It’s a new update here on Rotten Ink. It’s also wintertime and the update before my big Christmas Eve update, but also during this time of the year besides snow, toys and family comes that wonderful season of colds, flu and sickness! So this quick update will be about sickness and a virus that spread throughout Marvel Comics called Lifeform and had to be stopped by the likes of Hulk, Daredevil, Punisher and Silver Surfer before it was spread around the world. So let’s get some medicine, chicken noodle soup and a warm blanket and take a trip down Sick Blvd and try to avoid the germs and illness along the way.
While many of you might think that I am immortal like Hercules, I am here to break your heart because I am as mortal as you all. Okay, well I am sure none of you thought this, but I felt like this was a good way to lead up to one of the worst times I was sick. In about 2008 or so I was working at a place called Hotel Liquidations. I spent time unloading furniture trucks as well as loading pieces into customers’ cars, and while working there full time, I started to get a sore throat. Instead of nursing it, I continued to work out in the cold weather and inhaling dust from the warehouse, and my throat got worse. Finally one day at work my throat hurt so bad that I could not talk or open my mouth without pain, and I bit the bullet and finally went to the doctor’s with the urging of my coworkers. Before I went, I was not thinking and took a cough drop that was cherry flavored, and for those who don’t know, I am allergic to fake cherry flavoring as well as real cherries and this made me break out in massive hives. So I had to bundle up in long sleeves with a hoodie to cover my face and looked as if I had the plague. Thanks to my close friend and roommate at the time Patrick Neeley, I got to the doctors where I was diagnosed with having a terrible case of strep throat, one of the worse he had seen up to that point! So after getting my medications I was told that I was highly contagious and that I needed to be quarantined in my room so that I did not spread it to Patrick, my then girlfriend Jennifer and the rest of the world. For a little under two weeks, I sat in my room watching films like the original War of The Worlds, The Blob, IT! Terror From Beyond Space and many other sci-fi films. Patrick was nice enough to leave me pitchers of water by my door as well as cook me chicken and beef broth for that was all I could “eat” as I could not open my mouth much at all. Jennifer would come and visit for a short time but had to wear a mask, and she was nice enough to bring me comics to read as well as gave support and love. The pain in my throat was terrible and the swelling in my glands was out of control. The medication I was taking was what would be called the size of a horse pill and was not pleasant to take. The days went by and slowly the medications started to help along with the sleep and drinking tons of water, and finally I was better and able to go back to work…and my first day back I got Scarlet Fever from the Strep Throat. Yep, another pain in the ass sickness that lead to more missed days of work. While I really hate being sick I must say that the only plus side to having my throat swollen that badly was I got to re-watch many great classic science fiction films and I also saw how much my friends, family, co-workers and girlfriend really cared about me as they all went above and beyond to make sure that I was okay and had what I needed to get better. So with that, here is to good health to us all, and let’s say no to harmful germs this winter!
I want to stroll away from sickness for a moment and take a look at a horror host that could have been a household name in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on KCRG hosting the show Saturday Nightmare. Sadly he didn’t win the casting call as the host gig went to Dr. Morbius who hosted spooky movies from 1987-1988, but he host I am talking about would have been called Slime and was played by Eric Fournier. In August of 1987, KCRG did a call to arms for horror hosts to take the hosting gig for their new late night horror show. 42 hosts applied for the job, and only one got the honor. After some digging and looking around in many haunted houses and cemeteries, I am proud to say I have found Slime who was evil enough to answer 5 Questions for you my readers, making this the official 5 Questions With Slime!
Me: Welcome to Rotten Ink Slime! My first question is how did you hear about the casting call to host Saturday Nightmare on channel 9?
Slime: Hello Matt, and thanks for taking the time to dig me up after all these years — although it’s spring now, and I would have come out of hibernation soon. Oddly enough, I was lying dormant for several decades when a construction crew in the area had inadvertently stumbled upon me. As it happened, it was just down the street from where the auditions had been held. Actually, my girlfriend was hounding me to get a job, so I saw that the local studio was looking for a host. I thought my looks were good enough to keep her interested, but apparently I was mistaken.
Me: Growing up did you have a favorite Horror Host that you use to watch?
