Avengers Assemble…We’re Needed

Welcome back, True Rotten Ink-lievers!  Juliet here, on this momentous occasion where we’ll be covering one of the greatest team-ups to grace both the page and the screen. I’m talking about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, John Steed and Emma Peel.  That’s right, I’m joining you to talk about The Avengers….but not those Avengers. We’ll be looking at the spies played by John Macnee and Diana Rigg in the 1960s British television show, The Avengers, and their 2012-13 comic book series from Boom Studios.  So grab a bowler hat and a stiff drink, readers, we’re needed.

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Although knowledge of the show is more widespread these days, there are many people that don’t realize that the Avengers existed both before and after the Emma Peel years.  The show premiered in 1961 from the English ABC (Associated British Corporation), focusing on the espionage adventures of Dr. David Keel with Patrick Macnee’s John Steed showing up in the first episode offering his assistance.  Steed would remain in the assistant’s role for all of series one, which was cut short due to an Actor’s Equity strike. When production resumed in 1962, Steed was now the focus of the show partnering briefly with Dr. Martin King and Venus Smith and more permanently with Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman.  It was during this time that the show as we know and love it really took shape: Steed’s look was established as the bowler-wearing English gentleman spy, while Cathy donned leather catsuits, which Emma Peel would also adopt along with the latest in mod fashion.

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In 1965, the show was sold to the American Broadcasting Company (also ABC) and became one of the first British shows on to air on American television. The show moved from shooting on videotape to 35mm film, and in October, Diana Rigg debuted as Steed’s new partner Emma Peel.  We’ll discuss more about Steed and Peel momentarily, but for now let’s focus on the show itself. Along with Emma Peel, this new era of the Avengers introduced science fiction, fantasy and the occasional fetishistic elements to the plot. With the fifth series (aka season since we’re talking about British TV) in 1966, the show began shooting in color.  This was also the year that several of the show’s signature elements were introduced.

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Two of the best known elements that in truth only lasted for 15 episodes, are “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” and the “Steed does/Emma does” tags, both appearing at the start of an episode after of course the murder or inciting incident for the case had been established. We’d see Emma doing something ordinary. She’d then receive or encounter the message “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” at which time Steed would appear from seemingly nowhere and their adventure would begin.  The tag would show up under the episode title and give a comedic description of each character’s actions during the episode. For example, in “The Winged Avenger,” the tag is, “Steed Goes Birdwatching. Emma Does a Comic Strip”

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Diana Rigg left the show in 1967, gone was Emma Peel and gone were the sci-fi/fantasy elements with her.  The producers opted to return to the more realistic spy adventures that viewers had seen in the Cathy Gale era, and this time Steed’s partner was Tara King, played by Linda Thorson.  This sixth series would also introduce the characters of Mother and Father who would be central characters in the 1998 movie remake of the Avengers (more on that further down). But series 6 was to be the last as, although the show was popular in the UK and Europe, in the U.S. it was airing opposite the then number 1 show in the country Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and just couldn’t compete.  When the show cancelled in the U.S., the finances became unsustainable and Avengers ceased production in May 1969.

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Now that we’ve talked about the history of the show, let’s get into the characters and the people who portrayed them.  Born of a noble family and having served in the RAF in WWII (like his portrayer Patrick Macnee), John Steed is an agent in an unnamed British intelligence agency that some claim exists in the same universe/canon as James Bond.  In his initial appearances in Avengers, Steed was less refined than the character we’d come to know and love, but fairly quickly, he adopted the signature suave look of a three-piece suit, bowler hat, and umbrella, which would become his signature look. Steed is both sassy and sauve, and although he can be playful, when the time comes, he’s an ace spy and is well verse in hand to hand combat and swordsmanship. The role of Steed came around at the precise right time for actor Patrick Macnee.  After serving in WWII for England, he began his acting career in Canada with smaller roles but didn’t meet with much success. By the late 1950s, he was smoking and drinking to excess and had nearly given up on acting opting to produce documentaries when he was offered the role of John Steed, which he would play until 1969. Macnee helped establish the character’s look and personality, insisting, for example, that Steed never use a gun, in part because of the horrors that Macnee had witnessed in WWII.  He wrote two novels based on The Avengers and later hosted a documentary about the show. Macnee would go on to be in a James Bond film, Magnum P.I., The Howling and more, including a cameo in the 1998 Avengers remake (I promise, we’re getting there). Patrick Macnee died in June of 2015 at the age of 93.

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Dame Diana Rigg made her stage debut in 1957 and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959.  When Elizabeth Shepherd, originally slated to play Emma Peel, left the production, Rigg auditioned for the role having never seen The Avengers.  She was an instant star, despite making very little money for her work on the show, which is what ultimately drove her to leave after two years. Rigg went on to star in both film and television roles, including a stint hosting Mystery on PBS (taking over for Vincent Price), and she continued her work on stage. More recently, she’s captivated a new generation of TV viewers as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.  As for Rigg’s most iconic role, Emma Peel is a great mix of brains, battle-readiness, and sex appeal. She’s an accomplished scientist and martial artist who dabbles in many other fields, especially when it aids her investigations with Steed. Born Emma Knight, Mrs. Peel’s husband Peter is a pilot whose plane went down in the Amazon rainforest prior to her work with Steed. Peter was presumed dead for many years, returning as a plot device to write Emma off the show and introduce Tara King when Diana Rigg decided to move on.  Though the leather catsuits were introduced in the Cathy Gale era of Avengers, they became Emma Peel’s signature look along with the mod styles of the day. A quick wit with a silver tongue, Emma was the perfect verbal match for Steed, and their back and forth was part of what made the show such a joy to watch.

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I first encountered The Avengers on VHS at my local library.  I was lucky enough to grow up with two awesome libraries close by, one of which had an amazing selection of science fiction paperbacks and the other sported any amazing VHS selection, featuring a lot of British television and foreign and classic films. In the same way I have an affection for both really good and really cheesy science fiction, I adore both really good and really cheesy spy movies and TV shows, and I feel like The Avengers fall right in the middle.  It’s as classic as James Bond, but has an entirely different feel that’s so completely of its era. In the last five or six years, I’ve managed to watch the entire Emma Peel run of the show on DVD thanks to Matt, who bought me the Emma Peel Megaset after we found it at Half Price Books. In the same spirit as ST:TNG and the X-Files, I have certain favorite episodes that I go back to again and again, but I can also watch the series as a whole all over again and enjoy it, securing The Avengers’ spot among my all-time favorite TV shows.

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In 1998, Warner Brothers and director Jeremiah Chechik (of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fame) sought to revive Steed and Mrs. Peel for a new generation on the big screen.  The film, simply titled The Avengers starred Ralph Fiennes as John Steed, Uma Thurman as Emma Peel and Sean Connery as weather obsessed villain Sir August de Wynter. Rumor has it that Warner refused to pre-screen the film for reviewers to prevent negative reviews after test screenings prompted the studio to cut it from 115-minute to 89 minutes, removing key plot elements.  An original cut of the movie has never emerged, though Jeremiah Chechik has offered Warner Brothers a director’s cut for free. The movie as it stands is universally regarded as one of the worst movies ever, but I have to tell you something, dear readers: I love it. Okay, okay, it’s by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but I see the campy potential in the look and feel. Plus, it came out at a time in my life where I was actively seeking out very cheesy spy films and novels, the more bizarre, the better….and this one is certainly bizarre.  To parrot Stefon from SNL, this movie has everything: Uma Thurman with a bad English accent, giant teddy bears, a weather device, human sized hamster balls, Patrick Macnee as the Invisible Man, Eddie Izzard. If you have an open heart for utterly ridiculous trash, give it a try. It has little to nothing to do with the original TV series, but it’s silly fun if you’re up for that sort of thing.

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In terms of merchandise for the TV show, the modern fan can enjoy the series on DVD as well as a plethora of Steed and Mrs. Peel-themed goodies on sites like Etsy.  More classic gear includes trading cards, and most interesting, paperback books. The first novel, simply titled The Avengers and written by Douglas Enefer, was published by Consul Books in 1963.  It’s the only book of the original run to feature Cathy Gale. Many novels featuring Emma Peel and Tara King would follow in the UK and US, including several co-written by Patrick Macnee who was one of the first actors to write licensed spin-off fiction of their own shows.

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The Avengers first made it to comics in the U.K. as comic strips in TV listing magazines (similar to the US’ TV Guide).  Their first American outing was a 1968 collection of these strips released by Gold Key called John Steed Emma Peel because, of course, Marvel made it impossible for them to release a comic called The Avengers. In 1990 Eclipse released a three issue series called Steed and Mrs. Peel with script by Grant Morrison and art by Ian Gibson.  Boom Studios would re-release that series in early 2012. For our purposes, however, we’ll be covering the 2012-13 Steed and Mrs. Peel series from Boom Studios, written Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe. Before we begin our adventure, I must remind you that here at Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a 1-4 star scale and look for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get started, dear reader, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #0  *** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #0 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel investigate the mysterious of Agent Colin Whitcomb. Although the cause of death is straight forward (he was shot pointe blank), the strange part is that the missing agent has aged significantly.  Their only clue is the scent of a particular cheap perfume on Whitcomb’s body, sending the daring duo to the Hellfire Club, or rather the “New Hellfire Club” to investigate. There they meet the future obsessed Cartney who leads Steed into a fight with Father Time.  Meanwhile Emma outwits Futura, the automotan, and dons her outfit as a disguise to locate the missing Steed. Steed awakens older and grayer discovering that it’s no longer 1966, but the year 2000, and that he’s now a part of the National Archives, having served as an agent of much acclaim.  But of course Steed is on to the true plot of the Hellfire Club, using an aging serum to fool intelligence British agents. With Emma’s expert martial arts skills, the baddies, which include their old Hellfire nemesis Cartney, are defeated. With the aging serum’s effects wearing off, Steed treats Mrs. Peel to a concert.

When I first heard that Boom Studios would be doing a comic based on The Avengers, I was nervous to say the least.  The charm of the show is so particular – there’s a formula to the stories, but moreover the way Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg portrayed the relationship between Steed and Peel is so very specific.  I was hopeful once I saw that Mark Waid was writing, and he did not disappoint. This introductory issue was everything I had hoped for – it felt right at home in the universe of the show, teasing a time jump but keeping things firmly in the 1960s.  Longtime fans of the show got recollections of the Hellfire Club (**find out the name of this episode) and Emma’s spiked collar, cybermen (who also appeared in Doctor Who), the familiar “We’re Needed” start to the action. Most importantly, the dialogue was perfect.  I could hear MacNee and Rigg’s voices in my head as I was reading. Steve Bryant’s art is a good balance of realistic and stylistic and captures both the feel of the 1960s and the action well. I was pleasantly surprised by this one when I first read it in 2012, and 7 years later, it’s still a great read.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #1  ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #1 of 11

Masked men infiltrate a secluded base and launch a missile attack on London.  Steed and Mrs. Peel watch the carnage, along with Lord Bailey, in an underground bunker, but just as everyone has a moment to absorb what’s just happened, an alert sounds and our heroes leap to action.  A fire in the bunker forces Emma and a fellow scientist to lead everyone in the bunker topside, but once there, Mrs. Peel discovers something unusual. Although London is leveled and their instruments are showing radiation, there’s no effect on the soil or water.  There’s no time to question it further, however, because their fellow survivors spot a figure in the distance rapidly coming towards the group. The figure is some sort of mutated creature, and it’s not alone. Steed and Mrs. Peel battle the horde of monsters, and the book ends with them getting a vital assist from none other than the Hellfire Club.

This proper first issue of Steed and Mrs. Peel begins with action that’s sustained through the book.  Our heroes seem to be in some kind of post-apocalyptic disaster scenario, which is such a perfect melding of Cold War-era spy show sensibility and our modern obsession with post-apocalyptic stories (I see you, The Walking Dead and your many and varied progeny).  The action is such that we don’t get a lot of information about what’s happened other than London has apparently been nuked, and I like that because we’ll get to discover what’s happening along with Emma and Steed. The dialogue between the two is once again spot on thanks to the team up of Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe, and the artwork, this time from Will Sliney, is really great, classic looking comic style that lends itself to both action and dialogue well.  I know you’re probably wondering, like me, what the Hellfire Club is doing there and what they do or don’t have to do with this disaster so let’s get to the next issue.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #2 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #2 of 11

Steed, Mrs. Peel, and the British MPs they were previously sheltering with are now all guests of the Hellfire Club in their lavish bunker.  Although most of the other guests seem pretty comfortable, Steed and Emma are worried that they’ve not seen Lord Bailey, General Crampton or Mr. Stanton, the other scientist, since arriving. Although our heroes don’t yet know it, we see the general being brainwashed by a member of the Hellfire Club.  She and her brother, both the offspring of Cartney, chat a bit about how Steed and Mrs. Peel will of course be the hardest to break but it’s worth it get revenge for father. Steed and Mrs. Peel work on a plan over a game of chess. Emma goes to talk to Miss Cartney about the missing general, and gets attacked.  Later Steed stumbles into another brainwashing session and is also taken out, but when he awakens, it’s revealed that his attacker was Mrs. Peel, decked out in a familiar outfit, her Hellfire Club leather and spiked collar.

More of the mystery is unraveled and new twists appear in the second issue of this story arc.  While it’s no shock that the Hellfire Club is up to no good, what their goals are and who the mysterious Dirigent is remain a mystery. Also a mystery is whether or not this story ties in some way to the Cartney time-travel story in issue #0.  I like that we don’t know (and I genuinely don’t remember if it does from my first reading of this series seven years ago). As with issue #0, I love that this story is taking elements directly from the series and expanding them on the page, especially since they’re using one of my favorite plot elements that the Avengers shares with X-men: the Hellfire Club.  Is Emma once again brainwashed or she pretending to gain the trust of the Club? Onward to Issue #3, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #3 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #3 of 11

Steed is hopeful that the leather-clad Mrs. Peel is simply undercover, but alas, that’s not the case as she sends him through a wall behind which the younger Cartney is enjoying his lavish Hellfire existence. Steed snaps Mrs. Peel out of her brainwashed state using some trigger words they had developed “after the first few times someone tried this.” After Emma knocks her brother out, Miss Cartney arrives with her henchmen leading Steed and Mrs. Peel to flee.  They commandeer a motorcycle (and a new outfit for Emma) and lead the Hellfire Club on a chase into the nuked out wasteland. After fighting hand to hand with Miss Cartney, Emma shoots a flare, signaling the British Air Force, who she and Steed had secretly been in contact with after figuring out that the nuclear attack was a hoax and they the MPs had been kidnapped and taken to the South China Sea. Steed and Mrs. Peel sail off into the sunset, and back at the Hellfire Club the Cartney brother plots his next move.

