and live in the Dayton, Ohio area make sure to check out this shop as I am sure you’ll find something for your collection.

So I would like to thank both Bell, Book And Comic as well as Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock. I also want to say I am very much looking forward to reading this comic as I have never heard of it until finding the first issue in 2018. So I am sure I do not need to remind you of my 1 to 4 star rating scale and if you’re ready let’s see what T-Bird Chronicles has in store for us!

T-Bird Chronicles # 1  *1/2
Released in 1986       Cover Price $1.50       ME Comix       # 1 of 2

Thomas Bird works as a high priced security officer and not only drives an amazing thunderbird car, but also carries a very special super sonic gun and he is ready for action. Silver City is where Thomas lives, and he has a new assignment that will place him at the city’s nuclear power plant to look into drug trafficking. At the nuclear planet Leornodis Von Crock is working on a batch of radioactive steroids and cocaine and has to take matters into his own hands when worker Colleita Silverton is caught stealing info that could expose their criminal ways. Once he has captures the whistle blower, he keeps her captive and calls Carl to set up a meeting for them to buy large sums of money. As the pickup helicopter is showing up to get the drugs, Thomas Bird rushes to the power plant and uses his special super sonic stun gun to take out the workers and Leornodis Von Crock in a panic takes some of the radioactive steroids and turns into a hulking mass of muscle! Thomas Bird sets Colleita free and has her run to his car as he tricks the massive Von Crock follow him away from her, and to his shock Von Crock drops a bomb that will blow them both up! But Thomas Bird calls in his little flying robot friend A-1 and grabs on to it and is carried to safety as Von Crock is blown up. In the end Thomas is set to take Colleita home but not before he takes her to his place.

Wow this is one cheesy, silly and 80’s indie comic goofy book that showcases one smooth yet unprepared hero. Our story is very, very simple and has a doctor at the city’s power plant using his knowledge to make drugs more powerful and is found out by a hero who comes in to stop a massive sell of the drugs as well as save a young woman who has been held captive after she was captured finding dirt on the plant. Thomas Bird is a hero who has lots of tech at his disposal and uses a none-lethal gun that not only can stop humans but also mechanical things like cars! But the thing about Thomas is that while he has the means to stop crime, he really doesn’t do much in this issue besides stunning a few henchmen and freeing a young lady from captivity. In fact, he never once slugs it out with Leornodis Von Crock, he doesn’t even come prepared in his big fight as he only brought a half loaded clip for his special gun…in other words, he won this fight by luck and by his robotic friends and really didn’t even show up until way late in the dope selling game. Colleita Silverton is a young woman who wants to bring down the drugs coming out of Silver City and when she makes her big play, she ends up being knocked out and held captive and for some reason seems to fall head over heels for Thomas. Leornodis Von Crock is a smart and sinister man who uses all his knowledge to make a super drug made for the rich and powerful people. Also when pushed and near being busted, he has no issues using the super drug on himself to become a powerful hulking mass of muscle in order to smash his foe and get away from being busted. So let’s talk real quick about what I liked about this issue and that’s the indie style artwork of Pierre R. McNeil, really fun classic small press stuff. I also do for some reason like hero Thomas Bird…but also he is one of the dislikes I have for this issue as I found him to be a very ill-equipped hero who doesn’t do much to save the day and get the lady. I also found the plot a little weak and the climax a little underwhelming. The cover is great and has that 80’s small press charm, and as I said I like the simple art style of McNeil as it captures the true feeling of a true indie artist who was making a comic he wanted. Over all while I was not blown away by this first issue, I am looking forward to reading the second one to see how the final issue in this short-lived series carried on this hero.

T-Bird Chronicles # 2  *1/2
Released in 1986      Cover Price $1.50      ME Comix      # 2 of 2

Thomas Bird is not doing so well during his training that is being done by robots as his mind and actions seem to be other places while many miles away a new car with a one of a kind engine that would change the automotive world for ever is being tested. The creator of this car is C.J and he knows he will be rich and make his car company bigger than all others with it and the plan is to ship it out the next day. But unknown to him his own worker Emilo Lorre is working for Mr. Matrix the owner of the rival car company who plans of stealing the car as well as kill off Emilo so no witnesses can come forward to his crime. The next day the plane that has the car on it has been hijacked by some of Matrix’s goons and worst the plane is filled with celebrities! When Captain Hook shows up he knows this is a very bad situation and calls in Thomas Bird who along with his fancy gun is able to take the plane back as well as knock out all the hijackers before its even takes off! In the end C.J wants to pay Thomas to drive the car across country for a large sum of money making our hero an offer he cannot refuse and so he is off to do his new job.

This second issue is very much like the first and is a silly, weirdly paced action comic that showcases gun for hire Thomas Bird as he saves the day with his own style of grace and charm. This issues plot is very simple and has Thomas heading to an airport to save a plane that has been hijacked and does so in a matter of minutes of showing up and after doing so gets a high paying gig to drive a one of a kind car across country. Once more its odd as we start the issue off with Thomas Bird failing as his training and is almost once more setting him up as a hero who falls backwards into winning, but by the end when it matters he is very skilled and fast and saves the day like a true hero. The one thing I also find weird about the character seems to sometime lack confidence and even when his talk is big he seems like he don’t believe his own hype. The main bad guy in this issue is Mr. Matrix who does very little besides orders the stealing of his rivals new car, the hijacking of a plane and the murder of one of his spies that works for his rival…and keep in mind this guy just runs a car company and he has all this evil plans in mind! The rest of the cast are just supporting who offer nothing more than to move along the plot, plus we have a very small cameo from Colleita Silverton the lady he saved in the first issue. The plot and pacing in this issue is pure micro independent stuff and is not groundbreaking but entertaining for sure as you can tell Pierre R. McNeil who also did all the work on this comic series really did love his characters and the universe he made for them. The cover on this issue is good and captures the true micro comic company look of the late 80’s. While a third issue was suppose to have been released it looks like this second issue was the final and that’s a shame as I would have liked to have seen were this story would have went. While T-Bird Chronicles is not the best indie comic I have read, I still found its simple stories entertaining and if you like cheesy indie comics from the 80’s give this one a read. Check out the art bellow to see McNeil’s style.

But guess what readers and friends I am not done yet as I feel like looking at one more hero from the independent world and this time I have chosen Blood Bath from Samson Comics! Unlike the other two companies we have covered here Samson Comics started in the 90’s as their first comics where released in 1994 with Phobos and Cosmo and the Big Bang both that only lasted one issue each. Over the next following years they released many other issue that as well only lasted one issue each. Samson Comics seemed to want to make a massive impact in the world of Indie Comics and tried to with a verity titles, but like many they ended up making a tiny splash before disappearing to the great Long Comic Box in the sky. Who knows what heroes and adventures could have been made if Samson Comics would have stayed in business.

So as you can see just like August Comics and ME Comix not much is known about Samson Comics as they seemed to have came and went like so many others before them and have all seemed to close before they could really make their legacies and build their characters. Well lets take look at one of Samson Comics superheroes that lasted only one issue and I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having it in stock to help add to this update. And just like before I grade on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So lets see what Blood Bath had to offer the world of Indie Comics.

Blood Bath # 1  **
Released in 1995     Cover Price $2.50     Samson Comics     # 1 of 1

Greg and Taylor are young boys who find a strange man Blood Bath in the abandon lot they hang out in and decide that they need to help him in order to be heroes. Meanwhile an owner of a newspaper is loosing his mind as his life is crashing down around him. While in space aliens have locked onto two beings they want and are sending a recovery team to get them including one powerful warrior named Starguile! When Blood Bath awakens he chases off the kids who become scared and his mind as well is filled with bad memories including the deaths of his father and brother plus cannot remember how he got the costume. Once back fully on his feet her hears a woman scream and rushes to her aid as two scumbags are threating to kill her and he makes short work of one them saving her life. But one puts up a fight as he is filled with drugs and is looking to kill. But someone fires a massive gun blowing up a piece of the lot and their stands Starguile with aliens warriors ready for a fight.

First thing I want to say is that Blood Bath here is a pure product of the 90’s and would have fit in well with most of the heroes of Image Comics and I would say I am sure he was inspired by them as well as he is a mix of many heroes from the time including Venom from Marvel Comics. The plot has Blood Bath being in bad shape and waking up in a back lot in America and saves a woman from some drug fueled punks only to himself be found by aliens who are on the hunt for him. Blood Bath is shown to be a skilled fighter who has superhuman strength and a costume the puts fear in hearts, but he also seems to be confused by why and who he really is. We don’t get much out of Blood Bath in this issue but if I had to guess I would say he is a human with a living alien suit and he can be hurt like a normal person. A cool character who I wished we would have gotten more of a backstory for as we really get nothing here to fully understand and get behind him. The rest of the characters seem like background players and add nothing besides filler to the story, and that includes the newspaper owner who clearly has a demon or alien living inside him. While we have not much character development in this issue I still found the atmosphere and over all mood of the comic to be entertaining and good and I would have liked to have seen were this story and character would have gone. The cover is great and eye catching and I am sure made many of comic readers of the 90’s buy it. The interior art is good and solid and was done by Jamie Biggs and while it looks nothing like the cover its still good. Over all not much to say about Blood Bath besides he looked like a character I would have enjoyed when I was younger and I wish the second issue and beyond would have seen the light of day. Below is some art from this issue to show you just what the style was. Oh I should also say I hate being this guy but I am almost 100% sure that some of the pages in this comic were printed in wrong order…oh Samson Comics did you have any quality control?

Man that was lots of fun to read comics of heroes who have sadly been forgotten by readers and in I am sure in most cases never even discovered by many of you yet. I mean I have been reading comics sense I was a kid and have been to many comic shops, websites, garage sales and conventions and seem to always discover something new. And that’s why I enjoy digging trough cheap bins and reading and reviewing heroes like Rottweiler, Thomas Bird and Blood Bath all who could and should have been bigger in the comic world if only given longer and a chance. With myself being the owner of Sparkle Comics and if the price was right I would love to get the rights to these characters and bring on some of my friends and Sparkle creators to bring them back into the hands of readers much like we have done with Jeff Potters character Spring Heeled Jack who is given a chance to get new readers onboard. But lets have even more fun and set up a Fantasy Warfare fight between our three heroes! Lets set it on 5th Street in Dayton, Ohio on a boring day and follow Thomas Bird on his road trip to deliver the car. So lets pick up with Thomas in Ohio and see how this all plays out.

