Marvel Horror Showcase – The Golem

In the 1970’s Marvel Comics unleashed a batch of Horror themed characters on readers as the comic code was loosening their grip on previously strict rules allowing horror and monsters to enter the inked pages of comics once more. They had such ghouls and creatures as Dracula, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider, Daimon Hellstrom, Frankenstein’s Monster, Living Mummy, Godzilla, Jack Russell the Werewolf by Night, Zombie and Golem to name a few, and while many of them had long lives in the pages of Marvel Comics, some of them only lasted a small handful and have faded away from the comic spotlight. Today for this update we are going to take a look at one of their Horror themed short lived characters, and I have chosen Golem as I think this hero monster needs his time in the sun and for a new generation of Marvel Horror Comic readers to discover or even think about once more. In fact I am thinking that this will be the start of a new themed update series I will call “Marvel Horror Showcase” and will allow me to breakdown a classic Marvel Horror character and share my connection to them as well as share some history about the character. So if you’re ready to be spooked by Marvel Comics, let’s take a macabre journey with the thing that walks like a man called The Golem.

The Golem’s origin in the Marvel Universe is as follows: in the city of Prague, the people were being oppressed by evil tyrants and wise man Judan Loew Ben Bezalel created a massive man shaped statue out of rock, clay and blood. The Golem was used to avenge the people and did just that. After his work was done for the people of Prague, The Golem wandered around helping the innocent against evil people. Once the massive creature did what he could for mankind, it walked its way into the desert and allowed the sand to cover him up hiding away from mankind. And once he is uncovered in modern times The Golem once more becomes a protector for innocent mankind and binds itself to the family who uncovered it and has awoken it from its long slumber. The Golem is mostly a protector, but in the wrong hands he can also be used for pure evil as it is a creature of emotions of those it’s bound to. While The Golem might not be a true icon of Marvel Horror, he has made his small mark in the Marvel Universe.

When I was a youngster some of the first Horror Comics, I ever read were the Marvel Horror books as well as a few of the Gold Key titles, and I would say Marvel was my introduction to Horror Comics over all and that is where I discovered the comic series Strange Tales and in those pages I discovered Golem. The Golem was one of those characters I can remember reading his adventures and wondering why he was not a fully fledged monster on a rampage, but learned to really enjoy his superhero adventures. One thing I always liked about Golem was that he always seemed one step away from going fully fledged rampaging monster as he can be controlled, and if the demons got ahold of him he would have become full evil and really scare mankind. I also have heard that The Golem has become a member of the monster team S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Howling Commandos alongside The Living Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster and Zombie to name a few. Plus over his comic book run he even took on The Thing from the Fantastic Four!

I really owe a lot of my love for Horror Comics to the Marvel Horror as they were the first ones I read and can even say that I collected as I was obsessed with getting my hands on issues of Werewolf By Night, Godzilla and Tomb Of Dracula. But enough gushing about Marvel Horror, let’s get into looking at the Strange Tales issues that The Golem appeared in as well as the issue of Marvel Two-In-One he appeared in. I want to also remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s take a look at the first Marvel Horror character I have chosen, the one and only The Golem!

Strange Tales # 174  ***
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics    #174 of 188

Professor Abraham Adamson along with his nephew Jason, niece Rebecca and his helper Wayne Logan are searching in the desert for a mythical creature called The Golem that is said to have been buried in the sand many decades back. And as Wayne and Rebecca are digging, they find the massive body of The Golem and with some chains and digging equipment they are able to bring it to the surface once again! But while they are happy to have found their discovery, a few miles away a war wages on and man is killing man all in the name of land. The next day Colonel Omar and his men ask to refresh at the camp of Professor Adamson who grants them shelter and a place to rest. But The Colonel and his men show their true colors as they are at the camp to loot it as they are deserters of the war and during the looting Professor Adamson is shot and killed. The rest are taken as prisoners, but the war criminals made a mistake as the soul of Professor Adamson finds its way into The Golem who once more comes alive. The Golem finds the soldiers and makes quick work of them ending their lives with ease and once done he finds Colonel Omar who has a gun to Rebecca’s head, and with speed The Golem crushes the gun and kills Colonel Omar as Rebecca, Jason and Wayne all notice a look in the creature’s eye that reminds them of Professor Adamson.

Strange Tales # 174 does a fantastic job of bring comic readers into the myth and horror world of the character The Golem! Our creepy tale has a Professor being murdered and his loved ones kidnapped and with his dying breath is able to call on the living statue The Golem who was created to fight evil to avenge him and save his family, and that’s what happens. Professor Abraham Adamson is a good man who loves the history of The Golem and has spent many years of his life to learn of the legend as well as find its location. But while he is super smart, he is a little too trusting as he allows soldiers to stay at his camp and they end up being the ones to end his life. Rebecca, Jason and Wayne are good people who are a part of Professor Adamson’s team to find The Golem and get a shock of a lifetime when they watch as the Professor is gun downed and The Golem walks and kills. Colonel Omar and his men are cutthroats who steal what they need and have no issues with killing as long as they are not caught. The Golem is a silent avenger who reacts and takes action when danger to the innocent is around, and it’s clear he only walks the Earth again due to the tear of the dying Professor. This comic has the Marvel Horror feel as it has deaths and a monster but does downplay the violence as the kills of The Golem are hidden in all panels. The story was written by Len Wein and edited by Roy Thomas, and to me that’s a great pairing for 70’s Horror Comics. The cover is great and eye catching for those who love the creature runs amok flare as it showcases The Golem smashing a jeep and reaching for a woman. The interior art is done by John Buscema, and all his work is fantastic. While the Horror for this character is downplayed, the macabre aspect is not, and this issue is a fantastic read for those of us who love classic monsters of myth and legend.

Strange Tales # 176  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics   #176 of 188

Rebecca, Jason and Wayne look at The Golem in shock as the dead bodies of the soldiers are all around them, and decide that they need to get The Golem back to the University in Florida as that was their uncle’s wish. As they are loading The Golem onto a ship, they are visited by more soldiers who want to keep the statue in their country but they are attacked by The Golem who is about to kill them as well until Rebecca orders it to stop…and it does! As the soldiers run off, the Adamson family and The Golem hit the high seas set to return to America. Evil wizard Kaballa The Unclean and his winged demons has set their sights on The Golem as Kaballa thinks he can control the creature who can help him on his conquest to conquer the world and sends his wing demons to attack the ship and bring him The Golem. The wing demons attack, and The Golem once more comes to life and along with Wayne saves Jason who has heavy barrels fall on him, and Kaballa learns that The Golem needs to be on land to get his power, but when things get super bad The Golem powers up and tackles all the demons into the water and as they die one of them fires a bolt and blows up the ship and The Golem is forced to swim or sink and as he paddles by Rebecca, Jason and Wayne jumps on his back as they all end up on an island.

This second macabre tale has The Golem on his way to America on a ship, and we find out that a demonic wizard has his eye on controlling him and sends some demons to attack him and see what he is made off. In this issue we also learn a little more about The Golem as he understands English and can take orders from those it cares about. Plus we learn that it needs to be on land in order to have its full power and strength. We also learn that The Golem does not care and will kill if he feels that innocent people are in danger and in a rage almost kills more soldiers who really didn’t do much besides get upset that Americans are taking more of their culture away. Wayne Logan in this issue also shows he is a hero as he does what he can to try and bring down the flying demons and risks his own life trying his best to help The Golem. Jason is useless and causes The Golem to use up some of his strength in order to save him as when the demons attack he is in the way. Rebecca in this issue is kind of in the background but it is shown she can control The Golem as it listens to her. Our issue’s bad guy is Kaballa The Unclean who controls an army of demons and for some reason thinks that The Golem will make him more unstoppable, and all he really does is watch as his demon minions get their butts kicked. This issue brings in supernatural elements to the Horror and Superhero atmosphere this story has already delivered. I like the idea of The Golem being a killing machine that now must fight demons in order to protect its human friends, plus I feel that he is now facing baddies that are a challenge…but also I feel that adding the demons in also takes away the classic feel of The Golem myth and just turns it into a cheesy Doctor Strange style story. The cover for this issue has a classic 70’s Marvel look and is eye catching for readers like me. The interior art is done by Tony DeZuniga and has a more Horror Comic look. Over all this is a good issue that just took the story in a more cheesy supernatural mystic Marvel way. Let’s see what the third part of our story has in store for us and let’s see what island our heroes are on.

Strange Tales # 177  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics   #177 of 188

Kaballa The Unclean is upset that his winged demons have failed him and decides that he will next send Fire Demons after The Golem as he really does think that with his power he will be able to conquer the world! Meanwhile at the University of Florida, a Dr. Yeates does not believe that The Golem is real even after his assistant Saudia Yamal shows her tests that prove The Golem is alive! Rebecca, Jason and Wayne all try to prove that The Golem is alive, and yet Yeates does not want to hear it and when he gets the chance he decides that he is going to use a blow torch and melt the monster just in case he is proven wrong and The Golem is alive and he is not able to fill the seat at the University left behind by Professor Adamson. But when he turns on the torch, he is greeted by the fire demons whose appearance makes The Golem come alive to protect Yeates as well as Rebecca and Wayne who mistakenly shown up at the lab. The fire demons are powerful and hurt The Golem with their extreme heat, but before The Golem goes down, he gets his second wind when he thinks about how much he loves his new human friends and with his bare hands he takes down the fire demons. And defeated again, Kaballa sits back on his throne and thinks of his next attack plan.