Thus concludes the first story arc in Steed and Mrs. Peel…sort of.  Although they’ve solved the mystery of the fake nuclear blast and London’s destruction, something tells me that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Hellfire Club in the least.  This one is the last issue for which Mark Waid did the story and Will Sliney the art, but luckily scriptwriter Caleb Monroe sticks around for the rest of the series. There’s a temptation to say that the story wrapped up too quickly, but honestly it felt right in line with the TV show, and the pacing of these three issues felt like the pacing of the hour-long episodes.  So what’s next for Steed and Mrs. Peel? Let’s find out!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #4 ** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #4 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel have been invited to a ball. In full fancy dress, they, along with many British dignitaries attend the masked party of author Lloyd Cushing.  As part of the evening’s entertainment, they meet Mr. Blackwell, an eccentric conductor accompanied by his two Butoh dancers. But a party can never be just that for our two heroes as they’re soon called upon to investigate the murder of a man who turns out to the the real Mr. Blackwell.  Trading her ball gown for more action oriented clothes, Emma joins Steed in the ballroom where all of the guests are now missing. Steed tracks them outside where the Butoh dancers are to blame for the mass exodus. Meanwhile Emma confronts the imposter conductor, who turns out to be the Hellfire Club’s hypnotist Dirigent from their prior island adventure.  Dirigent explains that he can manipulate high frequency sound to bend people to his will, but he’s no match for Emma. As Steed and Mrs. Peel continue their previously interrupted dance, we zoom out, all the way to out space where a satellite baring the Hellfire Club logo looms over us all.

Upon first glance, the is your typical post-story arc issue, a one-shot where the characters get to have a minor adventure and perhaps some fun before the next big thing.  But actually, this issue, although basically a one-shot, continues our Hellfire Club storyline and presumably is going to bridge the prior arc with the one to come in Issue #5.  Although this one has significantly less action than the last few issues, there are some really nice things happening in the dialogue, both between Steed and Peel and among the other characters.  I feel like this was perhaps Caleb Monroe’s chance to provide some of his analysis on the original show and characters, and as I fan, I really enjoyed reading it. Yasmin Liang takes over on artist duties for this issue, and although she doesn’t capture Steed and Peel’s expressions as perfectly as Will Sliney did, she’s a great addition to this story, and I’m excited to see how she tackles the action scenes that are surely coming in the next book.  So let’s get to it!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #5  **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #5 of 11

The fallout from last issue’s ballroom party gone awry continues as Steed and Mrs. Peel find out that his friend Trevor Seabrook has been arrested for a theft related to his wife’s disappearance from the party. The curious part is that the kidnappers tasked Seabrook with stealing a seemingly empty jar, but the truth is the jar contains something that has regenerative properties, which is of course of interest to the Hellfire Club’s Dr. Peter Glass, previously presumed to be dead.  Seabrook’s wife is returned, Steed and Mrs. Peel begin to piece things together, and Glass unveils a special piece of tech as this issue ends.

The interesting thing about this issue is that both everything and nothing happens, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like the prior issue, this one was low on the action but high on information that’s obviously leading to the next chapter in the Hellfire Club’s evil plans that Steed and Mrs. Peel are constantly working to unravel.  

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #6 **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #6 of 11

Through a flashback and conversation, Steed and Mrs. Peel reflect on the aforementioned Dr. Glass and his death, for which Steed was an eyewitness.  Seabrook’s wife is awake but only repeating the words “bleeding heart” so Steed and Emma decide to regroup. On the way, however, Emma is tricked by Glass’ assistant Jamie and kidnapped.  Meanwhile, Steed is nearly ambushed when inquiring about Seabrook’s stolen empty jar, but soon our heroes are reunited in Glass’ lair where it’s revealed that the mad doctor survived his untimely death using special goggles sported by three versions of Jamie that allow him to time travel. As Glass is apprehended, one of the Jamie’s slips away to inform someone on the other end of a video camera that this phase of the plan has failed.  Steed and Mrs. Peel end our issue reflecting on the practicality of time travel over a drink as a rocket launches on the horizon.

One of the things that I really love about this series is the layered story.  Each arc leads to another and contributes to a larger story. This is especially interesting because the show generally did not do this, but I wish it had.  All of that said, this wasn’t the most exciting arc. Granted, this issue had more action than the prior two, but the payout felt a bit weak. Although thinking of it in the grand scheme of a larger story makes even a weak arc feel important.  So let’s get to the next one, and hopefully we’ll find out who Jamie was talking to and what dastardly plans they have in store for Steed and Mrs. Peel.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #7  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #7 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel are sent to a small Welsh mining town to investigate an unprecedented wave of suicides. Posing as scientists (though Steed is the only one posing, as he points out), they begin their investigation by consulting with Dr. Mortimor, a psychologist specializing in suicide.  After tea with Moritmor, our duo walks back to the inn where they’re staying, taking the scenic route to stop by some of the scenes of the some of the crimes. On a seaside cliff where several people fell to their deaths, both Steed and Emma seem to lose control of themselves and nearly jump off the cliff, the other stopping them just in time. They of course realize that Dr. Mortimor and his terrible tea is to blame.  The evil doctor explains that he’s not a murder, merely an experimenter in the weaponization of suicide. Steed, Mrs. Peel and the gathering crowd of villagers are less convinced of this excuse.

What a breath of fresh air after that slightly lackluster last arc!  Although the story was a bit predictable, it shone because of both the art (great panel structure in this one!) and the writing.  We got a lot of great little moments of Steed and Emma quipping back and forth while working to solve the mystery, and these moments are golden.  I didn’t realize how much of this was missing from the prior issue until I read this one. The chemistry between them, both in the dialogue and the artwork, was so spot on, and this definitely felt like an episode of the show that I would have loved. With that, let’s see what our next issue has in store!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #8  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #8 of 11

The Cartney family is back!  Steed and Emma’s beachside holiday is interrupted with the news that Joan Cartney has been broken out of jail by a strange silver man.  While Steed and Emma investigate, knowing there’s more to this than meets the eye, the Cartney siblings are reunited with their father who is alive, but not well. Donning costumes to make them look like Steed and Emma, the younger Cartneys set out to fulfill their mission of killing our heroes by blowing up Steed’s flat, while their father undergoes a procedure to rejuvenate his body…as a Cybernaut.

With last issue’s palate-cleanser, I’m ready to dive into a new story arc, and this one sets up our story nicely.  It’s no surprise that the Cartney’s are back, and we learn that it was, indeed, them that Jamie was contacting in Issue #6.  As we set up our villain’s story, we once again get really cozy fun interactions between Steed and Peel, making me thinking that writer Caleb Monroe has gotten into the same comfort zone that Mark Waid began the series with.  I’m eager to see where the Cybernaut story is going so let’s get to the next issue!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #9  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #9 of 11

While Cybernaut Cartney shops for a suit, his children learn that even a bomb can’t take down Steed and Mrs. Peel.  The siblings’ bickering about what went wrong is interrupted when their intended victims confront them, and quickly things turn into a street fight (with swords!). The Cartneys get away, but of course that was the plan as Steed, harkening to the original Cybernauts TV episode, plans a transponder his umbrella which he allows them to escape with.  After a quick wardrobe change, Steed and Mrs. Peel head to the Hellfire Club’s base of operations where they spy General Seabrook smuggling army tech to the enemy. Although they’re able to sneak in undetected, Cybernaut Cartney uses his super strength to bust through a wall and grab our heroes.

With the last issue being mostly set up for the new story, I was worried this one would be more of the same.  But happily, this issue is heavily on wonderfully drawn action with some great dialogue to accompany it. The way the panels mimic the style in which the show was shot is a really nice touch and combined with the coloring gives the book such a great retro feel.  My only concern moving forward is that there are only two more issues, and I honestly can’t remember if the book ends at the conclusion of an arc or if we’re going to be left hanging. I guess there’s no way to find out until we get to the next issue….

AvengersComic10Steed and Mrs. Peel #10  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #10 of 11

Cybernaut Cartney is about to kill our heroes but Emma appeals to the villain’s hedonistic side, saying that if he kills them now, it’s all over. This is much to Joan’s chagrin as Steed and Mrs. Peel have been a thorn in her side for far too long, but father knows best…..only Cartney isn’t really her father. Joan and her brother discover documents in Cartney’s desk revealing that they’re a young married couple who went missing and were subsequently brainwashed by Cartney in what he calls, “my greatest practical joke of them all.” After her husband (formerly her brother) is killed by Cartney, Joan sneaks back to the prison to get help from a former ally.  Meanwhile Jamie is torturing Steed in the Hellfire Club dungeon forcing Emma to strike a bargain with Cartney – Steed’s life for her hand in marriage. The issue ends with Cartney presenting Emma to the rest of the Club as his fiance and the new Queen of Silver.

This issue has so much going on!  The reveal about the Cartney siblings (or rather the not Cartney, non-siblings) was really great.  I truly didn’t see that coming, and in addition to being a great twist, it packed an emotional punch.  Cartney’s line about this being “my greatest practical joke of them all” was an amazing touch. In this issue we get more about Cartney’s weird obsession with Emma, which is framed in both flashbacks and present moments, something I like because it really gives the reader the sense that Cartney is an absolutely twisted villain.  I also loved the touch of the Silver Court being introduced to the Hellfire Club. But my concern from last issues remains; there is a lot to resolve in one issue to wrap up both the arc and the series. I suppose the only way to know how that works out, however, it to read on.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #11 ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99   Boom Studios    #11 of 11

We open in a church where Cybernaut Cartney stands at the altar with a silver bedecked Mrs. Peel.  The officiant asks if there are any objections to the union, and right on cue, John Steed drives his car through the window of the church.  He shouts Emma’s trigger words, but she doesn’t need to be un-brainwashed this time, she was merely buying time for Steed. While a battle ensues in the church, Joan sneaks into the room containing John’s human body that’s feeding the Cybernaut and gives him the brainwashing serum, prompting the Cybernaut to seek out its human body to destroy it. Emma and Steed follow, and Emma uses the aging serum from all the way back in issue zero to prevent the Cybernaut from destroying human Cartney.  But alas, he dies shortly thereafter anyway. The issue ends with Joan escaping to make a better life, and Emma and Steed watching the sun set and reflecting on this latest chapter in their adventures together.

This issue does a pretty good job of wrapping things up.  Yes, the Steed crashing the wedding scene is ridiculous, but it fits the show quite well.  I really liked that the aging serum from issue 0 comes back into play, but the sequence of Cartney dying anyway was slightly confusing.  The ending with Steed and Emma watching the sunset was quite lovely, and I do like that the Hellfire Club story wasn’t so final that they can’t come back again in some future series.  Speaking of future series, Boom Studios would try for another arc in 2014 called Steed and Mrs. Peel: We’re Needed, but alas, what was to be a six issue series only made it three, and quite honestly those issues didn’t hold a candle to this series. Avengers22

Part of the reason I chose to cover this particular comic version of The Avengers is that, in my opinion, it’s the most faithful to the spirit of the show, and despite a few missteps, uses the structure of comics to create an ongoing story in a way that the show didn’t back in the 1960s (though I suspect a modern rendering would).  For our next update, we’ll be leaving the world of spies, but staying in the 1960s as Matt kicks of a month of Kaiju updates in anticipation of Godzilla: King of the Monsters with a look at Reptilicus. In the meantime, read a comic or three, and support your local horror host!

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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!

Hercules: The Turkey Day Wars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Destructor The Mighty Atlas Masked Crime Fighter!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  I think it’s once gain that time where we take a look at a character from the world of Atlas Comics.  For this update I chose the one and only Destructor to be the latest to get the update treatment! It’s always a great time looking back at the world of Atlas Comics as I really do think they are one of the best 70’s independent comic companies to be created to try and compete with Marvel and DC. In modern times, I would say that for me the companies that I find to be the best of the best in the world of Indie Comic publishers that I enjoy way more than DC and Marvel would be IDW, Eibon Press, Dynamite and of course my own company Sparkle Comics. Besides looking at The Destructor, I will also talk about a few things cool from my past and present. So if you’re ready to take a look at Destructor, let’s get our Atlas Comics on and take a trip with a hero who should still be around today!

When I was a youngster I was an occasional gum chewer, and while I was not like Violet Beauregarde from “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory,” chewing on some Bubblicious, Bubble Tape and Fruit Stripe while reading comics or watching cartoons was something I did from time to time. And for some reason one gum I really liked was a brand called Tongue Splashers that’s gimmick was that it would dye your tongue different colors. I can remember the gum’s taste was pretty gross as it tasted like dye and didn’t last long, but I will say that the blue ones were the best and had the best flavor of them all. As far as I know, this gum is no longer made and was such a 90’s thing. I just wanted to flashback a little and talk about it as I don’t see the topic of gum coming up any time soon here at Rotten Ink.

I have been listening to lots of music as of late and thanks to a customer at my job, I found out about this very cool record store online that releases classic 80’s Hair Metal/Glam bands on CD, and of course being a fan of this style of music, I had to place and order and check them out. The site is called Demon Doll Records, and the first band I chose to look at is Miami Riot and their 1990 release of Dirty Living In The City! The first thing I need to say is that by 1990, the music scene was starting to change and rock n roll was only one year away from the grunge rock boom started by Nevermind released by Nirvana and had many rockers trading in their hairspray for flannel shirts. But for Meatalheads like myself, I was sticking to my 80’s rock and stayed clear from the first big wave of grunge bands, and I have to give Miami Riot lots of credit for making this record so close to the big change that was on the horizon. This Florida band consists of Bobbie Apel doing lead vocals, Robin Wilde on guitar, Eric Vee on drums and Micki Lords on bass, and they look like a mix of Britney Fox and Poison, true glam rockers. Once I got the CD in my hands, I listened to it on my drive to and home from work and played it very loud, and was surprised about just how good Miami Riot is and how much they reminded me of early Motley Crue with a mix of Ratt, What I also liked about this release is that it’s not overly polished and holds a grimy feel to it that brings out the style of this music. Some of the best tracks on this release are the title track “Dirty Living In The City” plus “Rock N Roll Suicide” and “Boys Are Gonna Rock” are all solid tracks and deliver a true sound and song structure that only the 80’s hair glam bands could deliver. If you enjoy 80’s rock n roll, do yourself a favor and check out Miami Riot as well as Demon Doll Records as they both are worth your time and both are worth spending money on.

On June 8, 2018 along with my friends Josh Weinberg, Victor Bonacore, and his seven-year-old daughter Riley, I headed to Burns, Tennessee.  Montgomery Bell State Park was our goal as it was Ernest Day and this location was the filming site for his 1987 film Ernest Goes To Camp! The drive was long and took about 5hr 40min and the weather outside was in the 90’s, but the trip was worth it when we finally made it. Because we arrived early, Victor and I were able to chat with a super cool Ranger as well as few other cool people who made this event possible. We also got to take a picture with the Kamp Kikakee sign before the crowds showed up. Then we all went and got some food from a near by Wendy’s and waited until the event opened. Ernest Day was very cool and was a kid friendly event filled with all types of cool event like archery, canoe rides, hikes, arts & crafts, a birds of prey show, face painting plus of course turtle catapulting! Also they had some meet and greets with the likes of John Cherry, the creator and mastermind of the Ernest universe, as well as actors from the film. They also had a museum open that featured some props from the film as well as other amazing Ernest stuff. Plus many of the cabins as well as other locations used in the film were available to visit and hang out at, and we could go to the mess hall and eat as well as buy cool stuff like t-shirts and stickers. Besides hanging out with friends, one of the coolest moments of the day was meeting John Cherry, such a cool guy and a person along with the late, great Jim Varney helped make my childhood rule. I also really loved eating a hotdog and chips in the mess hall as it felt really cool and I imagined Ernest P. Worrell walking out from the kitchen with a big plate of Eggs Erroneous. I really enjoyed Ernest Day 2018 and even though the heat was killer, the staff and Rangers were all super cool and had free water all over the place. At some point, I will definitely make the long trip back, and if you’re an Ernest fan, do yourself a favor and go to this event. Below are some pics from this cool day, check them out and yep that’s me and John Cherry!