Our battle takes place on Fifth Street in Dayton, Ohio on a slow Monday night as Thomas Bird has made a pit stop at Blind Bobs and after eating a burger and fries, he goes back out to his car in order to get this high tech prototype car to its attend place when something catches his eye in the ally across the street and he springs into action and pulls out his sonic gun ready to bust what he thinks is a hired gun trying to steal the one of a kind car. He slowly and carefully walks across the street and peers down the ally when he spots a person wearing red and black hiding behind a dumpster they seem to also have spotted him! Thomas demands that the man step out of the shadows and show himself as he points his gun in the direction of the figure and fires a warning shot that is meant to stun the nerves of the figure for a short time. After a few seconds the person in the shadows steps out and it’s the hero Blood Bath, who now thinks Thomas Bird is a hired gun from the aliens who want to capture him as his weapon is nothing like he has seen on Earth! Before Thomas Bird can say “freeze” Blood Bath is on him and places a well placed punch to his jaw making Bird fly through the air and into the blind mouse statue on the side of Blind Bobs! Thomas Bird is dazed and can taste blood in his mouth and many of his teeth are now loose, and before he can rise again Blood Bath is on him and pulling him up from the ground so they can be eye to eye and informs Bird to leave him alone and to report that back to his people and before Bird can answer Blood Bath hits him super hard in the stomach and the hero crumbles. And before Blood Bath can hit his fallen defeated foe again his fist is grabbed and standing in front of him is masked hero Rottweiler, who says he “this man has had enough” and not knowing what’s going on Blood Bath reacts and starts throwing punches Rottweiler’s way! Blood Bath is in a blind fury as he just wanted to be left alone and was on his way out of town when he thought he was being attacked, and with this blind rage Rottweiler is able to out think and out move his new costumed foe and unleashes his own fury that is much like a rabid dog as he uses his fits, feet and teeth to destroy Blood Bath with the final blow bouncing his head off a brick wall causing him to be out for the count. Rottweiler goes to check on Thomas Bird who has made his way to the car and tries to drive away but only crashes into a near by pole…as Rottweiler shakes his head as the now one of a kind engine is wrapped around a light pole he heads into Blind Bobs to get himself some pickle soup and a B.L.T ending this weird superhero battle for the night and given Dayton something to talk about on a other wise boring Monday evening.

Winner: Rottweiler

So as you can see hands down for me the winner of a fight between these indie superheroes would be Rottweiler as I find him to be the one who would have the killer instinct and the skills to pull a victory off. So if any of these comics I have reviewed here on this update have peaked your attention, make sure to go to your local comic shop and see if you can find copies and better yet discover some Forgotten Heroes of your own, cause who knows what wonders await you in those long and short boxes of discount comics! For my next update though we are going to take a look at a Photo Comic Magazine that features the Universal Monsters The Mole People! And yep, it will be a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update that is sure to please fans of classic monsters. So until next update make sure, as I said, to visit your local comic shop and get a few indie comics to read and enjoy the adventures of these none main stream heroes and horrors. See you next update for an underground spooky adventure!

 

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Ink!

Rotten Ink…The Final Frontier…This Is The Blog Of A Grown Up Monster Kid….His Mission Is To Write About Comics, Movies and Horror Hosts…And To Boldly Read And Review Lots Of Fun Comics!! Welcome to Rotten Ink. For this update I felt like I really had some unfinished business with the world of Star Trek. While I covered the original TV series and the Motion Picture, I did not get to really talk about the sequels that starred the original cast, and I think now is the time to travel back to space with the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise and take a look at the most well respected and loved film in the original crews sequels, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan! During this update mission we will talk about the film, its legacy, merchandise, my thoughts on the film and will of course review the IDW adaptation of the film! So put on your none-red Star Fleet Uniform and let’s take a space journey with Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the crew.

So to do this update right, we must take a look on the screen and talk about the film in general. For that we will be taking the film’s plot from our pals at IMDB and then after I will share my thoughts and memories of the film from over the years. And no joke, my friends and readers, I am really looking forward to talk about this film as well as all the other sequels in future updates as for me Star Trek films are as big of events as Star Wars films. So if you’re ready, I am ready to discuses the Wrath of Khan!

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)

“It is the 23rd century. Admiral James T. Kirk is an instructor at Starfleet Academy and feeling old; the prospect of attending his ship, the USS Enterprise–now a training ship–on a two-week cadet cruise does not make him feel any younger. But the training cruise becomes a deadly serious mission when his nemesis Khan Noonien Singh–infamous conqueror from late 20th century Earth–appears after years of exile. Khan later revealed that the planet Ceti Alpha VI exploded, and shifted the orbit of the fifth planet as a Mars-like haven. He begins capturing Project Genesis, a top secret device holding the power of creation itself, and schemes the utter destruction of Kirk.”

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek wrote a sequel to his first motion picture that would have had Captain Kirk and crew having to set history right after the Klingons change events on Earth going back in time. Paramount Pictures however was not impressed with his script and the poor performance of the first film in their eyes that they also felt had too big of a budget. After fights over the script, Paramount booted Roddenberry from the film, and Harve Bennett was called to executive produce the film. The downside of Bennett was that he was not a fan of the series and had to binge watch the original series after which he selected the character Khan Noonien from episode Space Seed as the villain for his film. The film’s script went through lots of drafts that even at one point had Kirk’s son being a leader of rebels, and finally they all agreed on a script that was done by Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas Meyer and production started. The film’s shocking moment was having Spock die early in the film, but after it leaked to the press, this was twist was changed to the end of the film. Nicholas Meyer also directed the film, and production started on November 9, 1981 and made Paramount happy as the film’s budget was way smaller and even their TV branch was put in charge of its over all production. When dailies started to come in, Paramount knew they had something very special and that this film would make up for the failure of the first film in their eyes. The film’s production like all bigger blockbuster titles had a few hiccups but over all came together very well and was released in theaters on June 4, 1982 and was hit for Paramount Pictures as it was the 6th grossing film of 1982 in America bringing in $78,912,963.00 on the budget of $11 million. The film beat out many great titles that year like First Blood, Annie, Poltergeist, Dark Crystal, Friday The 13h Part III, Tron, Blade Runner, Road Warrior and many more cult and respected films. Say what you will about Star Trek, but the proof is in the Box Office that this is a film series that has had ups and downs but will forever have a place in the hearts of the Trekkies worldwide.

As I stated before, I grew up a Star Trek fan and can remember the excitement when I first got to watch Star Trek II on cable. The one thing I cannot remember was if it was on HBO or Cinemax as that part of my memory is fuzzy. I remember that we all sat as a family and watched it, and after it was over, I can remember playing with my Mego 3 ¾” Star Trek Kirk Toy and having him take on the Empire and try and outsmart Darth Vader like he did Khan in the movie I had watched. It was a film that I would watch anytime I would find it on cable and can even remember asking my Mom to check the cable book to see when it was playing. I can also remember watching the film on VHS with my aunt Theresa, my uncle Thurman and my brother Bryan at my grandparents’ house as my Uncle was a big Trekkie! In the 80’s I feel like Star Trek films were events and would get old and young excited to get to the cinema, and these were films I can remember talking to classmates about. And this film was one of the biggest of Trek movie talk as the topic of Khan being the biggest threat to the crew and being the most iconic of their villains always being a hot topic, plus let’s not forget the most important moment of this film and that’s the death of Spock! I have had so many amazing talks about this film as it’s one of the best in the series…but this is not my favorite of the Trek films, and you readers will have to wait till I review it to find out. Star Trek II is a film I have bought on VHS and DVD and is a film I watch about once a year either at home or at work. The one thing that has always worked well for me about this film is that it always feels as if a cloud of gloom is overhead and the threat of Khan is very high and really set the tone and pace of future films in the series and showed that Star Trek could also deliver Science Fiction action just like Star Wars and Flash Gordon. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan is a very iconic and well-respected Sci-Fi film and is one I would recommend seeing if you have not. Plus I am not going to lie, actress Kristie Alley was really hot as Starfleet crewmember and Vulcan/Romulan Saavik. I thought so as a kid and still will stick by that in 2019!

The most iconic scene in the movie is of course when Captain Kirk screams the name of Khan with pure anger. And like all iconic scenes, this has been parodied a number of times on many different movies and TV shows like Robot Chicken, In Living Color, Big Bang Theory as well as many more internet parodies. It’s amazing to think how impactful this scene is as many movie watchers and lovers know this scene and some have gone on to say it’s one of William Shatners best performances. So right now I want you to take a deep breath and scream “KHHHHAANNNNNNN”…felt good didn’t it?

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan was a big hit and like all big box office hits, this film had its share of cool merchandise over the years that was and is very cool for Trekkies who can not get enough of Khan and his Wrath. We got books, magazines, soundtrack, toys, posters, shirts and even playing cards and so much more, much of which I owned when I was younger. Growing up I had the movie on VHS that as I stated before would watch pretty often. I had the paperback novelization that I read while living in Waynesville and later when older I even had the Playmates action figure of Khan! And all of the above stuff that I owned then, I still own now and the one thing I do want is the soundtrack on CD as I find the score by James Horner to be very good as is all of the scores for the Trek movies. So if you’re a fan of Star Trek II and are a collector, there are lots of cool items for you to collect.

For many Trekkies Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan is their favorite film in the franchise and is the bar that all the sequels that followed had to live up to and for sure that bar was set high due to this sci-fi motion picture as it’s a true classic. And shocking that this film did not get a comic adaptation until 2009 thanks to IDW who knew the world needed one. And thanks to Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics, I was able to get copies of these issues for this review. The voice on my communicator is wanting me to tell all you red shirts 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 to battle Khan with the crew of the Enterprise, let’s boldly go where IDW allowed us to go thanks to this three issue comic mini series.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan # 1  **1/2
Released in 2009     Cover Price $3.99     IDW       # 1 of 3

Saavik is training to be a Captain for a starship and fails her test under the watch of Admiral Kirk who is feeling his age as well as really wants to leave the his promotion as he would rather be a Captain again and be with his crew on the Enterprise. Meanwhile Checkov has landed on a planet and soon finds himself as the prisoner of super engineered human Khan! And while Kirk is hanging out on the Enterprise with his old crew, Khan is controlling the mind of Checkov who is now tricking his way into taking the Genesis project away from Carol Marcus and her crew including Kirk’s son David he had with Carol! After Carol calls Kirk who denies the order to take Genesis and he takes back over the Enterprise and heads to Carol to get answers.