In his final appearance in the pages of Strange Tales our monster hero The Golem once more battles demons in order to protect humans from being killed and wronged and finds more about his own powers as it’s not only the land that fuels his power but also love. The Golem in this issue also shows that he is starting to share a mind link with Rebecca and Wayne as they can hear little of its thoughts. The Golem is also starting to learn who and what is a threat and when he should attack and when he should just remain solid like a statue. Dr. Yeates on the other hand is kind of a scumbag as he would rather destroy the creature instead of being wrong on his prediction that it’s all a hoax, as he does not care about The Golem nor the history of it; all he wants is to move up at the University. Jason, Rebecca and Wayne all kind of take a back seat in this issue as they are more just around at the university and are the ones who delivered The Golem there and are the ones it wants to protect. The Fire Demons are powerful and are good fighters as they almost bring down our living clay creature, and Kaballa once more just watches the battle and is evil and ate up with craving power. Once more this issue plays up on the mystic supernatural aspects and mixes in Horror slightly as it’s clear that comics like Doctor Strange was popular at the time for Marvel and they wanted to add it into this simple plotted Horror Comic. The cover for this issue is okay but does lose the Horror and is clearly more mystic looking. The interior art is done by Tony DeZuniga and is good and fitting for the direction of this series. In the letters section of this comic they talk about the fate of The Golem and the people of Marvel say that they could not figure out what to do with The Golem so they pulled the plug on him and his story in the pages of Strange Tales and decided to turn the comic over to featuring Adam Warlock instead. And we would have to wait a little time to get an end to The Golem’s tale and it would come in the pages of Marvel Two In One and that’s what we will take a look at next.

Marvel Two-In-One # 11  **1/2
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics   # 11 of 100

The Thing and his girlfriend Alicia Masters are rushing to the train station so they can get to Disney World in Florida for their vacation, and everything seems to be working against them as the cab driver who took them to the station argued with The Thing for a short time and even the train almost left without them! And once on the train the other passengers treat The Thing like he is a monster and even all sit away from him and Alicia. Meanwhile at Sam Pedro University in Florida’s Ancient Cultures Department, a small group is meeting next to the Golem with Professor Yeates who is arguing with Jason Adamson about if the stone statue can indeed come to life and fight, and this spins the wheels of both who view the Golem differently as Jason knows it is a protector against evil and believes his uncle’s spirit is inside the stone statue. Meanwhile Kaballa The Unclean has figured out that he can take control of The Golem by separating him from Rebecca and Jason and allowing his own evil will to be what guides him. Kaballa also uses the weather to his advantage and uses water to separate the kids from The Golem and unlucky for The Thing, he must tangle with The Golem who is more powerful and more brutal than the Fantastic Four member and is able to knock the hero around. As The Thing tangles with Golem, it gets flashes in his mind that his foe is sending him and risks it all to build a bridge to the college so that Rebecca and Jason can be near Golem and try and get him back under their control. As The Thing builds the bridge our of cars, poles and what ever he can get his mighty hands on he must also fight off demons who are attacking trying to keep him from his goal as Kaballa only needs a few more minutes before he takes over totally! The Thing is able to build the bridge and Rebecca and Jason rush to their monster friend and as they try and get Golem under control Kaballa attacks them and this forces the Golem to use his powers and vanquish Kaballa! In the end The Golem is now frozen in place as Jason and Rebecca plan on watching over it and The Thing and Alicia can now start their vacation.

The Golem in his final appearance in a classic Marvel Comic has our monster going on a rampage as well as once more being brought in by the power of love form his human friends. In this issue Kaballa The Unclean almost gets full control of The Golem and uses weather and demons as his defense to try and keep his control for the time that’s needed to become it’s full master, but what he didn’t count on was that The Thing of super team the Fantastic Four being in town and helping the Adamson family regain control. In this issue Jason and Rebecca are helpless to help The Golem and spend most of the issue arguing with Professor Yeates and being stuck at the college and watching as their friend and protector is being possessed and going on a massive rampage! The Thing is a hero that is lucky or unlucky depending on how you look at it to be in the area as this is going on as his power is what saves the day for the world as if Kaballa would have gained total control everyone would be in some serious trouble. Kaballa The Unclean is as sinister as ever and in this issue before he is defeated is so close to getting what he wants and starting his take over of the world, but as always his ego and self titled nature lead to his defeat. The Golem in this issue starts out being the stone protector the world needs to being a rampaging monster that Horror Comic readers want, to ending up a frozen statue that is stuck in the middle of Florida. This final story in the classic arch of Golem seems a little rushed and to be honest The Thing and him really don’t fight as much as they should, showing Marvel really just wanted to end Golem and his comic run. In fact Golem really brings down Kaballa pretty easy and it would have been great if they decided to have Golem be a ramping monster by the end of the story and not just a good guy statue frozen until a later date. I mean as a bad guy it would have been great to see him tangle with Man-Thing who is also set in Florida or even do battle with The Hulk, Thor, Werewolf By Night and Luke Cage to name a few. While after this appearance Golem would go on to make cameos in a few other issues this really does mark the end of his comic star. The cover for this issue is fantastic and captured my attention when I seen it as a kid, and the interior art is top notch and done by Bob Brown and has that Marvel flare. Over all I would have loved to seen more of the Golem in comics and really wish they would have left him bad for awhile to allow the above mentioned battles before having Rebecca and Jason once more get him under control. If you like Marvel Supernatural Horror, then I would say give this a read, as it’s a fun one. Check out the art below to see some of the styles used for this series.

So as you can see, Golem was and is a pretty cool Marvel Horror monster that had a short run that delivered some scares but mostly supernatural action. While Marvel seemed to really give up on the character and never allowed him to fully live up to his potential of becoming a good Horror Comic character, he still was able to leave his bloodstain mark on it no matter how small it was. And while writing this I also thinking about the next character I would like to cover for next Marvel Horror Showcase and I am happy to say that I have chosen IT The Living Colossus to be the next Horror subject! But enough of talking about a future update, let’s talk about the next one as I will be taking a look at Horror Hosts Iris & Retina from Mondo Smash A’GO-GO! So until next time, read a Marvel Horror Comic or three, watch a classic Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Join me next update as it will be a blast talking about these Dayton, Ohio Hosts!

The DC Detective Superhero Jonni Thunder Cracks The Case!

Here at Rotten Ink I really enjoy taking a look at all types of heroes, villains and characters from all types of comic companies, and one that I really do enjoy showcasing when it comes to underrated and misused heroes are those of DC Comics. In the past we have taken a look at characters like Red Tornado, Hawkman and STEEL, all topnotch superheroes that seem to be afterthoughts in the world of the DC Universe. For this update I have chosen a character who took over the role of superhero from her father, and I am talking about Jonni Thunder aka Thunderbolt a private detective who also has the power to turn into a powerhouse electric hero! So if you’re ready to solve a mini series with a super powered gumshoe, let’s take a quick case with Jonni Thunder!

Jonni Thunder and her father Jim Thunder came together in California and opened “J. Thunder Detective Agency” after Jim was fired from the police force but still felt he could help people. For years father and daughter try and help people with their skills and have lots of great success. But over the years her father Jim Thunder is slowly killing himself with hard liquor and cigarettes and dies from his bad vices leaving Jonni to have to run the agency on her own. While on a case of murder she is offered money by one of her father’s friends for a statue that turns out to hold the power of Thunderbolt, and once free the creature bonds with Jonni and she is able to control it and hence a superhero is born. The downside for her is that while she takes control of Thunderbolt, Jonni herself passes out and is left open to attacks and dangers. Jonni would later, as Thunderbolt, get involved in the Crisis On Infinite Earths and took on Knodar and also would later become romantic with superhero Skyman and would join the team Infinity Inc, that is until she would lose her power and gain it back only to find that the Thunderbolt that attached itself to her was in fact a alien who had bad attentions. Once she lost her powers and Skyman passed away, Jonni Thunder left Infinity Inc. and faded way back to normal life. So while her time as Thunderbolt and a superhero might have been short, Jonni still was a cool and interesting character that once more DC dropped the ball with and misused over the years.

So as you can see Jonni Thunder by all accounts is a normal strong willed woman who owns and runs her own business that by luck gets the power of a superhero. But like many of the characters created by DC, she was not given the chance to become a mainstream character as it has always been clear that if they were not Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman they just don’t have much for you at the time. With comic characters now being used in other forms of media like video games, novels, TV shows and movies the folks at DC seem to be more open to using the none A-List characters. But we are now at the time of this update were we will do the review for the Jonni Thunder mini series, and I want to thank Bell Book And Comic for having them in stock. I also want to remind all you readers that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready, lets see what Jonni Thunder is all about and if Thunderbolt can save the day.

