Marvel At The Dead Of Night

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Can you believe that we are just a short time away from Halloween? Something about this time of year just fills me with creative plans, and so far, I have planned many great new episodes of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre as well as many great ideas for future comics to be released by Sparkle Comics and it’s sister company Blood Scream Comics. For this 5th update in our Countdown to Halloween, we will be going old school with Marvel Comics as we take a look at a comic series they released in the 70’s that reprinted classic horror and science fiction stories that were originally banned after the Comic Code witch hunt.  I will also talk about a Horror Movie Marathon that my gal Juliet and I had; plus the most scary thing we will talk about is the Comic Code itself! So open the windows and let a chill in as we travel to the Dead of Night!

Comic Book Graveyard Pic 0

On June 27th – 28th Juliet and I decided to have a Horror Movie Marathon, and for the pre-show we decided to eat a little dinner and watch two horror motion pictures to set up the mood for the next day.  We selected “Silent Night Bloody Night” to start with, a creepy Christmas themed horror film that plays on the whodunit. We then watched a 2015 slasher film called “Kill Game” about a white masked killer stalking and killing some young adults who used to pull pranks, and as always one went wrong and someone was killed. Both films were solid and a great way to start off our marathon, and both Juliet and I selected Silent Night Bloody Night as the best film of the night as it was a nice blend of horror and thriller and was shot well with scenes looking like they were lifted from German Expressionist films of the 1920’s. Plus the film starred John Carradine, who is mute in his role and rings a bell or writes on paper to communicate with others, strange and amazing. After reading a Marvel Tales issue and watching The Rifleman on ME-TV, I headed to bed to start a day of horror and scares.

silent night bloody night dvdKill Game dvd

On the 28th we woke up at 7am to start the marathon and loaded up on Ruffle Regular Potato Chips, Peanut M&M’s, for brunch we had breakfast casserole and for dinner home made chicken wings with the “Oh My Garlic” sauce. The fist movie of the day was a Universal Monster classic called “Man Made Monster” that starred Lon Chaney Jr. as a man who becomes a living breathing electric chair after an experiment goes wrong. The 2nd undead feature starred Bela Lugosi and was called “Voodoo Man” and was about a doctors rituals to try and bring his dead wife back to life that leaves many women missing and turned into mindless slaves. The third film was “The Body Beneath” a weird almost retelling of the Dracula story vampire film directed by Andy Milligan.  The world’s first basher film “Methodic” was the fourth film about a super natural serial killer who wants to kill his sisters. The found footage film “Hangman” was about a killer who watches and stalks families in their own home while living in their attics and watching them from hidden cameras.  The sixth film of the day was the Fullmoon Entertainment film “Ooga Booga” about a little doll that gets the spirit of a wrongfully killed man who wants revenge inside it. “Hellbilly” a short film about a killer who wears a skin mask and kills any person he runs into was the seventh film of the marathon.  I should also note it was directed by Massimiliano Cerchi. Vampire flick “Dracula’s Widow” was the eighth film and was about Dracula’s Bride being on a rampage when she finds out her husband has been killed and wants to return home and uses a Wax Musem owner as her slave to achieve her goals. Shot On Video film “Spine” was the ninth film and was about a twisted killer who targeted nurses as his victims. “666: The Demon Child” was the tenth film and followed a group of scientists being killed by a small demon baby who could bring on the end of the world. The 1980 splatter classic “Nightmare” scared up the eleventh spot and was about a killer with mental issues on the loose looking for some kills…or is he? The twelfth film was “The Redeemer” a film about a class reunion that has a murder loose who has the power of God on his side and an extra thumb! Unlucky number thirteen went to the heavy metal horror film “Shock’Em Dead” starring Traci Lords that follows a rock star who sold his soul to the devil in order to be the best in the world, but his wish has bad side effects as he has to kill in order to live! The time with Juliet was lots of fun and many of the movies were fantastic, but the weakest film, aka the Golden Turkey of the day, is one we both picked for the same reasons, Ooga Booga.  It was not funny and down right dumb and was too much about pot…just not good…besides the puppet for Ooga looked good. My top three films of the day are as follows: # 1 has to be The Reedemer, a great slasher film filled with a creepy killer who changes costumes for every kill and the run down school makes for a creepy background.  In fact on a fun note, the late great Andy Copp and myself talked about remaking or doing a sequel for the film many years back. # 2 goes to Nightmare, a great bloodbath slasher film with a killer who has some extreme mental issues and will not go down without a fight. # 3 was a hard one to pick but I settled on Dracula’s Widow as I am a sucker for the classic monsters, and I think the taking a bride of Dracula and placing her in more modern times made for a great horror film that took some great film tricks of German Expressionist films. I should also note that VooDoo Man almost made my # 3 spot as it’s a great Bela Lugosi film. Juliet’s top three go like this: # 1 Nightmare, # 2 The Reedemer and # 3 Hangman! Very close order for our top two, but her third surprised me but she really enjoyed the grim feeling of Hangman. The Horror Movie Marathons are always a great way to unwind and watch some horror films for the first time or even again after many years. But now it’s time for the spookiest part of our update the Comic Code…..a cold shiver just went down my spine.

Man Made Monster dvdVoodoo Man dvdThe Body Beneath dvdMethodic dvdHangman dvd
Ooga Booga dvdHellBilly dvdDraculas Widow DVDspine dvd666 demon child dvdnightmare dvdThe Redeemer dvdshock em dead dvd

Back in the 50’s comics based on horror, crime and thrillers were a popular cheap entertainment for kids as well as adults who enjoyed a good read. But all this was about to change thanks to Charles F. Murphy, a juvenile delinquent specialist plus author, and psychiatrist Fredric Wertham and his book Seduction of the Innocent that took a fight to the comic industry that went all the way to the Senate and put book companies like EC, Marvel and DC in the hot seat of making comics that were corrupting the youth in their judgmental eyes. You see, they claimed that comic books about subjects of horror, crime and thrillers were giving kids bad ideas that crime was cool and that murder was okay.  This of course was the raving of two sticks in the mud who wanted to ruin the joy of comics for kids. And worse, these two loons made it so parents as well as the government listened to their theories of comics causing crime.  So began the comic companies being put on trial as well as parents holding public burnings of comics all in the name of saving our children. Murphy and Wertham pitched a code that had to be met in order for comics to be made that they called The Comic Authority Code.  Each comic had to meet the rules that had been set that included such wonderfully stupid things like bad guys always had to lose, no werewolves, zombies or vampires, horror & terror could not be used in a comic series title, as well as many sexual acts like seduction, rape and sadism were forbidden, police could not be killed by bad guys.  This was just the tip of the iceberg of the rules they set! If a comic company did not follow these rules, retails shops would stop carrying issues from that company so they all had to put the Comic Authority Code Stamp on the cover to prove they met the code. Marvel, DC, Charlton, Archie and many others fell in line and followed the rules.  Marvel even canceled many of its horror titles to fit the newly placed guidelines. The company was the most affected by this code was EC Comics who were making titles like Vault Of Horror, Tales From The Crypt and Crime SuspenStories; they tried to fight it but lost the battle and even closed up shop due to the lack of support from retailers and fans. The Comic Authority Code ruled the comic world for decades with their strict rules and at one point even attacked writer Marv Wolfman’s last name as it was against their rules. DC Comics had to fight the case and add full credits to their titles. The odd part about this code is that they had no real power over the companies and could not enforce any kind of fine or punishment.  But all retailers would not stock a comic that did not support the code so they won out anyway.  Oddly enough Gold Key and Dell never did embrace the code and were still well stocked. By the 70’s, the Code was outdated and needed to update, and it did as monsters were allowed to be back in comics as were drugs because at the time they could use the comics to teach kids that drug addiction was bad. The Code stuck around for many years but by the 2000’s most companies stopped placing the stamp on covers.  Archie was the last hold out but also discontinued using it in 2011. The Comic Authority Code was a terrible modern day witch hunt that riled up parents, government officials, religious groups and retailers all over the theories of two out of touch old men who just wanted to say that only their voice mattered. But while The Comic Authority Code did lots of bad for the world of comics in my opinion as it kept horror titles at bay, it also helped build the independent comic industry, who grew from their strangle hold to give comic readers an alternative to check out that didn’t play by their strict rules. One things for sure, love it or hate it The Comic Authority Code is a large piece of comic book history, and its appearance shaped the comics that filled newsstands for years that followed its birth. To close this part, just imagine if this code was still around to this day and they never updated it.  I would guess that Marvel and DC both would be out of business and comics would not be as iconic as they are today.