It’s amazing to think it took over 20 years for comic readers to get an adaptation of Wrath Of Khan, and I must say in this first issue IDW delivers the goods and fills that gap that used to be void of this comic in the collection of Star Trek issues. This issue’s plot has Kirk wanting to take his role of Captain of the Enterprise back and Khan who blames Kirk for abandoning him on a planet that has been left baron for decades. Now Khan is playing a game and is luring Kirk and the Enterprise where he wants them with a trick of taking the world builder tech Genesis. Kirk in this issue has gotten a promotion some time back and is now an Admiral for Starfleet when all he really wants to do is be a Captain for the Enterprise as he misses his friends and crew as well as the thrill of exploring space. Kahn is filled with anger and yet is calm and just wants his revenge on Kirk who he really does blame for everything that went wrong for him and his people that Kirk sent into space decades ago. Carol and her son David are the heads of Genesis and are also at odds over Kirk as the young man has lots of built up anger toward his father. One thing that puzzles me is when Kirk keeps calling Saavik a Mr. as clearly she is a she! The cover is amazing and is very eye catching for fans of Star Trek and the interior art by Chee Yang Ong is great stuff and characters look like the actors who played them. Over all this first issue is a great build up for the action that is to come and makes me look forward to reading the next issue.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan # 2  **1/2
Released in 2009     Cover Price $3.99     IDW       # 2 of 3

Kirk along with Spock and McCoy are watching a file about the Genesis Project and how in the wrong hands it could wipe out a whole planet killing everybody along with it. As Kirk and the Enterprise are about to set out to get answers of who really gave the order to hand over the project, another Starship appears and attacks taking out power and when coming on screen Kirk finds out that Khan is the man in the other starship and he wants Kirk to surrender as well as Genesis! Kirk stalls for time and in turn sets up Khan and damaging his starship as well leaving both Captains coming up with battle plans and becoming a game of chess in space. The Enterprise rushes to the Genesis labs and finds many scientist dead as well as the Genesis project, Carol and David are all missing. Kirk, McCoy and Saavik beam aboard the lab and they find Checkov who seems to be confused and things seem very bad. Kirk ends up figuring out where Carol is hiding and finds that she as well has Genesis & David with her, but it was a set up as Khan still had Checkov under control and beams up Genesis to his ship and thanks to McCoy’s fast actions he breaks the hold he had on Checkov. Now they are all stuck in the lab! But after hours pass Spock is able to fix the transport room on the Enterprise, and now Kirk is on a mission of revenge.

Our second issue has Kirk and Khan going after each other and both using their minds in order to get the upper hand. While Kirk is blindsided in this first encounter, it’s his years of being a Captain that turns the tide and allows him and his crew to figure out what to do from here by giving them a few moments to plan. And in the second chess move, Khan gets the upper hand and outsmarts Kirk and even is able to get his power monger hands on Genesis. In this issue Kirk goes from gaining is confidence back, to doubting himself due to age to getting into rage mode. Khan goes from being cocky to rage filled to blood thirsty showing that he really is a madman who only cares about his own goals and his own revenge plan. I like how David Marcus also has lots of build up anger toward his father Kirk, and this also adds a layer of stress to Kirk who has lots on his plate this far. The Enterprise Crew seems to be around but also take a back seat in the story with even Spock not being a major focus…and that’s shocking as Spock is one of the biggest characters in the series. This issue also brings in a good amount of Star Trek style action and brings us readers to a great point in the story where in the next issue Kirk and Khan’s blood feud will come to an end. The cover I have for this issue is okay and is a photo of Spock from the movie and the interiors once more are being done by Chee Yang Ong and is good stuff. This second issue is as good as the first and is a great way to lead us to the final issue in this adaptation series, so with that let’s take a look at the final issue.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan # 3  **1/2
Released in 2009     Cover Price $3.99     IDW       # 3 of 3

Kirk and the rest are now back on the Enterprise and must make a run for it fast as Khan and his starship are gunning for them. Kirk figures out that if they enter the nebula Khan’s shields would stop working and after sending a message that mocked Khan, the madman follows and after being out moved and outsmarted, his ship is blown up but not before the Enterprise also takes a hit that leaves the engine room to fill with radiation. Before he dies, Khan triggers the Genesis that is about to go off that would leave not only Khan dead but also the whole crew of the Enterprise, and worse Scotty cannot fix the warp engine due to the radiation! Spock takes things into his own hands and enters the engine room and fixes the core and allows the Enterprise to get away before Genesis goes off. Kirk rushes to the engine room and is able to share some words with Spock who passes away from the radiation. Kirk and the crew send Spock’s coffin into space with it landing on the new planet created by Genesis and Kirk feels the sadness of losing his best friend but does gain the respect of his son David. In the end, Kirk is back and has found himself once more and is ready to explore space.

This final issue brings us the final showdown between Kirk and Khan that shows no matter how smart and evil Khan is, he is still outclassed by the wise Kirk. I also like that this comic really does make it clear that both Khan and Kirk have massive egos and each does not want to lose to the other. The whole main part of this final issue is the fight between the two. Their weapons of war are starships, and the odds are even. Only Kirk’s experience is what wins the day. The Genesis Project is something that could really help the universe by given new places to live as well as food supplies that could last forever, but as seen here, in the wrong hands it can be used as a weapon of mass destruction and can kill the population of a whole planet if used that way. Another of the subplots going on in this issue is Carol and David having to get the help of Kirk who is the one time lover of Carol as well as the father of David who they both don’t speak to. And yet we also have the fact Kirk is having issues about getting old as he wants to be doing more for the Starfleet than just being an Admiral. And finally, the major story of this series is that fact Spock puts his life on the line and is willing to die in order to save the Enterprise Crew that he views as his friends. Sad stuff as Kirk and Spock speak for the last time (well in this comic) as Spock slowly dies. Over all this comic adaptation of The Wrath Of Khan is well done and captures the mood and vibe of what many think is the best Trek movie. The pacing is well done and keeps you on your seat for the final battle as Khan is so revenge thirsty that you want to see him be brought down…even if you do understand why he is so angry with Kirk. The photo cover on this one is as well okay, but I would have liked to have gotten the one with art. The interior art is done by Chee Yang Ong and is very good and as I said before he captures the look of the characters really well. Over all, this is a fun and great comic mini series and is a must read for fans of the film it’s based on. Check out below for the style of Chee in this issue.

So it looks like our space adventure with the crew of the Enterprise has came to an end, and next year we will take a look at DC Comics adaptation of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock! Star Trek really is a blast to the past for me and brings me back to my youth when Trek was very popular in our household. But for our next update, we are going to dive into the world of forgotten superheroes as we take a look at the masked hero Rottweiler and maybe a few other surprises. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Sci-Fi film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a indie hero 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.

 

Matt Goes To The Movies 2018

The Rotten Ink Theater is open once more, and man, was this a crazy year at the cinema filled with lots of Superhero, Horror and Sequel motion pictures that all lead to great times at all my normal favorite theaters like Rave, Cinemark, Regal and Cranberry. One thing that really made this year a great one is the fact that so many Horror Movies were released as well as many highly anticipated sequels to big franchises making for almost weekly visits to see films I was excited for. Last year really was a busy one for me as I had lots of things to do for Sparkle Comics, Independent B Movie, Rockstar Pro Wrestling, Game Swap, Danberry Cinema and even Rotten Ink so getting away to watch a movie at the cinema was really a great way to relax and put all my stress away for a small time and enjoy the wonders of the silver screen. So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at the movies of 2018, and I’ll share my favorites with you.

So to kick this off right, let’s take a look at the Action Movies of 2018 that I saw in the theater. While we did not get a new Arnold or Sly film, we did have some pretty good ones as you will see below. So get ready to see what Pure Action films made my list!

# 11

12 Strong is based on real events that took place after September 11, 2001 and follows Captain Mitch Nelson and his team of 11 soldiers as they join forces with General Abdul Rashid Dostum of The Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and his horseback soldiers as they take on and defeat the terrorist scum who pulled off that coward attack. This film follows their battles as they defeat the terrorist and push them out of cities they took over in Afghanistan. The film documents the first US battle with the terrorist after 9/11. This was a pretty good war film based mostly on true events and stars Chris Hemsworth as Nelson, who does a great job in the role. The film did okay for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office bringing in $45,500,164.00 on a budget of $35 million. While I am not a War Movie fan, this one was entertaining and delivered a good popcorn film on the big screen.

# 10

The classic 1974 vigilante film Death Wish gets the remake treatment thanks to MGM and director Elli Roth! Dr. Paul Kersey is a man who has it all; a nice house, a beautiful wife and a daughter who is a sport star and about to go to collage. But his perfect world changes when a group of three burglars break into his house while he is at work and attack his daughter, putting her into a coma, and murder his wife. The police have no leads and with this Paul decides to take the law into his own hands and becomes a vigilante, killing criminals and tracking down those who did this to his family. Actor Bruce Willis steps into the role of Paul Kersey, and while he does an okay job, he is by no means as good as Charles Bronson who played the role before him in 5 films. The film is gritty and not too over the top with blood, delivering a solid and entertaining action film that was a fun popcorn film to sit in the theater and watch. The film did poorly for MGM at the US Box Office bringing on only $34,013,419.00 on a $30 million budget. While not a perfect film and a very much unnecessary remake, it packs a small punch, and I was entertained. Check it out via rental or DVD.

# 9

Will Sawyer was a FBI rescue team leader who during a hostage situation has one of his legs blown off  and is now a security expert who along with his family are in Hong Kong to check the security of a high rise called The Pearl that becomes the target of a terrorist group. Worse, his family is stuck inside the now burning building with a group of highly armed men who want the building creator’s secrets, and he must find out a way to get inside and save them. This is a like a 2018 version of Die Hard, and The Rock does a great job as Will Sawyer. It was cool to see Neve Campbell again in a blockbuster movie playing his wife. The film did not do that great at the US Box Office for Universal as it only brought in $67,796,355.00 on a budget of $125 million, by all accounts making it a bomb. While it might not have been a massive summer hit, Skyscraper was a fun one to see on the big screen.

# 8

Mary is a tough as nails hit woman for a crime family that feels bad after a hit leaves a young child homeless and having to work the streets as a drug runner for a sleazy drug pusher. But once Mary saves the young kid’s life, she turns her own life upside down and risks it all in order to give him a better life now. This is a really fun action drama that keeps you as the viewer entertained, all the while unwinding the plot that is filled with lies, corruption and greed, and once Mary gets started in the final scene there is no stopping her! This film stars Taraji P. Henson, Billy Brown and Danny Glover, and they are all fantastic in their roles. Sadly this film did just okay at the US Box Office for Sony as it only did $20,877,013.00 on a budget of $14 million. While this might not have been a life changing action drama film, it still was a very entertaining one that sadly slipped under the radar for most of the move going public.