Jonni Thunder # 1   ***
Released in 1985       Cover Price .75       DC Comics     # 1 of 4

It’s a stormy night in California as Private Investigator Jonni Thunder returns to town after her father’s funeral. Once back at her office she finds a body of a would-be client dead with gun shot wounds, and after the cops question her, she gets a weird phone call that says if she seeks answers to why the man was murdered in her office she must meet them at the tar pits. Jonni jumps into her 1957 Thunderbird and in the pouring rain finds that her mystery caller was a no show. When returning to her office she finds a weird metal insect waiting to try and kill her and with lots of luck and after escaping her office via the window in the ally she is able to make the machine blow up with a well places umbrella to the metal machines eye. After the attack the cops once more give Jonni guff and act as if her story of a killer robot is fake and takes the word of a drunk who claims he was in the ally and seen and heard nothing. Jonni storms off and heads to the office were she finds a note to meet one time western actor and singer turned TV mogul Slim Chances who makes her an offer to buy an old statue of her fathers that has a story of power around it. Jonni knows that the statue was turned into a lamp at the office and when bringing it to the set up meeting spot she is attacked by the old bum who has a high powered laser gun and he as well wants the statue and even tells her he is the one who sent the metal bug assassin! As he tries his best to kill her with his laser gun the statues starts to glow and a being of energy comes out of it and Jonni passes out and is now controlling it and chases the old man who falls off a cliff and dies! The flying energy being returns to Jonni who awakens and is confused on what just happened.

This first issue in the mini series is fantastic and a great way to kick it off and bring readers in. The thing that works the best for this comic is the nice mix of classic detective comic with a touch of superhero comic by the end. This issue’s plot has Jonni Thunder after the funeral of her father being the target of a hit that by the end of out story all revolves around a statue that was sent to her father when she was young that was stolen from a foreign country that has stories of powers. Jonni Thunder is a good detective, who is skilled at her job as she is always looking for clues and always paying attention to things going on around her and best of all she is sharp witted with good survival skills. Jonni also is very skilled at combat and is a strong willed character who does what she can to get the job done, plus she does not take any guff from anyone…she is a really cool basic detective character. Thunderbolt is a female being of energy that can fly and shoot energy blasts from her hands, she has the mind of Jonni and at this point Thunderbolt does not speak nor do we really know much about her yet. The main villain of this issue is the old man who clearly wants the statue and will kill in order to get it.  At this point we don’t know who he is, but I am thinking he might be the man who originally stole the statue decades past. I also don’t trust Slim Chances as this old time western actor seems a little too interested in buying the statue and even never showed up at the meeting spot, making me wonder if he hired the old man to kill the daughter of his one time friend. This far the story is well done, and I am looking forward to seeing how this all plays out as well as I hope to get the answer of who the old man is and who hired him. The cover is pretty eye catching and is very 80’s DC Comics.  The interior art is well done and is done by Dick Goirdano. To sum this issue up, it’s a great first issue and introduction to a character that had/has lots of potential, and I am looking forward to seeing what issue two has in store for us.

Jonni Thunder # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 2 of 4

The police have shown up to the crime scene and find the dead body of the old man at the bottom on the cliff, they of course have it in their mind the Jonni Thunder is the killer but they have no proof and seem to get joy in given her a hard time. Once she leaves the crime scene she goes home and tries to figure out what this statue is and why it has given her powers in times of need. She goes home and thinks about her next move when she finds a private detective like herself named Harrison Trump digging through her mail, the two get into a struggle and Harrison gets away before she can figure out why he was snooping. Jonni goes to the office and finds Slim Chances and his bodyguard Roadblock waiting for her and they are not their as friends as they search her purse for the statue and leave when they think the cops are on their way. Jonni who has hidden the statue finds the Harrison has stolen it and she travels to San Francisco to get it back. She soon finds that Harrison was working for night club owner and dancer Red Nails who has turned on Harrison and is trying to figure out the power of the statue when Jonni breaks in and confronts her. The two women share some words and Red throws the statue at Jonni knocking her out but also allowing her to turn into Thunderbolt who chases Red around but should have taken her out fast as Red picks up a gun and is about to shoot the knocked out Jonni in the head!

The second issue has Jonni Thunder at odds with many people all who want the statue minus the cops who think she might be covering murders that are happing by not giving them all he details. The poor detective is also having to deal with the fact that a statue has given her powers that turn her into a living raw energy power superhero! Plus she gets attacked and bullied all through the issue as Slim Chances and his bodyguard try and rob her, sleazy private detective Harrison Trump snoops around her house and does rob her and club owner beauty Red Nails knocks her upside her head and also tries to rob her!! Jonni Thunder in this issue is tough and also confused as after the death of her father her life is becoming stranger and stranger and she herself is trying to solve her own case of what’s the deal with the statue and why the world wants it and why does it have weird powers. The cops are no real help, and they keep just blaming and investigating Jonni instead of listing to her statements. The old western actor Slim Chances and his former NFL player bodyguard Roadblock are scum and are greedy for the statue and try to bully their way into getting it and even try and use money as means to get it. Harrison Trump is a P.I from San Francisco who is not a good one as he is willing to steal for his clients and even is willing to fight against a woman in order to get his case closed, funny thing is he is a fool and becomes a hostage of his own client! Red Nails is a pretty red head woman who owns a dance club and is clearly cold blooded and willing to kill in order to get the statue as she wants it’s power for herself. The cliffhanger ending of this issue is really well done as it’s clear that Thunderbolt has to be fast in order to save her own life! The cover for this issue is great again and is classic 80’s DC Comic stuff and the interior art by Dick Goirdano is great once more and is great classic art stuff. To sum it up, this is a great DC Comic for a female hero they sadly seem to have forgotten for the most part. So lets see what issue three has in store for me!

Jonni Thunder # 3   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 3 of 4

Red Nails forces Thunderbolt to retreat back into Jonni Thunder’s body as if the hero don’t she threatens to shoot the host body in the head! Once awake Jonni and the still captive Harrison Trump are handcuffed and forced by Red and her henchwomen to sewer tunnels where they are shown a giant electric machine that was built by Red who besides being a stripper is also a whiz of electricity machinery and has designed a massive laser gun that she plans on powering with the power of Thunderbolt, but first she wants to use it on Jonni and Harrison! But when the statue doesn’t power the laser gun, Red Nails sends her goons to kill Jonni and Harrison instead who end up escaping right after Jonni is able to grab the statue. The pair find themselves on the run and end up being kidnapped by Slim Chances whose limo is now being chased by Red’s lady goons on motorcycles! Jonni and Harrison leap from the limo just in time and find themselves having to work together to really get out of harms way. But their escape is cut short when Red Lips starts to use a lightning machine try and stop them forcing Jonni to become Thunderbolt and for Harrison to try and control the run away car that the body of Jonni is passed out at behind the wheel! With some luck and power Thunderbolt is able to electrocute Red Nails ending her reign of terror, and return to her body and she hopes this is the end.

The third issue once more is a solid read and shows that Jonni Thunder when pushed can take care of business and truly has the will to live when faced with odds that are stacked against her. In this issue Jonni is kidnapped and set to be murdered by a laser cannon, but is able to escape and stop her enemy who is using the cities electric power to try and kill her and gain back that statue. Red Nails is one mean woman as she is unfazed by the chaos she is creating and the lives she might be taking, she also clearly only really wants power and money…too bad she gets none and finds herself fried like a piece of chicken. Slim Chances the one time movie cowboy turned TV tycoon is also a true scumbag as in this issue he even turns to kidnapping in order to get the statue and it’s power. Harrison Trump who is the goofy private investigator who really help start this drama shows that he is not a fully bad guy as he risks his neck to not only try and save his own hide but that of Jonni’s as well. Thunderbolt is shown that she does have a weakness as all the electric power of the city really zaps and hurts her, but she also shows that with the mind of Jonni she is smart and quick to come up with answers to major problems. This issue helps build up the story really well as it once more shows you that this statue is something special and has bonded with Jonni who cant get a moments peace in order to figure out what and why! The cover for this issue is very eye catching and good use of the colors yellow and red with interior art once more being handled by Dick Goirdano who once more captures the feel of DC Comics in the 80’s. Over all this is another solid issue that makes me look forward to the fourth and final issue to see how our story plays out.

Jonni Thunder # 4   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 4 of 4

Jonni Thunder and Harrison Trump are driving back home when they are pulled over by the cops and as Jonni is taken to the station as Harrison steals her car! After being questioned by the cops a call comes in from the higher ups to leave Jonni alone who leaves only to be once more taken by Roadblock to meet with Slim Chances. Once at the mansion Jonni beats up and kills Roadblock and soon finds that Slim is the man who hired the laser gun madman who tried to kill her at the meeting spot and that he also is the one who shot the man who died in her office! Slim also tells her that the statue came from space and that he and Red Nails had nothing to do with each other, but he goes too far when he is about to kill Jonni with his laser gun and Jonni turns into Thunderbolt and electrocutes Slim killing him before in a daze back as Jonni she leaves the mansion with two dead bodies left behind and lots of thinking to do as she returns to her office. Once back she finds her friend beat up bad on the floor and a note left behind by Harrison for her to meet him alone, Jonni is in a rage as she thinks he has beaten her friend near death and rushes to bring down Harrison who she quickly learns is innocent and that Red Nails is still alive and she and her goons are the ones who beat up her friend. After tricking the goons Jonni targets Red who she lets in on the secret that the statue no longer has power, as she is now the source of the energy.  Red in a rage tries to shoot Jonni and a struggle ensues that leaves Red shot thanks the cops that have been called. In the end Jonni has cleared her name, she has the power of Thunderbolt living inside her and she now has friends in the police department as well as Harrison Trump a fellow P.I.