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The Comic Authority Code – now that’s scary to think how loons can wield so much power! I think it’s time to get to our comic reviews, and I want to thank New Dimension Comics in Cranberry Pa, Ebay, Mavericks, Bell Book and Comic and The Peddlers Mall for having these issues in stock for this bone chilling haunted filled update.  Each of those fine places made it possible for me to find these spooky issues and share them with you like ghost stories around a campfire. So turn off all the lights, pull the covers over your shoulders and bask in the light of your computer screen as it’s time for your dose of spooky Marvel tales of terror on this dead of night.  While the moon is full and the jack o lanterns are lit, I should 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. I think we should now take a long look into The Dead Of Night and hope the monsters of these rotten ink pages don’t look back at us!

Dead of Night 1

Dead Of Night # 1   ***1/2
Released in 1973     Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 1 of 11

“The Ghost Still Walks” a frat house prank went wrong years ago and left a pledge named Bub Lame dead after he had a heart attack in an abandoned house after seeing a fake zombie. Now a new batch of pledges are at the house, and they all know the Lane Curse that says his spirit will get into a body of someone in the house and will get revenge on the pledge master. Those who laugh at the curse soon find it’s real as one of them is the rotting corpse of Lane who wants his revenge. “House Of Fear!” Home investigator Charles Boyd and female reporter Jean are looking into a haunted house that’s up for sale.  Charles wants to prove it’s all fake so the house can be put up for sale, but while in the house they come across a ghost who attacks Charles, who now sees the house differently as he joins the six feet under club. “My Brother…The Ghoul” Hugo Luther is a man who digs up graves at the local cemetery and steals from the dead.  When he is seen by the night watchman, his identical brother is blamed for the crime and sentenced to death, but in the end the twins share more than just looks. “ I Want You To Meet My Brother Henry…He Dwells In A Dungeon” Jean is a new wife who married her husband George to get a piece of his new wealth that he was left from his uncle when he passed, but in the house she also meets Henry, his brother who is simple and deformed.  She hates Henry as she feels he is getting in the way of her master plan of driving her husband nuts and having him locked away in an asylum. Jean goes to the basement where Henry lives with a gun and fires a single shot into his room and hits a shadow. Upon returning to her room she soon finds out she killed the wrong brother.

This first issue is amazing, and if the rest of the series follows the lead of this one than this is shaping up to be a fantastic Marvel Horror Comic Series. To me it looks like all four stories in this issue are originals made just for this first issue and all of them pack an amazing creepy vide and capture the horror themes that were popular at the time. To choose the best story from this issue was very hard as they all reminded me of tales that would be seen on Tales From The Darkside or read in the pages of Tales From The Crypt or Vault Of Horror, but if I had to pick one I would say The Ghost Still Walks the opening story as I love his the story is told by a pledge who is scared yet laughs at the story of a curse, but he finds that in fact the curse is true and he is selected to be the messenger of the spirits revenge. This issue has no real weak stories as each tale of terror has it’s own charm and sinister appeal to it. The issue is packed with such ghouls and ghosts like a dead pledge ghost, a grave robbing ghoul, a deformed killer and a haunted house and each add a fright to their respective stories. The cover is great and very eye catching and this cover for this very issue is what made me select this series as this Halloween update! The art inside is also fantastic and this made for a fantastic read on this chilly fall night! I am looking forward to reading the next issues in this series and see if they hold up as well as this one that sets the bar very high and packs just enough cheesy horror to make for a solid spooky read. Over all I recommend this to any fan of classic horror comics.

Dead Of Night 2

Dead Of Night # 2  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 2 of 11

“He Walks With A Ghost” Barney Grill is a crook who gets his money mugging people on the mean streets, but his luck changes when we is visited by a lawyer who tells him a rich uncle has died and left him a mansion and lots of money in Hungry! Barney rushes to his new home and decides that the old family cemetery needs to be bug up and cleared away so he can add a pool and soon learns that they dead don’t like to be disturbed when they use his own tools against him. “The House That Fear Built” John and Mary live in a small house in the middle of the country when a new house is built over the next two nights, and even weirder strange lights are coming out the window so they decide to go visit and see who their neighbors are and soon find that they are aliens who are conducting an experiment to find out the weakness of mankind in order to take over our planet! It’s up to John and Mary to stop the next couple from coming over and in the house or we are all doomed! “The Nightmare” has a psychiatrist and his female patient during a visit telling him about her nightmare of living in a nice house with a loving husband and kids, you soon find out that she is an ugly witch and her psychiatrist is a skull face warlock and that to them nightmares or that of living a normal life. “The Girl Who Didn’t Exist!” Walford is a student of American Collage and he along with his fellow class mates under the teaching of Professor Haywood have found a statue of Claudia Caligara and for some reason Walford feels that she is calling to him, and over night he goes to visit the statue again and finds a tunnel to the past were he meets the real Claudia and fights an evil general to win he had in marriage! In the end Walford of 1973 is no more but now next to Claudia’s statue is one of him! Our final twisted tale is “The Frightened Man!” Franz Hyle is a dictator of a small country and he has run off the peoples only hope a man named Professor Rolfe, but things are not all sunshine for Hyle as he is visited by a green haired man who tells him that enemies are among his most trusted people. After this green haired man opens up Hyle’s mind he hears and see’s his own people plotting to take him out of power and he in turns has them all arrested. In the end Hyle is all alone and soon finds out that his green haired friend is his worst enemy and must face his real enemies the people he rules over.

This second issue is packed full of some really cool old school style horror stories as well as some that feel like filler. I think my favorite story was He Walks With A Ghost the opening tale as I love the idea of a no good scummy worm of a man getting lots of money and land only to disrespect the dead and have them come back and teach him a lesson in manners. Plus this one really reminded me of a classic style ghost story that would have been found in an issue of Tales From The Crypt or Vault Of Horror. The story that was good and my second favorite was The Nightmare while it was the shortest of all the tales it had a Twilight Zone feel and I love the idea of normal everyday like being scary to monsters! My least favorite one had to be The Frightened Man! as it really was not scary nor really that shocking as to who was the man with green hair, in fact this as well as The Girl Who Didn’t Exist should not have been in a Marvel Horror Comic and should have found a place in a Science Fiction series as no monsters, aliens or ghosts were in these stories and they felt like filler. So for those wondering this issue’s monsters and mayhem that appear are Zombies, Aliens, Witch, Warlock and Time Travel. The artwork in all the stories are top notch and fitting for this style of comic, and the cover while miss leading on so many levels (the main picture has zero to do with any of the stories and it claims to have four tales of terror when there are five) still has a great 70’s Marvel Horror Comic charm to it. Over all this was a fun issue and a nice follow up to the first so lets see what the next issue has in store for us.

Dead Of Night 3

Dead Of Night # 3  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 3 of 11

“The Hidden Graveyard” three hunters are following a dying elephant so that they can find the graveyard these beasts go to die in, they don’t care about finding it for study or science they just want the ivory! They were all warned by the natives of a meat eating beast named Kubba that makes home in the graveyard and kills what every trespasses on this land, but they think it all to be stories of myth. When finding the graveyard they soon find the myth is true and each must come face to face with the hairy meat-eating beast if they want the ivory. “Waitin’ For Satan” Mathews is a down on his luck bum who hangs out at the docks when he makes a deal with Satan to become rich and win the woman of his dreams, the pack also comes with a way for Mathews to escape being dragged to Hell that is if Satan comes to soon for him the agreement is broken, and after years of building up money and marrying his dream woman Mathews tricks Satan and gets out of the deal or so he thinks, by living a life the way he does a ticket to Hell just might be in his future. “While The City Slumbers!” an old man during a card game with his son and his friends tells a story of when he was twenty about a clan of pale skinned people named Mole Men who lived underground and wanted to over take the city for revenge for how their ancestors were treated many decades back. But on the Day they are about to attack an Earthquake happens forcing them to flee back underground and their cave was blocked sealing them in forever. No one believes the old man but in the end he has the proof a stone they gave him for safe passage during the would have been raid. The final story is “Only A Rose!” Helen is a jealous wife and when her husband Chester keeps leaving home late at night and she can’t get him to answer why she decides to follow him and watches as he delivers flowers to young women, she in a rage decides to get revenge and sends poisoned candy to the women killing them. After many nights of this and many deaths of young women she soon finds her husband was only working as a delivery guy and was not cheating as he was using the money to buy her stuff for her birthday! Worse he brings her flowers, candy and a watch and after eating the candy she finds out that the candy was returned and was the last box of poisoned ones she sent out…so in the end she dies the way she made others.