# 7

England is under a cyber attack, and the identities of all the members of M17 have been exposed to the world. The prime minister is in a bad spot when cyber attacks keep happing. So they call in former M17 spy now school teacher Johnny English to find out who is behind the attacks while English government brings in cyber hot shot Jason Volta to try and stop the attacks. Armed with old school spy tech and his trusty assistant Bough, our goofy spy hero uncovers not only a beautiful Russian spy but also who is behind the cyber attacks now threatening the world’s internet! And with his bumbling ways, Johnny once more stumbles his way into saving the day. This third film in the Johnny English series is lots of goofy fun and has some silly moments that will have you chuckling out loud. Rowan Atkinson is master of facial expression comedy and really does a fantastic job of making Johnny English a fun comedic character. This fun action comedy film also stars Emma Thompson, Jake Lacy, Ben Miller and Olga Kurylenko. This film sadly did not do well for Universal in the US as it brought in only $4,285,545.00 on a budget of $25 million. While this third film was not a mega hit, I found it to be a very entertaining film that features one of the world’s best comedians. Check it out if you enjoyed the other two films in the series or just like spy films mixed with childish humor.

# 6

CIA Special Activities Division Officer Matt Graver has been hired to start a war in Mexico that would pit the cartels against each other, and he calls on his crew including Alejandro Gillick as all rules are off the table. But things go wrong when they kidnap a drug lord’s daughter and the local police set up an ambush that leaves Alejandro behind with the daughter in Mexico and Graver getting orders from the Government to kill everyone who can link the U.S. to this war including the young girl and Alejandro! So the film becomes a fight to get over the border and back in America for Alejandro, who refuses to leave the young girl behind and must come face to face with gang members who deal in human trafficking who as well want him dead as one of their own knows he works for our Government. This is a great sequel that adds more thrills and action to the Sicario saga, and once more Benicio del Toro does a fantastic job of being an action star who adds elements of drama and real life feel to his character. The film did just okay for Sony at the US Box Office bringing in $50,072,235.00 on a budget of $35 million. Worth watching if you enjoyed the first film or just want to see Benicio take on drug cartels again.

# 5

Laura Croft is a young woman whose rich father went missing when she was just a young girl, and after years of being a strong minded independent woman she has found a clue to where her father disappeared to and sets out on a adventure to find him, but things are not that simple as she finds that he is on an island with some very bad people who have very bad intentions. Is Laura’s father alive? Will she be able to get off the island alive? Who is the main person behind the bad guys? All these questions are answered in this reboot to the Tomb Raider movie series. This was a fun video game inspired movie and holds true to the route the game series is taking. Sadly the film did not do that great for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office as it only did $57,409,662.00 on a budget of $94 million and the foreign box office is what saved the day and make it profitable. If you enjoy adventure films, this is one you need to check out on DVD, Blu-Ray or Digital.

# 4

Youngblood Priest is a low key drug kingpin in the world of cocaine, and he is so low key that another drug ring has moved in called the Snow Patrol and when things get bad Priest thinks of one final hustle that will leave he and his two girlfriends and friends set for life…all he has to do is out smart his rivals, a Mexican drug cartel and a pair of dirty cops to do it! This is a modern remake of the 1972 movie of the same name, and to my surprise, it was one heck of a good action crime drama film. The film works on so many levels and really brings the classic Blaxploitation film to a modern audience, and while the film is its own, it does justice to the original. Actor Trevor Jackson was a great choice to play Priest as he makes you really care and cheer for a drug seller! Plus actress Andrea Londo is stunning and does fantastic in her role as Cynthia, one of Priest’s girlfriends who is also a fighter when it comes to fight or flight situations. Sadly the film did not do that well for Columbia at the US Box Office as it had a budget of $16 million and only brought in $20,545,116.00. This is one of those films I will own on DVD and hope that it finds a cult following on home media and digital.

# 3

Robert McCall is at it again helping others out in a world filled with injustice and crime that slips under the radar. But things get really personal when someone makes the mistake of killing his best friend, and now they don’t know what they have unleashed on themselves! Along his journey to uncover the truth and get revenge, he befriends a young troubled youth who also becomes a pawn in the sick game of the bad guys who all now have a trained killer on their tail known as Robert McCall. This is a great sequel that delivers some great action and a solid story and is just another chapter in the quest of Robert McCall, and I hope a third film is to come. Denzel Washington is fantastic as Robert, and this film did just okay for Sony at the US Box Office bringing in $102,084,362.00 on a budget of $62 million and was a great summer popcorn film that I enjoyed seeing in the theater.

# 2

Adonis Creed has fought his way to become the boxing heavyweight champion and soon finds himself the target of the son of Ivan Drago who wants to bring honor back to his family’s name.  Now a showdown between two families with a long bad history must once more clash to settle scores and for their own pride. And worse for Adonis, he must also come face to face with his love becoming more deaf, becoming a father as well as facing a true butt whooping during their first encounter. This is a great film that, just like the original, captures the magic and feel of the Rocky series and leaves you wanting to see more movies and more of the life of Adonis Creed and his family. Plus seeing Sylvester Stallone as Rocky once more is always a must see on the big screen. Plus for those who don’t know Drago’s son is trained by Ivan who is once more played by Dolph Lundgren! This movie did well for MGM at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $112,148,125 on a budget of $50 million. This is a must see film for fans of Rocky, boxing, Drama, Action and those who just enjoy a great movie…also a must own on home media for me!

# 1

Ethan Hunt and his team are at it again, and this time they have to go undercover to stop a sinister plan that involves nuclear bombs and saving the life of a known terrorist. The bad thing is someone has set them up as well to look like they are working with the bad guys as double agents. Now Ethan must kick it into high gear and clear his name as well as save the world from a terrible bomb. This is hands down for me the best film in the Mission Impossible series as, to be honest, I have never been that big of a fan of the series. The thing about this film is that it has lots of action as well as twists and turns that kept me glued to the edge of my seat. And this is a pure popcorn film that was a great way to enjoy a big budget blockbuster flick on the big screen. Tom Cruise is fantastic as Ethan Hunt and brings a very likable quality to the character as you find yourself cheering for him the whole way. The film did great for Paramount in the US bringing in $220,159,104.00 on a budget of $178 million, and worldwide it did even better bringing in over $500 million more! This action film is worth seeing if you like spies and car chases in your films. Worth owning for sure as well if you are into Mission Impossible movies.

So as you can see, the cinema was packed with some great action films that not only brought the explosions but also brought some laughs and sporting flare. So with that, let’s take a look at Sci-Fi and Fantasy films that entertained me this year in the theater.

# 10

At birth Samson was chosen by God to lead the Hebrews to a better life and is given lots of pure power and strength, but these Godly gifts came with rules like his hands could not touch the dead, he cannot drink wine and must not ever get his hair cut. Samson is a showoff who enjoys his gifts, and when he meets the love of his life Taren, who is a slave girl to the Philistine King and his evil son, he is pushed to break two of the rules in his quest to marry her as he drinks wine and must touch the dead in order to settle a debt. After the murder of his bride at the hands of the King’s Son, a war is waged that leaves Samson alone killing hundreds of soldiers and being left alone to rule his people. That is until he falls in love with Delilah, who is working along side the Philistines and cuts his hair that allows the army remove his eyes and take him prisoner! In the end Samson finds that God is still with him, and he brings the pillars down in the castle before he can be killed and becomes an inspiration to Hebrews to rise up for their God. This religious sword and sandal film was lots of fun to watch on the big screen, and while a little too long, it was entertaining. The film brought in $4,719,928.00 for Pure Flix as the US Box Office on an unknown budget. It was lots of fun to see if you enjoy cheesy sword and sandal films that also pack a religious history lesson in made for TV production levels.

# 8

A science experiment goes horribly wrong in space, and an accident sends canisters to earth that ends up turning a wolf, alligator and a white gorilla into rage filled giant monsters! The gorilla is named George and was living in a zoo, and Davis Okoye was the man saved him from poachers when he was a baby and now wants to find a cure and save his friend from a fate set by the government who want to kill them and the company responsible for the canisters want to cover their tracks. This was a fun and silly film that brought the Midway video games alive to the big screen. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and the movie did poorly for New Line Cinema at the US Boxoffice only bringing in $95,089,209.00 on a budget of $120 million. But the film did do well at the foreign box office, making it a hit over all. Worth seeing if you enjoy giant monsters and like the video game, even if it strays very far away from it.

# 7

Grey Trace is a mechanic who fixes up classic muscles cars as his wife Asha works for a company that develops computers that are to help mankind. But when out to celebrate a car sale, the couple are attacked. Asha is killed, and Grey is shot and paralyzed leaving him to a life in a wheelchair and help from robots and his mother. But Grey gets a second chance at life as well as revenge when one of his clients, a tech genius, designs a chip that will help Grey walk again as well as will talk to him in his mind as well as take over when needed! The chip is called STEM, and together they must find his wife’s murderers as well as dodge the police and the tech maker who wants to stop their quest for just revenge. This is a fun action and sci-fi film that seems like it could fit perfect in the world of Blade Runner if that world had a rich suburbs! Logan Marshall-Green does a fantastic job as Grey and Simon Maiden is great as the voice of STEM, and this once more shows that Blumhouse is one of the best film producing companies going today as they get Horror and Science Fiction and they almost always deliver a entertaining movie. The film did okay for Blumhouse at the US Box Office bringing in $11,916,615.00 on a budget of $5 million. This one is an enjoyable film with some cool surprises and blends action and sci-fi together really well.

# 6

Robin Of Loxley is a rich man who has fallen in love with a thief named Marian who ends up also falling madly in love with him. The pair spend lots of time together until Robin is drafted to fight in the crusade war.  Years pass, and he is reported dead and returns to find that he has lost every thing his love, his house and his money all because of the greed of the Sheriff Of Nottingham who has plans to gain power. Working with an Arab Warrior named John, they come up with a plan to rob from the rich and greedy church and help lead an uprising of the people who have been drained dry of their money by the rich and greedy. But when things get really bad, and the poor are being bullied and killed, Robin must make his move and bring down the Sheriff as well as win the heart of Marian once more. This was a very fun and silly film that was not only an adventure film but does also have a message about the poor standing together against the 1% who rule our their lives. The film stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn and Eve Hewson who is singer Bono’s daughter! This film did very poorly for Lionsgate at the US Box Office bringing in only $30,637,019.00 on a budget of $100 million. While the critics and reviews will tell you how terrible this movie is, I will tell you it’s a fun watch that you can check your brain at the door and eat some popcorn and enjoy a new adventure for classic hero Robin Hood.