Slime: Frankly, I was hatched about 200 years ago, so by the time I’d discovered “The Acri Creature Feature” in the early 70’s, I was already quite mature. Like all kids and lizards back then, I was enthralled that anyone was so interested in the same kind of things I was, much less, would dedicate a show to it. Back in those days, there were only a handful of channels available, and none of them contained the kind of programming that would show movies that featured creatures like me. Like with so many other things, cable TV ruined that too. I remember making “Creep of the Week” several times through the 1970’s, and I didn’t even have to do any drawings. I just sent in some pics taken of me by some local kids, and I won the coveted “Creep” certificate about 4 times. I didn’t realize until later that it was actually sort of an insult. I went to take my revenge on 3 of the show’s goons, Vincent Hedges (the vampire), Emmett (the Hunchback guy), and Beauregard (the Werewolf), but the gang turned out to be so friendly, that I was content to just get their autographs.
Me: Tell us how you came up with the Host Character Slime, and a little about the character’s backstory?
Slime: Truth be told, the whole thing was pretty impromptu. I had no time to prepare any bits, and as you can see in the video, I was still busy defoliating when I got the call to be on camera. The only backstory I suppose, was that I’d put so much emphasis on appearance, that I’d completely ignored what I might actually have done as the show’s host. Besides just sitting there looking pretty, I guess nothing but spout endless gobs of fun facts about the horror cinema I’d grown up loving so much. All I could do by way of any preparation was to regurgitate an old Karloff routine I’d committed to memory decades earlier.
Me: During the Audition did you see another Horror Host hopeful and think that they could take the hosting gig?
Slime: I was running extremely late for the auditions. Like any other lizard, I was sunning myself on a rock for some energy reserves. By the time I got to the studio, most of the other audition people had fled — or at least they did when I showed up. Since I arrived so late, and was busy most of my time at the studio in a bathroom making myself look pretty, I missed most of the other would be hosts. I’d done some stand up stuff with Bruce Gantenbein, so when I’d heard that he’d auditioned earlier that day, I wasn’t surprised when he got the gig as the show’s permanent host, “Dr. Morbius.” I was saddened to hear that he has since passed away.
Me: In closing, since hosting Saturday Nightmare was not in the cards what did you go onto do in the world of entertainment?
Slime: Well, I’m happy to report that the surgery was a success, and I’ve made the transition from reptile to human being, more or less. As far as entertainment goes, I’ve done most of my work behind the camera as a videographer and documentarian. On occasion, I’ll turn up at one of the local comedy clubs and do whatever’s necessary to get some laughs. My love for the classic horror flicks hasn’t diminished, and I dabble in recreating some of them as digitally designed characters. Every now and then, I’ll still get the hankering to put on the old latex in a vain attempt to re-capture my former good looks. You see…I miss the scales!
Me: Thanks so much for your time and long live Slime!
It was very cool to chat with Slime, and I for one really would love to see him become a full fledged host and make a show with a title like “Slime Time” or “Slimy Midnight Theater” and be shown on YouTube, DATV and The Kreepy Kastle! But here is to not only Slime, but the other 40 horror host hopefuls as well as Dr. Morbius who all entertained Iowa on that premiere episode of Saturday Nightmare. Also if you have any episodes of Saturday Nightmare hosted by Dr. Morbius, please contact me as I would love to see them and also do a Horror Host Icon for Morbius. So let’s get back to the sickness that’s about to infect the Marvel Comic Universe.
It’s time to climb into our HAZMAT suits and take a look at the Progamma Virus that can change normal humans into lumpy flesh eating masses of goo and just hope that along our journey none of us come in contact with it. But before we enter the danger zone, I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock, and as always I must remind you that I grade these issues 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 as the rock band Disturbed says, let’s get down with the sickness!
Punisher: Annual # 3 ***
Released in 1990 Cover Price $2.00 Marvel Comics #3 of 7
George is a masked man who is breaking into a lab to steal a bio-weapon that causes those affected to have hallucinations, become very violent and mutate, and worse for all of us, it spreads like a common cold! During the burglary George and a security guard get into a fight, and as the guard is killed, some of the bio weapon makes contact with George’s skin causing him to fall ill. The Punisher shows up at the lab as he had news that A.I.M. was trying to break in and makes contact with George who now looks like a zombie and is out for blood! The Punisher fends off George and finds out from an A.I.M worker that political hopeful Jethro Prufrock is the man who’s responsible for hiring them to steal the virus and that he also is stock pilling weapons for a war he thinks is coming. The Punisher escapes the lab with a crazed George following and makes it to the Prufrock residence where he overhears that George is Jethro’s son as he argues with his daughter over needing the virus and how important it is for his cause. The Punisher has heard enough, comes out of hiding, and is ready for the bust when George shows up in a wild rage looking even worse from the virus and kills his father and attacks his sister and The Punisher! Normal gun fire is only slowing George down so The Punisher finds a bazooka and blasts George away “killing” him and stopping the virus. In the end, The Punisher learns that the Prufrock family was very much dysfunctional and that he saved the day from a highly contagious virus being spread around New York.