My pal Travis Hatch is an amazing bargain finder as he goes to thrift stores, garage sales, auctions and flea markets, and during his many hunts he has found me some really cool stuff from old Incredible Hulk toys all the way to amazing Halloween makeup kits. In June 2018, he found something very cool, an item that I had as a kid and one I really loved and wanted to get back when older, a Russ Vampire bendy toy! I can remember I first got this figure when I was a youngster living in Waynesville at one of the many antique shops.  The same day I got the Vampire, I also picked up the Mummy and had them battle each other on the walk back home. Over the years I am not to sure what happened to my original one. If I had to guess, it was given away to a cousin or even sold in a garage sale. But really quickly I wanted to thanks Travis for finding me another one as it good to see the hooded caped vampire once again in my home. I’ll now also have to keep an eye out for the Mummy as he needs to also come back home. Check him out below to see him in all his cheesy goodness. I should also note that Travis also found the super cool 70’s Frankenstein’s Monster puzzle that I am using as the background and gave it to me.

On June 28, 2018 Juliet and I stopped by Jet Freeze in Beavercreek as we had just gotten back into Ohio after a long trip and we both decided to treat ourselves to some ice cream! Plus I had to try the Blue Raspberry Ice Cream, that is also known as Smurf Ice Cream and was a staple of Kings Island back in the day and is now at Jet Freeze…the rain was coming down pretty good when we pulled in, and to our luck, due to the rain, they were not that packed so we ordered and I got a small cone of this Smurfy good treat. What a great flavor of Ice Cream as it took me back to the good old days of Kings Island when Hanna Barbara cartoon characters were kings of the park and at any moment you could see Yogi Bear or Fred Flintstone walking around taking pictures with guests. The ice cream tastes like a berry cream soda and is true nostalgic bliss and a great treat for a long day spent on the road driving home from Pennsylvania. Also if you live in the Dayton, Ohio area and have not tried Jet Freeze located in Beavercreek, make sure you do as next to the Dairy Corner that was in Waynesville, it was my childhood ice cream place. Oh and on a side note at Kings Island, the blue ice cream was also called Huckleberry Hound Ice Cream due to his color being the same as the ice cream.

With this being an update about a character who sadly went away before he could really take the comic book world by storm, I wanted to also briefly talk about one who never made it to print but looks like he would have been a very cool comic character and that’s Slug Slayer Of Darkness! As you long time readers know, there was a comic company from Minnesota called Dead Dog Comics, that was created by Chazz DeMoss among many other creators, that would be at Cinema Wasteland when I was there working for Independent B Movie or even Andy Copp. Their table was a must stop for me as I had to have the new issues they released. I always really enjoyed their Horror Comics and even bought many of their none-horror books and enjoyed them…but one comic that would have been cool but sadly never made it into printing production was Slug, a green skinned warrior from the past who returned to modern times in order to battle demons and save us from Hell of Earth and was very much in the vein of Spawn but loaded up with way more medieval weapons. The comic series was written by DeMoss and was to have art by Matt Munn that was very much a 90’s style and clearly Spawn, who was very popular at the time, inspired this unpublished character. So who knows, maybe one day this character will see the light of day soon or even I will be able to track down elements and do a full update about him! In my opinion characters really should never be forgotten. Check out the pics below to see what Slug and his logo looks like.

The Destructor is one of Atlas Comics’ most popular Superheroes who had many of the industry’s top free agents working on it including Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Larry Lieber and Archie Goodwin showing that Atlas meant business when delivering quality comics to readers. Just like all of Atlas Comics, this character had a world of potential and was a hero like no other as he started out as a low life thug and due to his father’s unselfish act, he gets a new lease on life and decides to use his life now to crush baddies. But even being an interesting character, he could not fight the biggest of all villains and that’s “Going Out Of Business” as Atlas closed its doors the same year this comic series was released. I first discovered The Destructor at Bookie Parlor as many of his issues were in the cheap bin.  I was hooked on reading Atlas Comics so I gobbled them up and would read them in my room or in the living room in front of the fireplace and after reading would tell my brother Bryan about him. At a young age, The Destructor always reminded me of Captain America mixed with a dash of Spider-Man and Daredevil. He could have easily been one of Atlas’s best Superhero characters and the one that could have fit perfectly in the Marvel Comics universe. I don’t want to get to deep into The Destructor’s character’s history as the comic reviews will do that. But I also really do think that Atlas Comics saw lots of potential in Destructor and he would have been a major player for them if the company would have lasted as all the talent were in place. So check out the pictures below to see our masked hero in all his glory!

So as you can see, The Destructor is a superhero who should still be busting heads of bad guys in comics, but sadly he could not defeat his greatest enemy the closing of his publisher. We are now at the time for the review of the comics, and I am really excited to revisit this series as they are ones I bought from the old local comic shop Bookie Parlor when I was a young teen. Sadly the old issues I had were sold off a while ago in order to get some money to help a young lady I was dating in my early 20’s who had some issues at her apartment…it’s sad I sold most of my comic collection, but I’m glad I was able to help someone. The issues I have here I was able to track down thanks to Bell Book And Comic, Mavericks Cards And Comics and Ohio Antique Mall who had issues in stock. I would also like to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready like me, let’s take a look at Atlas Comic masked superhero The Destructor! I want to also dedicate this update to Steve Ditko who sadly passed away on June 29, 2018 while I was working on this update. His art and inspiration will live on forever.

The Destructor # 1  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics       # 1 of 4

Max Raven is a crime boss of Harbortown and thinks that two bit hood Jay Hunter has seen too much and orders for him to be killed after leaving the hangout one night. Jay arrives home and talks to his father who is a scientist and has created a serum that heightens senses when the hitman enters and opens fire striking them both.  Before he dies, the father is able to give his serum to his son saving his life and making Jay rethink his life of crime. He decides to become the superhero his father always wanted him to be, known as costumed masked hero The Destructor! Max Raven has his hitman killed for not getting the job done, and Jay goes into hiding and goes out as Destructor to bring down Max’s operations one at a time.  This means war to the crime boss who calls in Slaymaster, a top underworld assassin! Max Raven sets up The Destructor at an old warehouse as Slaymaster is waiting inside and is able to get the jump on our hero, and bullets hits him in the shoulder and arm, but lucky for him the serum heals him faster. Slaymaster plays a game of cat and mouse with Destructor who in the end finally gets the upper hand and brings down the masked assassin. In the end Max Raven is set up by his own men who gun him down for losing all the rackets, and Destructor brings them all down and swears on the graves of his parents that he will be the superhero the world needs!

The first issue of The Destructor shows that besides Marvel and DC, Atlas Comics also knew how to do superheroes right in the 70’s! Our story is very simple: a young man who is heading toward a life of crime gets himself and his father shot and with both dying, his father is able to give his son a serum that heals him and gives him superhuman senses. Upon putting on a costume, he becomes a superhero and wages a one-man war with his former crime boss who is the man that wanted him dead. This comic series takes a lot from Spider-Man as both masked heroes think they have lead to the death of a loved one and now with new powers dedicate their lives to stopping any and all crime, great classic superhero stuff indeed. Jay Hunter is a young man who wants to make a name for himself in the underbelly of New Jersey and wants fast cash and respect and disrespects his father’s hard work in Science, but he makes a life change when his father is murdered and uses his own serum to save his life. Jay is also a young man who is plagued with guilt as he knows he is the cause of his dad’s death and wants to get revenge for it. As The Destructor, he is a crime fighting machine who busts heads, takes lives and cracks one liners! Destructor is very much into busting crime as he feels he owes it to his father and wants to make something better of himself. With his heightened senses he is strong, fast and can heal from wounds that should be fatal pretty fast. Our bad guys of this issue are Max Raven and his mobsters who are cutthroat and have no respect or loyalty even to each other. Max is cold blooded and once crossed will do anything to get his revenge of Jay Hunter…well that is until he dies from multiple gunshot wounds fired by his own men. Slaymaster is also a very cold blooded person who is the highest paid assassin in the world of crime.  This masked killer is skilled and is the boogie man among the scum he works for. But his skill doesn’t do him a world of good once he meets Destructor who makes short work of him and leaves him dead! The cover for this issue is amazing and the kind of comics I looked for when I was a kid and still do to this day. Plus I have to say that the interior art by Steve Ditko is top notch, and to me Ditko is just like Jack Kirby, a king in the world of comics. This first issue sets the bar high for the series as it captures what made Marvel Comics special at the time and adds its own flare and appeal to it. I loved this comic when I was a kid and it still holds up for me to this day. I can’t wait to read issue # 2 and see if it holds up as well.

The Destructor # 2  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 2 of 4

It’s a cold night in Harbortown, and Mr. Lash and his goons are on the docks trying to pull off their next heist when The Destructor shows up and busts some heads and gets a name from Mr. Lash on who is the true crime lord of New Jersey. The Destructor leaves Mr. Lash behind as someone emerges from the shadows and it’s clear our hero has been set up. The Destructor heads out into the night still thinking of his father’s murder and how he must right the wrongs of his life. He knows he must rid his town of crime and chase off The Syndicate crime family once and for all. Big Mike Brand is the name given as the main crime boss, and he lives in New Mexico, while the man with Mr. Lash is Deathgrip a killer with a metal hand that is amped up with power who has been told to kill Mr. Lash after the plan is set in motion and he does. Jay Hunter heads to New Mexico and is setting up Mike Brand by getting to know him via his daughter as Deathgrip is also in New Mexico to make sure Brand is dead and Destructor gets the blame. Jay ends up taking a job at Brand’s ranch and soon learns that Big Mike Brand is sick and that he has been set up and soon must come face to fist with Deathgrip who has kidnapped Brand’s daughter and is going to crush her in a compactor in an auto junkyard! Destructor has a brutal battle with Deathgrip who is strong and a good fighter.  Once Destructor is able to save Brand’s daughter he also tricks Deathgrip who in returns gets crushed to death in the compactor.

Issue two is also a very great read that captures the true spirit of superhero comics from the 70’s and is great work from the creative team who brought it to life. This issue has Destructor going to New Mexico in order to bring down a high-ranking crime boss or so he has been told, when in reality he has been set up by a mechanical hand madman who wants revenge on the sick crime boss and wants to kill the masked hero. This time around Jay Hunter is a man on a mission as he has been a crime fighter for about a month now and is still plagued by the death of his father. At this point he as well has used his brain and not just his fists to bring down crime. As The Destructor, he is on a mission to shut down as many baddies as he can and best of all he is able to, one racket at a time, with ease. Mr. Lash has taken over the crime scene in Harbortown and is a scumbag who helps set up Destructor and is part of a network in the Syndicate who wants to take over with a sub group, and for his deed he is also killed by his own side as they feel he is a failure. Big Mike Brand was once a crime lord who now lives in New Mexico with his daughter as well as his close friend and is in the processes of turning his entire former crime friends in. The issue’s main baddie is Deathgrip, a bold headed creep who has a metal hand that is enhanced with strength as well as extreme heat.  He also does not mind killing and is brutal in his ways of doing so. What’s cool about him is that he meets his end as brutally as he dealt death. Once more the cover is fantastic and has that great 70’s superhero look, and as always Steve Ditko’s artwork for the interiors is great and shows he really knows how to draw superheroes right! Over all the second issue helps build the world of Destructor and is a top notch read for fans who enjoy independent heroes.

The Destructor # 3  ***
Released in 1975      Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 3 of 4

The Syndicate is upset over the defeat and slaying of Deathgrip and blame Dr. Shroud, the creator of his mechanical hand for the defeat. They are also upset that this might slow down a plan they have called “Darkriver Project”, but he has an answer to their worries as he sends the laser whip slinging The Huntress and her two lions after Destructor. While back in New Mexico, Destructor drops off Angela Brand at the front gates of her father’s ranch and as she gets into it with her father for being a former crime boss, Destructor sneaks back into his room and passes out. Later that night Angela goes to Jay’s room and talks to him about all her fears and anger with her father plus all the lies she has been told her whole life, and Jay is starting to crush on the young woman. The next day as Destructor heads back to the junkyard looking for answers, he is tricked and gassed and taken to a valley in a cage to be hunted live via remote cameras by Huntress, her two lions and her assistant Lobo for the crime bosses who are watching! The odds are against Destructor as he takes damage from the lions that he ends up knocking out and tries his best to dodge Huntress’s laser whip, and when Lobo goes rogue and tries to kill Destructor on his own, he is quickly tricked and beat leaving him and Huntress alone to go hand to hand that leaves Destructor tricking Huntress and having her fall to hear death! Destructor escapes the room and finds the crime bosses and beats many of them up before escaping into the night.

The third issue is fantastic and once more has a real Amazing Spider-Man feel to it as the plot has our hero being trapped and hunted by a villain that is deadly and skilled with a laser whip. Jay Hunter in this issue is torn on bringing down Mike Brand as he knows the old man is near death’s door and is trying to make a change, as well as Jay is starting to get a crush on the crime lord’s 19 year old daughter. As Destructor, he has the odds once more stacked against him as he must survive being the prey in a human hunt that’s being done by a skilled hunter and her animals and sidekick, but like before, he uses his power and brain to bring down the bad guys and save his butt. Dr. Shroud is a mad scientist who seems to hold some power in the crime world and is the mastermind of most of the attacks on Destructor as well as the powers the super villains have. The Huntress is a powerful and skilled hunter and fighter who looks at Destructor as the ultimate prey, and she enjoys having her great cats and her hulking sidekick Lobo on her side to help in the hunt. Plus she is very much dangerous and a great threat to our hero. I like the side story going that Jay is falling in love with the daughter of an ill crime boss that he is torn on if he should bring him down. Plus I love how Huntress is clearly inspired by Kraven The Hunter who is a master hunter who always tries to hunt Spider-Man, it’s clear to this comic reader that Destructor is Atlas Comics version of the wall crawler spiced up. The cover and interior art both once more are amazing and great stuff for fans of classic hero comics. This issue is a great and makes me look forward to revisit the fourth and final issue in this series, so let’s get to it.