This is a mini series that does a great job of bring the world of comics and cheesy detective pulp style novels together to deliver a very entreating adventure. In this issue Jonni Thunder learns that she truly has the power of Thunderbolt and is able to clear her name as well as deal with all those filled with greedy wants and needs that all breaks down to the statue. Jonni Thunder is good at her job and knows how to find the information she needs to close a case as well as survive any and all bad situations that come her way. But while Jonni is smart and tough as nails, she still has a soft side as it’s clear she loved her dad and cares about her friends old and new. When as Thunderbolt she has massive raw power and energy and will do what she has to do to save her hide and others, also as Thunderbolt her power could easily kill a human. Whats weird is the power of Thunderbolt lived in the statue for awhile but once bonding with Jonni the power makes it’s home inside her. Harrison Trump is a sleazy dude who was willing to steal to make money and only after being saved and almost killed does he really come around to be a decent guy.  Plus I think once he started to having romantic feelings for Jonni his attitude and look out on life changed. Slim Chances and his ex-football player Roadblock were slimy rich people who wanted the power of the statue and looked at human life as disposable! Plus for their greed and power hungry mindset both Roadblock and Slim meet their deaths by the hands of Thunderbolt/Jonni. Red Nails and her goons as well are terrible and greedy people who meet their ends as well trying to get power. Plus the cops while a thorn in the side of Jonni finally turn out to be heroes when one of them shoots and kills Red Nails before she could end the life of Jonni. Over all this is a nice action packed detective romp mini series that does a great job of blending noir and superheroes to make me as a reader wondering what turn was next for our characters. The cover for issue # 4 is ok and by far is the weakest one in the series.  The interior art is still great and done by Dick Goirdano again. Over all if you enjoy detective comics that have a hint of superhero this mini series is for you! Check out the art below to see the style of Goirdano.

DC Comics has a bad history of really back burning many of their characters in favor of just focusing on the same main A-List heroes. I think they dropped the ball on Jonni Thunder as I think she could even have been a great side character in one of their mainstream books like they could have had her move her office to Gotham and enter the world of Batman! But sadly I just don’t see this changing at DC as they will always be the comic company that Superman and Batman built, and they will always only focus on them and a handful of other heroes. For our next update we will be walking away from DC Comics and one of their many forgotten heroes and take a journey with another detective, but this one is like none other as he is a talking dog named McGruff The Crime Dog! So until next time, read a comic or three, remember an old superhero or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update as we take a bite out of crime!

Batman vs. The Abominable Snowman: Dawn Of Winter

Forget “Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” this update is the real battle for Batman that you comic book readers have been chatting about at your local comic shops for years and wondering when a rematch will happen, or better yet when the movie based on this epic fight will ever make it to the big screen! I am not talking about Batman’s epic fights with such characters as The Predator, Count Dracula, Xenomorphs or even with his regular baddies like The Joker, Bane, Two Face or Catwoman.  No, this battle puts them all to shame as I am talking about his fight with the king of the mountain, the monster of Tibet, the one and only Snowman aka The Abominable Snowman! Wait what? Some of you readers seem not to remember The Snowman, a character who was a thorn in Batman’s side for two issues of his ongoing DC titles in the 70’s. For this update we will not only learn a little about The Snowman but also about the legend of the Yeti and maybe I will try to play and beat a cool custom Batman NES Batman game put out to PacnsacDave! I know it’s the middle of summer and late July, but get your warmest jacket on as we are climbing Mount Everest to become one with The Snowman as we take a look at his two Batman appearances.  So grab some hot cocoa, and let’s start our fun and dangerous hike.

Mount Everest The Home Of The Yeti

The men and woman of Tibet and the surrounding area have had stories for centuries about a half man and half primate creature that roams the mountains around them that they call Yeti, Meh-Teh and other names like The Abominable Snowman. It’s been recorded that the Lepcha People of the Sikkim region worshipped a being from the Himalayan Mountains they called the Glacier Being and was the god of the hunt. In the 19th century, stories of a wild man who was ape-like carrying a stone as a weapon were told by people of the Bon religion. Throughout the 19th Century, many strange footprints were found in the snow on the Himalayan Mountains, and tracker B.H. Hodgson claimed that his guides had seen a giant hairy creature while climbing that scared them half to death.  He would later say he thought it was just an orangutan. The mystery of this unknown snow creature grew in the 20th Century when more and more sightings and footprints turned up in the mountains and of course more rich explorers and scientists rushed to be the first to capture, kill or get proof of the creature’s existence. Many more sightings and popped up through the decades, and the term Cryptozoology became a mainstay in believers’ vocabulary. In the 21st Century the Yeti has lost some steam and most of the time when it pops up in the news it is done by pranksters and hoaxers who are looking for attention and their 15 minutes of fame. Many TV shows, scientists and hunters have given their thoughts on what the Yeti truly is: an unknown ape species, all the way to just a plain old bear. So what do you readers think, is The Abominable Snowman real or is it a hoax? Check out the picture below that is said to be a true photo of the Yeti in the mountains and make up your own mind if he is really out there.

The Yeti caught on photo

Back in 1954, a scalp that was said to belong to the Yeti was found at a Pangboche Monastery along with a hand that was also claimed to have belonged to the creature. The monks were very protective of these items and kept them safe from outsiders and thrill-seekers who were on the hunt for The Abominable Snowman, wanting to make a name for themselves in the press. These items were just the kind of thing the Daily Mail, the newspaper who fronted the expedition, was looking for, and after pleading and ultimately tricking the monks, they were allowed to examine and extract some hair and skin tissue from the items. The media buzz around this was huge, and people thought that these samples held the truth of the Yeti’s existence, making the famed footprints look like thrift store leftover evidence. The first test on the hairs proved that they were not human nor ape, but scientists could not truly identify their species of origin, which of course sparked even more of a fever for those who wanted to find out if the Yeti was fact or fiction. The hand was also tested, and at first they claimed that it had Neanderthal qualities sending more people into the Yeti loving frenzy. Years later the hand and scalp were talked about on the hit TV show Unsolved Mysteries.  They tested a sample of the hand and found it to only have “near human” properties, but this episode sparked the hand to be stolen from the Pangboche Monks.  It would turn up in a private collection via the illegal black antiquities market and would pop back up in 2011 when new tests on it found that it had the DNA of a human. So are the scalp and the hand the real deal, or are they some from some poor human and animal? I should also note that besides these two items and the footprints, many other evidence has been found to prove the Yeti real from blurry photos to poop that is said to have belonged to the famed creature of the mountains. I am not sure what to think but would not rule out the existence of The Abominable Snowman as many unknowns lurk in this world we all share.

Yeti scalp and hand

Anyone who owned a computer in the early 90’s played a free game called SkiFree that was created by Chris Pirih and released as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack. The game was originally made by Pirih for his own use, but when his boss at Microsoft saw him playing it, an agreement was made for it to be released as part of their software pack in 1991. The gameplay has you take control of a skier who’s on the side of a mountain and must avoid obstacles like stumps, trees and worst of all, the a man eating creature called The Abominable Snow Monster who will chase you.  If he catches you, he’ll eat you like a chicken wing! I can remember playing this game on my brother’s old PC that he bought with his own money and finding it a cheesy way to waste time. I can remember screaming as the Yeti would give chase to my skier and how annoyed I would get when I could not out run him and had to watch as he gobbled my player up. But as you can see, even with this silly cheap game the Yeti has wormed his way into pulp culture. Check out below for some cool images of SkiFree.

SkiFree YetiSkiFree Title ScreenSkiFree Running Yeti

I should also note that the Yeti aka The Abominable Snowman has starred in his fair share of horror and science fiction films over the years with many of them being cheesy classics and some of them being very entertaining! Some are the 1957 Hammer Horror film “The Abominable Snowman” starring Peter Cushing and “Werewolf vs. The Yeti” starring the one and only Paul Naschy. Some of the cheesy ones include “Yeti: Giant Of The 20th Century” that was released in 1977 and the 1954 goofy classic “The Snow Creature.” Some of the not so good include “Yeti: A Love Story” that was released in 2006 and “Shriek Of The Mutilated” from 1974, a film so bad that I for some reason find myself loving it. Some video game appearances include “Plants vs. Zombies”, “Far Cry 4” and “Tomb Raider II” to name a few. And let’s not get started on all the comic books and novels that he has appeared in, let alone cartoons and toys! So one thing is for sure, The Abominable Snowman is in our culture, and he’s here to stay.

The Abominable Snowman DVDWerewolf Vs The Yeti DVD BootYeti Giant Of The 20th Centery DVDYeti A Love Story DVD

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and many hikers, explores, researchers and thrill seekers have tempted their fate and tried to make the climb to the top of the mountain that is super dangerous and is not recommended for armatures or even for that fact almost anyone! The first people to successfully climb Everest were Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.  The climb was dangerous but also inspired many people to want to tempt fate and become the second, third, fourth and so on to make it to the top.  Many craved the notoriety of being one of the select few to make it to the top and back down alive. But a sad truth about Everest is that the beautiful mountain is a graveyard for the remains of many hikers who never made it down the mountain.  It’s too dangerous to bring down the dead or injured so many bodies are left frozen in time. You see, many people are not prepared for the climb to the top, and fellow climbers are told that if you find someone in a danger zone, hurt or dying, to leave them behind as those who end up trying to help a injured person end up in danger themselves and 9 ½ out of 10 times more likely end up dead themselves from the elements and brisk cold unforgiving weather. So I would like to take a moment to mourn all those who have lost their lives climbing Everest –  may their souls find peace.  I also would like to show support for all those poor climbers who have had to leave a fellow person behind as I am sure that is a terrible feeling.