# 5

Christopher Robin is a young boy whose best friend is a small stuff bear named Winnie the Pooh, who is alive as well as other plush dolls that he meets after crawling through a whole in a tree. Grown up Christopher has a family, a demanding job and seems to forget about his youthful friends who all await for his return. But when Pooh comes to visit him in London, Christopher must balance his work as well as his family who have also seemed to be left behind due to work. This is fun family film that brings the classic character to life in a live action film that will warm your heart. All the characters are done so well and will surely please the fans who grew up loving them. The film did just okay for Disney in the US bringing in $99,215.042.00 on a budget of $75 million. If you like Winnie the Pooh and classic Disney family fun, check this one out.

# 4

Cybertron is at war, and the Autobots must leave in order to regroup and gather their troops as they are losing. Bumblebee is sent to Earth in order to set up a base for the Autobots once they are all gathered up. Once on Earth, he is attacked by the army as well as a Decepticon and loses not only his memory but also his voice and turns into a VW Bug before shutting down. Time passes, and young lady Charlie ends up getting the rundown bug from a junkyard and fixes it and discovers that her car is really a robot. They become close friends and must fight when Decepticon bounty hunters team with the army in order to find the reactivated Bumblebee! With the army really wanting to kill all the space robots and the Decepticons wanting to not only kill the Autobots but wanting to take over the Earth, things are really stacked against Bumblebee and Charlie. This is a Transformer film done right and wipes away the bad taste of the Platinum Dunes series that spent more time making the main characters look nothing like they should. This one makes them look like their cartoon counterparts. Over all this is a great fun Transformers film and shows that this series is on the right track and has lots of offer still at the theater. As of this update’s posting, the film has done $67,178,020.00 on a budget of $135 million making it have a fight to meet its budget for Paramount. I would say this is the best live action Transformers movie thus far and is worth a watch.

# 3

Han is a young man living on a terrible planet that forces the orphaned to steal for slimy crime bosses, and he wants to smuggle some coaxium to get his girlfriend Qi’ra and himself off it and away from it all. During their escape, he makes it out, and she is captured. Over the years Han joins the empire and meets a group of smugglers that he ends up joining with the end goal being to get his own ship and take Qi’ra off the planet. But things go wrong as he gets in deep with an evil smuggler ring that wants his group to pull off a crazy heist and finds that his true love Qi’ra is also tied to this dangerous group! Also along the way, he meets Chewbacca, a Wookie, and smuggler Lando Calrissian who become friends of his for life. This Star Wars Story film is filled with action, drama and twists and brings a classic Han Solo legend story to life. The downside is none of the threats are really threats as we all know Han, Chewie and Lando will come out of this film unharmed. The film did blah for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in $213,767,512.00 on a budget of $275 million making it the least profitable in the film series. While not life changing, it was still a very enjoyable film that has that Star Wars charm. I should also note that Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover all do fantastic work in their roles, and the film does have a really cool cameo from a classic Sith character from the past.

# 2

Clara is a young woman who is an inventor and is having a very hard time dealing with the death of her mother, and this has stressed her relationship with her father. On Christmas, Clara gets a final gift from her mother that’s a locked egg box with no key, and after going to a big Christmas party and talking with her Grandfather, she finds herself following a string to get her gift and ends up in another realm that is at war with itself and finds that she is now the Queen of the land as her mother was before her! Now she must get a key from Mother Ginger who is blamed for the worlds’ issues. But soon Clara along with her new friend, a nutcracker soldier Captain Hoffman, must find a way to bring peace to the world as well as learn who to trust as well as Clara to find answers about her mother. This was a real fun popcorn movie to watch in the theater and was one I had zero expectations for that I ended up really liking as I found it to feel like a classic 80’s style family film. The film sadly did not do that well for Disney at the US Box Office only bringing in $54,509,683.00 on a massive budget of $120 million. While a bomb in the theater, I hope this film finds more success on the home media market. Worth a watch and one I would watch again.

# 1

The dinosaurs of the now defunct Jurassic World theme park are in trouble as the volcano on the island is about to erupt and kill them all off! Many in the government are saying that we should not save the dinosaurs, while a group of protesters lead by Claire Dearing want to save them as they are living creatures. With backing from the former owners of the park, a rescue mission is put into place, and they even are able to get former park trainer Owen Grady. But the rescuers soon find out that their backers really didn’t care about saving the lives of the dinos and really want to engineer them as well as sell them as pets to the rich and powerful. This is such a fun adventure film that adds in lots of horror elements and has some surprises as well as twists that make for a great popcorn film that was a great watch in the theater. In fact, this film sets up another sequel that I am very much looking forward to watching once released in 2020. The film did fantastic for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in a massive $416,769,345.00 on a budget of $170 million showing that this franchise is back and is a powerhouse when getting viewers into the theater. This was hands down my favorite Sci-Fi film of the year and is one that’s a must own for me on home media.

Some pretty great new sequels released this year for Fantasy and Sci-Fi, and as you can also see, some pretty great original ones as well. I mean this year we got movies starring characters like Han Solo, Samson, Robin Hood and Bumblebee and all entertained this moviegoer. But next let’s see what 2018 had to offer in the way of Superheroes!

# 7

Teenager Miles Morales witnesses the death of Spider-Man, but only after he himself has been bitten by a radioactive spider and gained powers. Kinpin has created a dimension portal in hopes of bringing his wife and son back after their deaths, and by accident he brings spider people from other dimensions in like Spider-Gwen and Spider-Ham! Now Miles must find his inner Spider-Man in order to send all his other Spider cohorts back to their dimensions as well as stop the Kingpin and his goons from ever using the world changing machine again. This is a fun animated film that brings the nature of Spider-Man onto the big screen and delivers moviegoers their first real look at Miles Morales, who was shown to comic readers many years back when he took over as Spidey after the “death” of Peter Parker. This film has been a hit with critics and viewers alike and as of this update being posted has brought in $104,148,730.00 on a budget of $90 million for Sony. While many say it’s the best Spider-Man and or Superhero film of all time, I found it to be enjoyable but far from the best. Worth watching for those who like their hero movies animated and silly as it delivers the action.

# 6

Eddie Brock is a hard-hitting TV news reporter who makes the mistake of trying to bring down a high-powered businessman who has the power to ruin Eddie’s life and he does just that as the one time popular reporter looses his job, his fiancé as well as his home. But years later, when one of the scientist who work for the businessman comes to him for help over the company killing homeless people for experiments, he soon finds himself infected with an alien being that turns him into a super-powered monster known as Venom! Now this anti hero must stop the coming invasion of alien beings who want to take over the earth and infect us humans. This is a fun superhero film that is based around one of Spider-Man’s most popular foes and brings him to the cinema in a better light than Spider-Man 3 did. Tom Hardy is fantastic as Eddie Brock/Venom, and the action and humor blend really well together. The film did well for Sony at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $213,205,181.00 on a budget of $100 million. Worth watching for fans of Venom and is one I will own on DVD!

# 5

Deadpool is back and is an X-Men member in training and blows his chances when he kills some doctors and orderlies who work at an orphanage for mutant kids after one of the youths confesses they abused him. Worse, a mercenary from the future named Cable has come to our time in order to kill the youth who in the future brings the end to his family. Now Deadpool must bring together the youth, Cable, the X-Men and his new team of misfits called X-Force in order to stop this coming end of mutants and to right all the wrongs of the past. The film did fantastic for Fox at the Box Office in the US and brought in $318,491,426.00 on a budget of $110 million. If you like your superhero movies crude and rude, this one is for you! Plus Ryan Reynolds is truly the right actor to play Deadpool.

# 4

Ant-Man is under house arrest and his partners the Wasp and Hank Pym are on the run from the authorities, and a super villain named Ghost is trying to steal experiment equipment from Pym as it’s needed as she is dying from an accident that leaves her body uncontrollable and unstable. Now Ant-Man must risk getting off house arrest in order to help Wasp and Pym get the equipment back in order to save Pym’s wife, who has been stuck in a limbo world for decades. This film is packed with action and laughs and brings together the new and old as the original Ant-Man and Wasp are with the current versions and also brings in Ghost and Black Goliath as the baddies who might not be as bad as you think. The acting is great. Paul Rudd is fantastic as Ant-Man, and it’s always great to see Michelle Pfeiffer on the big screen. The film did good for Disney at the Box Office in the US bringing in $216,648,740.00 on a budget of around $170 million. If you liked the first film in the series like I did, then this sequel will surely bring you joy. Also worth owning on home media if you’re wondering.

# 3

Aquaman is saving people in the ocean from not only storms but also pirates who all want to kill him for his good deeds. But while he helps the surface world, Atlantis, the birthplace of his mother, is at war with itself over attacking the land walkers above who have polluted their world for centuries. Now Aquaman must travel to Atlantis as he is the true ruler and must face is stepbrother The Ocean Master, who has plans of being the world’s ruler and has gotten the help of a one time pirate now turned super villain named Black Manta. Can Aquaman bring peace to the two worlds, and can he finally find out what has happened to his mother who has been missing for decades? Between this and Wonder Woman, DC Comics have shown that they are not down for the count when it comes to making big budget superhero movies, and they still have some fight in them to challenge Marvel. This film has some great action moments, and the film’s main villain Ocean Master, while doing bad things, is not a soulless character as he truly thinks what he is doing is right adding to the tension between the two estranged brothers. Jason Momoa is good as Aquaman, and my only complaint about his performance is I hate that he smirks so many times after delivering eye-rolling lines of dialogue. Plus when the actors wore their masks and costumes, both Black Manta and Ocean Master looked great and made me wish they would have kept the costumes on more. The film as of this update is doing okay for Warner Brothers bringing in this far $189,375,000.00 at the US Box Office on a budget of around $160 million. While not the best DC Superhero film from this modern re-launch (that honor goes to Wonder Woman), this is definitely a step in the right direction for their shared hero universe.

# 2

Prince T’Challa has become the King of Wakanda after the death of his father and has been faced with challenges that include Man-Ape who wants to try his hand at claiming the thrown, but after defeating him he must now find a terrorist criminal who is stealing Wakanda tech and has lead his cousin Killmonger to the kingdom where he challenges and wins the thrown. Now Black Panther and his closest friends must regroup and fight to take back the Kingdom and stop Killmonger’s thirst for war and power. Black Panther is a fantastic film that does a great job of bringing in drama into the action superhero movie mold. Adding in classic villains like Man-Ape and Killmonger felt right, and their looks were great updates to dated characters. The action in this movie is great, and the battles between Black Panther and Killmonger will have you on the edge of your seat. The film at the Box Office in the US did amazing for Disney bringing in $700,059,566.00 on a budget of $200 million and making this film the top grossing film in America for 2018! A great watch and one that will please any superhero fan, this one is a must own now that it’s out on home media.