The Destructor # 4    **1/2
Released in 1975      Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 4 of 4

Destructor is hiding in a cave in New Mexico when two hired guns come looking for him to collect a bounty that was put on his head. While taking out the goons, he meets three strange humans who have weird powers calling themselves The Outcasts. The Eye, Sister Siren and Kronus take Destructor against his will to their hideout deep in the cave. Once in the cave hideout, Kronus tells Destructor about the underground city’s history that includes scientists trying to hide from the atomic weapons nations collected as well as murder of the people who funded this city by the scientists over nuclear energy! The Destructor listens to the tale and starts to feel for these oddly powered freaks and thinks that he himself might fit in their world as he like them has these powers and fights for what he thinks is right. While above ground, the Army tests an atomic bomb underground and the radiation hits the underground city and soaks them all in rays. Destructor finds that he has the power now to fire power blasts from his hands, and, along with The Eye and on the orders of Kronus, he goes above ground to take out the armies radar as The Outcasts are now at war with the army to stop the atomic bomb tests.

The fourth and final issue, like all of Atlas Comics we have looked at, ends in the middle of a storyline that never has seen the light of day due to the company closing. The story in this final issue as well goes away from the crime bosses and trades them in for weird underground mutants with powers. The plot is straight from the pages of Science Fiction comics as well as movies as it follows Destructor in an underground city befriending a race of freaks that need his help to keep their society safe from the terrible military who are testing bombs underground. I need to talk about The Outcasts first as I don’t trust them as their sinister glances at each other comes off as if they are playing our hero like a fiddle. Plus they all have weird powers like Sister Siren can sing a song that gets into your brain and Kronus can send you to another dimension. They are shady and again I would not trust them. Destructor, who has a price on his head, finds himself in a war between the army and the Outcasts and he easily tricked into becoming a foot solider for Kronus, plus due to radiation he now has the power to fire blasts from his hands making his superpowers even more powerful. And this is the thing I really liked, the masked hero taking on crime in the city and the criminals hiring weird masked bad guys to take him on…what I don’t like as well is the sci-fi direction this final issue went as I feel it changed the character and the world it had created in past issues by adding underground super powered freak beings who felt like something Jack Kirby would have added in a random issue of Fantastic Four. Plus this leaves us on a cliffhanger as Destructor and The Eye are heading to the military base to bring down their radar and we never know if they made it or not! I really wished that Atlas Comics would have lasted longer on the comic racks as they did deliver quality comics that had good stories and cool art and should have been the third biggest comic company then and even still now. I would also say that hands down I would put Destructor in my top three comic heroes from Atlas Comics as I find him interesting and his short time in the world of comics has held up with me as I find them all to be very well done and make for great reads. The cover for this issue as well is great and not to even mention that Steve Ditko’s artwork is amazing and makes me miss they days of that style art in comic books. Over all if you’re a fan of classic superheroes, the art of Ditko or just looking for a vintage comic series to read I would recommend Destructor! Check out some of the artwork from this comic series done by the icon Steve Ditko.

I know it sounds weird, but I really do think about what would happen if comic and movie companies had stayed in business and what amazing projects they would have unleashed. Atlas Comics has always been one I think about as I really do think they had some great characters and many of their comics ended on cliffhangers. But we all can’t live in the past, and we readers just are not meant to know what fate was in store for Destructor. For our next update we are leaving the world of Destructor behind and entering the world of Horror as we take a look at the 2006 film Driller! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See ya next update for a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic spooky good time.

American Hero: Captain America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War Ready: The Robotic Tale Of Pacific Rim

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, friends and readers.  This month at your local cinema, the second film in the Pacific Rim series called “Pacific Rim Uprising” will be released and once more has giant robots taking on Kaiju in order to save the world from destruction.  This film series is a part of the Legendary Pictures Monsterverse world, making these characters in the same world as King Kong and Godzilla! This update will be a quick one and will just add to the excitement of the film’s release. So let’s climb into this giant robot made out of old metal mop buckets and Campbell soup cans and get war ready to fight the giant Kaiju and save this blog from their invasion.

So before we dive too deep into the world of fighting giant monsters with giant robots, we should first take a look at the first film that not only inspired the sequel now in theaters but also the comic mini series that we will be reviewing today. I will be taking the movie’s plot from the good folks at IMDB, and after, I will give my thoughts about seeing the film in the theater and the impact it has had on my friend Jeremy Hoyt!

Pacific Rim (2013)

“When monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot and an untested trainee  – who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.”

When this movie’s trailer first appeared at the theaters and on the internet, I was pretty hyped for it as I love giant monster movies and wanted to see what this film had to offer in the way of destruction and creature designs. And while I enjoy giant robots, I am not a fanatic about them nor am I a super fan of the film work of Guillermo del Toro who I find good but not fantastic like many of my friends do. I went into the theater with an open mind, armed with a blue ICEE and a medium popcorn, and was ready to watch giant robots fight giant monsters alongside my pal Josh Weinberg. After watching the movie, I can remember both Josh and I just thinking that the movie was entertaining but nothing too special. I really did enjoy the look of the Kaiju, and the look of the giant robots were very well done.  What I didn’t enjoy is all the drawn out human aspects of the film that were laced with what I call Independence Day speeches given by characters to unify the troops. While I enjoyed the first film, I was in no way a super fan and am looking forward to checking out the sequel at my local theater. On the other side of things, my pal Jeremy Hoyt loved the movie and enjoyed every second of it. I must also say that some of his favorite comics and cartoons in the world are Transformers so I think he just really likes giant robots! Like all good movies, lots of merchandise was released for fans of this film, including the soundtrack, comics, novel, toys, shirts and posters. Personally, the only merch I got was the movie on DVD and the comics. So while I enjoyed Pacific Rim and the world it created, I would by no means say that I am a mega fan but am looking forward to the sequel.

The major threat of this film series are the Kaiju, who are engineered by beings from another universe and are sent to Earth via a portal with the sole goal of killing all of humankind. So in other words, these giant monsters were created to be a biological weapon to use against the enemies of their creators. There are all types of Kaiju, all with different appearances, powers, and strength, and each are major threats in their own ways. Some of the different Kaiju include Knifehead, Onibaba and Hammerjaw, to name a few. These monsters use their giant size and powers to destroy any thing or robot that gets in their way. But they can be stopped by the Jaeger, who are the giant robots controlled by two human pilots that are Earth’s only hope of survival. While it’s not been made official (and this is just a theory and wild guess by me), I think soon you will see the Pacific Rim Kaiju and Jaeger mixed into the world of Godzilla and King Kong that Legendary Pictures has established. So as you can see, the Kaiju are very dangerous and very much your typical giant monsters that are infused with powers thanks to science. Below are some pictures of some of the Kaiju from Pacific Rim, so check them out.

So as you can see these Kaiju are a force to be reckoned with and thank the heavens that for the Pan Pacific Defense Corps and their Jaeger drivers for keeping the world safe from these threats. But now we are at the point of this review where we will be looking at the comic books, and I chose Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift for my reviews.  While a graphic novel based on Pacific Rim was released in 2013 called Pacific Rim: Tales From The Year Zero years before Tales From The Drift, I wanted to read a mini series of floppy issues and not a GN. I want to thank Mavericks and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock, and weirdly enough I’ve had most of this mini series for years and just now have sat down and read them.  Here is to hoping it’s a solid and fun read! I want to also remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, it’s time to witness the Tales From The Drift!

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 1  **
Released in 2015     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 1 of 4

Duc and Kaorl are a husband and wife that control the Jaeger known as Tacit Ronin. During a fight with a massive Kaiju, they are injured when the beast continues his attack. We flashback to when Duc and Kaorl first meet when Duc manned a helicopter that saved a sub that Kaorl was in that was gathering data on the breach line that the Kaiju use to enter our world. When we cut back to modern times, Duc and Kaorl are injured, and their robot is being filled with radioactive gas. Their Jaeger Tacit Ronin is being dragged into the breach line, and they are clearly loosing the battle and their lives if they do not get help!

This first issue is a mix of drama, action, horror and romance as we follow a husband and wife team who are in the battle for their lives against a massive Kaiju, who is brutal in his attack. As our main characters are being beaten up, they have a flashback to what looks like their first meeting that lead to their romantic link. Our heroes Duc and Kaorl are likable based on what little we know about them as they both love their jobs, they both would risk their lives to finish their jobs and they seem to really love each other even if their first meeting went bad. The Jaeger they power, Tacit Ronin, seems like a powerful machine but to be honest, it gets taken down and beat up pretty easily and it almost seems like they should not have been sent in to fight the monster alone. The Kaiju himself is big, mean, filled with hate and does what he was created to do, smashes and tries to kill what ever gets in his way. This issue is very thin plotted, and the story is a little all over the place as we go from modern to flashback to modern to flashback and so on with no clear reason or explanation. The characters seem like wooden generic action characters that say silly lines to each other and have over all bland personalities. The battle between Jaeger and Kaiju is one sided and makes our heroes seem like failed fools as they seem lost for the most part on how to repower the robot and get the toxic gas out of their area. Now I know it sounds like I didn’t like this first issue, but I did enjoy it as it had good art from Marcelo Maiolo, who has a very modern independent comic style. The cover is also well done and very eye catching for fans of the film, and seeing a giant robot fight a giant monster is still cool no matter how one sided the fight is. Over all, this is a middle of the road comic that is not terrible and is not amazing.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 2  **
Released in 2015     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 2 of 4

Duc and Kaorl are in serious trouble as they are slowing losing energy from the gas that has filled their control room, and the Jaeger they command Tacit Ronin is taken a beating. The pair drift in and out of consciousness as they flashback to being forced to act as a team in order to fight the giant Kaiju that threaten the world, and how at first they could not stand even being around each other but they ended up coming to respect each other. Back in current times, the Jaeger Coyote Tango comes to their aid so they can retreat and get out of Tacit Ronin as soon as possible so they do not die from the gas. But when Coyote Tango starts to lose the fight with the Kaiju, Duc and Kaorl use all the strength they can in order to attack the Kaiju with one massive blow. But this act of heroism leaves Duc passed out and possibly dead!

This second issue has our heroes at death’s door from not only the Kaiju’s attack but also because the toxic gas is zapping them of life! The plot in this issue is paper thin and has our heroes getting their butts kicked and thinking back to them being brought together to be a team and then risking their own lives in order to help their fellow Jaeger drivers. Duc and Kaorl in this issue are pretty much still cool characters who lack an real depth besides the fact that now they care for each other but in the past they did not. The Kaiju is doing what he does best, trying to kill and destroy,  is just like the last issue. Coyote Tango is there to help, but we really know nothing about him nor do we even get to see who his controllers are. This second issue, while entertaining, is very weak on story and delivers nothing really new to the story as most of this just feels like rehashed plots from issue one just spiced up a little with different situations. The cover for this issue I feel is a little weak and does not really deliver in the eye catching department and the interior art by Marcos Marz seems just slightly more sloppy and rushed in this issue. Over all there’s not much to talk about as this second issue just kind of putts along and delivers another middle of the road comic issue in this mini series.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 3  **
Released in 2016     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 3 of 4

Duc and Kaorl have survived the battle, but their powerful blow to the Kaiju has left both Jaegers, the Coyote Tango and Tacit Ronin, down for repairs. While recovering in the hospital, the husband and wife team are told by Captain Stacker Pentecost that they have been discharged from the Pan Pacific Defense Corps as going back in to control a Jaeger would overload their brains and kill them. As Kaorl and Duc try and deal with early retirement, a massive Kaiju starts to attack and destroys the only ready Jaeger, Victory Alpha, with ease. With many of lives of innocent people in the balance, Stacker must reinstate Duc and Kaorl who have volunteered to put their lives on the line in order to wait for back up from Japan to save the lives of many.

This third issue sets up that our heroes Duc and Kaorl all in one day are forced into retirement due to injury that would leave them dead if they try and pilot a Jaeger to, by the end, forcing their old boss to put them back on duty in order to save innocent lives that are now in danger because of a Kaiju attack. The story in this issue is a little better as it gives our heroes a real time to shine as they would rather die themselves than to stand by and do nothing as people die around them. It’s very weird because while they have not flushed out really real personality for Duc and Kaorl, as a reader, I have found myself cheering for them in every issue! Captain Stacker Pentecost is a man with lots of pride and hates the fact that he had to discharge his friends and later has to risk their lives in order for them all to do their jobs. Victory Alpha, the only Jaeger in the area and the only hope for the people around, is truly outclassed as the monster smashes him to bits. A team of a brother and sister are controlling him, and they do manage to escape the robot before it’s smashed! The Kaiju in this issue is called Ragnarok, and he is one bad monster who has multiple arms and is ready to smash and kill anyone that gets in his way. Nice to see that the plot for this third issue at least thickened and seemed to have gone somewhere different and, as I stated before, gave the main characters a little more personality. The cover for this issue is kind of bland and reminds me of some lame space romance title Image Comics would have released. The interior art once more is done by Marcos Marz and is good with once more a few panel and pages seeming a little rushed. Over all this was once more a middle of the road issue in this comic mini series that is nothing too special.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 4  *1/2
Released in 2016     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 4 of 4

Duc and Kaorl enter Tacit Ronin and go out to face Ragnarok, who is also ready for another battle. Our heroes give it everything they have and battle the giant beast pushing it back to the water and away from the city all the while hammering and cutting the giant monster trying to slow him down. But sadly as they fight the monster, they themselves are taking massive damage and are slowly killing themselves. As they get weaker, they know they have to kill the monster and do just that by cutting him in half, but this brave act also leaves them dead and the world lost some true unselfish heroes. Our tale ends with the pair being buried, and the world knowing what they did for them.

This last issue is just one massive battle issue that has lots of splash panels and fight scenes that are chaotic, and at times you are not so sure what you’re looking at. This final issue’s plot has our heroes going into war one last time and giving their lives in order to save others. I have to say this because it’s really how I feel, Tales From The Drift could have been wrapped up nicely in two issues but seems to have been dragged out so that Legendary Comics could get enough pages in order to do a graphic novel as this mini series plot was super thin and lots of pages seemed to be taken up with filler and plot elements that went nowhere with the flashbacks being the worst for this. Duc and Kaorl are cool character who were great heroes in the story, and while likable, they sadly fell into being generic style science fiction heroes.  While they died heroes, they were just not written well over all. The Jaegers felt like after thoughts in this series with all of them until the last fight getting their butts kicked and all seeming like they would never have stood a chance against the monsters. Another thing I hate to say is while Ragnarok was a powerful Kaiju, his look was super cheesy and reminded me of a Power Ranger baddie. The cover on this issue is pretty cool and looks more like two astronauts looking into the face of Satan in Hell than a moment from Pacific Rim. Marcos Marz’s art in this issue is kind of bland and was nothing special, and while some might think it’s good, it’s definitely not a style I can say I really like. Over all as a long time comic reader who really enjoys comics based on films, I have to say that Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift was nothing special and was kind of a drawn out bland generic story that was made in order to cash in on the film’s fans and to get a graphic novel in comic and book stores. While I didn’t hate this mini series, I can’t say I was a fan and would only suggest it to diehard fans of Pacific Rim. Check out the artwork below to see the style of Marcos Marz, and see what you think of his work.