Mount Everest rip

We are halfway up to the top of this update so we should take a moment to sit by the fire, warm up, and sip a warm beverage and take a look at a comic that I ordered from Indy Planet some time back and have been itching to read and review.  I think that this update is the perfect time to unleash it on you the readers. The comic is called The Railroad Killer and is put out by a company called Jimmy Daze Comics.  It was one that caught my eye when I placed my last order of independent horror comics.  So let’s sit around and use this issue as our spooky story before we go back on the hunt for the Yeti.

The Railroad Killer 1

The Railroad Killer # 1  ***
Released in 2009     Cover Price $0.00   Jimmy Daze Comics   # 1 of 1

An old drunk near the train tracks is angered as the train speeds by, but his anger is short lived as someone brutally beats him to death. The next day the police show up and the urban legend talk of the Railroad Killer spreads among the youth who are near the crime scene. Miranda Jr. is one of the cops on the scene, and he has a flashback to when he was a kid in 1985 and he and his brother and friends watched as the local hot teenage girl was murdered by the train tracks by a strange unknown man with a sledge hammer! Miranda decides that tonight he is going to prove that the Railroad Killer is real and waits around the train tracks all night to capture this supernatural killer. Later that night he gets his wish and comes face to face with The Railroad Killer for the last time. After the fatal meeting, we flashback to the year 1881 when a young Chinese rail worker is accused of raping a white woman and vigilante justice is served as he is beaten and run over by a train…and so the revenge spirit of The Railroad Killer is born!

This is a fun quick horror comic read that was a nice mix of slasher and urban legend and was done with tasteful amounts of blood and violence. Our story is simple and effective as if follows a cop who wants to face the town’s local unknown killer and stop it once and for all. Miranda Jr. seems like a good cop who has guilt over watching a young woman get murdered in his youth and not doing anything to help her, but his need for redemption just leads him onto a path of his own destruction. The Railroad Killer is a supernatural killer who was wronged when he was alive and now takes his revenge on anyone near the tracks at night. He is brutal using a big sledgehammer as well as the moving trains themselves to kill and takes pleasure in the act of murder. The very cool part of this one shot comic is the fact they give backstories for both our hero and bad guy and brings the reader into the motives behind their good and evil actions. Besides the story, the art done by Arturo Delgado Molina is really good and brings these characters to life. The most brutal kill of the issue has to be the death of Miranda Jr. who is beaten and then placed under the trail and decapitated! If you’re a fan of horror comics like me, The Railroad Killer is one that you will want to check out as it’s a spooky urban legend about an effective and brutal killer. Below is some artwork from this issue to show you Molina’s style.

Railroad Killer Art 1

That was a fun break, but I can hear the howl of the Yeti in the distance. I am not ready to come face to face with him yet so let’s just sit around a little longer and play a video game! I am on a kick of getting NES carts of “homebrew” or unreleased games, and one of the guys I have been getting items from is named Pacnsacdave who just so happened to have a homebrew game called “Batman & Robin: Shadows Of Gotham” that acts as the third in the NES Batman series that already consisted of “Batman” and “Batman: Return Of The Joker” and hell I guess you can count “Batman Returns.” Each of those games were a challenge so I am sure this one will be no different. Batman: Shadows Of Gotham is a two-player game that lets you choose between Batman and Robin.  The back of the box reads, “Gotham city, a city plagued by crime, violence and villains. The citizens are crying out for help. To cleanse the streets of Gotham…two shadows appear. They are called Batman & Robin, Shadows of Gotham.” I played this game on a RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) with an original NES controller and asked my cousin Stephen Alexander if he wanted to join me on this epic game adventure, and of course he said yes.  We did not do an NES Challenge for this game; we just wanted to give it a good play and let you know that this video game is out in the world ready to be played.

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES CaseBatman Shadows Of Gotham NES CartBatman Shadows Of Gotham NES Game In RES

We played it on May 14 2016, and the weather outside was very chilly and perfect for playing a video game.  I should note that Stephen and I played one player and passed the controller back and fourth, and of course we picked Batman. The game is a side scrolling action game that has Batman fighting with his hands, batarangs and other gadgets from level to level.  At the end of each level, you of course face one of his major villains, in this order Scarecrow, Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and finally The Joker! The Scarecrow and his level offered no challenge as I mastered it in one try.  Steve took on The Penguin and after a couple of tries was able to smack around the umbrella-carrying madman who was hiding in a tank.  I made a quick fight out of The Riddler, and both of us tried and tried and screamed at Two-Face who was trying his best from keeping us from beating the game! It looked like Two-Face was going to be our stopping point, but once we figured out his patterning, Steve was able to smack that two sided coin out of his hand and we were at the last level. The last level is pretty tough and will take you a few tries, or at least it did for us to make it to The Joker who also took us a few tries.  But once again, when we had is pattern down, Steve hit the final blow, and a game that we were just testing became a game we beat! The nice part about this game is that it has unlimited continues and gives you no real reason to stop playing.  The challenge is there and can be frustrating but not enough to turn it off. Over all, it’s a nice addition to the NES Batman games and once more I want to thank Pacnsacdave for this amazing cart. So if you’re a classic NES fan and are looking for a new game to play, make sure to check this one out as well as many of Dave’s other games that include the likes of Gremlins, Big Trouble In Little China, The Lost Boys and Spider-Man 2! So I guess we should start our way back on the journey to find The Snowman, but while we climb maybe I should tell you a little about him.

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES Screen Grab

Klaus Kristin is the son of a Yeti and a human mother named Katrina, and he has the ability to shift between being a human and a Yeti. As the beast, he is called The Snowman and has the power to survive in very cold elements, has super strength, a ice cold touch and can kind of control his surroundings in a winter environment. As a human, he is an albino and has the ability to charm ladies, is an Olympic skier and comes off as a normal rich jock playboy who loves to brag. The Snowman has appeared in three comics for DC that include Batman # 337, Detective Comics # 533 and Justice League Adventures # 12 as he was a part of a group called Cold Warriors alongside Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold and Killer Frost among other cold style baddies. While The Snowman has not been officially in a game, there are two that might be loosely be based on him: the unlockable Yeti character in “Lego Batman: The Videogame” and in “Batman: Arkham City,” inmates are talking about it being cold saying “It’s colder than the Snowman’s heart.”  Rumor is, that was a nod to The Snowman, while others say they are talking about Mr. Freeze. So while not a major villain, The Snowman has made his small mark on the Batman universe, and I just wanted to share a few fun facts about him before we make it to the top of the update and arrive at the review.

The Snowman DC

As I have stated before, music has been a major part of my life growing up, and I have spent countless hours listening to many different songs from many different artists with them all acting as the soundtrack to my life. Who doesn’t have memories of driving around with friends late at night blaring music or sitting with the love of your life listening to music in your car talking about the future? I have artists that I call my must-buy-day-one-of-release favorites: Motley Crue, Billy Idol, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., Jewel, Cinderella, Guns N Roses and Danzig.  The last one this list brings me to a CD that I would like to briefly chat about as I feel the music from the band was a huge part of my teen years. Danzig was one of those bands I discovered on a Public Access music show called Metalmania (and I should also give props to MTV for making the song “Mother” a Buzz video) and became a fan of, as I felt singer Glenn Danzig has an almost Elvis Presley sound and being a fan of The King made this a no brainer that I would dig a harder rock version of that sound. In 1996 when “Danzig 5: Blackacidevil” was released, I can remember leaving school midday and walking to NRM Music at the Town And Country shopping center to get my hands on the cassette and listening to it on my Walkman during classes. Danzig was also a band my pal Jason Gilmore and I would always listen to and chat about our favorite songs and videos. I can also remember being at my friend Jeremy Foster’s house and hanging out while listening to a mix of Danzig and Pantera. These great memories bring me to Danzig’s 2015 release, the 10th album for the band, an album of cover songs called “Skeletons” that I got for Christmas of 2015 as I had to wait to buy it because of the holiday season. I was pretty hyped to listen to this CD, but lots of things kept me away from being able to pop in the disc and listen to what Danzig had to offer on this release…and I must say that when I got around to it I was pretty underwhelmed! Now I want to stress that this is not a bad album.  In fact, I found myself enjoying many of the tracks on the release like the Black Sabbath cover “N.I.B” and “Lord Of The Thighs,” a cover of the Aerosmith cheesy classic song from the album “Get Your Wings”. While tracks like those were good, there were some that just sounded off and un-mastered, almost like a recorder was placed in a room with a band next to some beer and they said just jam and record and who cares if it doesn’t sound polished or hell even in tune…just do it.  The song “Satan” from the biker film Satan’s Sadists is a prime example of the odd sound that many of this tracks on this CD offer in terms of sound quality.  Again, I want to stress that it’s not a bad song and Glenn’s take on this song is solid…it just sounds very off, as if his vocals was recorded in a living room. Over all Skeletons is a interesting listen but lacks the true sound that Danzig fans have came to expect…if I had to give it a Rotten Ink 1-4 star rating, I would say for me it would be a solid 2, middle of the road.  If the sound issues were fixed, I could see myself giving it a 2 ½ or 3. Danzig still remains a must-buy artist for me, and I can’t wait to see what his next release brings to the table. Well I can see the top of the mountain, and as Butthead would say, “ And it is good”.