This third issue is really good and better than the second as I felt all four stories were top notch and had a good horror story appeal to them. I love the flow and vibe of this issue as it’s very down beat and only one story has a happy ending as that’s the mole men not taking over the town, but on the other hand people think the old mans crazy and the town is hot by an earthquake and massive fires so I guess it is pretty gloomy. My favorite from this issue has to be Only A Rose as I love how one woman’s insecurities leads to the death of many younger and prettier girls cause she could not trust her husband who in fact was a really good guy working as a delivery man to make extra money to but her something nice for her birthday. In the end she gets her date with death by her own hands and feels the same pain her victims did and has that classic EC Comic style ending! One that I enjoyed was Waitin’ For Satan as I loved the idea of a con man trying to pull one over on Satan who tells him while I cant take you to hell now the way you lived your life already gave you a one way ticket and I’ll be seeing you soon! Great stuff and proves you should never make a deal with the devil. My least favorite is really hard to pick cause I really enjoyed them all but if I had to say one being the weakest one I would pick While The City Slumbers while it had the feel of dread the Mole Men really never did anything to terrible and run away from the fire only to be sealed into their cave forever, while a good story not to scary. The cover is once more great but miss leading as slime people are not in the comic nor does anything come from the sewers. The art is great again and is what horror comics at this time and before were made of. For those keeping score the monsters and themes of this issue are Big ape like beast, underground pale skin men, the devil and a female killer who uses poison. So this is another great issue in this series and well worth the honors of being on a Halloween update, so lets move onto issue four and see what full moon fury we can get into.

Dead Of Night 4

Dead Of Night # 4  ***
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 4 of 11

“Werewolf Beware” Hugo is a man with a curse that turns him into a werewolf every full moon and worse he has fallen in love Erika a lovely towns girl. Things are going great till the next moon when Hugo must leave Erika behind after an argument and she follows as he tries to fight the urge to change, in the end love and a wooden stake to the gut ends the curse once and for all. “The Death Of Me!” Joe is a man who notices that when he looks into a mirror for a brief second he catches the face of a man who looks like him but his face is always twisted with hate! The man tricks the man in the mirror and captures it talking to the mirror version of his wife about killing Joe and his wife Betty off so that they can live, Joe goes around the house smashing the mirrors and is taken to an asylum were he soon finds out mirrors are not the only things that give off reelections. “We Meet At Midnight!” Hugo is a disfigured man who has grown up to a world that treats him poorly for the way he looks and now he hates everyone and everything besides books and finding the secrets of Egypt via the Sphinx. Hugo travels to Egypt and soon learns that the true secrets of the Egyptians is preservation of dead bodies via making them Mummies! The final terrifying tale is “ Worse Than Death!” George is a slumlord that only cares about money that he keeps in his home as he loves to just look at it whose apartments are fire hazards and one day a fire breaks out and kills hundreds, in the end a husband of one of the victims takes all of Georges money and flings it out the window driving the greedy man insane.

This fourth issue is really good and three out of the four stories are fantastic and they type I would hope for in a Horror Comic series done by Marvel. Each story is different and are about monsters, greed and supernatural beings and all I am sure sent shivers down the spines of readers of the early 1970’s. My favorite story in this issue is The Death of Me as I truly loved the idea of your refection being a being from another dimension who wants you dead so that it can live fully, makes you want to look a little closer at your mirrors next time you walk past them or use them to do your hair and brush your teeth. Werewolf Beware was almost the winner, as I do love a good tale about a lycanthrope that’s ending reminded me of a Paul Naschy werewolf film, not to mention Don Heck did the artwork. The weakest story has to be Worse Than Death as I feel that it was a good story it really was not scary and had zero elements of horror. The issues baddies include a werewolf, greed, the Sphinx and mirror spirits, it’s a great mix and gives the pick your chill/scare factor to this issue. The cover on this issue has to be my second favorite in the series as the werewolf looks fantastic and ties into the opening story. Over all this is a sold issue and one that proves this series has some bite to it and proves that classic reprint comics can be done if they are done right. Lets see how the next issue of Dead Of Night holds up on this Halloween update!

Dead Of Night 5

Dead Of Night # 5  **
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 5 of 11

“Deep Down” a man is walking when strange men began popping up from the ground and asking him for help and if he can help them they will make him rich! When the man goes down the tunnels with them he finds a giant gold nugget and they tell him they cant remove the nugget cause it blocks the entrance to a cave that houses a lizard dragon monster they call Dragila who will become loose and kill them all. You see all the men down in this hole are not ghouls or zombies but they are all men who are greedy and want a way to get the nugget away safe, the man spends some time thinking about how to get away safe with the gold but he comes to terms that it’s not worth it and walks away as does the 50 other men who wasted their lives waiting for this gold. “The Worst Thirst” Pete and Joe are brothers who live on a farm and their well has ran dry thanks to new neighbors who dug their well to deep stealing all the water. They now have to buy water from a trucker who brings it in from the city and this makes them very mad! So they decide that at night they will use pipes to steal the water back and in the process even kill a man to get their water back, and when they do they are so happy as the water flows high and they drink and bathe in the water. In the end the truck diver shows up and they tell him they don’t need the water but the neighbors will and the driver informs them that the well water has been poisoned and anyone who drank from it will die in two hours! “The 13th Floor” Mr. Creel owns a building and when he gets visited by ghouls wanting to rent out the 13th floor of his building he is confused as he don’t have a 13th floor but rents it to them anyway. After a the lease is up and wondering were the ghouls go he gets to see the 13th floor but his happiness to make more money turns to terror as he learns that floor only exists for ghouls. The last story is “One Must Die!” Doctor Zorg runs a zoo were he experiments on animals and how they will kill their mate in order to survive, his wife Millie is in love with Jim a helper of her husband and they have a plan to kill him via a bomb under his bed. But Zorg catches the two and dugs them and grafts their body together and in order to escape the approaching hungry wild animals they must figure out a way to get suppurated even if that means killing the other!

This issue is pretty weak and does not offer the chills and terrors of the past ones delivered. In fact I think almost all the stories in this issue are very weak and have a filler vibe to them. The best by a landslide story is The Worst Thirst as I like the feel of a backwoods brothers killing to get water something we all need and when they think they have won the really just killed themselves by drinking deadly poisoned water. The one that was ok and this is even a stretch to pick is One Must Die as I love the idea of two love birds turning on each other like wild animals to survive, and nice touch that the only way they can come apart after being fused together is a sharp giant ax. The worst is hands down Deep Down a clearly horror comedy type idea that’s pay out is that they wasted their lives over gold that they can never get, yeah not scary nor chilling just lame. The cover is based on Deep Down and shows ghouls coming from the ground and what we get is something very lame, the art once more inside is fantastic and is just like all the others very well done. This issue had a pretty good rotten ink smell and this helped add to the dead in the water feel of the issue. Over all so far this is the weakest issue in the series and I cant wait to see if the next issue pulls this series out of the grave this one placed it in. Oh yeah the monsters in this issue are greedy miners, poisoned water, a lizard dragon thing, ghouls and hungry animals.