While I feel that this comic mini series does fit well into the movie universe that Pacific Rim has created for itself, I found these comic issues to be very slow and have a lackluster plot. But while this comic series was not all that great, I am still very much looking forward to seeing Pacific Rim Uprising at my local cinema. It’s time to leave the Jaegers and Kaiju behind as our next update will be another in my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” series and will feature the newly released comic based on the 1990 film Ghoul School that was released by Seduction Cinema Comics under their new branch called Camp Comix! I am very much looking forward to this update as I have always enjoyed this sadly mostly forgotten shot on video gem! 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 as the bell is ringing and Ghoul School will be in session!

Body Count The Forgotten Horror Series From Aircel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry for being so long winded; it’s just I really do think that it’s a great time to be not only a horror comic reader but also just a comic reader in general. And I really do feel that horror comics have a bright future with many of these companies turning out very high quality comics that are well written and well drawn driving the market back up for the independents. But let’s get focused on the comic I have chosen to review for this spooky epic update and that’s Body Count, a silly horror comedy comic that I discovered at Mavericks Cards And Comics when I was a teen and bought and read and enjoyed for the wacky killer and the large chested heroine…oh and the over the top kills. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for making this update possible and having these issues in stock so that I could own them again and cover for this review. So if you’re ready, check your brain and taste at the door and let’s dive into a late 80’s and early 90’s horror comic that will have you screaming with fear and laughing after with joy. I also want to note that even as a youngster I never could find the 4th and final issue so this will be my first time reading how this story ends! Oh yeah I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story! So lets take a look at Body Count!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NES Challenge: King Kong 2

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and another NES Challenge.  This time around in honor of my favorite giant movie monster King Kong coming back to the silver screen in “Kong: Of Skull Island,” I decided to try my luck at beating King Kong 2 from Konami on the good old RES! I am sure many of you are scratching your head and saying “King Kong 2 that was never made for the Nintendo, this must be a homebrew game!” This is only half true as the game was made by Konami for the Famicon in Japan and thanks to the team up of my friend Brett from Bad Or Rad, Pac N Sac Dave and Todd The Fox, I was able to get a custom version of this game that plays on all American systems and even has a custom box and label! So sit back, relax and take a trip with me as I look back on King Kong Lives and try to beat King Kong 2 on the good old RES!

So before we play the game, let’s discuss a little more about King Kong 2 that’s American title is King Kong Lives!

King Kong Lives (1986)

“A giant ape King Kong, which was shot and fell off the World Trade Center tower, appears to be alive, but is in coma for 10 years and desperately needs a blood transfusion in order to have an artificial heart implanted. Suddenly, in the rainforest, another gigantic ape is found – this time a female. She is brought to the USA, and the heart is successfully implanted. But then King Kong, having sensed the female ape, breaks loose.”

When I heard about a new King Kong movie in 1986, I was hyped as the giant monkey has always had a special place in my heart, but I would not get to see the film in theaters as my parents had no interest in seeing it.  In fact, my Dad made fun of the concept of King Kong living with a over sized pace maker. So I would not get to see it until it appeared on Home Video, and I will get to my thoughts after we touch a little on the films history and production. The De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, headed by the famed movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, decided that after the hit King Kong remake they made in 1976 the world needed a sequel ten years later, and so King Kong Lives was put into production and unleashed onto the movie going masses. The film had John Gullermin in the director’s chair again as he was for the 1976 remake, and the film cast such actors as Linda Hamilton, Brian Kerwin, John Ashton and Michael Forest and had a huge marketing campaign around it before and during its release. The film’s score was done by John Scott and is solid work; while not memorable, it’s still good. The film was a major flop when released in theaters, and critics and fans both panned the film for the silly storyline and its overall “boring” nature. Famed and respected film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1 out of 4 stars and as of this update it holds a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes! The film had a budget of $18 million and only brought in $4,711,220.00 making it lose lots of cash.  It was # 113 of the year, only beating out such other cult films as “No Retreat, No Surrender”, “The Wraith”, “Deadtime Stories” and “Night Of The Creeps” at the box office. And while before it hit theaters it had a massive roar, once in it went out with a whimper.

When my parents rented King Kong Lives for my brother and I, I can remember I was pretty hyped to watch it as the box cover was amazing and had King Kong looking pissed off on it! When watching the film, I can remember my brother not being into it as I was glued to it with wonder.  While the film was not good, in my young mind it didn’t matter as on our TV screen was a new adventure of Kong! As a kid I always took that stand with bad movie sequels: at least we got to see the character again.  Sadly I still have that thought pattern to this day with some films like Halloween, which had some bad sequels under its belt, all of which I enjoy. After seeing King Kong Lives for the first time via a VHS rental, I would go on to watch it on cable tons of time as well as on TBS when shown edited for TV. And later on, I would go on to own it on both VHS and DVD and still dust this silly movie off from time to time and enjoy Kong’s rampage to save his lady. The things I really like about this film are that King Kong, Lady Kong and Son Of Kong look great for the time, and the rubber suits, while dated now, captured my young imagination! Another thing I liked about the film is the quick shot of actress Linda Hamilton’s boobs; as a kid that was always a highlight! I also liked the score music and the scenes when King Kong took on the army. The downside of this film for me was the fact that in many spots it does drag, and at times it seems to forget that viewers are watching to see King Kong.  The other part that’s silly is how they explain that Kong is still alive after falling off the World Trade Center and must have a pacemaker put in so that his heart will function, only to die of a heart attack in the end. While King Kong Lives is not a perfect sequel and is riddled with silly scripting and flaws, I still find it to be a fun entertaining film that I enjoyed from my past. If you have not seen it, go in with a clear mind and enjoy King Kong doing what he does best and that’s be a giant gorilla on a rampage.

While the film was a flop, it still sparked some merchandise that includes the film itself being released on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD. Plus the Famicom game “King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch” was released and entertained the gamers of Japan. Movie posters for the theaters and for video rental stores were made to try to entice movie watchers to check it out. The score soundtrack to the film found its way to vinyl, cassette and CD, and yes indeed, I own the CD and have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO! These are just the items I can think of that came out based on this film, as I am sure other merchandise was made, official and unofficial! I wish at the time of release that a comic book adaptation, paperback novel and action figures were made as I would have loved to have owned them all. So if you’re a fan of King Kong Lives, there is some cool stuff that you should add to your collection.

In 1986, to go along with the film King Kong Lives, video game company Konami decided that the world was in need of a video game version.  So they made King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch to satisfy the demand from gamers in Japan that wanted a game based around the film. The game allows players to take control of King Kong as he goes on a rescue mission to save Lady Kong from the government scientist and must battle the army as well as other large creatures in a top down maze adventure that lasts for a total of nine levels. The goal of course is to rescue Lady Kong who is the love of your life and who also saved your life by giving blood when you were in a coma for 10 years. The game was not a major hit in Japan and never made it to the US for a release. I should also note that a game based on King Kong Lives was also made in 1986 for the MSX home computer called “King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu,” once more only for Japan and also made by Konami.  This time around you played as the human Mitchell, and it was a role playing game! While neither game set the world of video games on fire, they still left their mark for gamers who have played them.

So we have taken a look at King Kong Lives the movie, and we learned about the video game that I am about to challenge and hope to conquer! I have failed at trying to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior and Adventures Of Bayou Billy for the NES, but I am going into this game with a positive attitude and the will to beat this game! So here it is, my NES Challenge: King Kong 2!

I selected the day March 7, 2017 to have my showdown as the weather outside was in the 50’s and rain fell most of the day with grey skies in between. After running a few errands that involved Sparkle Comics business I filled up my glass with water and heated up a chicken leg and was ready to save Lady Kong! Once settled into my chair I turned on my RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) and grabbed my NES Controller and was ready to save Lady Kong. I started my adventure and punched and jumped my way through what looks like a valley leading to a military base that is protected by green blobs and collected rocks and also found hidden doors! Each of these doors led Kong to a new area and finally to a giant bad guy who reminded me of a shell throwing shells! After dying and wandering around some more, I ended up finding a giant spider to get another key in my quest! My next challenge was fighting three green dragons who wanted me dead, but thanks to my trust rocks that was not on the menu! So far in the game I was feeling pretty good, while I did die a few times I was doing really well and collecting the keys and stomping out enemies with my punches, jumping stomps and rocks. I was also puzzled as to why the underground levels looked like the military base was an alien star ship, but I guess they needed to spice it up to make the video game pop more. After wandering around more and smashing and jumping over things I kept on my goal of collecting keys and smashing monsters! While wandering around the same areas and going into doors that lead nowhere was the majority of the game up to this point, I would get lucky and find a door that would lead to a enemy. The areas would change as I found myself also wandering the streets and smashing things, but mostly I found myself just jumping over bad guys to usher Kong into the next area and collecting more keys. Finally after a few hours of playing, I was lucky enough to make it to the end and fight three rows of giant robots that my rocks helped me smash through and after beating them I was at the door and rescued Lady Kong! In the end, I got a cool cut scene of King Kong and Lady Kong back on Skull Island and it shows Son Of Kong! Finally I did it! I conquered a NES Challenge and beat King Kong 2, and I find this to be a perfect way to celebrate the release of Kong Of Skull Island in theaters! While the game was somewhat of a challenge I found it to be more puzzling than hard as most of the game I found myself just wandering around looking for the right doors. The enemies of the game were hard with the final three rows of bosses being the most difficult. To sum it up, this game is worth playing if you like King Kong and movie tie-in games otherwise it would be very forgettable to most gamers besides diehard Kong fans. But once more I have to say…I did it!

The majority of this game offers the same enemies, blobs and helicopters, but some of the bosses at least put up a good fight! So here is to all of the military forces, the blobs and all the bosses that did their best to keep me away from rescuing Lady Kong. So while they didn’t stop me, here is to all the bad guys from this game who tried their best to keep me at bay; from the weird Shell Monster all the way to the three rows of suited assassins, thanks for making this game a challenge! Below are some pictures of the bad guys from King Kong 2, and I should also note NONE of these baddies are in the movie.

I also just wanted to touch up on one bit of King Kong bizarre news before we get to the comics.  For the premiere of Kong: Skull Island in Vietnam, they had a huge event planned that showcased live actors & dancers and a huge set complete with a 16 foot King Kong! There was dancing and a light show, and for the main attraction the giant King Kong was to shock and fill the crowd with wonder and excitement, but sadly it filled them with fear as King Kong burst into flames and became a towing inferno as the crowd fled the area while others armed with their cellphones took video and pictures of Kong burning to the ground! Lucky for everyone, no one was hurt, and the massive fire was put out 15 minutes after it started, but sadly by that time old King Kong was roasted and toasted. No one is sure how the fire started some say that it was caused by the heat from the lights, others claim that it was a misplaced torch from one of the actors on stage while others blamed Godzilla! One thing is for sure that while King Kong might have turned to ash his box office draw is legendary…you get it…never mind. Check out the picture below for the flaming Kong in all his glory.

So with a win under my belt, I think it’s time we put away the RES and turn our attention toward the main attraction of my blog the comic book reviews! While doing this update, I thought long and hard about which King Kong Comic series I wanted to tackle.  I really had three choices: the 1991 King Kong adaptation from Monster Comics, the 2007 mini series by Markosia or the current 2016 series going on by Boom, and to be honest, I almost considered the 2017 comic series by Legendary that ties into the film Kong Skull Island! After sitting and thinking about it all, I decided to go with the Markosia series called “Kong King Of Skull Island” as I felt it was a wise choice and added new adventures for King Kong to go in the comic book world. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for ordering me these issues years back for my pull file, and I can hear the Kong worshipers telling me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready let’s walk away from the video game and head through the giant wooden gates and into the world of comics and see what King Kong has in store for us! I should also note that I really do love King Kong and when he clashes with Godzilla for Legendary Pictures in 2020, I will be cheering on the big gorilla as he has always been one of my favorite giant movie monsters, and that’s no disrespect to Godzilla as I love him as well….just not as much as Kong. Oh and I want to also alert you my friends and readers that this comic series is based on the novel by Joe DeVito who tried to sue Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures as he claimed they stole his idea for their movie from his book! Did they who knows but one things for sure I am looking forward to reading this comic series again and some issues for the first time!

Kong King Of Skull Island # 0  **
Released in 2007    Cover Price $1.99    Markosia    # 0 of 5

Carl Denham is on a massive ship on his way back to Skull Island after the events of New York that left King Kong dead and his reputation dragged through the mud and piled with lawsuits against him. His friend Englehorn is the Captain of the ship an they are remembering back to their first time on Skull Island when a pterodactyl attacks and picks up Denham and once over the ocean a giant sea monsters pops out of the water and attacks the pterodactyl causing Denham to plunge into the cold water below.

Issue 0 acts as a very small build up for the comic mini series and follows Carl Denham and Captain Englehorn heading back to Skull Island after King Kong was shot down and killed on top of the Empire State Building. While on this journey back dinosaurs attack and leave Denham floating in the ice cold water, leaving us the reader wondering how he will survive and just why he has left America in order to return to Skull Island. Carl Denham in this issue seems lost and upset over the death of Kong and all the lawsuits he faces from New York, but while down and out he seems very happy to be at sea along with his friend Captain Englehorn whom seems not to be judging him on the incident.   Captain Englehorn seems to be just along for the ride even if he doesn’t want to go near Skull Island again he is willing to do so to help his friend. This issue has some drama and action but is a little weak as with no Kong and mostly talking on the boat its does not have the “epic” feel that most King Kong comics and films have. The cover is eye catching and has Kong looking over Skull Island and the interior art done by Dan O’Connor is fantastic as is the story by Chuck Satterlee based on the novel work of Joe DeVito. Not much more to say about this very short issue 0 besides it good and does it’s best to build up the coming story.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 1  **1/2
Released in 2007     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 1 of 5

The year is 1957 and Vince Denham the son of Carl is a paleontologist who doubts that his dad’s discovery King Kong ever truly excited and was nothing more than a hoax. His friend Jack Driscoll witnessed Kong and tries his best to prove and tell what he knows about the event that shocked New York as Kong’s body has been missing and never seen again and he wants them both to travel to Skull Island and see the legend for himself. Jack Driscoll takes Vince to the island and things get bad when the massive ship takes some damage and needs major repairs. As Jack and some of the crew work on the ship Vince and others take a row boat to the island but don’t make it to shore when they are attacked by a underwater creatures that leaves the crew dead and Vince badly injured. Jack himself makes it to the Island and goes on a hunt to find Vince and comes across the bodies of past explores as Vince is having his wounds treated by a Islander story teller and her young female assistant and neither will tell Vince of his fathers whereabouts.