The origin of Lifeform explodes to life in this Punisher Annual, and this is just the start of the sickness that is sure to spread through the Marvel Universe. The plot is very simple and has a son trying to hard to impress his well to do father who takes a job robbing a place to impress him. Things go wrong, the son is infected with a incurable virus and goes on a rampage that ends at his own house with the murder of his father. Throw in a superhero like The Punisher and the sick man’s sister, and you have the first segment in this mini series. The Punisher goes in thinking he is stopping a plot by A.I.M who is selling the bio-weapon to a presidential candidate but turns out having to fight a raged filled infectious killer who seems to be un-killable! The Punisher is cool and collected in fighting the killer even when blowing him up with a rocket launcher. George, the man who becomes the Lifeform, is by all accounts a failure who wants to impress his father but deep down hates his guts for the years of disappointment his father has had in him. When he becomes the killer, he becomes crazy and has the urge to kill those who are around him and no gun can stop him. His appearance is grotesque as his skin has turned bubbly and his features take on the appearance of melted cheese or a wet paper bag with boils all over it. I like the idea of something so simple like a robbery has sparked something that could spell doom for many people all over greed and fear. The comic has two other features that includes a look at The Punisher’s arsenal and a short adventure featuring Microchip, who is The Punishers close friend and business partner. The main story’s art is pretty well done and is done by Neil Hansen who has that very 90’s Marvel style. So far this is a nice start up to a pretty cool story that links some of Marvel’s biggest misfits of superheroing! Below is some of the artwork by Neil that shows what George looks like in this annual. I should also note that for some reason George in this picture reminds me of the film Nightbreed and the characters called The Berserkers.
I can’t wait to see how Daredevil will deal with this terror and how George infected with Lifeform will come back from being blown up so let’s not wait any longer.
Daredevil: Annual # 6 ***
Released in 1990 Cover Price $2.00 Marvel Comics # 6 of 10
Daily Bugle writer Ben Urich has gotten word about the theft at the lab and that some sort of creature was on the loose battling The Punisher, but while the accounts say the monster is dead, sightings have been reported and Ben wants to know what it was and why. Along the dock Lifeform George appears and is unharmed after being blown up, but his appearance has gotten more grotesque. It seems as if the virus now has a new mission, to consume human flesh! So George hits the streets of Hell’s Kitchen and kills and eats anyone who gets in his way, but Daredevil gets wind of this and saves street crooks The Wildboys from being Lifeform’s lunch. In the battle the monster looses an arm and disappears into the darkness. Crooked cops Hobbes and Robbins show up just in time, and not thinking Robbins touches the arm and becomes infected. Ben Urich gets a visit from a man named Lamar Kwait who claims he can make a cure for George and turn him back to normal if he could get a sample of Lifeform’s blood. All things come to a head when Daredevil along with Hobbs, Urich and Lamar find Lifeform George and during the meeting Lamar’s spine is broken by Lifeform who is being shot by tranquilizers and turns into a pile of ooze ending his terror once more….for now!
This second part showcases Hell’s Kitchen in New York and has Lifeform going on the prowl to find human flesh to eat. Reporter Ben Urich along with a doctor who’s looking for a cure, are on its trail but it’s really up to Daredevil to stop the sickness from spreading and save the lives of those who are on Lifeforms lunch menu. The issue has three really good side stories that has Lifeform trying to kill The Fat Boys, Robbins on his death bed and dying from being infected and also having a run in with Typhoid Mary in an ally. Poor George is looking very rough now and is more of a white glob of sickness and jelloed skin, and worse he seems to be having a battle in his own mind as the George side just wants to be cured and the Lifeform side wants to kill and spread the sickness. Daredevil is as noble as ever and wants to keep Hell’s Kitchen safe from crime and monsters. Darvedevil takes the opposite route of The Punisher and uses his fists to fight the monster and not guns. The crooked cops Hobbes and Robbins add some drama to the situation, and the nice extra story that shows Robbins dying from the virus also was a nice touch and shows you should never touch things when you’re not sure what they are. Ben Urich and Lamar Kwait also add to the story and the fury of Lamar wanting to inject Lifeform with the cure tranquilizers shows how focused he is, as well adds the question why does he want to do this so badly. Plus the issue makes good use of many other DD characters as Typhoid Mary, The Fat Boys and The Wildboys all have cameos and help add to the issue and storyline, and each are nice to see. The main story art is done by Cam Kennedy and is top notch early 90’s work. I really dig the way he drew Daredevil and Lifeform as both are very well done. Check out his Lifeform below.