# 1

Thanos wants to collect all the Infinity Gems in order to kill off half of the population in the universe with one thought, and after collecting some, he gets another after killing Loki and many of the Asgardians and leaving the Hulk and Thor defeated. Now the world’s mightiest heroes Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Falcon, War Machine, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Man-Ape, Winter Solider join Thor and Hulk in the battle to stop Thanos and his army from getting the remaining stones and fulfilling his desire. But can the world’s best defeat the odds, or are we all in trouble? This is what a superhero movie is all about, as the stakes are high and the threat to the universe is real! Seeing all of these characters from Marvel films from over the last 10 years in one single film is truly amazing and seeing them battle the likes of Thanos, who is one of the companies best villains, is pure big screen magic. Not mention the film’s climax that leads us to the next sequel will leave you feeling defeated and sad! The sheer amount of talent in this film also boggles ones mind, and this was hands down one amazing popcorn flick that kept me super entertained and wanting more movies from Marvel! The film did top notch in the US Box Office for Disney bringing in $678,815,482.00 on an estimated budget of $350 million, and with overseas money their gross is over $2 billion dollars! If you like superhero movies and want to see one epic fight between the forces of heroes and villains, then check this movie out. And yep I did buy this movie on DVD when it was released

Superheroes films are all the rage when it comes to toping the Box Office here in America, and many of them make up the top grossing films of the year! But while you readers know I am a big comic book reader and superhero movie watching junkie, my top films that I love seeing in the theater are the ones in Horror genre. This year we got some great ones from Slashers to Ghosts to even a giant Shark. 2018 was a great year for Horror Cinema and was a blast for me sitting in the theater listening to fellow movie goers shriek in fear or even nervously laugh at the scares on the silver screen. So here is my ranking of all the Horror Movies I seen in theater this year.

# 20

The Quinn family of New York have became the obsession of evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy who was found in the old house of R.L. Stine as well as the book writer’s unfinished first book called “Haunted Halloween,” and when the family makes a mistake and opens the book and Slappy chooses them to be his new family, the horrors of the book are unleashed and the world is in trouble unless they can stop Slappy who’s plan is to unleash monsters all over the world as they are his true family. This sequel is a little of a letdown and does not have the charm and fun nature of the first film, and to be honest, I found myself a little bored during most of the start of this kid friendly Horror flick. This film stars Jack Black, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Ken Jeong among many others and is well acted as the actors all do a good job with this plot holed script. The film did poorly for Sony at the US box office as it only brought in a total of $46,700,633.00 on a budget off $35 million. Over all, this a onetime watch and fans of Goosebumps might want to check it out.

# 19

Matias is a young man whose girlfriend is deaf and his lack of sign langue is causing issues in their relationship. So he steals a laptop from his work at a cyber café to add an app that will run smoother on this better computer. While having a Skype game night with friends, he soon learns that the computer he stole belongs to a very bad man who works on the deep web as a murderer for hire as people pay him to torture and kill people for their pleasure. Now Matias and his friends must play a game of life and death as the killer wants his laptop back and his employers want blood. This second film in the Unfriended series removes the supernatural aspects of the first film and adds in the real life spookiness of the Dark Web. It’s a fun watch and is a solid follow up to the first film and takes the same style and makes it feel like its own. The film did pretty well for Blumhouse at the US Box Office bringing in $8,783,985.00 on a budget of $1 million dollars. Worth seeing if you enjoy the world of the net mixed with Horror.

# 18

A group of four friends decide one night during a sleepover to try and contact the Creepypasta legend Slender Man by watching a video. And after doing so, one of the friends go missing and the rest are now being haunted and driven crazy by Slender Man who wants to also take them. The film has gotten the worst hate from fans and critics on the web for any Horror Movie released this year, and I found the hate to be a little over done as the film is nothing special and is not nearly as bad as many want you to think. The films pluses are it has some cool creepy moments. Slender Man, when not CGI, looks pretty good, the music score is top notch, some shots are really cool and actress Joey King who played character Wren is great and makes me want to see her in more Horror Movies. The downside of this film is its pacing, terrible side storylines that go nowhere and Slender Man is never scary in the film. The film has done okay for Sony at the US Box Office bringing in $30,569,484.00 on a budget of $10 million. Over all worth seeing if you like the Creepypasta or movies that take inspiration from The Ring.

# 17

A batch of drafted newly out of boot camp soldiers are being sent on a mission to bring down a communication scrambler set up by the Nazi’s at a church in a small French town in order to help our side to receive messages to do air raids! But when they are forced to jump from a damaged plane, they find themselves surrounded by Nazi’s with many of their own being killed off. But things get worse when they discover that the church is also being used for experiments to create the ultimate soldiers, and now our group of heroes must not only complete their mission but also survive and stop these cruel and brutal experiments that are also on the loose. This is a Horror Movie that is mixed with a War Movie that delivers some good intense moments as well as a few scares along the way. The main cast of our good guys are all likable, and the bad guys come off like very terrible people, making it work. The one downside for me was that the experimented zombie soldiers are not in the film much and many of the good guys make dumb decisions causing more issues for them down the line. This film was an enjoyable watch on the big screen and did very poorly for Paramount at the US Box Office bringing in only $21,704,844.00 on a budget of $38 million. While not a groundbreaking Horror War Movie, it was an entertaining one worth a watch when out on home media.

# 16

Jonas Taylor is one of the best deep-sea rescue divers who has been labeled crazy after he claims something attacked a sub that left two of his crew dead. Now when his ex-wife and her crew get stuck at the bottom of the ocean, he must come out of retirement and face his haters in order to save her, but while doing so he unleashes a massive Megalodon Shark who is now on a killing and eating rampage! Proving he’s not crazy, he and a research group must try all they can to stop the Megalodon before its body count of victims rises! This is a fun Action Horror Movie that was a great popcorn summer film that tried to be this generation’s version of JAWS. The film stars Li Bingbing and Jason Statham, and sadly did not do so well for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office only bringing in $145,443,742.00 on a budget of $130 million. While not a groundbreaking ocean terror film, it was sure an entertaining one! Worth watching on Blu-Ray and DVD and even worth having in your collection to go along side your other shark themed Horror Movies.

# 15

The Purge movie series gets a prequel! The New Founding Fathers have just taken office and have a wild idea to make America great again and that’s to have one night that for 12 hours all types of crimes are legal including murder. They are testing it in New York on Staten Island. They also are offering payouts to residents who stay in town for the night as well as those who kill, and the more you kill, the more money you will make. This experiment is called The Purge and was created by Dr. Updale in order for people to lash out and unleash their inner beasts. We follow those who are protesting it lead by Nya who gather in a local church. We also follow Dmitri, a local drug lord and his crew who decided to protect the people as well as we follow the militant gangs sent in my the Government plus the local scared up nut job Skeletor who is killing anyone who gets in his way. This movie is a time bomb of violence and people standing up for each other and human rights and is a good sequel to a great series of films. The main characters are likable and you find yourself cheering them on to make it through the night. The downside for me is I felt it offered nothing really new to the series and just kind of felt like a sequel made to promote the USA Network TV show that is as well a prequel to the rest of the films in this series. The film did well for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in $69,086,325.00 on a budget of $13 million making it a hit for them. While my least favorite in the series, this is one I own on DVD and recommend to fans of the other films. I also want to say that I do hope Blumhouse and Universal do make another in this series as I do really enjoy them.

# 14

Olivia and her friends go to Mexico for spring break and meet a young man who tricks them to going to an old monastery and play a game of Truth Or Dare that is being run by a demon, who, once you’re in the game, forces you to play. Now one by one, the group of friends is forced to tell hurtful truths and dangerous and murderous dares! With time running out and her friends dropping like flies, Olivia must find away to stop the game once and for all and return the demon to captivity. This Universal and Blumhouse team up was a fun silly film that had moments of thrills and horror that delivered an enjoyable watch at the cinema. While the film and its plot was nothing special, it was very cool to hear moviegoers after the film ask their friends Truth Or Dare. The characters, while generic, do have a likable quality, and I really liked how the demon disfigured people’s mouths to ask them truth or dare. The film did okay for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in only $40,531,430.00 on a budget of only $3.5 million. While not one I would say is a must see, I would watch again once out on DVD.

# 13

Doctor Eric Price is hired by Winchester Gun Company to evaluate their majority share owners mental state as Sarah Winchester has suffered great loss as her husband and child have both passed on. She herself is spending tons of money on building new rooms to her mansion as she claims the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester rifles have told her to do so in order for forgiveness. At first Eric thinks that the aging widow has lost her connection with reality due to her grief of the death of her loved ones, but soon he himself must face the facts that maybe the ghosts of those killed by the rifles are indeed in the house looking for a place to stay and be set free. This is a pretty solid ghost film that packs lots of atmosphere and holds a true classic Hammer Horror feel to it as they were the original company to release this before selling off the script rights. The film is a slow burn and plays up on fears of the unknown and plays with what we think we see and hear, and then turns right into a vengeful ghost story complete with a very mean disfigured ghost who is the main one causing problems. The film did alright for Lionsgate at the US Box Office as it did about $25,091,816.00 on an undisclosed budget. This was a pretty cool Horror Flick and was the second one released in theaters in 2018 and was a spooky little popcorn flick.

# 12

Susie Bannion, a young woman from Ohio, moves to Berlin after the death of her mother and wants to join the Markos Dance Academy under the teaching of Madame Blanc. But while she is a skillful dancer, there is more to this dance school that meets the eye as young women keep going missing and rumors of a cult of witches running it travels around. With one dancer named Sara wanting to get to the bottom of it and find her missing friend and an old doctor as well looking into the disappearances, Susie must find her own inner dancer and come face to face with a clan of witches who have sinister plans for her as well as the other dancers. This film is a remake of the Dario Argento film of the same name and while it holds some elements from the original, it is really its own thing and brings in a very strong art house feel. While the film is a slow burn and has a long runtime of over two and a half hours, it does pack in some pretty cool chills as well as bloody deaths that reminds you that you are watching a Horror Movie. The film has a great cast with such names as Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Moretz and Mia Goth who steals the show with a great performance. The film had a limited release and but did help bring in $2,483,472.00 for Amazon Studios who had a $20 million dollar budget in this film. While I do not find it as spooky or haunting as the original, this remake still was a fun one to see in the theater and did have some cool and creepy moments. Worth owning on home media for those who like slower paced art house Horror flicks.