Dead Of Night 6

Dead Of Night # 6  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 6 of 11

“Jack The Ripper” is about a graveyard that is haunted by the spirit of Jack The Ripper that kills anyone who dares to look for his gravestone, an American who thinks its all a hoax travels to England to find the grave to prove it all fake finds out that Jack The Ripper’s ghost still has a knife to sharpen on human bone! “Down In The Cellar” old man Judson is a taxidermist who loves birds and when a hunter keeps bringing him in ones he shot the old man begs him to stop and to hunt big game, Judson begs him to check out his collection of stuffed big game that he has in his cellar and the man just laughs it off and brings in more birds for him to stuff! Finally the Hunter realizes he has gone to far by killing a bag of peacocks and takes the old man up on seeing his collection of big game that turns out to be stuffed bird hunters! “The Snowman” two mountain climbers in the Himalayas find the footprints of the Abominable Snowman and the go of to track the beast, but the would be fame has them turn on each other and they soon find out that man and his greed is the only true monster of the mountain. The last story is called “Sarah” and is about Sarah a woman who collects old artifacts and decides that if the old farmer wont sell her his sword of Benedict Arnold than she will steal it, and when she thinks she has been caught her only choice is to turn herself in!

This issue is packed with three good stories and one that’s more like a telling of a joke with a silly ending, but with that said I can say this is another good issue and almost a three star rated one at that! One funny thing before I go to far into this review that I have to point out is that according to Stan Lee who wrote the opening story Jack The Ripper was found, killed and buried and his real name was Jack The Ripper…classic comic book stuff and this made my night seeing this. The best story in this issue is Down in The Cellar another story that reminded me of Tales From The Crypt and had an ending I seen a mile away but still loved the pay off of a crazed old man who hunts bird hunters! The Jack The Ripper is a good story and shows that even after death the killer stalks and murders those who cross his path in the way of being a knife-wielding ghost! The weakest story is Sarah as its more of a joke story of a woman who thinks she’s been caught stealing by an art dealer and turns herself into the cops only to find out the man she thought had caught her cant speak English and was just a lost traveler. The Snowman is a fun story that only shows the footprints of the legendary monster and the two feuding men turn out to be the real monsters as one goes so crazy he wonders around the snow barefooted after killing his one time friend. The issues evildoers are The Ghost of Jack The Ripper, A Human Hunting Old Man and Human Greed, and the art inside is great as is the cover even if Jack The Ripper is shown on the streets and in the story he never leaves the graveyard. Well lets move onto issue # 7 and see if the quality of this horror series maintains the level of perfect reading of the Halloween season!

Dead of Night 7

Dead Of Night # 7  **1/2
Released in 1974    Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 7 of 11

“Corpse In The Streets” Arnold is a doctor who reanimates a corpse of a killer in order to turn him into a zombie that will kill for him as he is trying to raise money for a high end coat for his wife, the zombie kills his patients and Arnold robs the bodies and even sells off their cloths to make extra cash. In the end the zombie turns on his master when he falls in love himself with the doctors wife! “The 13th Floor” Hugh and his wife Mary are both sick and Hugh is working day and night to save money so they can move away to a place that rains less and the air is dry. In the office he gets on the elevator and gets off on the 13th floor and is puzzled as the building only has 12 floors and soon finds out the that floor is death and talks his way back to life only to have to live without his wife who dies that night, and they were trying to take him early so he could be with her! “Man Lost” Al is a jealous man of his brother Greg who has invented a time machine and when he drugs his brother over dinner and tries to go back and fourth in time to win at the horse races, but he should of listened as he becomes a man that time forgot and is just a shell of himself that no one can see nor hear! The last story is “Deluge!” Jason is a man who thinks the world works due to magnetism and is mocked and fired from his job, he later builds a machine that controls magnetism and this puts the world is chaos as he controls the very world and dies trying to stop what he started as the machine will not turn off!

This issue has some good stories and it has some real stinkers causing it to be a pretty standard issue that don’t pack any major frights but does have some good ghost story/campfire tales appeal. The best story in this issue is a tie between Corpse In The Streets and The 13th Floor as both were fantastic tales and each had their own charm. I like the zombie slave who falls in love with his masters wife in the first story and enjoyed the man who loved his wife so much that Death himself tries to rig time for him to pass the same time she does! The worst story hands down was the final story Deluge as it was boring and really cheesy and had no place in a comic about Horror, the only thing this story has going to it was that Steve Ditko did the art. The comics ghouls and horrors are a killer zombie, a world changing machine, a time machine and an elevator that leads to the Grim Reaper. The cover and art in this issue are both very well done and I really like the Grim Reaper on the cover who reminds me of the old Monster in My Pocket figure of that character. Over all this issue has two great stories, one that is pretty good and one that is just plan terrible! Worth a read and still is perfect for this late night Halloween update!

Dead Of Night 8

Dead Of Night # 8  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 8 of 11

“Alone In The Dark” Donald is a 10 year old boy who is left alone with his Uncle Claude who spends his time reading the youngster horrible fairy tales filled with death, you see Claude hates his brother and wife and wants to kill Donald and then them on this night! And at the stroke of midnight knife in hand Claude is about to make the kill but who is really the killer and who is the victim in this twisted tale of family issues. “The Eavesdropper!” Tony is at a bar when he over hears a plan between a man and a woman to kill her husband that night and collect the insurance money. Tony decides to follow them instead on calling the police so he can blackmail them and get a piece of the money, but he soon finds out that the attended victim might just be to close to home for his liking. “The Old Witch” George is a simple man who’s wife Helen has a heart of gold and feeds local stray pets as well as homeless people and gives them a place to stay in their home. Matilda is a old woman that she has brought home and George has a bad feeling about her and the first night catches her performing black magic in their guest room! George gets a wooden stake and while the old woman sleeps he drives it through her heart and buries the old woman out back, but to his shock his wife and neighbors call the police and he soon finds he killed his true love as a witch’s tricks are very sly. “The Slave!” Joe killed a man during a bar fight and fled before the cops could catch him, while on the run he falls ill and a poor villager takes him in and nurses him back to health were he finds that the small towns cemetery is filled with gold and jewels, and when the villagers suspect him of stealing he dresses as a slave for a man who has died and soon finds the not just riches are buried with the dead!

This is another good issue that is packed with four solid stories that are sure to chill the blood of old school horror comic fans. The issue has many horror characters showcased like an old witch, a killer and even a child werewolf showing this one was a true grab bag of monsters. The best tale in this issue is The Slave as I really liked the idea of a sleazy man who is so greedy he would steal from the dead of the people who helped him when he was near death, gets what he deserves when he is trapped in a tomb were he rots away slowly dying from starvation. The worse twisted tale is really hard to pick as none of them in this issue are bad at all! So I guess I will say the most predictable one is The Old Witch as the twist of the souls of the women changing place and the husband killing the wrong woman is something I seen a mile away. Over all this is a solid spine tingling issue that shows that old reprints can pack a punch for a new generation of ghoul kids.

Dead Of Night 9

Dead Of Night # 9  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 9 of 11

“The Empty Bus” it’s a dark and stormy night and when a bus stops to pick up Nick he is the only passenger on the bus or so he thinks, an old man appears out of thin air and sits with Nick who pulls a gun and the old man tells him a story of a night just like this about a man with a gun and murder in his eyes who dies when he tries to kill a man who use to run crimes with him, Nick does not listen and he in fact turns the story into reality. “Sazzik, The Sorcerer” Boris Grumm is a TV Producer who’s shows are so twisted that the station drops them with the help of multiple complaints, so to get even he comes up with another show based on a cruel black magic sorcerer named Sazzik! In then end Boris comes face to face with the spirit of Sazzik and he isn’t happy. “They Melt At Night!” Jeremy Miller is a scientist that people mock so to get revenge he makes a formula that melts peoples cars, his idea is to sell them the cure to make the cars no longer melt and make a ton of money, but soon finds that greed is not the answer to life and in turn has a change of heart. The final tale is “The Sudden Storm” hurricane Tessie is in full effect and the rain and winds are causing so much damage, a group of guys try and save an old couple who own a petting zoo but they refuse to leave, as the water raises we soon find out that the zoo is an arch and the owners are Noah and his wife!