Danzig - Skeletons CD

We have reached the top of the update, and it’s time to take a look at Batman vs. The Snowman.  I have been on a kick of reading classic Batman comics as of late and can remember reading both these issues in my youth.  When re-buying them, I knew they had to be something I reviewed here on Rotten Ink. I want to think both Game Swap Kettering and Mavericks Cards And Comics for having these in stock, and while the wind is blowing and the snow is coming down I can hear the howl of the Yeti saying “ Remember he grades these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and is looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.”  Now let’s snap this picture of the Yeti and get back down the mountain, and we should also get to the reviews of this classic and epic battle issues that pit Batman against The Snowman!

Batman 337

Batman # 337  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .50   DC Comics   # 337 of 713

It’s a cold night in Gotham City, and a sporting good store has a robber inside who is shooting at Commissioner Gordon and the cops.  Batman shows up, gets inside and finds that the robber is scared out of his mind and his partner has been frozen solid! When the robber is under arrest and his nerves calm down, he tells them a story of how he and his friend started to rob the place and were attacked by a snow creature he called The Snowman who stole the cash from the store and left the scene as well made him go mad with fear. Batman changes back to Bruce Wayne and heads home as he is holding a huge party.  His guest of honor is playboy Klaus Kristin who is winning the hearts of many of the woman with his tales of skiing, but Bruce notices that Klaus’s shoes have slush on them and the morning’s snow has been gone for hours. The next night The Snowman strikes again, robbing a jewelry store and killing the night watchman! While Batman is in Klaus’ room looking through his stuff, he finds a diary written by Klaus’s mom and his aunt, and it tells of how Klaus is the son of a normal woman and a Yeti, which explains why and who Klaus really is.  After his last crime, Klaus skips town and heads for Austria’s ski resort, and Batman follows and has a showdown with The Snowman on top of a mountain.  While Snowman is stronger, Batman is smarter and with the help of a flare in the eyes of his opponent, the Bat wins the fight when The Snowman falls from a high cliff and to his death.

What an epic battle, right? I mean Batman and The Snowman trade a total of one kick that Batman lands to the back of The Snowman….yep, that’s the fist to fist action you get in this issue! But even though it’s not super action packed and does not deliver an all out drag down Batman fight, it does have a fun entertaining superhero horror story with some entertaining characters. The plot is this: world class Olympic skier Klaus Kristin is a shape shifter who can change into a Yeti and is stealing money from stores around Gotham as he needs cold weather to live and must move around in order to stay cold weather.  His crime spree that leaves two people dead makes Batman spring into action and crack the case. Batman/Bruce Wayne is shocked when he finds the first body of a crook that was frozen stiff, and this makes Batman’s mind work over time as he wants to solve the crime and get this killer off the streets.  This just shows you that no matter how rich Bruce Wayne is and no matter what else is going on around him, solving crime is the most important thing in his life. Batman is truly a master detective as he pieces together who The Snowman is and where he has run to really fast.  Let alone, he make quick and easy work of this man creature in a fight that is in his opponent’s favor. Klaus Kristin is a snooty sort of bragger who thinks that because he won three medals in the Olympics and travels the world to high end ski resorts, he is better than most normal people.  He also has a weird charm that makes woman flock to him as he tells his stories of being a playboy. As The Snowman, he seems to not care about killing to get the money that he needs in order to stay where the cold weather goes, but it makes one wonder if his ego is so big that he would rather kill than to live say in Alaska or the North Pole where it stays cold year round. As always, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth (Bruce Waynes Butler) have cameos in this issue, and both are always great to see. Batman thinks that The Snowman might have thrown the fight as he wanted to be stopped and this was his way of ending his cursed life, but I am not so sure as it’s clear he has an ego.  I think he lost the fight because Batman out smarted him. The issue has two deaths of people who are frozen to death and has the possible death of The Snowman. The cover is super eye catching and has Batman on skis looking shocked as The Snowman, who looks like a giant, is popping out of snow ready for the attack. The story in this issue was written by Gerry Conway, and the art was done by Jose Garcia-Lopez with inks by Steve Mitchell.  All is well done, and that art has stuck with me since I was a kid as has the whole issue. I am sure many comic readers would look at this issue as just a fill in, but to me it has and will always be a key issue. I should also say this issue has a back up story about Robin! Check out some artwork from this issue to see just how massive and abominable The Snowman is, or is that was?

Batman # 337 art 1Batman # 337 art 2Batman # 337 art 3

So the first meeting is down, but there’s one more to go.  The first meeting lead Batman to believe that The Snowman was dead, as did all of us readers, so let’s see what happens in round two!

Detective Comics 522

Detective Comics  # 522  ***
Released in 1983     Cover Price .60     DC Comics   # 522 of 881

Batman and a guide named Chi are climbing the Himalayan Mountains looking for the famed creature Yeti as Batman thinks that it might just be his foe The Snowman returning from his supposed death. While climbing Batman and Chi are almost killed by an avalanche, Batman witnesses a tall and strong looking shadow above them, and after this near death experience they decide to spend the night in a near by cave for shelter. In the cave Batman, remembers back to being in Vicki Vale’s office and waiting for her to go on a date.  He flipped through a magazine and spotted Klaus Kristin in a photo, and this is what lead him to this hunt in the mountains. In a small village, Batman spots Klaus, and the two struggle falling into the cold water.  Batman strikes his head on a rock and Klaus pulls him from the water, but when they are back on land Klaus is shot by a villager and stumbles into the cold and disappears up the mountain.  Batman now needs to check on his one time foe who saved his life and follows the blood trail. Batman climbs the mountain and is attacked by the Yeti along the way and finds Klaus in a Buddhist temple as he is bleeding to death.  We soon find out that his dad, the Yeti, was the one who has been attacking Batman while in the mountains, and he takes his dying son into the cold as Batman watches as a father mourns his fallen son.

So the second epic battle between Batman and The Snowman is not really a fight between the two but instead has the Bat tangling with the Yeti, the father of The Snowman. This issue has Batman traveling to the Himalayan Mountains in order to look for his foe The Snowman, who is wanted for not just robbery but also murder, and soon finds that his old foe is not a threat and just wanted to find peace alongside his father! Batman has lots on his mind from drama with the ladies in his life Vicki Vale and Selena Kyle, as well as just being a crime fighter and focusing his sights on The Snowman, but he soon learns that people (or is that things?) can change. Batman also shows compassion as he could have taken down the Yeti, who has tormented villagers for years but instead lets him be with his son in his dying moments. Klaus Kristin never changes into The Snowman in this issue and after faking his own death really just wanted to be left alone.  He also shows that he has grown as a character as he saves Batman from drowning. Chi is a villager guide and acts as a good side character, loyal to Batman and trying all he could to guide him on his quest. The Yeti is in a fury and wants his son’s pursuers dealt with and tries to do all he can to stop them, but sadly he as well has a weakness and that’s bright lights from the likes of a flare. Once more, this issue is not wall-to-wall action.  It feels more like an adventure that pits our superhero not only against his foes but also nature and his surroundings. This issue as well held up all these years, and as I read it, moments came back to me in memories that proved for some reason that the Batman vs. Snowman issues had a impact on this young comic reader’s mind. The cover is fantastic and has Batman on the side of a mountain as The Snowman is lurking into battle. The story was written by Gerry Conway again with art duties this time around going to Iry Novick and Pablo Marcos, and they do a great job of making The Yeti look different from The Snowman. The back up story in this issue is a Green Arrow adventure and is worth checking out if you like that emerald archer. Check out the art below that will showcase the mighty Yeti as well as other art from this fun and entertaining issue.

Detective Comics 522 art 1Detective Comics 522 art 2

Was this a better fight than Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice? Depends on your opinion…but I will say these comics made more of a impression on me than the film. While The Snowman might not be a big name villain like The Joker, Killer Croc or The Riddler, he was one I always remembered as a kid, and for some reason I really did think he was a huge deal in my youth. I can remember talking to kids on the playground in Waynesville about how Batman took on The Abominable Snow, and many of them looking puzzled or claiming they remembered with blank unsure look in their eyes. But now that we are off the hunt for The Snowman and made it back down unharmed, I think it’s time that we take a break from comics and once more step into the world of Horror Hosting as our next update will be about an icon who like Commander USA and Dr. Creep helped shape me into the person I am today.  I am talking about Grampa who hosted Super Scary Saturday on TBS! So until next time, read a comic or three, enjoy your summer days and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a Super Scary good time.