# 11

While on a sniper mission, Quinn McKenna is the only survivor when a spacecraft crashes and a Predator is once more loose on the Earth. Before he flees, Quinn is able to steal the alien’s helmet and arm guard and sends it home, but this causes the Predator to as well track the package that’s been opened by his autistic son and worse for everyone, a super genetically engineered 11 foot tall Predator wants stolen cargo that’s on the crashed ship and will kill anyone and anything that gets in his way. So it’s up to Quinn and a rag tag bunch of mentally unstable soldiers to save his son, dodge the government and stop the Predators from their hunts. This fourth film in the Predator series is a fun Sci-Fi, Action and Horror hybrid film that delivers some good kills and over the top moments. But while enjoyable, the film does have its flaws. For one, some of the editing leaves plot holes and the character of Quinn McKenna is just a very unlikable hero character…or at least he was for me. While I did enjoy this film I do need to say that of the main Predator film series this is my least favorite. The film did okay for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in $51,024,708.00 on a budget of $88 million dollars. With this film leaving the door wide open for Shane Black to continue with another sequel, I for one would like to see Predator continue as I want the see the suit in action…watch the film and you’ll see what I am talking about.

# 10

Ashley has just picked up her husband Max from jail, and they are traveling home through the woods of the Pacific North West when they have an accident by striking a pedestrian who seems to have been attacked by a wild animal. Things get worse when Max is struck by a thrown rock that knocks him out and into the river below, leaving Ashley to go in after him. Now the couple is alone in the woods with something stalking them and even when finding help from a group of asshole hunters, they all soon realize that Bigfoot is real and he is pissed and enjoys hunting humans! Throw in a Native American Sheriff and an old witch that lives in the woods, and you have yourself this fun horror film that takes elements from the Predator films and turns them more primal and laced with folklore. This film had great practical effects with many of the kills being brutal, an amazing Bigfoot who was part wild primate and part Rambo, stunning lead actress Casey Gagliardi and one heck of a fun ride of a plot. This film was shown in theaters for one night only as part of the Fathom Events and was one heck of a fun time. The film brought in a total of $21,903.00 for its one night showing in the US for Fathom. This one was lots of fun and worth owning on DVD, Digital or Blu-Ray.

# 9

Blood Fest is an event that celebrates all things horror, and Dax, a mega horror movie fan, disobeys his fathers wishes and along with two of his best friends heads to the event only to find that the events organizer is a crazy man and all the killers and ghouls of the event are there to kill all attendees and create the ultimate Horror Movie from the footage. This is a really fun and gory Horror Comedy that blends the two genres together so well and delivers a highly entertaining watch. The film has killer clowns, zombies, a puppet, masked killers and vampires and has some over the top and brutal kills. The film was shown at a Fathom Event and has a great cast lead by Robbie Kay and Seychelle Gabriel and did pretty well for Cinedigm at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $82,744.00 on a budget of unknown. This is a must see film for fans of Horror Comedies and is one I bought on DVD/Blu-Ray when released.

# 8

Megan Reed is a former cop who was let go from the force when she became an addict after an accident left her partner shot. She now is recovering and has taken a graveyard shift job at the city morgue. But when the mutilated and burned body of a young woman named Hannah Grace is brought in, things start to get real weird as a person breaks in to the morgue to burn the body and staff from the hospital above are going missing. And things get even scarier for her when she notices that Hannah seems to be alive and moving around, and worse when she does some research on the dead girl, she finds out she died during an exorcism! When the demon inside Hannah fully wakes up, Megan must fight for not only her life but her soul. This is a possession film that is set in a morgue that is very cold in look and this helps add the over all vibe of this creepy little film as most of the movie takes place in the morgue and the parking garage that leads to the drop off area. Actress Shay Mitchell plays Megan and is very likable. Her performance has you cheering for her to make it out alive. Plus, it was great to see Stana Katic, who played Kate Beckett on TV Show Castle, in a small role. Over all while this is just another standard demon possession film, its setting and creepy demon woman Hannah made it an entertaining watch for me, even if the people I went with did not really enjoy it. The film did ok for Sony at the Box Office here in America bringing in $14,560,796.00 on a budget of $9.5 million. While this film was trashed by critics and Horror Fans across the board, I found it a fun watch on a late night at the cinema and is one I plan on buying on DVD when released.

# 7

The grandma of the Graham family has passed away, and young 13 year old Charlie takes it the worst as she was close to her strange grandma. But when an accident also leaves Charlie deceased, her family is left heartbroken and looking for answers as strange things start to happen all around them and mother Annie seems to be losing her mind…but things are very sinister as friends are not what the seem and forces are in play to get what they need from the Graham family. This film was a great slow burn horror movie that built the feelings of sadness, dread and anxiety as I watched to see how the story played out. No joke, when the character Charlie played by Milly Shapiro dies in the film, I really did find myself filled with sadness, and that’s crazy for me as most kids in movies annoy me! The film has done well for A24 at the US Box Office as it brought in $44,069,456.00 on a budget of $10 million. Well worth watching and one I bought on DVD when it was released. And will also say it’s the best A24 Horror Movie release I have seen this far.

# 6

A group of friends head out to the area’s biggest Halloween event and soon find themselves being stalked by a masked killer who enjoys turning the horrors of the haunted houses real. And during Hell Fest, a massive Halloween attraction he sets his site on Natalie and her group of friends. One by one, he stalks and kills them for his own twisted reasons, until the survivors and the killer have a showdown. This was a fun modern slasher film set in great background of a massive haunted attraction and adds a layer of shock. The film also has a great soundtrack and really is a sadly over looked film as it did okay for Lions Gate at the US Box Office bringing in only $11,107,431.00 on a budget of $5.5 million. With the film being left open for a part 2, I hope that Lions Gate takes a chance and allows it to be made. Worth seeing, and I even made sure to buy the film on DVD when it was released. Oh and I have to say I am becoming a fan of actress Bex Taylor-Klaus who plays Taylor in the film and is also known for being on MTV’s Scream show.

# 5

The Abbott family are living in a world where they must always remain quiet as monsters are roaming around that are blind but attack and kill any noise they hear. The family is struggling not to make a noise in a world where it means death, plus the family is having some issues over the loss of one of them, and worse, the mother is about to have a baby! This movie uses sign langue for almost all the dialogue and really plays up the tension of a family struggling with the loss of a loved one making the horror of the monsters outside even more intense as every little sound made me as a viewer feel nervous. A Quiet Place is a really good indie horror movie that was a great watch in the theater and with a fellow movie goers who were all silent during the film. The movie did really well for Paramount at the US Box Office bringing in $188,024,361.00 on a budget of $17 million. This is one that when released I bought the DVD and would recommend to Horror fans who enjoy their scary films with a touch of arty and emotions.

# 4

Insidious: The Last Key was the first Horror Movie released in theaters in 2018 and it was a great way to kick off a great year of Horror cinema. Elise Rainier has had a hard life as she can talk and see ghosts and uses her gift to help others who are being haunted. And her next case takes her to her old family home where she must help the new owner and come face to face with the sinister spirit called Key Face who can steal the souls of the living and force the living to also do his bidding when living in that house. Elise along with her team must enter the house, face her fears and torment of the past, patch things up with her estranged brother, meet her nieces and help save them and stop Key Face from unlocking the doors of the spirit world. This movie takes lots of twists and turns and packs some great jump scares. It’s shocking that this Blumhouse series just seems to be solid throughout its sequels, and I for one can not wait to see what Chapter 5 brings to the story. The film did well for Universal at the USA Box Office bringing in $67,347,895.00 on a budget of $10 million making it yet another hit for Blumhouse! If you enjoyed the first three movies in the series, you will surely enjoy this one as well. Also this is one I bought on DVD when released.

# 3

Kinsey is a troubled teenage girl who is being driven by her parents and brother to a small vacation to their family’s seasonal trailer park before she is sent to a boarding school. But while the family tries to spend time with each other and heal hurt feelings, they soon find out they are not alone as The Strangers are also in the trailer park and have set their sights on the family being their next victims. One by one they stalk and kill the family, but soon find out that this family is not going to go down without a fight. This sequel was 10 years in the making and it lived up to the wait as this was one heck of a spooky ride filled with cool kills, amazing score and some eerie shots. This film feels like a classic 80’s slasher film and does a great job of ending the story of The Strangers but also leaves the door cracked if they ever want to revisit this series for a third film. The film did great for Aviron at the US Box Office bringing in $24,431,472.00 on a budget of $5 million! Really enjoyed this film and was a solid follow up and was a great film to see on the big screen, worth buying on DVD, Blu-Ray of Digital. And in fact I did buy the DVD when released.

# 2

The body of a nun who hanged herself is found at an old monastery in the hills of Romania, and the Vatican sends in a priest and a nun in order to find out why. While there, they find that the locals think it’s haunted as well as the land around it…and when night comes they soon learn that it is indeed, as the demon Valak has claimed it and is looking to enter our world for good and cause fear and chaos. In order to stop the evil spirit, they must truly have faith and risk everything to stop its coming of power. This creepy film in the Conjuring expanded universe is a fun watch with some creepy moments that felt to me as if it had a dash of Italian Horror mixed into a demonic ghost American fright flick. Valak is a great horror monster and the film’s downbeat atmosphere truly made for a great late night watch at the theater. The film did great for New Line Cinema at the US Box Office bringing in $117,450,119.00 on a budget of $22 million showing that The Conjuring films are here to stay for awhile. This movie is worth owning on DVD or Blu-Ray and I in fact did buy the DVD when it was released. If you like demonic ghost movies, you should check this one out.

# 1

It’s been 40 years after Michael Myers went on a killing spree, and Laurie Strode was one of the only survivors. Spending this whole time in an asylum, on Halloween 2018 he breaks free and once more goes on a killing rampage in Haddonfield, Illinois that leads him to cross paths again with Laurie Strode as well as her daughter and granddaughter. Will Michael be able to finish what he started in 1978, or will Laurie finally get her revenge for that night of terror he put her through? This sequel to the hugely popular Halloween film series takes place after the original film and is the start of a new batch of sequels being done by Blumhouse and Universal that have been bringing us Horror Fans a bunch of great scare flicks. This sequel brings Michael Myers back to the core of who what he is, a cold blooded killer and wipes out the family connection between he and Laurie and just plays up on the fact the two hate each other. It was great to see Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode as well as that the original Michael Myers actor Nick Castle got to also be apart of this film. The kills are great and some are pretty brutal, and the score is done by John Carpenter and brings that true Halloween feel to it. Another plus is that almost all of the main characters are likable and are pretty well developed. The one major downside for me was some of the Danny McBride written humor just seemed out of place and really dumb and that was mostly spewing out of the mouth of Laurie’s son in law. Over all I think that Halloween series is in good hands with Universal and Blumhouse, and I am very much looking forward to see what’s next. The film did amazing for Universal at the Box Office here in America bringing in $159,326.595.00 on a small budget of $10 million. This really was hands down my favorite Horror Movie I saw in theater in 2018 and lived up to what I wanted from it.