This ninth issue in this series of mostly reprinted horror and thriller stores is well done but it’s clear they were running out of ideas for true horror inspired stories. The best story in the issue is the opening one The Empty Bus as it truly has a Twilight Zone feel to it and I love the message of a spirit trying to warn a troubled man not to try and kill cause it will back fire and he himself will be the one dead. My least favorite and really has no spooky nor horror elements to it at all is the last story The Sudden Storm as the pay out is a tie in to the Bible. The cover of the issue is fantastic and I love how the Grim Reaper is playing chicken with a bus, but sadly a bus is in one of the stories but this version of The Grim Reaper is not. The art inside is well done and just like all the others holds a classic horror comic look as they were originally done when horror comics sold well for companies. The monster run down in this issue is this an Old Man who could maybe be The Grim Reaper, a Hurricane, a formula the melts cars and an evil The Sorcerer. Over all an average issue with nothing that makes it to scary nor a stand out in the series.

Dead Of Nigh 10

Dead Of Night # 10  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 10 of 11

“I Dream Of Doom” a man is tormented by a monster in his dream and goes to a doctor for help as he fears if he sleeps the monster will get him! The doctor tricks him and gives him a sleeping pill and when he sleeps he meets the monster again who is not what he seems nor is the man…dreams are a key to the universe and this opens those doors wide. “I Wore The Mask Of Drothor!” is about a mask maker named Markas who is running out of ideas for masks and his sales are slipping, that is till he decides to make a mask based on a black magic cultist named Drothor who was so ugly that if anyone captured his image a curse was placed on them, the mask is so good he decides to wear it and rob a mansion but soon finds out the curse is real as his looks will now forever be that of Drothor. The last story is “I Was Face To Face With The Forbidden Robot!” Ralph is a man who wants to get fame and fortune in order to give his wife a better life and decides to reanimate a robot and set it free to capture it as robots are banned in society as they are viewed as threats to mankind. Ralph tracks the robot and has a terrible battle with it in abandon castle that leaves the robot at deaths door but before it dies it saves the life of Ralph as the castle catches on fire. In the end Ralph tells the truth about the robot being a hero and the world allows robots back into society.

This issue is pretty good and is filled with horror and science fiction and is pure marvel horror comic goodness. And the monsters in the issue are a dream machine giant purple monster, a black magic curse and I guess a robot. My favorite story is I Wore The Mask Of Drothor a great mean spirited tale about a mask maker who laughs off a curse and in Twilight Zone fashion has the curse strike and make him as ugly as the mask he made. The good one is I Dream Of Doom as I like the idea of a man being scared to sleep as it reminds me of A Nightmare On Elm Street and I like that the idea of him being wrong about the monster who is not there to hurt him but take him back to his dimension were he is a king! The weakest story as I will not say it’s bad is I Was Face To Face With The Forbidden Robot as I feel that once more while it’s a good story it feels more like one that should have been apart of EC Comics series Weird Science and it has a happy ending as Ralph gets the respect of his wife, changes the laws against robots and even will get the robot who saved him as a reword. Good story just kind of out of place and by no means a horror story. The cover is great and as always miss leading as the monster attacking a roller coaster is not in the comic and makes that scene that does happen in the opening story in a small dream sequence look way more bad ass than it is. The art as always is great and to sum it up this is a good issue. Well sadly we only have one issue left and this Halloween update will be coming to an end so I hope your not to scared as we take a look at issue 11.

Dead Of Night 11

Dead Of Night # 11  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 11 of 11

“The Sinister Scarecrow” Two goat masked members of a cult called Cult Of Kalumai break into an auction house to steal a painting of a sinister Scarecrow but they soon learn that The Scarecrow from the painting can come alive and kills them. We cut to the auction and The Scarecrow painting is up for sale and it’s a bidding war between Jess Duncan who is there with his girlfriend Harmony and his brother Dave who is a writer for a magazine against a creepy sleazy rich man named Gregor Rovik. Jess wins the painting and this puts Gregor into a rage who claims that painting will be his one way or another. Jess gets the painting home and as he talks with Dave and Harmony talk about it the Cult Of Kalumai bust in and knock out Jess and Dave and kidnap Harmony as a sacrifice to their dark master who’s image in under that of the Scarecrow in the painting! The leader of the cult is Gregor and just as he is about to kill Harmony The Scarecrow goes to life and kills all his cult members and chases him out into the yard were he had the near by trees come alive and crush him to death! In the end Jess comes to the side of Harmony and they relize that the painting is powerful and the key to fighting pure evil is in the hands of The Scarecrow.

This is the first issue of Dead of Night that does away with the multiple stories and focuses on one story that was made just for this series. The plot is about a cult who needs a painting and a human sacrifice to bring back their evil dark master, but they are blocked by a protector who is a Scarecrow that is painted over their masters portrait. The Scarecrow is a laughing killing machine who gets joy in killing the cult members and by all accounts is kind of an anti-hero. His powers are that he can control crows as well as trees and have them attack his enemies and evil-doers. The Cult Of Kalumai are terrible people who as well kill and steal and don’t feel bad for what they do, their only goal is to bring their Dark Master back to our world. Jess Duncan is a man who loves odd art and seems to want to figure out the mystery of the Scarecrow painting and has wanted to own that painting most of his life. Dave Duncan his brother is more interested in helping his brother so that he can write a story for his magazine about it’s history. Harmony is a loving girlfriend who also can take care of herself and wants nothing more than to help her man on his quest for answers. The comic is pretty violent, and while blood is not shown, many people die brutally from gunshots to necks being broken showing that Marvel Horror titles wanted to push the comic code as far as they could. While I like The Scarecrow, I like the issues with the multiple stories better, and it was clear as glass that Dead Of Night was going to become a full fledged Scarecrow series with this issue as they tried so hard to make the character iconic like their other horror characters. But sadly, this issue was to be the final as The Scarecrow was brought in as a new original story to try and help the poor sales Dead Of Night that was not a major hit with reprints only. The cover is well done and captures what the story is about, and the art inside, done by Rico Rival, is fantastic and makes The Scarecrow spooky and the Cultist sinister looking. It’s sad to think that Dead Of Night only lasted 11 issues and that even if it had continued, many of the issues that followed would just been about the adventures of The Scarecrow, if not all of them. Over all Dead of Night is a fun series that brought terror and horror to Marvel readers in the 70’s and earned its place alongside other horror titles like Werewolf By Night, Tombs of Dracula, Man-Thing and Monster of Frankenstein. While none of them reached the creepy nature of the first issue, the rest of the series had more hits than misses making for a top notch update for our Halloween showcase. Below is some artwork for the series that features the Kubba monster from issue 3, the werewolf from issue 4, and last is The Scarecrow from issue 11.

Dead of Night Art 1Dead Of Night Art 2Dead Of Night Art 3

Dead Of Night is a fantastic little series from Marvel, and I was happy that I was able to get them all and share with you on this Halloween countdown update! For the longest time I collected Marvel Horror titles like Tomb of Dracula, Supernatural Thrillers, Werewolf By Night to name a few and looked past the chills that a comic series like Dead of Night had to offer, but when I first found some issues in Cranberry, PA and read them I was hooked and knew I had to get the series and see what horrors it offered. I hope you are having a fun October filled with tricks, treats, parties and loved ones, and I hope your costumes will – and have – made people shriek with fright.  So until we meet again, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two, support your local Horror Host and have a chilling good night! Oh yeah, you’re wondering what our next countdown update is about – well let me tell you, it’s from the bakery of horror as we take a look at The Gingerdead Man!

The Gingerdead Man Logo

American Hero: The Original Shield

Happy July 4th and welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place where everything nerdy that inspired me has a place to shine and be discussed! Who doesn’t love a holiday that is in celebration of our nation’s independence and is filled with cookouts and amazing firework displays? So for this update I decided to cover a patriotic super hero and had many to choose from such as Captain America or even DC’s Freedom Force with Uncle Sam, but I decided to cover The Shield, a hero who pre-dated them all and has a fun Americana feel. So grab a burger and a cold beverage, and sit back, relax and have some fun with me here at Rotten Ink as we celebrate July 4th!