Super Scary Saturday Preview Logo

The Completely 3-Dimensional Misadventures of 3-D Man

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place that we are going to go old school and take a look at a superhero who has the ability of 3-D…yes my friends and readers, we will be taking a look at Marvel Comic’s very own icon of cheesy double vision power, the one and only 3-D Man! I am sure many of you have just said to yourself who is 3-D Man? And I cant blame you for not knowing as he was a Marvel Character who has had very few appearances and started in the showcase style series “Marvel Premiere,” but by the end of this update you will feel as if he might be your favorite superhero of all time…well maybe not your favorite more like you will at least acknowledge that he exists in the world of comics. I can’t believe it’s November already and almost Thanksgiving time.  It seems like this year has flown by, and we are creeping up on 2016, a year that looks like it will be great for horror films in theater! But we are not here to talk about horror as we are here to enjoy the cool weather and gear up for turkey and ham and most importantly time with loved ones! So get your 3-D glasses out and come spend a little time with 3-D Man and me here at Rotten Ink’s Pre-Thanksgiving cheesy feast as we take a look at this icon of goofy 70’s comic might.

glazed ham

3-D Man, whose real identity is Chuck Chandler, was created by Roy Thomas and Jim Craig for Marvel Comics in 1977 with his first appearance being in Marvel Premiere issue 35. Chuck becomes 3-D Man after an accident that leaves him dead by all accounts besides when his brother puts on a pair of glasses that brings him back as a red and green superhero who has hyper senses and strengths, and all this was taking place in the 1950’s adding a classic sci-fi and atomic age feel to the character and the real horrors of that time period. Marvel did three issues following 3-D Man in Marvel Premiere and over the years he made few appearances in issues of What If, Incredible Hulk, Avengers and Agents Of Atlas, but never was given his own full series. 3-D Man’s skin color is red and green, and he has goggle like eyes.  Many people think that he is wearing a suit when in fact he is not. His arch nemesis are the alien shape shifter race known as The Skrulls as well as any foreign threat to America, but mostly it’s Skrulls who seem to also really have it out for him and the human race. When he was a normal man, Chuck was a football player and also one heck of an airman! Not much more can be shared about 3-D Man besides that fact he is an old school superhero with basic super strength and seems to be forgotten by many modern comic readers.

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I am fan of going to the movie theater to watch a film on the big screen and over the years Hollywood has come up with all types of silly gimmicks to draw people in.  Who could forget electric shock chairs for The Tingler or barf bags and life insurance policies given out for horror flicks like Mark of the Devil and Tombs of The Blind Dead, not to mention the fact many of these gimmicks were made and thought up by William Castle. But one of these tricks to get people to their local theater that seems to not be going away anytime soon is 3-D, and I for one am ok with that! 3-D is nothing like it is now.  Imagine instead of wearing the plastic glasses at an IMAX screening of The Avengers 2 having to wear cheap cardboard glasses with one red and blue lens that made the image on the screen seem as if we were watching them live. Webster’s dictionary defines 3-D as “a three-dimensional form; also: an image or a picture produced in it” for those who were wondering. The gimmick of 3-D was mostly used for horror and sci-fi films with titles like Creature From The Black Lagoon, House of Wax, Friday The 13th Part III, My Bloody Valentine and so many more adding those eye popping thrill moments that allows the viewer feel as if they are apart of the movie. Over the years I have seen my fair share of 3-D films, but one that I would love to have seen was Creature From The Black Lagoon.  Could you imagine watching Gillman swimming in eye popping 3-D? Or even Julie Addams in her bathing suit in 3-D? While barf bags and glow in the dark plastic skeletons falling from the theater ceiling might have gone away, it looks like 3-D is here to stay and help add more bang for your box office bucks.

Tingler Ad Electric Chair3D GlassesMark Of The Devil Barf Bag

So while I could talk about movie theaters and gimmicks this whole update, I have to get myself back on track and the topic at hand is 3-D Man, a superhero who made his impact in Marvel Premiere. For those of you who don’t know what Marvel Premiere was, I will give you a quick crash course, Marvel started the comic Marvel Premiere in 1972 and was a series that would showcase characters that had no longer their own on-going series and also a way to showcase the new characters who were tested to see if readers would be into a series based on them. Many characters were showcased in this series like Warlock, Man-Wolf, Iron Fist and even rock star Alice Cooper and BBC show Doctor Who got their time to shine. The series ended in 1981 with a total of 61 issues with Star-Lord of Guardians Of The Galaxy being the final character showcased. But if you’re ready we should all put our 3-D glasses on and get ready to travel to the 1950’s and kick some butt with the one and only 3-D Man! 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. I also want to thank Bell Book and Comic as well as a dealer at Gem City Comic Con for having these issues in stock. So let’s get ready to see this Marvel Comic wonder in action.

3D Man 1

Marvel Premiere: The 3-D Man # 35   **1/2
Released in 1977    Cover Price .30    Marvel Comics    #35 of 61

It’s the late 1950’s, and 3-D Man arrives at a warehouse filled with Russian spies and starts mopping the floor with them and meets their leader Diabolik who seems to know who he really is and how he became 3-D Man! We flashback and meet Chuck Chandler who is a college football star who turns down to go pro to follow his dream of becoming a pilot.  He becomes one of the world’s top flyers, only surpassed by Ben Grimm in his ability. Hal Chandler is Chuck’s younger brother who is left crippled by polio, and is Chuck’s biggest fan as he sits out in a special spot and watches his brother fly fancy new planes. Chuck also has a loyal and loving girlfriend named Peggy who along with Hal goes to watch Chuck fly a very powerful new jet called the XF-13.  While flying this jet, he runs into a flying saucer that is being driven by Skrulls who want to wipe Chuck’s mind of and brainwash him into trying to make it so that Earthlings do not try and come to space. Chuck makes a move and escapes, and while doing so he blows up the saucer and is covered in radiation in the process.  When he gets back to Earth, he is greeted by his brother Hal and right before the brothers can embrace, an explosion turns Chuck into ash and his image is burned into Hal’s glasses.  Everyone thinks Chuck is dead, but when Hal puts his burnt glasses on and goes deep into thought he unleashes Chuck who is now 3-D Man, a red and green skinned super hero with above average abilities! 3-D Man goes after the Russian spies and finds out that they are being lead by a Skrull who informs 3-D Man that he has made an enemy for life with their race and that they will not stop till they defeat the Earth! After the fight, 3-D Man returns to Hal and together the brothers know they must be the saviors of the world.

While this superhero might be very cheesy with some of the lamest dated powers of any hero I have read about this year, I must say that I fully enjoyed this origin issue and for some reason found 3-D Man to be a perfect fit for Marvel in the 70’s. The plot of this issue has hot shot master pilot flying an experimental plane for the government while his crippled brother watches on.  When he is kidnapped by The Skrulls, he escapes and by doing so he blows up their ship and is washed with radioactive waves that leave him not human anymore but as a red and green image on his brothers glasses, and when his brother puts the glasses on and thinks really hard he will come back to life as 3-D for three hours and fight off the Skrulls who have placed him on death watch. Chuck Chandler or 3-D Man is a good man who is gifted with being very good at whatever he sets his sights on such as sports and flying. He is a loyal brother, boyfriend and American and will not give information to the Russians and will not allow aliens to try and keep Earth out of space. As 3-D Man, he has three times the speed, strength and athletic ability of any man and uses his power for good of America. Hal Chandler is not as gifted as his brother and has been dealt a bad hand getting polio, but now with his glasses he has the power to free his brother 3-D Man and even shared the adventures once he wakes up from his zombie like state. Not much is given to Peggy yet besides we know that she is Chuck’s new girlfriend and that she loves her boyfriend very much. The Skrulls, those pesky shape shifting aliens, are the bad guys, and they once more are trying to bully Earth to do what they wish us to do.  I guess the spies are also the bad guys, but they get beat up pretty fast and are no major threat. The art is classic 70’s Marvel stuff and is done by the talented Jim Craig who also worked on issues of “Master of Kung-Fu” and “What If?” to name a few. The cover is very eye-catching and is perfect for a first appearance issue, and I am sure made comic readers of 77 grab the issue off the newsstand. So let’s see what 3-D Man has up his green and red sleeve in his second comic adventure.

3D Man 2

Marvel Premiere: The 3-D Man # 36  **1/2
Released in 1977    Cover Price .30    Marvel Comics    #36 of 61

Professor Potter is being mugged by a biker gang who want to take his briefcase of notes, but lucky for him 3-D Man shows up and runs off the thugs but not before the leader of the gang shows himself to be a Skrull and rides off with the notes. The 3-D Man returns to his brother Hal’s glasses, and by a miracle now Hal no longer has a limp and can walk normally and sets up a meeting with Potter and finds out the Professor’s notes were about flying saucers being seen around town. Hal returns home, and it’s clear his father is not over Chuck’s death and even Peggy stops over as they look at her as family. New Rock n Roll star Vince Rivers is in town and selling out due to his hit song “Rocket In My Pocket.” This sets off Hal’s Dad into a hate fueled rant on rock music and gives Hal the idea he should check out this star as he thinks Skrulls might be involved. At the concert that is presented by radio DJ Doc Rock, the teenagers in the crowd go crazy when Vince starts to sing.  3-D Man comes to the rescue and stops Vince and the riot.  In the end Vince is arrested, and it’s shown Doc Rock was the Skrull.  He outsmarted them all and gets away with causing a riot.