This first issue tries to bring us up to date on the characters from the classic film. Ann and Jack are now married and Jack owns his own shipping boats, Carl Denham has went missing some time back and his son Vince is wanting to find his father and get answers about King Kong. Captain Englehorn is also missing and no one seems to be on the look out for him. And King Kong’s body has gone missing after his tragic death in New York and some think he was nothing more than a hoax. The plot of this issue has Vince getting family friend Jack to take him to Skull Island to find answers and all he has found this far is wounds and weird Islanders who will not answer his questions. Vince Denham seems like a young man who had his life in order and loves his job as a paleontologist but also seems to have a black spot on his soul, as he really wants answers from his father who has vanished and left him and his mother to answer for the crimes he committed with Kong. Jack Driscoll is a man who is loyal to the Denham family and found his true love thanks to the original trip to Skull Island, he seems to be wise in age now but also loves the thrill of adventure. The Storyteller Islander seems to know more than she is sharing and I cant wait to see what her story is. The comic is very wordy and not much action happens till the end of the issue but it does a great job of setting up our story and introduce and reintroduce our cast of characters. This far I think my favorite character is Jack Driscoll as I find him to be the classic hero type and knowing what he has been through thanks to the movie he is just a great classic character. The cover for this issue is eye catching and has Kong beating up a giant snake and the interior art is done by Dan O’Connor and has a classic comic feel that brings this story to life. Over all this first issue is lots of fun and like issue # 0 is a great way to build the mini series. Lets see what adventure issue two has in store for us.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 2   **1/2
Released in 2007      Cover Price $3.99       Markosia       # 2 of 5

Vince’s fever from his wounds has broken and The Storyteller and her assistant Kara show Vince a old statue of Kong and she decides to tell him a story of the past the was about one of the Islands Princesses who wants to save her people and bring peace and the old wall’s gate being struck by lighting and man eating creatures called Deathrunners escaped and how the young Princess became friends with The Storyteller, but this does not interest Vince who wants to know about his father and Kong. Meanwhile Jack must fight his way through the jungle and even must kill a giant lizard with a stick! Vince soon finds that Kara hates him and wanted him to die in the water as The Storyteller stops her rant and gears up to share more of the story of the past.

This second issue is once more very wordy and packs some action and adventure but is more about the story of the past and Vince wondering why he is hated so much by one of his rescuers. This issues plot has Vince regaining his strength and listing to a tale from The Storyteller who is speaking of the wall, the political tribe tension as well as Kong. And all the while we follow Jack who is trying to find Vince and is trying his best to survive the jungle. While the story this far is interesting I am also getting a little annoyed that we are only getting brief moments of King Kong in flashbacks and I for one want more of him and less of long winded story telling of events of the past. I mean a book about Kong should have more than a few panels of Kong over the course of three issues at this point. The only other funny thing I noticed in this issue is that Vince seems to be more of a whiner and is very concerned why Kara dislikes him and less about the fact every one on the rowboat with him is dead. We also get to see Deathrunners strange lizard like creatures who clearly eat humans and they are pretty cool but again have very little panel time. Not much more to say about this issue besides more plot build up, less action and adventure and the cover is great and show Kong beating up Dinosaurs. Oh and the interior art is done by Dan O’Connor and is still great. Lets just move on to issue three and see if we get more stories or more action.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 3   **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 3 of 5

Vince Denham listens as The Storyteller gives him a little more of the story as in the past a tribes holy man is wanting to give human sacrifice to a giant lizard they named Gaw, this does not set well with the Princess who along with her lover a warrior head into the jungle to find herbs that they think will make the giant beasts tamable. As they get deeper into the jungle they come upon a young Kong and his father under attack by Gaw and Deathrunners and after a brief fight the larger father Kong is killed and the young escapes into the jungle with Gaw and his minions hot on his tail. The Princess and The Warrior move a little further and find a ship and white men looking for help! As she tells this Kara enters and is mad that The Storyteller is given all this information to Vince as she still thinks he is a bad person and will bring more explores to their island. While all this story telling is going on Jack is still roaming around looking for the son of his friend and is getting closer to his goal.

The story telling continues and this issues plot has the Princess and her warrior boyfriend traveling to the jungle in order to find some herbs they think will help make the giant monsters around them more controllable, but some of the tribes are starting to worship the giant monsters as Gods and worst the one named Gaw has made Skull Island his and even has killed a Kong and is on the hunt for a smaller one. All the while Vince is listing to The Storytellers tale and is also still on watch as Kara truly wishes him dead. So as you can see we get more tribe politics but we do also finally get a quick Kong fight that leaves one of them dead and shows that our books main villain is an evil reptile killing machine. Vince at this point is getting a little stronger but is brain is now an open to the tales of the old woman as he is trying to understand the history of the island and how his father ties in. Jack is still just stuck in the jungle looking for his friend and is doing his best to survive. The Storyteller and Kara are at odds with one another over how much they should share with Vince, but the while at odds respect is still in play. The Princess and The Warrior while in the past are doing what they can in order so save peoples lives as the primitive ways are trying to come back and with that means human sacrifice. The two Kong’s are father and son and while strong the father is just out numbered and killed as the younger giant ape is now on the run and I am sure he will be the one we will later know as King Kong. The Gaw is a red skinned lizard giant monster who is brutal and attacks with fury and worse the Deathrunners seem to help him bring down his prey. While we do get some action and adventure this issue is much like the others and more about the story of the Island and I am ok with that I just hope we get a great fight in the end between Gaw and Kong. I must say the cover for this issue is very eye catching and is sure to please fans of King Kong but the interior art this time around is done by artist Scott Larson and I must say I am not a fan of his style of art as I found it sloppy and not able to capture the epic nature of Kong and the world of Skull Island. While this issue is not amazing it still was fun and for all the lack of Kong action I am enjoying the tale of Skull Island and lets see what issue four has in store.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 4  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia      # 4 of 5

The Storyteller continues her tale of the past to Vince as she shares that the white sailors where lead by Captain Magwich and their boat was in need of major repair and they are welcomed in by the villagers who in turn ask them for help to capture the last Kong. The Warrior and the sailors enter the jungle and disappear for awhile but finally return with the captured young Kong. The Holy Man still pushes for human sacrifice and with one they set up Gaw and pour super hot boiling oil on him and this also sets the captured Kong off who breaks free and rushes into the jungle looking for a final fight. Sadly for the Princess her father the King has passed away and her people are still at odds as the Holy Man and the Sailors are still around and could be ready to cause problems. Meanwhile in modern times Jack wonders the jungle and soon finds tribe people who have a Kong under their control and he himself is now taken captive and lead to Vince who is happy to see his long time family friend and for the major surprise The Storyteller takes him to see his father Carl who has lived this whole time on the island!

This time around the story is how in the past the islanders captured the young Kong in order to control and defend them from Gaw who has been their tormentor for way to many years, but also how outsiders are starting to influence some of the people and with their firearms they could help the Holy Man gain control of the island. All the while Vince is hearing this history lesson and by the end of this issue Vince is reunited with both Jack and his father Carl. The Storyteller and Kara seem less at odds and seem to get slight joy of letting Vince see his father again. I really like how the outsiders are a factor now in the past storyline as it’s clear they could tip the scales into the favor of what ever side they decide to take if they take any by the end. I also enjoy the fact that the Princess is the only one who showed the young Kong compassion and brought him food, drink and tended his wounds from being captured. I also like how the villager’s fights back against Gaw and catch him on fire with oil and this also makes you wonder what he will do in the next issue for revenge against them for turning on him. It’s nice to have Carl Denham back into the story and see him and Jack Driscoll reunited as it gives a real classic feel to see the films two main heroes together again. Kong while he does not do much its still great to at least have him around and know that in the final issue coming up he is going to have a battle to the death with Gaw! The cover for this one is awesome just like the all the covers that came before it. The Interior art is a team up of Dan O’Connor and Scott Larson with the later’s sloppy art sticking out like a sore thumb. Over all a good issue while nothing special I found it to be a good read that made me look forward to the Kong vs. Gaw final fight, so with that lets move onto the final issue.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 5  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 5 of 5

Carl Denham and son Vince exchange words and son is not happy with his father as he feels that he left him and his mother to deal with the drama of King Kong, but The Storyteller calms everyone down and they all enter Skull Islands skull cave and find that Carl brought the remains of King Kong with him to return him home! Meanwhile in the past The Queen finds the herbs that helps tame the beasts in the lost city but she and her people also soon find that Captain Magwich have other ideas that is not about helping them kill Gaw but to help himself to the islands gold! But when the Holy Man finds out that the sailors have turned on them he summons Gaw who kills the Captain and turns his sights on the others but they humans are saved when King Kong shows up and kills Gaw and ends his path of revenge! When back at the village The Warrior is killed, The Holy Man rises to full power and The Princess goes into hiding and has become The Storyteller and she shares that Carl has been writing their stories down and when he is about to get praise they find that he has died in his sleep. Vince and Jack return to the fixed ship and they sail home and Vice has a new respect for his father and Skull Island.

In this fifth and final issue we get every storyline from this series tied up, King Kong’s body has been brought back to Skull Island, Vince finds his father and gets the answer as to why he has been missing all these years, Carl has spend years helping the Islanders teaching them English as well and taking down their story, Jack gets out of the jungle and finds his missing friends and The Storyteller passes down the tales and lets Kara know that she is now Queen of the people! This comic is more drama than adventure and while the story was lots of fun I really did wish for more King Kong fighting action. King Kong in this comic series goes from being a frightened youth to a vengeful fighting machine and while not in the mini series that much when he is shown he demands the reader’s attention. Vince and Carl Denham serve their parts in the story as two outsiders to Skull Island whom are trying to find answers and peace and must find it not only with the people of the island but also with each other. Jack Driscoll is a man who is friends with the Denham family and even when the odds of survival looks grim he still never gives up. Captain Englehorn we are to guess has died on the island as besides issue # 0 he never makes an appearance. The Storyteller and Kara as well both have a purpose to the story as they are tools to share the past as well as share forgiveness and fear as Kara is clearly fearful of what the white man can bring to their island. The Holy Man and most of the Sailors from the past as well show that greed and power can make people do sinister and evil things to benefit themselves. Gaw the giant god lizard was also a very evil beast who ruled Skull Island with an iron claw and seemed to get joy out of killing, so its fitting that he is killed by Kong by being impaled! What worked for this comic mini series based on a book is the fact it had a fun story that opened up the past and history of King Kong as well as Skull Island plus most of the characters are likeable and all feel like golden age Hollywood stars. The downside of this series is that in some parts is boring, not enough King Kong and some issues the art is blah! This issue has yet another amazing cover but the inside art was done by Scott Larson and is a little weak for the final fate of our characters. To sum this up this comic mini series based on King Kong and a book is a good read for fans of Kong but does have flaws that distract from what could have been an epic four star comic adventure. Check out the artwork below to see the styles used in this comic series for King Kong and Gaw that has both artists work.

I have always had a soft spot for Giant Monster movies and grew up watching them on TBS and shows like Super Scary Saturday and while I love Godzilla I have always had a place at the top of my heart for King Kong and with the release of “Kong Of Skull Island” to theaters this year I knew I had to revisit the giant ape here on Rotten Ink and I am glad I did as I have had this comic series in my boxes since they came out and never got around to reading the full series. But for our next update I am leaving Skull Island and heading to the golden age of comic book heroes as we take a look at the one and only Red Demon a sadly mostly forgotten hero from the late 1940’s! So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you back very soon for our look at Red Demon.

It’s The Final Plague Countdown!

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

action-lab-and-danger-zone-logos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Day Superman Died

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my friends and readers.  For this update, we will be taking a look at one of comic books’ biggest storylines that captured not only the readers but also the media and people who thought that this was a milestone in culture and bought dozens of the issue hoping to send their kids to college on the resale of it. I am of course talking about the Death Of Superman, DC Comics’ top selling issue of all time as well as the best selling graphic novel of all time. My brother Bryan and I read lots of comics growing up and among issues we read often was Superman in Action Comics, DC Comic Presents and his self titled comic.  We loved the Christopher Reeve Superman movies as well as the classic George Reeves TV Show Adventures Of Superman…hell, we even grew up eating Superman Peanut Butter before it was discontinued! One of my brother’s favorite toys growing up was a Mego Superman figure that he lost on top of my Grandpa’s roof, and I had growing up the Kenner Super Powers Superman action figure that by the end of its life was so beat up and played as it was a major part of my backyard/woods action figure adventures. My favorite arcade machine at Game Swap is Superman, and over all, this superhero was a big part of my young life.  While he might not have been my all time favorite, he still was a staple of reading his new and old adventures for me. But on November 18, 1992 things changed for many comic readers as that was the day Superman died, and comics books would never be the same again.

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In 1992 when the news broke that DC Comics was killing off Superman, I was 13 years old, and the every news station was covering this event from local broadcast news like Channel 7 all the way to MTV.  Superman was once more the king of comics as my friends at school were talking about it with many of them wondering how he was going to die and if he was going to come back more powerful than ever. My brother Bryan was already buying the issues leading up to his death from stores like the Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and was even trying to buy older issues that were rumored to be the origin and reference the monster and Superman slayer known as Doomsday. The feeling among comic readers was very mixed as many people were very upset that Superman, an Americana hero, was being killed with some people even getting tears in their eyes on TV while talking about the event on the news.  Others seemed happy to see Superman die and hit the big comic rack in the sky. Most comic shop owners and other fans just kept saying this was a cash grab by DC to breathe new life into the slumping sales of the Superman titles and that they needed to try to bring readers back to the title as well as entice new readers. But one thing was for sure, the sales for the titles went up with many jumping onboard before the dying issue that was Superman # 75 and the sales and interest in Superman was on the rise making him a household name again. The week that the death issue came out I can remember by brother trying his best to talk our parents into taking him to a comic shop and they didn’t and he missed out on the first printing of the issue that came in a black plastic bag with a bloody Superman S on it and inside besides the comic was a poster, trading card, a black armband and a Daily Planet Obituary instead he had to wait and get a second printing thanks to the fine folks at Mavericks who held one back for him. The funny thing about this media hyped comic event was that it was the first time I remember that a modern comic at the time it came out EVERYONE kept saying it was going to be a huge collectors item and would be worth so much money and oddly enough it was as the $2.50 black bagged edition was going as high as $100-$300 dollars and sometimes higher at shops and comic conventions right after being released! I can remember the first time I read Superman # 75 and being into the epic fight that was unfolding page after page between Doomsday and Superman and being shocked and drawn in as the Man of Steel died in the arms of Lois Lane as the city of Metropolis watched in horror and shock and for a short time I really did believed that DC had killed off Superman for good. But like most deaths in comic books nothing lasts forever but that will be for another update. Superman # 75 was so huge that it kicked off the big crash for comic books again and brought collecting them into the mainstream again, but this also brought on the era of comics that held gimmick covers, cover price hikes and in some cases took the fun out of the comic stories as companies focused on more flashy cheesy foil cover, hologram covers and over blown mega event type stories and simply forgot to be entertaining and this truly lead to the Comic Crash of 1993 that hurt many of the independent companies who many went out of business as once more greed from the major players left readers with boxes filled with over produced issues that were in some cases not worth the paper they were printed on, and this lead to readers and buyers walking away from comics for awhile. And sadly even in 2017 comic books are not nearly as big of a powerhouse as they were in the past, but I think there is hope as both Marvel and DC have stepped up their stories and characters and independent comic companies like IDW, Dark Horse, Image, Eibon Press, Action Lab, Boom! and even Sparkle Comics are making comics cool again! But while it might have brought on the downfall of comic books for awhile the Death of Superman still is a major event in comic history and one I can say I grew up in the middle of!