Fireworks go boom

Growing up, I can remember that my Brassfield grandparents would have cookouts that would have that side of the family gathering to eat burgers, hot dogs and steaks and play some baseball, Nintendo or football with the cousins and have an overall fun time. Later in the evening, we would all go to Delco Park and watch the fireworks and celebrate our independence. But while for the most part those were fun times, I can also remember many of years drama breaking out over someone having too many beers, and fights and arguments would break out for no reason.  Maybe my friend Henrique Couto should make a follow up to his film Awkward Thanksgiving and call it Awkward July 4th cause I have some fun and silly stories to share with him on that subject! The older I got, the less the family meet up and the more I would go out with friends to watch the fireworks or attend BBQs with them.  Some of the best times I have ever had on this day had to be sitting in a football field with my friend Andrea Seay and watching fireworks, just chatting with her as we watched the sky explode with bright colors, showing me just how important she was and still is to me.  Sadly we have drifted apart due to a dumb decision I made when it came to her. I also remember having great times on this day with David & Katie Wean cooking out and eating hamburgers and hotdogs chatting about movies and music. I also remember having a good time over at Patrick Neeley’s house cooking out, chatting, listening to music and playing video games. I also always had an amazing time hanging out on this day with my brother Bryan and his family along with friends like Andy Copp, Henrique Couto, Mike Ritchie and Nick Williams grilling out and watching Couto set off tiny fireworks or blow up apples and such with firecrackers. Nowadays I spend July 4th with my girl Juliet, and we find some sort of wacky thing to do to celebrate the day. I am going to pack lots into this update, not only about The Shield but other things to do with the holiday as well as a few things that don’t! But one thing is for sure, if you’re reading this on July 4th I am sure you are enjoying some grilled out meat while being around your loved ones waiting for the fireworks to go boom!

grilled out burgers

In 2015 on July 4th for some reason I had to work for a few hours and then went to WYSO and got Alpha Rhythms done.  When I got home, Juliet and I decided to try some chicken wing sauce we bought at Jungle Jim’s that was called “Oh My Garlic.”  This was originally bought to have during one of my Horror Movie Marathons as the bottle had a pretty cool vampire drawing on it, but that idea changed as the last marathon I had was pretty large and we ended up ordering wings from Fricker’s instead. We got some fresh farm grazed chicken wings and drumsticks from Dorothy Lane Market, and when placing them in the glass pan, I put some spices on the wings and then put a little butter on them as well to help make them turn crispy and brown and placed them in the oven at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes. When taking them out I covered them with the Oh My Garlic sauce and man the smell was great.  Juliet and I knew that dinner was going to be really good and we could sleep easy as the heavy garlic smell would scare off any vampire. After about 30-40 minutes the wings were done and our feast began. The Oh My Garlic sauce was fantastic and had a strong garlic taste and the flavor mixed well with the chicken, spices and butter drawing out the garlic taste even more and really soaking into the meat. This is one sauce I will eat again and look forward to the next trip to Jungle Jim’s so that I can raid the chicken wing sauce aisle and get another bottle and see what other wonders I can uncover! The first picture is of the Oh My Garlic Sauce.  The second is the finished meal, and the third is the wings when the sauce was first placed on.

Oh My Garlic SauceOh My Garlic Done WingsRaw Wings With Oh My Garlic sauce

What would July 4th be without talking about something creepy! In 2009, a strange video was uploaded to Youtube by a user named Creepyblog that shows a very creepy female android singing a song called “I Feel Fantastic” while it moves its hands about.  It sent shivers down viewers’ spins, and the web was creeped out with many people asking what is this?! Tara The Android is the thing’s name.  No one is 100% sure of its origins and it’s true intention of being made, but like anything odd on the internet, there are a ton of theories that I would like to share them with you. Before you read on, you should watch the original video by typing in “I Feel Fantastic” into Youtube or just click the title from this page. Many people believe that Tara was made by a man named John Bergeron who made her to be a novelty concert attraction that he planned to book at clubs and art shows to show off her singing ability as well as his android work, but after not getting the attention he thought she would via her website as well as some issue with her not being that portable, the idea was scrapped. This theory is the most logical one and takes any creepy element away from Tara and her creator.  It was said that for a short time on the website that is now almost shut down, you could buy the songs as well as the “music videos” from Tara…is this fact or was the website made up to help build the legend of Tara? The next, more science fiction, theory is that Tara was made by a man who was killed by her and now the female android is on the loose looking to sing to and kill anyone who gets in her way…this one is silly and over the top and seems like it could have been an episode of The X-Files. The best, and also very believable, theory is that a serial killer made Tara and dresses her in his victims’ clothes and has her sing positive things to him as if murdering them was the right thing.  At one point Tara says “You Are Fantastic” but also says such odd things as “Run, Run, Run” and “Please Leave” adding to the killer using phrases he wanted to hear as well as what he did hear from his victims. Many videos were made and most are laced with strange lyrics and odd costume changes for Tara. Another odd thing is during the music videos random shots of a backyard are shown zooming into the ground ,and this is said to be the location of the body or bodies of victims. The background music that accompanies her lyrics sounds like weird low budget horror film score music adding fuel to the creator being a killer. No record has ever been uncovered if this is the work of a killer, and many people think this theory is just told to scare people looking for a good Creepypasta. So I am sure your wondering what I think the story of Tara is, well let me tell you that I am not sure! So what do you think, was she a would be android pop star made to make its creator some extra money? Is it a killer android on the loose who killed its creator looking for blood? Or is it the work of a killer who uses the robot to relive his crimes and feel good about his deeds? Only Tara and her creator know for sure, and they aren’t saying anything! On a side note weird stuff like this is why I do love the World Wide Web, cause it’s open to debate what is real and what’s only fiction to make a Creepypasta.

tara the android 1Tara The Android Backyardtara the android 2

On this update the CD I listened to as I wrote was picked by my friend and co-worker Dan Harkless, who is a Vietnam Vet and served his country in the war.  I always enjoy sitting around and listening to his war stories, and it’s given me a perspective into battle.  He is an all around fun person to chat with who loves Russ Meyer films and Playboy Magazine.  He’s a great swimmer who won awards, a gardener, was a fan of Sub Mariner when growing up and is a music lover. Dan picked Harry Chapin’s 1977 release Dance Band On The Titanic as his favorite, and this is interesting as I know very little about Harry Chapin besides the song “Cat’s In The Cradle” that almost every music listener knows.  So this is a very big unknown for me as I do not recognize any of the songs on this CD! The first thing I noticed is the 70’s pop folk sound of the tracks.  This was not what I was expecting at all as I felt going into it that it would be 100% folk rock, so this was a pleasant surprise! The first track that caught my ear was “Why Should People Stay The Same,” a nice song about change in relationships with a touch of religion.  It’s a good song with a catchy beat. Many other well produced and well played tracks followed including the soft folk ballad mixed with a dash of big band song called “Dark Valley (An Imitation Spiritual)”, a song that also caught my attention. While this CD was nothing I would normally listen to, I did find some great songs to write to on it and want to thank Dan for recommending it to me to go outside the borders of what I normally listen to.