So as you can see, this was a great year in movies in all genres and for this movie goer, I got to watch film is all kinds of cool theaters from Neon Movies to Cinemark and got to spend time with some amazing friends like Natalie Claude, Theresa Daniels, Stephen Alexander and Josh Weinberg plus as always got to see many with my gal Juliet. Well I can see the clean up crew is here and are ready to clean up the Rotten Ink Theater, so we should probably clear our, but before we go I would like to say that our next update is going to be about those 80’s toy The Popples! So until next time, watch a movie or three and as always support your local Horror Host! See ya for a Popple good time next update!

 

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Konga

Giant Monster Movies were all the rage back in the 1960’s and many followed in the giant footprints of the 1933 film King Kong and none followed more closely than the 1961 film Konga as it as well featured a giant gorilla running wild in a major city! And I figured covering the first issue of Konga by Charlton Comics would be a great way to talk about the film and its title monster as it’s an adaptation of the movie! So if you’re ready to once more take a look at a giant hairy movie monster with me this winter and take another journey on a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. It’s a great honor that I bring you this look at Konga, a very underrated monster movie.

We need to take a look at Konga himself before we dive into the film that he comes from. Konga was a baby chimpanzee from Africa who is brought to London, England by Dr. Charles Decker, a famed botanist who has discovered a serum to make planets and animals grow very large. Konga is the test subject for this serum and grows to the size of a full-grown gorilla, and, after being given too much of the serum, he grows to super size! Konga has a very violent streak and uses his brute strength and power to choke the life out of humans when he’s gorilla-sized and has been given the orders from Decker. As a giant ape, he has no loyalty and wants to crush and smash people in his way. Konga’s way of killing includes choking, throwing and crushing, and he can easily do so no matter his size. He not only can use his power and strength to dispatch his victims but can also use his massive size to his advantage as he towers over buildings and homes and can carry a person in his hands like a doll. But while he is a giant and strong, Konga does have weaknesses as he can be hurt by weapons like guns and rockets and while large, it also appears as if he loses some of his smarts and becomes confused easily, leaving himself open to attacks. But while he can be stopped and killed, Konga is still a force to be reckoned with and is a killer primate brute who don’t realize he is a killing machine frightful bad guy.

So as you can see, Konga is a massive powerhouse of fury and animal instinct who is a giant monster who can smash and crush us humans. But now that we all know about Konga the giant monkey, we now have to take a look at the movie he stars in! So I will be taking the film’s plot from our pals as IMDB and after I will talk a little about my connection to the film as well as some cool other facts. So let’s learn a little about Konga the film that was supposed to be the first colorized version of King Kong.

Konga (1961)

“Dr. Decker comes back from Africa after a year, presumed dead. During that year, he came across a way of growing plants and animals to an enormous size. He brings back a baby chimpanzee to test out his theory. As he has many enemies at home, he decides to use his chimp, ‘Konga’ to ‘get rid of them’. Then Konga grows to gigantic proportions and wreaks havoc all over the city of London!!”

Anglo Amalgamated and American International Pictures teamed up in around 1959 to make a release of the film Konga thanks to British producer Nat Cohen asking American producer Herman Cohen to make another Horror Picture in the U.K. after “Horrors of the Black Museum” was a major hit in theaters and drive-ins. Herman, who was a big fan of King Kong, decided that he was going to make a colorized version of a giant gorilla this time around running wild in London. So Herman, along with Aben Kandel, wrote the script to the film that was being called “I Was A Teenage Gorilla” and was later changed to Konga. Herman would hire John Lemont to direct and brings on actors like Michael Gough, Margo Johns, Claire Gordon and Paul Stockman as the man in the Konga suit. Gerard Schurmann was brought in to score the movie and was filmed in Croydon and Merton Park Studios in England. With a budget of $500,000.00 production went by pretty easy and smooth and was ready to take cinemas by storm. For marketing the film Herman also paid RKO Pictures a pretty big sum in order to use the words King Kong on his posters and marketing. When released, it was shown on a double feature with the film “Master of the World” and would go one to be a cult classic film. The year of Konga’s release, it was joined in the cinemas by such other Horror titles like Curse Of the Werewolf, Doctor Blood’s Coffin, Beast Of Yucca Flats, Gorgo, Reptilicus, Snake Woman and Brainiac to name a few. When released the film also spawned a comic book series as well as a paperback novel adaptation.

My first memory of Konga was watching it on cable when I was a youngster as I think it was on TBS and I was glued to it as it was like a generic King Kong.  Over the years, the film faded in my mind and it was not until MGM released it on DVD and VHS that I remembered it and was able to watch it again, and man did I enjoy this cheesy and fun giant monster run amok film! While Konga is no King Kong, he is a nice knock off version that offers some great moments and a super sad ending that will leave an image of a street and a small chimp forever burned into your memory. Another way I remember Konga is the comic series that was released by Charlton Comics in the 60’s as I would see them at comic shops and even in a few antique stores growing up. The thing about Konga is that he is not super respected by fans of Kiju Films as many do not even put him in that category of Horror and Science Fiction Films and look down upon his rampage and size. Now most of the Kiju we think of all come from Japan or some weird island and are the likes of Godzilla, Gamera and King Kong and most lists of these films leave Konga off, but I feel he belongs.  While smaller than many of the above mentioned, he still is a giant monster on a rampage. So here right now on Rotten Ink we are going to give Konga the respect that is long over due and say he is a Kiju Monster and that his film is entertaining and underrated.

So now that we have taken a look at Konga as a monster and the film that spawned him, I think we should dive into his comic adaptation released by Charlton Comics in 1960 a short time ahead of the films release as a tool to promote it before it hit theaters and drive-ins. I want to thank the Ebay seller who had this comic in stock and made this update possible. I also want to remind you 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 it’s art and story. I also want to say that I am only reviewing the first issue in this series as it’s the adaptation of the film and it would cost me a small fortune to get all the issues in this series as well as its follow up series. So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at Konga in the world of comics.

Konga # 1 ***
Released in 1960       Cover Price .10      Charlton      # 1 of 23

Doctor Decker along with his pilot are flying over Africa when the plane starts to have issues. Before it crashes, Decker is able to jump out and is found by a small monkey named Konga who takes him to a village of giants. While with the giants, Decker discovers a plant that brings growth when eaten and can bridge a link between planets and humans! Decker returns home to London with some seeds and Konga and has some experiments in mind that will help mankind become more powerful than ever before. Along with his wife Margret, they inject Konga with some of the seed serum and he grows showing this experiment will be a success, but also Decker must return to his teaching job and takes on a new student aid named Sondra who’s boyfriend Bob is not happy nor is the Dean of the school who thinks Decker’s claims of planets and man being linked looks poorly on the school and says he is going to request that Decker takes time away. Decker returns home very upset and injects Konga with more of the serum and now the monkey has turned into the size of a gorilla and he picks up the anger of Decker for the Dean and escapes his cage and kills him! After the attack, Decker meets a fellow scientist who is coming close as well on figuring out planet growth being used on humans and once more after Decker thinks bad of this man Konga escapes and kills him! The crimes are going unsolved and when Sondra steps down from being Decker’s aid due to her boyfriend Bob he once more returns home and upset with the young teenage lovers, and Konga once more escapes and this time injects himself with more serum and grows to be giant and busts the house in pieces. By this time Decker has figured it out and is able to call the police before he and his wife are killed by the house falling apart after Konga busts out. The massive Konga is now in the streets of London and thanks to the Police and Army, they are able to kill the beast who shrinks back down to small monkey size.

This comic was used to help promote the movie a year before it was released, and boy is this story way different in this comic than in the movie! The plot here has Doctor Decker returning from Africa with the idea to help mankind with his experiments done with the seeds of massive planets, and when using his friend, a small monkey, as the test subject the primate grows and picks up the anger thoughts of his friend and kills his enemies for him. But things really get out of hand when the monkey injects himself with lots of the serum and grows into a massive ape that terrorizes London and must be brought down by the army. So as you can see, in the comic Konga is the true bad guy who kills and is out of control with Decker being a kind man who just wants to help mankind, while in the movie Decker is the one who uses Konga to kill and he himself is a sleaze ball with Konga being the gentle one who is forced to be a massive ape. Plus in the comic, Margret is Decker’s wife when in the film she is his assistant who loves him, not to mention in the comic he only wants Sondra to help in in class, while in the movie he wants to have relations with her! Decker here in the comic world is a nice guy who took a bad situation like a plane crash and turned it into a plan to help mankind. He has a big heart with lots of goals in life and wants nothing more than to get his experiments done and become famous for doing something that a positive. Konga starts off as a small ape who is friends with Decker as he watched after him in Africa and comes to London to be a help and soon turns their friendship into a gateway to murder as the more Konga grows, the more bloodthirsty he gets. Just like in the movie, Konga dies in the comic when he is fired on by the Army and Police and in death shrinks back down to his normal size. The comic does not have any blood or gore and the horror element comes from the off panel deaths and the fact it’s a giant ape running loose in a city! The cover for this issue is great and classic and showcases Konga bringing in fans of giant monsters as well as King Kong fans. The interior art is done by comic artist legend Steve Ditko and is really great early comic art from a man who first drew Spider-Man for Marvel and by all accounts co-created him. I think about it two years after this comic that Ditko did Amazing Fantasy # 15. Over all, this is a great early Horror Comic that was based on a film that never has gotten the respect it should. Check out the artwork below to see some of Ditko’s early comic work.

Konga is a cool cult classic film that is also a great comic book that is worth checking out in both forms of media. And think, while the film was only one, the comic series lasted 23 issues and had a second series that lasted 3 issues. So if you love Konga, his giant sized adventures continued in ink for you to enjoy. So while we must leave London and Konga behind, our next update will place us on Christmas Eve and after some major thought and eliminations I decided that I will take a look at Garfield’s Christmas Special as well as have a NES Challenge of the unreleased Garfield video game! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a giant monster movie or two and as always spend some time with your loved ones. See you next update for a fun time with Garfield as well as the NES.