With Lifeform being a cannibal I really can’t wait to read this next issue as he takes on one of my all time favorite superheroes The Incredible Hulk!
Incredible Hulk: Annual # 16 ***
Released in 1990 Cover Price $2.00 Marvel Comic #16 of 23
The Incredible Hulk is roaming the desert and is in a bad mood over loosing his job, women and friends in Vegas and goes nuts when he sees an army convoy driving by. Hulk does what he does best and that’s smash as he thinks they are after him, but he was wrong and after being embarrassed by the commanding officer, he leaps into the middle of nowhere and finds on old theater that used to house plays that’s now abandon and he decides to hang out for awhile. Ben Urich goes and visits Lamar in the hospital and finds out that he was not really trying to help George as he really needed him to find a cure for the virus that he is infected with as well. You see, he was an A.I.M agent who was bitten by a test monkey that was infected with it and now he is dying. Mercy, who is a female with strange powers who does cruel things and acts as if they are acts of mercy, kills an old bum who is down on his luck and quickly finds out that just because people say they wish they were dead, it doesn’t mean they mean it thanks to an old woman who witnessed the act. Lifeform George is still alive and pulls himself back together and is looking for human flesh and sweet death. When Mercy hears his plea for death, she decides that what she is going to do is grant him the gift of friendship and takes him to The Hulk who is still hiding out in the theater. This act of “kindness” from Mercy just upsets The Hulk who wanted to be left alone but now is being bothered by these two. This causes Mercy to force The Hulk to come face to face with Bruce Banner as she makes him appear, and this makes Hulk even more mad and Lifeform hungry! The two monsters clash in a epic fight that leaves the theater on fire, Bruce Banner killed and Mercy sending Lifeform back to the docks and turning him human for short time in New York and Hulk coming to peace with no matter how much he hates Banner he needs him, as he finds out that Banner was really just Mercy in disguise. We also find out that Lamar is in the hospital with a hurt spine as well as infected with the virus as he was an A.I.M. clean up member and by accident came in contact with the virus that is killing him that is why he wanted to try and find a cure so bad. In the end the human George turns back into Lifeform and eats the dying Lamar to end his pain and suffering.
This issue has two monsters fighting it out on a stage in an old theater, which adds great atmosphere to this twisted tale of an infected man. The plot for this annual has The Hulk making a mistake and attacking the military, and after doing so, he goes to lay low in an old abandoned theater. Lifeform once more rises from the muck and meets Mercy who takes him to the Hulk as she thinks the two monsters can be friends, and this, of course, is a bad idea as they fight and burn the place down. To say sorry, she turns George back to human for a short time and when turning back to Lifeform he kills Lamar who is infected and has a damaged spine in what’s looked at as a mercy killing. Geroge/Lifeform is really split now as the human side wants to die and the virus side wants to live and spread sickness and eat human skin! The Hulk in this Annual is the grey mean-spirited one who comes out during the fullmoon, and his anger is out of control, as he once more just wants to be left alone but trouble seems to follow him. He also takes the Daredevil approach in fighting Lifeform and uses fists to try and stop this infected puss bag. Plus watching Hulk dress as a hunchback and delivering lines from the film Young Frankenstein is pretty amazing. Mercy is an odd bad guy as she thinks she is helping people who are depressed by killing them, but when she is told people say things they don’t mean like “I want to die” she decides to try and help Lifeform who’s George side is begging to be killed. Plus its cool to see Hulk get annoyed just by the sight of her. In the story Mercy also takes the form of Bruce Banner to try and talk The Hulk into becoming Lifeform’s friend and its cool to see the two interact. It’s also cool to see Lifeform look at the fake Bruce as dinner! This issue is filled with a monster vs. monster fight and brings a coolness factor out of this annual, as does the fact it’s being told by George who has been cured for a short time and is telling this story to Lamar before he eats him! The art of the issue is done by Angel Medina and is what I expected for Grey Hulk storyline and issue. Check below for how Lifeform looks in this annual, which I must also note is my favorite look for him thus far in the mini series.
From the brute force of The Hulk to the cosmic energy of The Silver Surfer is how we are going to end the sad saga of George Prufrock, a man who is becoming a walking virus Lifeform.