Dan Harklessharry chapin dance band on the titanic cdHarry Chapin

My brother and I used to rent a lot of horror films from K&L Video.  We would look up and down the New Release Wall looking for low budget titles that would catch our attention or direct to video sequels to films like Children of The Corn, but in 1996, a cover box caught my attention for a horror film called Uncle Sam that had a picture on the back of it that made me crack up and caused us to rent it! The picture on the back that had me laughing was a man dressed in an Uncle Sam mask peeking into a window and watching a woman in the bathroom…so cheesy, yet so 90’s direct to video horror! The film was directed by William Lustig, who was known for The Maniac Cop series as well as titles like Maniac, Relentless and Vigilante, and starred names like Bo Hopkins, PJ Soles, Isaac Hayes and David “Shark” Fralick and was released by A-Pix Entertainment. The film is about a young boy named Jody who idolizes his uncle Sam Harper, who is a master-sergeant in the army and is killed in a crash, but when the body is flown home, the small town soon finds out Sam is not dead.  He is a zombie killing machine and must be stopped by his nephew who once looked up to him. You see Sam was not a good man who enjoyed beating his wife as well as killing in wars.  While his nephew thought he was a true patriot, he in fact was a scumbag. While watching the movie, my brother and I spent time spotting the G.I. Joe action figures and enjoying the over all cheesy nature of the film. Sam Harper wears the Uncle Sam costume once he kills a peeping tom who was wearing it and has two looks, one with a mask and one with a zombie like burnt rotten face.  That’s right, sadly the picture on the back cover was not the killer, but just some teen tying to sneak a peek at a girl he likes. Uncle Sam leaves itself open for a comic sequel as it looks like a film one is not in the books. The story for the comic could have a grown up Jody, who is now in the military himself, being sent to a top secret base where he finds that the government has many experiments locked away including the still reanimated body of his Uncle Sam.  They want him to lead this rag tag group of “controlled” reanimated solders into battle against terrorist, and Jody soon learns that no one can lead Sam as he takes control of the zombie army and leads a war against not only terrorist but returns home to settle the score with the town that hides his ex-wife as he wants her dead! The comic would come to an epic end battle in the small town as Jody leads a group of elite soldiers against Sam and his army of the undead! The comic could be filled with lots of blood, bullets and boobs and the home coming for Sam of course would have to take place on July 4th so that during the final battle, fireworks could be going on in the background. While no major comic company would touch this to turn into a comic series I would say that out of my friends, the ones I would love to see make this would be Eric Shonborn or Justin Wasson, both of whom I think could make this idea pop and come alive the way it should. If you like low budget horror films that have a holiday themes to them, then make sure to check out Uncle Sam as I am sure it will give you at least an entertaining watch.

unclesam751BQEVJB3JLunclesam

The Shield was created in 1940 by Harry Shorten and Irv Novick for MLJ Comics for a series called “Pep Comics” and was one of the first true patriotic superheroes of comics. In 1959 Lancelot Strong became the new Shield for a comic called “The Double Life Of Private Strong”, but Archie Comics pulled the plug on the series after only two issues. In 1983, Lance once more as The Shield was given another run under “Lancelot Strong: The Shield” and had two name changes during its seven issue run. Think about that; the comic had three titles for seven issues! The Original Shield, who was back to the first one – Joe Higgins, came out for Red Circle Comics and lasted only four issues. 1991 saw DC Comics (under Impact Comics) giving him a try with a series called “The Legend Of The Shield” that had Joe Higgins as The Shield for thirteen issues, and later Lt. Michael Barnes took up the mantel, in a series that only lasted sixteen issues. In 2015, Archie Comics under their Dark Circle Comics banner, has released a new version of The Shield that has Victoria Adams stepping up to do America proud. So that’s the publishing history of The Shield; up next we will take a look at Joe Higgins, who is the Original Shield!

Steven_Barnes the shieldShield 00VictoriaAdamsShield

Joe Higgins is a chemist, whose father Tom was working on a chemical formula that would act as a super solider serum, but the Germans want it and this leads to Tom’s death.  Joe continues his father’s work, and after using X-Rays and other chemicals, he does it! He gains invulnerability as well as the ability to leaps of great distance. He dresses in a outfit that sports the American colors, takes the codename Shield and takes a job for the F.B.I. to fight threats to America as well as try and clear his father’s name and expose his killers. His adventures are part superhero and part spy game as he also takes a young orphan named Dusty Simmons as his sidekick, and the pair stop many menaces and dangers. Later in life as he aged, he formed a group with teenagers he called “The New Crusaders”. Joe’s son Bill Higgins took over the role of The Shield when his dad was turned to stone by a bad guy named The Eraser, and in order to save him he also created a team called “The Mighty Crusaders! This is just a quick crash course of the history of The Shield as I don’t want to spoil too much and would like for all you readers to take some time and check out some of his comics.

shield1shield1Shield_2714

The Shield did get an action figure in 1984 as part of Remco’s toyline based around the superhero team The Mighty Crusaders that consisted of The Shield as well as 7 other figures. The Shield figure came with a gun belt, two guns and a shield that rocked the red, white and blue colors! The figures themselves are about the size of Mattel Secret Wars but more bulky in proportions, and their legs look like liverwurst logs stuffed inside spandex pants…to sum it up, they are weird looking. The Shield figure also has a goofy looking face, and sadly the whole figure line reeks of cheapness.  While my brother and I had a few of these figures growing up, hardly no other kid I knew did. The Shield was not one of the figures we owned growing up, but I can safely say if I did he would ended up just being a foot solider for my Secret Wars Captain America on rescue missions to save Princess Leia and Scarlett from the grip of Baron Zemo!

The Sheildt1il_570xN.664942093_e6ca

So I think we are all in a patriotic mood right now thanks to The Shield and it being July 4th so I think we should grab a burger or dog along with a favorite drink sit back enjoy the weather and atmosphere of being our independence day and take a journey with The Shield as he battles those who want to disrupt our way of life here in America. I want to thank Bookery Fantasy and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and helping make this holiday update special. Like always, I want to 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 light a sparkler and take a bite of that hotdog it’s time to go to war alongside The Shield!

Original Shield 1

The Original SHIELD # 1  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #1 of 4

A map has been stolen from the F.B.I., and The Shield wants to find out who stole it and why.  By donning his alter ego Joe Higgins, he tracks down a fellow agent who was the spy for a bad man named Boroff and was the key in stealing the map. At Boroff’s hideout he not only has the top secret map but also Professor Newton, the man who created the maps and knows the location of the item they seek,.The Shield comes in at the last second and beats up Boroff, who is working for a secret group called Delta 3 and saves Newton from being killed and finds out that what the map is hiding is no longer a threat as the radiation from bomb testing has ruined it. But things are not all good as Boroff escapes, and while one fight ends, the battle still rages on. When retuning back to work Joe Higgins finds out that the F.B.I. as part of budget cuts is closing one of their old storage warehouses and are giving away some old robots to the museum that was created by Boroff’s henchman Klotz.  He travels to Washington with Lisa Carvin, his boss, for a black tie affair and to check on the robot.  Upon arriving, he finds that they are already gone, and a man with a gun is waiting for him.

This is classic patriotic super hero action that shows a normal man in a special suit mixed with spy situations can be a great read and would be great for fans of Captain America! The plot of this issue has The Shield stopping a plan to kill a professor and steal a top secret weapon and along the way finding a mole within the F.B.I, beating up his arch nemesis Boroff, and trying to stop the transfer of old robots that he battled in the past. The Shield, aka Joe Higgins, is a great hero who uses his wits as well as his special powered suit (that reflects bullets, fire and blasts) in order to protect America from those who wish it harm. He is strong as a well-trained boxer and packs a punch that can break robots into pieces! He is firm and harsh when need be and doesn’t like to lose when it comes to the game of fighting crime.  He also enjoys being an F.B.I agent and ridding the streets of global threats. Over all I’m big fan of The Shield at this point and am very glad to be reading about him on the 4th of July! Lisa Carvin, who is Jim’s boss in the F.B.I., seems pretty cool at this point.  It’s clear she is not a fan of Joe but respects that he gets things done.  She is also clueless that Jim is The Shield. Boroff is a pointed tooth, black Mohawk haired beast of a man who clearly does not value human life.  We only get a small dose of him in this issue but I have a feeling he will be back in the future. This issue has likable characters, a fun dated yet classic story, good art and filled with pride from those who created this issue. Now the bad side is that the story picks up in the middle of the action as you had to read “Mighty Crusaders # 5” and “Pep Comics # 1” in order to really get the full backstory of what is going on.  I still am unclear as to what the map held the location of besides these numbers 42642. But even with that flaw, I really did enjoy this comic.  The cover is classic Archie Superhero stuff, and the art inside done by the likes of Dick Ayers and Tony DeZuniga and is fantastic stuff.  I really enjoyed the art as it reminded me of late 70’s Captain America work. Well let’s see what issue two has in store for us, and I am hoping it will be as good as issue one!