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But while I was just a youngster reading comic books and seeing the hype and madness of the Death Of Superman was causing on TV and with friends and family some of my friends seen the madness first hand as they worked at comic stores and got to see just how crazy the lines to get a copy were and I would like to have them share their stories here with you my friends and readers as I am sure you as I do want to get a look into the madness that this issue caused. First up is my great pal and Co-Owner of Sparkle Comics the one and only Jason Young who was only 15 and was working for Mavericks Cards And Comics in Kettering at the time a place he still works to this day! So take it away Jason and let us know just how crazy November 18, 1992 was for you and the employees of Mavericks.

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“It was 1992 and I had been working at the comic book shop less than a year when Superman #75 hit the stands. Only fifteen years old, but I had read lots of Superman and World’s Finest comics by that point. Superman was never my favorite superhero, but I did like the guy. I mean, he’s frickin’ Superman! I remember actually thinking, “I can’t believe DC is going to get rid of Superman… that’s crazy!”

The day that book came out was insane. People lined outside of the shop waiting to get their copy which we limited to one per person because of the demand. Some people were annoyed that they could only purchase one copy as they wanted to open the black polybag it came sealed inside so they could not only read it but also enjoy all of the cool extras that came inside (poster, stamps and memorial armband)!

Luckily there was a newstand edition that went to grocery and convenient stores that people could read (even though that version didn’t come with the cool extras) if they couldn’t get a reading copy at their local comic book shop.

The whole thing was exciting and intense, with people hanging out and talking about the insanity of a world without a Superman… how could we go on? How would the Justice League handle those otherworldly threats that the Flash’s speed and Batman’s detective skills were just no match for?

On that day, comic fans the world over asked themselves and each other those tough questions. Even if you weren’t a Superman fan, you knew he was as much a part of pop culture as anyone actually alive and to think of there being no more Superman comics to come was kind of shocking. 

Some people came into the store that hadn’t read a comic book in decades, but just had to see this one!  The last Superman comic… crazy! Of course, we all know that Superman eventually came back from the dead… but on that day it was a weird mixture of shock, excitement and mourning. A new comic book day like no other before or since!”

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So as you can see Mavericks was hit with Superman hysteria and they even had to limit the customers to one copy as collectors were going crazy to get their hands on multiple copies of this icon comic book event. Next up is my friend Pete Bell who is the owner of Bell, Book And Comic one of my favorite comic stores in the Dayton market and was working at the now long gone Dayton comic shop The Dragons Layer when Superman # 75 hit the shelves. So lets hear about the madness that Pete witnessed during this universally busy new comic book day that saw the death of DC Comics top hero.

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“Back in the 90 s boom of 40k titles and 1 million print runs on comics as standard practice, Superman 75 and the entire death of big blue storyline helped define our overprinted greed and need for comic book mainstream collecting!!! 

The main comic book con circuit back 25 years ago was called JUBILEE and traveled between southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and eastern Indy. It rotated and kept all of us hungry fan boys busy overspending to get in to purchase overpriced 90 s garbage. speaking in today’s view of course, but then it was all good to us! 

When the earliest appearances of Doomsday were coming out, and the con was here In Dayton, I remember walking around looking at all the stock boxes and wall books from dealers who would cram all they could on and behind 6ft worth of space for 60 bucks a table. All of a sudden I see an almost barren table with one guy behind it trying to peddle about 20 copies of his first cameo for 25 bucks each! That’s it. Just a guy who went around to newsstands and grabbed up all he could and thought he could be a dealer for a day to make a few bucks! That is what some people turned Into during this whirlwind!  

All the stores here in town limited Supermen 75 black bagged edition to one each!  So naturally we went around and got one from all the shops we could! Most shops had long lines of people waiting and we did just that. It was surreal to see mobs of mainstream people who haven’t even been in a comic shop in years, or at all, waiting to get their hands on just one copy. Now this book had a print run of 750,000! And most of those buyers just wanted it to resell it right away for quick profit, or keep it for their kid’s college tuition! Both extremes! Just a strange bizarre time! Most books these days have a print run of about 20,000 or less, and most Don’t even get sold out right away or are sought after on high demand! Never has any book been as sought after upon release or in any high demand before or since, until the amazing Spider-Man Barack Obama book!! And no one even died in that issue!!!! 

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Sunsoft was a company who was making lots of video games based on Superman in the early 90’s and in 1994 and 1995 they made a side scrolling beat’em up gamed called “The Death And Return Of Superman” for SNES and Sega Genesis that allowed the player to relive and play through the events of the comic series from DC and added their own silly twist to make the game more enjoyable. I can remember playing the Genesis version as my brother Bryan and I rented it from K & L Video and can remember having a good time playing it, but the thing about it by the time of it’s release it was just lost as most gamers I knew passed on this title and just played “Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage” instead. While not a perfect game it was a fun game and once more showed that even in late 1994 and 1995 people and companies were still talking about the Death of Superman and the storylines that followed. If you like typical 16-Bit side scrolling beat’em up games make sure to check this one out, while they both are about the same I think the Genesis version is slightly better than the SNES version.

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This next part of our Death Of Superman update has spoilers for the 2016 film “Batman v Superman Dawn Of Justice” so if you have not seen that and don’t want to have it spoiled skip this section now! When the Christopher Reeve Superman series came to an end in 2006 with “Superman Returns” it took many years for Warner Brothers and DC to bring the cinema a new one and they did in 2013 with the Hack…I mean Zack Snyder’s film “The Man Of Steel” and this lead to last years “Batman v Superman Dawn Of Justice” and the second film for actor Henry Cavill to play Superman and along the way fight with Batman and by the end die at the hands of Doomsday…who was created by Lex Luther Jr. from the body of General Zod….yep. In the film they play up the Death Of Superman and have him die thanks to Doomsday and kryptonite and by his death in the movie universe the Justice League will now be coming together to make the world a better place…for you and for me and the entire human race. In the film his death impacts the world and he is given a heroes funeral, while his alter ego Clark Kent is buried in his hometown of Smallville and only close friends and family attend like Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne. While in the comic world his death was shocking and impactful here in this film it just seemed tacked on and a lame plot point to play into his return by the next movie. While I don’t want to spend time on this movie as I did that back in my update called “Matt Goes To The Movies 2016” I just wanted to point out that the 1992 death of the Man of Steel carried over to even modern media based on the worlds most known superhero. I should also note that DC did an animated movie called “Superman: Doomsday” in 2007 that was very loosely based on the comic books.

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So as you can see The Death Of Superman has influenced not only the comic book world but also Superman in movies and video games and sparked many of great conversations over the years for comic fans who still talk about it to this day. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics and Amazon for having these issues in stock and I also want to thank DC Comics for making this epic and iconic event that spawned many acts just like a play as we follow Superman in Death to his Rebirth! The Daily Planet wanted me to let you all know that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So lets enter the battlefield of Metropolis and get a ringside seat for one of comic’s most brutal battles to ever take place in a DC Comic!

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Superman: Man Of Steel # 18  **1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25    DC   # 18 of 134

Keith is a young boy who is an orphan and has Superman as a friend, but when monsters in the sewer system tell him they have his long lost mother, he goes on a mission to find her and rescue her from their grip. Lois Lane finds an anonymous tip that something wicked is happing at the Metropolis power planet, and she heads out only to find herself now the prisoner of these underground dwelling monsters who want to start a war with the surface world and start by stealing all the power from the city. Keith leaves the sewer once he finds that Lois has been kidnapped and warns Superman of the monsters plan to attack and to kill Lois causing the Man Of Steel to spring into action. Meanwhile a huge monster of a being that crashed to Earth has freed himself from the wreckage and is headed toward the city killing anything that his foolish enough to get in it’s way…this monster is Doomsday! Superman stops the monsters and finds out that Lois has been taken away to be killed and upon finding her, he soon learns that a man named Charlie who is homeless and lives in the tunnels with the monsters was the tipster and is the one who saved Lois from being really killed! Meanwhile Doomsday is now in the city and causing mayhem and death and this alerts The Justice League!

The start of the Death of Superman is a little slow and this issue’s plot has Superman very easily stopping an invasion from monsters and homeless people who live in the sewer tunnels under the city. As always we have Lois Lane be in danger and a young kid who idolizes Superman. Doomsday’s story has him breaking free from his wrecked prison ship and is on a destructive path heading for Metropolis and laughing at all the death he is causing to animals and humans alike. Superman in this issue is cool and calm and don’t even break a sweat in his battle with the monsters, and only looses his cool when he thinks that Lois is dead/about to be killed as he truly cares for her. Superman’s power is at a peak and it’s clear that his Boy Scout attitude is in full effect showing that he is ready for the approaching battle with death. Lois Lane loves her man Clark Kent aka Superman and wants him to be the hero he was born to be, but she also really wants the big stories and puts herself in harms way and once more shows why in pop culture she and Jane from Tarzan and the biggest examples of damsels in distress. Charlie and Keith are great little side characters with Charlie and his tunnel living friends reminding me of the film RAW MEAT. The Monsters in the sewers have big plans for domination but soon find they just get dominated and are no real threat to the world if Superman is around…I wish they were instead C.H.U.D.S. and not generic and goofy looking monsters. Doomsday is wearing a green jump suit, red goggles and has steel holding one of his arms behind his back is pure evil as he crushes a bird with his bare hands and latter tips over a semi truck that triggers it to explode into flames…in over words he is death walking! While the start of this part of the “Death Of Superman” storyline is a little weak it’s clear they needed to close some loose ends in order to deliver the main goods of the epic battle that is about to start. The cover of this issues is pretty cool and shows a pissed off Doomsday, but the art inside done by Jon Bogdanove is a little sloppy and I can say I am not a fan of it. Over all this first issue is a spark that is being used to start the fire and with that lets move onto the next issue in this iconic story arch in comic book history.

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Justice League Of America # 69  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   DC    # 69 of 113

The Justice League show up to the site of the semi truck attacks and save the truck drivers from a burning death, on the team of heroes is Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Bloodwynd, Ice, Maxima and Fire and while Superman is live on a TV talk show they are out trying to find the monster who caused this accident in Ohio. But Doomsday finds them first and brings the Blue Beetles ship down and in the panic once more causes a major auto accident, Guy Gardner with his power ring attacks Doomsday first and learns the hard way that he is more powerful than all the JLA as he smashes Guy into the ground leaving him beaten and broken and if not for Fire he would also be dead! Bloodwynd attacks next and uses the energy of the dead spirits to land a massive blow that once more Doomsday seems not to even feel and punches the hero with a massive blow that takes him out of the fight for a moment. Fire is next to feel the power of Doomsday as he hurls a rock at her head knocking her out and then turns his brutal nature onto the Blue Beetle beating him bloody! And he knocks Bloodwynd and Maxima into each other knocking them both silly. Booster Gold tries his might next and is hit so hard that he is sent flying into the air at a fast speed! Superman stops the interview when he hears the JLA are in trouble and shows up in time to catch Booster in the air who warns him that a monster is on the loose….and worse Ice is left alone with him as is a dying Blue Beetle who needs medical help!

The plot and destruction thickens as Doomsday is now on a full warpath in Ohio heading for Metropolis and even single-handed beats the crap out of the whole JLA team! Like really he still has one arm tied behind his back! The plot for this issue has the JLA coming to Ohio to help find the monster that is causing so much destruction and when they find him Doomsday unleashes hell on them and shows that he is a true monster and is made up of rage and hate. Superman in this issue spends time having to answer questions from Teens and a talk show host to try and build a bond between normal every day Joes and superheroes, but when he finds out his fellow JLA members are in trouble he comes calling as fast as he can. Guy Gardner is a hot head hotshot who thinks he is unbeatable and is reckless in his actions and for this he gets his butt kicked and his head driven into the ground! Fire and Ice try what they can to help in the battle with Ice standing on the sidelines and fire gets a rock to the head that causes her to be out of the fight game…poor girls don’t stand a chance against the killing machine. Maxima however does put up a fight and is brave in her actions but soon collides into Bloodwynd knocking them both out and showing that they truly didn’t stand a chance. Booster Gold as well who is noble in his attempt finds that his most powerful hit didn’t even phase Doomsday who instead returns the favor and lands a punch that sends him flying! Poor Blue Beetle gets the worst of the attack as he is beaten bloody and thrown to the side near death! Doomsday adds to his character not only that he is evil but also he knows how to fight and can withstand power blows from heroes with little effort! When reading this for the first time I can remember being in shock of seeing the JLA being thrown around like ragdolls and wondering why Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman and Red Tornado did not enter the fight! While this JLA might have been the B-Team or even maybe the C-Team it still was shocking and I can remember telling my Mom that the Blue Beetle had to be dead after that beating. This issue for the most part is all action and only takes us away for the battle for Superman’s interview that is going along with the battle at hand. The cover art is great and showcases what action your in store for when reading this issue and the art inside is pretty good and done by Dan Jurgens and has that 90’s DC Comic look. Over all the showdown is about to take place between Superman and Doomsday in the next issue and I for one can not wait to re-live it!

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Superman # 74  ***
Released in 1992    Cover Price $1.25   DC   # 74 of 714

Maxima awakens to find Ice the only one standing and Doomsday is now gone from the battlefield, and with some pleading she gives up the fight and takes the Blue Beetle to get medical aid. Ice now the only standing hero goes after Doomsday and finds herself being flung into a house were a young mother along with her baby daughter and teenage son are putting them into danger as Doomsday is approaching fast! Superman and Booster Gold appear and Superman takes a massive punch from Doomsday and shrugs it off, but can not the massive kick Doomsday plants into his gut sending the Man of Steel as well into the house and out the other side! Booster Gold tries to hold Doomsday off again but is over powered and has his head rammed against a tree knocking him silly. Doomsday enters the house and is about to deliver a killing blow to the still knocked out Ice but gets distracted by the family and is about to smash them when Superman comes in and saves the day allowing them to flee. Once the family is safe Superman is joined by Fire, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner and Bloodwynd who all use their maximum powers at once to try and bring Doomsday down…it does nothing but free Doomsdays other hand and burn off some of his green costume. The full on assault leaves Booster and Fire drained and powerless and poor Guy’s eyes are swollen shut from the beating he took earlier and before the weakened heroes can escape Doomsday attacks and beats Booster Gold with the attempt to kill! Doomsday makes short work of the JLA again and leaves the family stuck in a raging fire and Superman ignores the teen’s plea for help as he continues his pursuit of Doomsday! Will the teen and his family be burned alive as the JLA are all out for the count and unable to help.