Silver Surfer: Annual # 3 ***
Released in 1990 Cover Price $2.00 Marvel Comic #3 of 9
The Silver Surfer returns to Earth from space to share news with Captain America that Thanos has been killed by his hands during their last battle. While at the hospital Lifeform goes on a rampage eating doctors, nurses and patients and keeps growing into a large blob of flesh and teeth that now wants to eat anyone it sees! Nick Fury of S.H.E.I.L.D. contacts Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four to check up on the hospital, and while doing so, Reed runs into Silver Surfer who agrees to help him on the massacre that they stumble onto. It’s chaos and death as Lifeform has made a path for the ocean and is now eating fish. Reed and the Silver Surfer follow, and Lifeform springs from the water and knocks Reed senseless, then sets his sights on killing and eating the people watching from the docks. But Silver Surfer has seen enough and allows Lifeform to eat him and by doing so he uses his cosmic power to make Lifeform float into space and onto a planet this is void of life. The Silver Surfer bursts out of Lifeform and as he does so, the spirit of George once more comes through and he begs Surfer to kill him. This is not what the Silver Surfer does, so he leaves Lifeform alone on a planet in space.
It takes cosmic power to put a stop the rampage of Lifeform who in this short mini series had killed many of people by infecting them as well as eating them! This issue’s plot has George losing all control and the virus Lifeform taking over causing him to grow into a grotesque blob creature who kills humans and sea life before being stopped by The Silver Surfer who takes him to space and leaves him on a planet that has no life, thus making the Earth safe and poor George stuck with his sickness and not finding the death he so greatly wants. Silver Surfer is a very powerful and noble hero who saves Earth even though he hates visiting here due to bad memories. He understands that Lifeform is a major threat and removes him from Earth so he can no longer spread his sickness. The pure power and heart of Silver Surfer has always made him a very interesting character in the Marvel Universe. Lifeform in this issue is a pure killing machine who seems to not be able to get his fill of flesh, blood and bone as all he wants to do is eat and eat like me at a cookout serving steak. Lifeform, while very much evil, is also a very sad character as he almost has a Larry Talbot Wolfman appeal to him as his human side hates what the monster side does and would love nothing more than to find peace in death. It was nice to see Captain America, Nick Fury and Reed Richards in cameos, and one thing that made me smile is how useless Reed was in the battle as one hit knocks Mr. Fantastic out of the fight game worse than Marvis Frazier being knocked out my Mike Tyson in 30 seconds in the first round. While this was a great issue with lots of mayhem and action I still can’t help but feel a little cheated with the way Lifeform was beat. While it’s cool that it has to stay in cold space on a planet that is lonely and bare for the rest of it’s life, I would have much rather seen Lifeform destroyed or kept in a cell and used again at a later date to fight the likes of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Man-Thing and Captain America in another annual mini series. The art for this one was done by Ron Lim and just like the others is top notch 90’s stuff. Check out the final look for Lifeform George below and see what the fate of others could have been if it wasn’t stopped.
So all along the virus of Lifeform could have been stopped early if only The Punisher would have shot him into space, think about all the lives that could have been saved if instead of a bazooka he used a rocket ship to stop George. But all kidding aside, I found myself really enjoying this weird little storyline that spanned many characters 1990 Annuals. I love how through out the series George grew more and more grotesque and with each transformation, his human side kept dying little by little and the virus ate away at his brain and soul. One thing that made me chuckle was how come The Punisher and Daredevil never contacted the virus as they both had run ins with him and both are mortal with super athletic abilities, but both had contact with a man who was a carrier for a very contiguous disease. I mean I understand how Hulk and Silver Surfer didn’t become infected, but DD and The Punisher by all accounts should have. It would have been nice to also seen this storyline be in the 1990 Annuals for Captain America and Spider-Man as both were in New York at the time of this outbreak and Cap even had a cameo in Silver Surfer showing that he was around. Marvel, to my knowledge, never did use Lifeform again and have left him in space since 1990, makes me wonder why they never brought him back because this time around he also could have been a carrier for a space born virus and finds away back to Earth via a rocket ship and now sets his sights on infecting mankind with his sickness and pain! It could have been a cool idea, but with Marvel in the comic world now not focusing on the past and “updating” things, I am sure Lifeform really is dead in space. Our next update will be Rotten Ink’s big Christmas Eve update, and once more we will be visiting the DC Comic Theater as we take a look at the film adaptations of Superman. So make sure to comeback for that one! Until then, have a safe holiday, read a comic or three and as always support your local horror host.