Original Shield 2

The Original SHIELD # 2  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #2 of 4

The man with the gun is no threat, but an old F.B.I agent named Dan Hurley who served with Jim way back when has now pieced it together that Jim is The Shield as he has not aged at all! The pair get talking about the past and how, for a short time thanks to a powerful ray gun from Boroff, The Shield lost his powers. After the talk, Jim asks Dan for help and makes it just in time to pick up Lisa for the party that is being thrown by Senator Casey.  At the party, Lisa meets an old flame named Ed Crisp, and Jim sees his old nemesis Klotz who tries to murder him with a poison gas capsule! Jim barely escapes and leaves the party with Lisa as he coughs and rambles on about a 80 year old spy. Jim passes out in front of Lisa’s hotel room, and she drags him inside where he has flashbacks to his past that include his wife, son Bill and old crime fighting partners and enemies. Once awake, he changes into his Shield outfit and finds Klotz who is out of his mind and is a working for Delta 3.  Klotz drops a grenade as our issue ends, hoping to blow them both up!

The Shield does it again with this second issue as he captures the mood of a time when comics were simple and plots were cut and dry with bad guys and good guys, another solid issue for sure! This time around Jim Higgins meets an old friend, The Shield comes face to face with an old enemy and Lisa comes in contact with an old flame. Plus throw in a shady Senator, and you have a fun spy costume hero comic plot. This issue The Shield aka Jim is once more a man of honor as he chats with an old friend and comes clean to him that yes, he is the costumed hero everyone depended on in the past.  Plus thanks to the gas, we learn that he was married and had a son, and we get a little about his old crime fighting friends who went missing.  We also learn that he was frozen into a statue by a bad guy named The Eraser, and that’s why he is so young in modern times. The Shield is a class act hero who reminds me of a character that would have been a member of The Minute Men from The Watchmen from DC Comics. Lisa Carvin is also a little more fleshed out as it’s clear that while she is hard on Jim she still likes him as a person and she is not your typical one sided female character as she acts and gets things done. Dan Hurley is a old timer who lives and breathes the F.B.I and is a pretty cool little side character.  I wonder what mission Jim asked him to do; I am sure in the coming issues we will find out. Klotz is a crazy old man and with him being nuts comes the danger as it’s clear he is not sane and will do whatever it takes to kill The Shield and impress Delta 3. I don’t trust Senator Casey or Ed Crisp as both seem a little too shady for this comic reader.  Plus Ed has one of those 70’s porn mustaches mixed with Mr. Kotter’s from Welcome Back Kotter! While not a lot of fists flying, this issue still packs a mighty punch with its simple and classic plot and good characters. The cover is pretty good, and that art inside is once again fantastic and done by three this time: Dick Ayers, Tony DeZuniga and Rex Lindsey.  It’s sure to please old school comic readers. Sad to say, we are at the half way point and this series is almost at an end. l hope the next two keep up the quality of the first two as I’m really digging this series.

Original Shield 3

The Original SHIELD # 3  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #3 of 4

The blast kills Klotz, and stuns The Shield for a few moments.  During this time he remembers back to the day he was broken free from being a living statue thanks to his son Bill who was acting as The Shield. He also thinks how different his time in the 1940’s was from present time in the 80’s. While looking around the room he finds the final mission for the robots, to attack the White House and kill the president! The Shield rushes to the White House running as fast as The Flash and defeats them. Changing back to Jim Higgins, he, alongside Lisa, confronts the Senator who seemed to be working alongside the crazy Klotz, but after they find Ed Crisp dead in his office from a suicide with a note claiming allegiance to Delta 3 the heat is off the Senator…for now. Delta 3 however is very not pleased with their plans being foiled and put a hit out on Joe and Lisa that is taken by Mega, a strong tall stretching powerhouse and Bit, a small man with telepathic powers! As Jim and Lisa leave Ed’s funeral, they both have the feeling he didn’t kill himself but was murdered to cover up Delta 3 plans.  As Mega goes after Jim, he soon meets Shield who makes quick work of him as Lisa is attacked by Bit who is finally beat by Lisa and The Shield together.

This issue tones down the spy aspect and ups the fighting as Shield goes toe to toe with Mega and Bit who are mutants sent to do his boss and him harm.  It’s a pretty great plot and could be taken straight from a classic Spider-Man comic. In this issue, the Shield watches as one of his old nemesis dies, discovers corruption in government and fights two mutants to save his own life as well as his boss’! Lisa Carvin is also fighting corruption as her one time lover has been murdered and framed all to cover up for the evil Delta 3. Mega and Bit are mutants with special powers who use them wisely, but just are no match for The Shield who outsmarts them in battle. But to be fair, Lisa is the one who delivers the knock out blow to Bit with a vase to his head. Delta 3 shows two members named Number 1 and Number 3, and they are cheesy bad guys who are worried about being discovered and that’s why hits are placed on the F.B.I agents. The best part of this comic series so far is the fact that as we get deeper in it, the plot thickens! The cover is good and classic 80’s superhero stuff, with art this time around being done by Dick Ayers and Rex Lindsey only, and like before it’s fantastic! The sad part about this issue is that we only have one more in the series and then we are done, but I guess that’s a good thing as if you are reading this update on July 4th I am sure you have cooked out food and fireworks to get to. So let’s not waste any more time and see what the final issue has in store for us.

Original Shield 4

The Original SHIELD # 4  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #4 of 4

Jim Higgins comes to work at the F.B.I and has a special note from his old World War II friend and now Army Col. named Boyle that informs him that in New Mexico a shield that belonged to his nemesis The Hun is being placed at an army base museum and that danger is near. As Boyle gets to the base and sees the Nazi shield with his own eyes, they come under attack as the aging Hun is mad as hell and as powerful as ever! The Hun manhandles Boyle and the aging base commander. But lucky for them, The Shield makes it just in time to tangle with The Hun and is able to make short work of him thanks to his love for freedom and power. In the end the Nazi shield goes missing, The Shield captures The Hun and America is safe from a threat once more.

This fourth and final issue in the series only slips slightly as the story is good, but also seems a little rushed. The plot is simple and has a Nazi super bad guy from the past attacking a military base.  He’s taught a lesson in manners by The Shield who makes quick work of him. In the issue the Shield comes off a freedom loving hero but oddly enough lost a little charm as this issue felt like it were trying to hard to be a Captain America issue. The Hun’s is amazing as it shows him as a German boy who had murdered people his whole life getting powers from the ghost of Attila The Hun and after doing so joined the Nazi party to try for world domination. While he sounds like a bad ass, he is shown to be a good fighter but is outclassed by The Shield in every way…making him no real threat. We finally meet Col. Boyle, and he comes off as a old man who lives in the past who is a mix of Nick Fury and Thunderbolt Ross from the Marvel Universe. With this being the final issue some questions do go unanswered.  It was clearly not supposed to be the final issue as they advertise in the end for issue five. So as far as we all know, if you just read The Original Shield series, Delta 3 is still out in the world causing issues and The Shield along with the F.B.I are still battling them, and I like that. The issue also takes a jab at Marvel Comics as in the end characters named Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are asked to dump the trash where the Nazi Shield is placed among the garbage. The cover is epic and shows The Shield going into battle with The Hun as army soldiers are frozen in place. The art this time around was done only by Dick Ayers and has a 50’s style look to it.  While not bad, it’s also not the best the series has looked. I should also mention that The Coment from Mighty Crusaders makes a cameo in the issue as he is how The Shield gets to New Mexico so fast. While The Original Shield is dated by all accounts and most modern comic fans would be bored to tears with its slow pacing and World War II dated hero who’s out of time being resurrected in the 80’s, I found lots of joy in reading it, and it triggered even more patriotic spirit in me as I read it on this day that celebrates America and all it’s glory. While this series might not be for everyone, I think fans of early Captain America will love every cheesy page of it. Below is some artwork from the series with the first two showcasing The Shield and the last being The Hun.

The Original Shield Art 1The Original Shield Art 2The Original Shield Art 3

The Shield, a True American icon, is worth the read and receiving the honor of being the first Rotten Ink update for the 4th of July under the “American Hero” banner. But our next update will take us away from the Star Spangled Hero The Shield and into the world of the living dead and another trip to Monster Bash Convention in Mars, PA, as we take a look at the IDW adaptation of Dawn Of The Dead! So until next time enjoy the fireworks, eat a hot dog or two, read some comics and enjoy this holiday with friends and family.

Dawn The The Dead Logo