Superman and the JLA go toe to toe with Doomsday and they soon find out that this monster is a pure powerhouse and that even using all their powers together can not stop him or even phase him as he just laughs off their attacks and brings his own defense to them harder and more vicious than before. The poor JLA are just dissected and over powered beyond belief and are shown that they have NEVER faced a threat like Doomsday! While in the last issue Blue Beetle was the one who suffered the worst beating in this issue Booster Gold gets that award as he has his head smashed into a tree and later has a car door slammed on it and thrown around like a piece of trash. Superman is so worked up that he was watched his friends be beaten up and that is own attempts to stop the monster has fallen short that he is walking away from a family who needs help and could be burned alive! Doomsday almost the whole issue is still beating the heroes with one arm but once his other arm is freed he turns up the brutal beatings and turned up the threat level of his destruction. Really up to this time in DC Comics the only other unstoppable villain I could thank of is Darkseid and he had been stopped before, Doomsday was fresh and new and he was down right an evil SOB and this was how we all knew Superman was going to meet his maker. The issue is filled with lots of action and drama and showcased just how well this storyline was going as issue after issue built up excitement and made your crave to read the next issue in the series. Plus adding in a young teen who is from a good yet broken family who thinks Superman is lame is sadly how many young comic readers at the time seen the Man of Steel so it was cool they added that into the story as when in trouble the Teen calls out to Superman for help and at this point it’s falling on dead ears as Superman is putting the safety of the many over that of the few. I also pick up the underline fear that Superman is having toward Doomsday as he knows that this foe is more powerful than any he has fought before! The cover on this issue is great and the art once more is done by Dan Jurgens and is pretty good stuff! Over all this action issue is a great set up to take the JLA out of action and leave Superman a hero alone in his fight against Doomsday!

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Adventures Of Superman # 497  ***
Released in 1992     Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 497 of 649

The Justice League is knocked out cold as the young teen still begs Superman to come and help his mom and baby sister who is trapped in the fire ridden house! Superman takes notice that the JLA are all out of the game and decides to drive Doomsday deep into the lake and trap him in the soft mud for a moment and makes it in time to save the family with the aid of Bloodwynd. Once the paramedics show up and take the family and the JLA to the hospital Superman once more sets his sights on Doomsday who is once more free and is once more on a path of destruction as he goes not only toe to toe with Superman but also the army and Maxima who has returned to the battle! While in Metropolis Lois Lane needs Jimmy Olsen to come cover the story with her and with the help of TV Reporter Cat Grant she is able to get her into the filming studio were Jimmy is a new kids TV show star and they gather around and watch the broadcast that Doomsday is heading their way! Lex Luther and Supergirl also see the news and start to brainstorm on how they can keep Metropolis safe if the monster makes it to the city. Superman and Maxima are doing all they can but nothing seems to phase Doomsday who seems to be getting stronger the longer the battle goes on, but when Maxima makes a mistake causing sparks from a light post to hit gasoline leaking from a gas truck an explosion leaves her and Superman hurt as Doomsday just keeps walking toward the city! The Guardian shows up and checks on the falling heroes and while he tries to help Maxima, Superman The Man Of Steel declares that he alone must stop Doomsday.

The battle is getting more and more brutal as the news report in this issue have states that 30 people have died this far and hundreds have been injured showing that Doomsday really just don’t care who or what gets in his way. This issue is just another packed with pure action and Superman and Doomsday slug it out and try to make hamburger out of each other’s faces. I do also however like the fact that the teen who once hated Superman is now grateful for his heroic actions that saved his mom and sister from the fire, this scene adds to the drama that this epic battle is causing to normal people. This issue also shows that Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice and Booster Gold are in such bad shape and beat up that they all have to go to the hospital and that Bloodwynd is hurt but takes his leave to heal on his own…leaving for the most part Superman along to face this destructive monster of power and rage. Superman shows now fear and while he lands massive and powerful hits to Doomsday who seems to not feel them he still just keeps fighting and trying to stop his one monster riot. Doomsday just keeps on moving forward toward New York and Metropolis with not a care in the world and loving the battle that he is in, showing he is a freak of nature and a force to be reckoned with. Maxima while strong and having the warrior spirit is dumb in her actions as she is the cause for her and Superman to suffer damage from the gas truck explosion. Very cool in this issue we see Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen on the orders of Perry White gearing up to cover the epic fight for the Daily Planet. Plus I can remember the first time reading this thinking about what plan Supergirl and Lex Luthor have cooking in their minds to protect the city if the menace of Doomsday makes it to them. Great cover of Superman and Doomsday fighting plus the interior artwork done by Tom Grummett is fantastic and captures the over all comic book goodness a major storyline like this should have. Over all a solid and fun issue that builds up the fact that Superman might have finally meet his match!

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Action Comics # 684   **1/2
Released in 1992     Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 684 of 904

Doomsday is causing more mayhem and killing innocent people as The Guardian is getting Maxima to the hospital and Superman is trying to save lives of people caught in the path of his new and powerful foe. Doomsday ends up in a Lex-Mart shopping store and once more Superman tries to fist fight this titan of death and as the battle goes on Lex Luthor and Supergirl decide to really sit this battle out and will join once it hits Metropolis. Superman pounds on Doomsday with everything he’s got and sadly it’s still not enough as it appears the harder Superman fights the stronger Doomsday is getting! Superman follows Doomsday and drives him away from people and the who fight around a wood habit research base and The Guardian as well shows up and tries to help but after so much damage the habit falls on top of Superman and The Guardian and Doomsday is now on the edge of entering Metropolis!

In this issue and the 5th in the Doomsday (aka Death Of Superman) storyline The Man Of Steel spends half of the issue trying to save lives of people who are the victims of this rampage and the other part punching it out with Doomsday! The Guardian showed up late to the fight, but really I don’t think he would have been much help and I am sure he would have just ended up in a hospital bed next to Blue Beetle and Booster Gold! Oh wait by the end he did try to mix it up into the fight and has a habit fall on top of him and taken out of the fight! Maxima took her own self out of the fight by triggering that explosion and given herself a concussion. Lois and Jimmy are flying around in a helicopter covering the fight and deep inside Lois is scared for her husband Clark Kent aka Superman as she is seeing that he is having a hard time putting away his enemy. Supergirl and Lex Luthor are watching and waiting to see if Doomsday will make it to the city so that they can enter the fight and try to protect their hometown. By the end of this issue Doomsday’s body count is said to be over 100 dead and he seems to not be slowing down and he is clearly enjoying trading every punch and snuffing every human life out. By this time in the story arch as a reader the odds of stopping Doomsday look very thin and on top of that you start wondering were other heroes are to help with this menace…like The Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Dr. Fate and Wonder Woman…were are they when Ohio and New York need them!?! By this point the real reason for this issue is to show that Doomsday has taken out the JLA and has taken everything Superman has thrown at him and it seems not to have even slowed him down a bit, truly making the odds of Superman winning in a fist fight with this monster slim to none. The cover is amazing and has Superman and Doomsday locking up with destruction all around them, the interior art done by Jackson Guice is ok but a little to sloppy for my liking. Over all this is clearly an enhancement issue that helps build the evil nature of Doomsday and to build up the final battle that we all know is about to go down.

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Superman: Man Of Steel # 19  ***
Released in 1993   Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 19 of 134

Doomsday is destroying a construction site in Metropolis as Lois and Jimmy are hovering above in the Daily Planet Helicopter and Cat is in the News one both reporting the story as Superman appears once again and tries his hand at stopping the rampage with his wits and fists and drags the brute into the sky only to find himself of the receiving end of a massive kick that leaves the pair falling back down to the ground very hard. Doomsday falls so hard that he breaks a gas main and lands in the underground were he kills many of the monsters and freaks that live in the sewer before once more Superman tries to come to the rescue but in turn only helps trigger a spark that ignites the gas and causes yet another massive explosion that rocks the city. Superman is still fighting but the battle is starting to break him down as our hero is bleeding, bruised and getting tired he gets some quick help from Supergirl who sadly gets her clocked clean with a well placed punch from Doomsday as well as Superman’s pal Professor Hamilton who fires a giant laser cannon at Doomsday that only seems to piss the monster off even more! Superman weak from battle is still able to save the young boy Keith and others from the orphanage before once more returning to the battle with Doomsday who is now taking on the Metropolis police department as well as Lex Corp guards who are trying to lend a hand to Superman who once more is trading punches with the monster and claiming the fight must end one way or another!

Superman in this issue has been pushed to far when he sees all the death and madness Doomsday has caused in his city of Metropolis and no matter how badly he feels from the fight this far Superman never gives up and never backs down and best of all never stops trying to help those in danger. Call Superman a Boy Scout, a lame duck or even cheesy one thing for sure is that he is the true meaning of the word hero and in this story arch as well as in all issues of Superman comics he proves it with his actions. Lois Lane and Jimmy are clearly worried about Superman as they have been his friends for years and they have noticed that he seems to be having issues bringing this threat to a stop. The Guardian comes out of the rubble for a brief moment and tries to use his powers to read the mind of Doomsday and finds that all the monster thinks about is destruction, and once he gets that answer he seems to stay away and out of the fight. Supergirl finally cant sit it out any longer and tries to help her cousin but soon just finds that a power punch from Doomsday just leaves her knocked out and has her return to her alien appearance! Lex Luthor during this crisis takes to the TV and throws Superman under the bus by claiming that it’s clear that Doomsday is holding a grudge against The Man Of Steel and that’s why he is attacking the city, making people question if Superman does more harm than good for them. That’s the best thing about Luthor is no matter what he is always going to hate Superman and will always paint himself out as a savior. Doomsday is just one mean mother and like from the start of this story line he gets more joy and pleasure out of fighting, killing and breaking than any other Super Villain in history! This issue was a great way to build up the final fight between Superman and Doomsday as the stakes are high, all the key players are present to witness the epicness of a heroes fall and by now us readers were at the edge of out seats as we knew that in the next issue Superman was doing to die…But before we move onto that iconic issue I want to point out that the cover for this one is pretty well done and has a face off between Doomsday and Superman and the art inside is ok and done by Jon Bogdanove again. So to sum up this issue its action and drama wrapped up into one news print package with a hint of Rotten Ink smell that delivers the excitement that comics books are all about.

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Superman # 75  ***1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $1.25    DC   # 75 of 714

Superman and Doomsday are in the middle of the street exchanging powerful hits as the Lex Corp guards keep unloading on Doomsday and the news helicopters keep getting closer and closer to the fight, but this leaves them in danger as Doomsday slings Superman at the Daily Planet copter and causes it to crash and for Superman to once more pull Lois and Jimmy’s fat out of the fire. Once safe Lois and Jimmy beg Superman to wait for help as it’s clear that he is having issues with Doomsday but after given Lois a kiss and telling her he loves her he rushes back into battle for a final showdown with his monstrous foe. Doomsday gets the upper hand and knocks Superman into the ground causing Lois and Jimmy to rush to their friend aid, but when Doomsday sets his sights on Lois The Man Of Steel once more rises bloody and tired he pours every thing into fighting Doomsday and when each gear up for one last power punch they both fall in victory or is that defeat? As Doomsday is knocked out Superman dies in the arms of Lois Lane as the world watches on live TV in shock, sadness and horror as the worlds best hero passes away. Johnathon and Martha Kent watch as their son dies, Lois Lane watches as her husband passes on, Jimmy Olsen and the Cops witness his last breath and Ice and Bloodwynd who returned to late to try and help catch the death of their friend. Superman is dead and the world will never be the same again.

This iconic issue is told with full-page panels that follows the Man of Steel on his hardest battle that leaves the city of Metropolis in ruins and with out their protector. The issue has Superman saving his wife Lois Lane and friend Jimmy Olsen one last time before going into one of his most brutal fights ever that leaves him dead and his foe an unstoppable monster knocked out cold. Superman uses all his power and knows that he could very possibly die in this fight but he don’t care about his own risks and puts the city and it’s people’s safety as his top priority. He as well is able to tell Lois that he loves her and give her one last kiss before a short time latter he dies in her arms. Poor Lois Lane who is getting the story of her career also sadly gets to record the death of her husband and covers the death of the idol of millions. Jimmy Olsen as well is heart broken as Superman has been is longest and dearest friends. Not to mention that Metropolis has yet to discover that there favorite newsman and paper reporter Clark Kent is as well dead, for they do not know that he is Superman. Poor Ice and Bloodwynd the last two JLA members to bounce back from the beating the took issues back arrive to late and they feel as if they failed The Man Of Steel and the world by not making it back in time, as I am sure Supergirl does as well as she was defeated with ease the last issue and could not offer her cousin any help in the battle. Lex Luthor that slime ball I am sure is happy with the outcome of the fight and that his old foe Superman has a date with a pine box six feet underground. Doomsday proved that he was and still is one of the worlds worst super villains as he through out his rampage has causes tons of property damage, killed animals and humans alike and most important to the world killed Superman all the while laughing in his destruction. But his laughing stops when Superman with a well places axe handle punch knocks the big goons lights out. This issues impact was huge and while it may not have been the industries top selling comic it was the one that gained the most mainstream media and caused comic book collecting fever to reach an all time fever pitch as everyone wanted to read how Superman died. I mean comic shops had caskets and lines out the door to get a copy of this milestone issue. This final issue in the “Doomsday” aka Death Of Superman story arch is well told and had me as a reader feeling like this really could be the end of a heroes iconic adventures. The cover for this news stand edition is great and has the torn Superman cape on a spike flapping in the wind…sent chills down my young spine when I first seen it. The interior art is done by the team of Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding and its fantastic and to be honest one of the only times that I can remember that Superman was every that bloody in a comic! While like stated before many readers want to say that this issue is what brought on the comic crash that happened in the 90’s I for one can say that for me it only helped lock the fact that anything can happen in comics and that as long as the story is good and the art well done I will give it a read. Below is one of the most iconic images from this story arch and showcases the heartbreak and the sadness of the Super Hero icon fallen in battle to save the day.

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For me, The Death Of Superman lived up to the hype when I was a young comic reader, and at the age of 37 reading it again for this blog it still very much held up as I enjoyed the build up to the final battle and how DC and the writers built up the savage and brutal nature of Doomsday making him truly one of the best super villains of the early 1990’s. While The Death Of Superman might not have lasted as DC Comics used the press and hype to try and make Superman a cash cow for them again and rushed so many Superman comic mini series, toys and other merchandise to the market taking the impact away from what could have been even bigger of a storyline. At some point here at Rotten Ink, we will take a look at the second part of the Death Of Superman series called “Funeral For A Friend” as well as the other parts in the Life and Rebirth of this comic book icon. But for our next update we are leaving the super heroes behind and going to take a look at a horror movie slasher that made the leap to comic books thanks to Malibu.  I am talking The Sandman from the film Sleepstalker! So until next time, read a comic or two, think about your favorite fictional heroes who have fallen in battle and as always support your local Horror Host, and I will see you back here for the next update.

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