This second issue is filled with more sci-fi superhero action and does a nice touch of adding 1950’s culture into the story from TV shows like Howdy Doodey and Have Gun Will Travel, how the older generation hated the Rock N Roll music movement and even mentions Captain America and Bucky as past heroes as they both are believed to be dead during this time. In fact, the first issue even makes a reference to the old horror host Shock Theatre package of Universal Horror Films! This second issue’s plot is about 3-D Man trying everything in his power to stop the Skrulls who are trying to cause chaos on Earth so that they can come down from space and take us over. 3-D Man is still a very noble and American loving hero, but I will say it was getting really annoying to hear him reference how he has three times the abilities of normal man over and over again.  As a reader I found myself saying out loud “For God’s sake I know this already! You have reminded us a dozen times already!” But while annoying, it didn’t make the issue any less fun. Hal Chandler in this second issue has changed a lot and has stopped being a physically challenged fan boy of his older brother.  He is now healed up and acts as the investigator for his superhero brother.  It is funny that when 3-D Man comes out to fight Hal passes out like a scared fainting goat. It was nice to see Peggy as well and watch her hear 3-D Man’s voice and know that it reminded her of her dead boyfriend.  Plus, it was nice to see Chuck & Hal’s parents again. The Skrulls are once more the bad guys, and they are still being a pain in 3-D Man’s butt and using dumb humans as their foot soldiers. Vince Rivers is a gold suit wearing, ego maniac Elvis wannabe who while not the real bad guy still deserved what he got when he would not stop singing after the riot broke out clearly when his voice was the trigger for the event. So far this comic series that I originally I started out thinking they would be cheesy throwaway issues has turned out to be a very entertaining read and the art by Jim Craig is classic Marvel stuff and makes it even more entertaining.

3D Man 3

Marvel Premiere: The 3-D Man # 37  **1/2
Released in 1977    Cover Price .30    Marvel Comics   #37 of 61

Vince Rivers is taken to jail, and The Skrull who acted as a DJ springs him out with the help of Skrull technology, but his escape is short lived as 3-D man once more comes to the world’s rescue and stops the Rock n Roller from getting freedom. 3-D man also finds the technology of the Skrulls that was used to free Vince and takes it away. The Skrull is furious and follows 3-D Man waiting for the chance to blast him with his ray. As 3-D Man makes his way to the club where his brother Hal is asleep to reemerge with the glasses. The Skrull fires his laser ray just as the two are about to merge and finds that his attempt at murder has done nothing, or so he thinks. Hal returns home with the Skrull technology as The Skrull now turns himself into Vice President Richard Nixon and cons a scientist into doing an experiment on himself that leaves him with the power of freezing and ice and is given the name Cold Warrior as well as a costume. When Hal decides it’s time for 3-D Man to come back out and look for the Skrull, he finds that he now controls the thoughts of 3-D Man and his brother Chuck seems to be M.I.A. causing some concern. Cold Warrior finds 3-D Man, who he thinks is a communist, and they two do battle that leaves 3-D Man the winner and The Skrull even more mad that yet another of his attacks has failed.

So this is the final issue in the Marvel Premiere 3-D Man saga, and while it’s good, I do feel that it seems a little more rushed and has a little less direction than the first two issues did. 3-D Man in this issues starts with the mind of Chuck but by the end has the mind of Hal, and this is a good story element that sadly is not explored much and seems to be just thrown into the storyline to add a little drama. As always, 3-D Man must remind himself as well as the reader that he has three time the abilities of a normal man and with this he always seems to come out ahead of whatever challenge is in his way. Hal is as smart as ever and spends his time also trying to figure out just how the Skrull device he found allowed Vince Rivers to escape.  He also kind of shrugs off the fact his mind is now in the body of 3-D Man making you wonder if maybe he now wants the glory of being a hero. Peggy and Hal’s parents seem to take a backseat in this issue as they are only shown during a BBQ in the backyard that gets rained out. Vince Rivers makes a cameo at the start of the issue and breaks out of jail only to be stopped by 3-D Man.  It’s a shame the young man’s only crime is being a rock star. The Skrull is one mean spirited manipulator who uses normal everyday men for doing evil things while masking it that they are doing good.  Plus I like how The Skrulls are his main bad guys. Cold Warrior is not really a bad guy as he thinks 3-D Man is a Russian spy and thinks by killing him he is doing America good.  His powers are like Ice Man, and he almost seems like a villain who would have been in a issue of Amazing Spider-Man in the mid 70’s if he would have gone fully bad. The things that work the most for 3-D Man is the 50’s time period and the well done blending of superhero and sci-fi making the character seem like he could have been seen on a drive-in screen alongside the likes of Radar Men From The Moon. It’s a shame that Marvel didn’t see too much potential with 3-D Man and he was never given a full series of his own. I mean he is no more silly than Human Fly and Machine Man. The downside is that the story just ends and leaves one wondering what is the fate of Chuck’s soul and did 3-D Man ever stop the Skrulls from causing chaos on Earth.  None of it answered unless you can track down other issues 3-D Man appeared in. Jim Craig’s artwork is fantastic and is the kind of work I love in these classic 70’s Marvel Comics. Below is some artwork done by Craig and captures the feel of this cheesy character.

3D Man art 1

So I am sure you are wondering about 3-D Man and his fate.  Well, his next appearance came in an issue of Incredible Hulk, and since you all know how much I enjoy The Hulk, we will take a look at that issue as well!

Incredible Hulk 251

The Incredible Hulk  # 251  **1/2
Released in 1980     Cover Price .50     Marvel Comics   #251 of 474

Bruce Banner is hiding in a ally when he is discovered by a family, but this isn’t just any family, it’s Hal Chandler, his wife Peggy and their two children Chuck and Hal Jr.  They invite him in for dinner and a place to stay for the night. After dinner Hal explains the disappearance of his brother Chuck who his firstborn son is named after, and Bruce tells stories of the town they now live in. Bruce is shown to their guest room, and the family goes to sleep, all but Hal who knows Bruce’s secret of being the Hulk and calls the police and gets out his old glasses to unleash 3-D Man after a 20 year break. Meanwhile in a cabin in the woods some hundreds of miles away, Rick Jones is in the middle of a showdown between the hoofed feet Woodgod and Doc Samson that has creatures of myth coming to the aid of their leader the Woodgod.  Rick uses an old CB radio to call for help and to his luck Chuck hears the call! Chuck rushes down to his dad and finds him in the trance and meets his uncle The 3-D Man who has been called on to protect Hal’s family from The Hulk in case the cops jar him into a fighting mood. As the cops show up and join 3-D Man, they prepare to surprise the sleeping Bruce Banner, as young Chuck rushes and warns the sleeping stranger that he has to leave and turn into The Hulk to save Rick Jones but it’s too late Bruce turns into The Hulk and starts to fight with 3-D Man who is over eager to fight the green skin monster! Hulk shows that he is too strong for 3-D Man and with some kind words from young Chuck and Peggy to stop fighting, Hulk rushes to his friends aid.  3-D Man returns to the glasses of Hal who has lots of explaining to do to his family.

Hal Chandler is not as nice of a person as we all thought he was in the Marvel Premiere three issues as in this Hulk comic it is shown that he has kept his brother 3-D Man in limbo for 20 years and has lied to his brother’s girlfriend who is now his wife about her first true love. Hal’s ego comes out and shows that he is jealous of his brother even in death and feels that if people know that he is still alive that Peggy would fall back in love with him and leave Hal in his coma state and they will see Chuck as a hero as he is 3-D Man. With that out of the way, I should point out some of the plot holes that this comic gives us.  For one, Hal is back to having a limp, and the second major one is that the last time we saw 3-D Man, he had the mind of Hal and Chuck was missing.  In this one for 20 years 3-D Man sat in limbo with the mind of Chuck and no explanation was given on how their minds switched again! 3-D Man is clearly annoyed he’s been in limbo for over 20 years yet seems very eager to fight The Hulk whom he knows nothing about, and he soon learns that his three times the power is no match for The Hulk who is the strongest there is! Peggy, who clearly settled for Hal, seems to be a little shocked when she finds out that her husband has lied to her for many years. The young Chuck is clearly a good kid as he not only warns Bruce Banner of the police but also is trying his best to get him to leave to help Rick Jones. The Hulk is as he always is, a monster who wants to be left alone but superheroes and normal men won’t leave him alone so he does what he does best and that’s smash! The Hulk in the issue is very much provoked into a fight with 3-D Man, as Hulk clearly just wants to be left alone so that he can rescue his friend. This is a good solid classic Hulk issue with art done by Sal Buscema, and next to Herb Trimpe, this is the Hulk art that I grew up on. Over all I really enjoyed this issue and any chance I get to read and talk about The Hulk here on Rotten Ink I will take, so it was very cool that in this issue he took on this update’s topic 3-D Man. So check out some of the artwork below and see the art style of Sal.

Hulk 251 art 1

3-D Man last was seen in 2008’s “Secret Invasion,” but before that Hal and Chuck no longer were 3-D Man as Chuck was able to become a real person again and they passed the costume and name to Delroy Garrett who is now the official 3-D Man. So as you can see 3-D Man has done it all from fist fighting The Hulk to being a pain in the Skrull empire’s butt, and while he is not well known, he still has made his mark on the Marvel Universe. Our next topic is a hero who is forgotten by many and never made it to the top of anyone’s favorite superhero list and that poor hero is Holo-Man.  So make sure to come back and learn about him! Until next time, watch a movie at your favorite theater, read a comic or three and as always have a fun and safe holiday season.

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Hercules: The Legendary Turkey Day Journeys In Mashed Potato Land

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s another great holiday filled with turkey and all the fixings so I figured we ought to once more take a look at that Greek hero Hercules! As you long time readers remember last Thanksgiving we took a look at the Steve Reeves inspired Hercules comic made by Dell.  Well this year we are covering the Topps’ Kevin Sorbo TV version of the muscled hero. This Thanksgiving I am at my parents’ house spending time with family, eating way to much food and loving life so let’s not wait any longer to dive into this review because I am pretty sure I am close to being in a food coma! Oh yeah enjoy the Indian and Pilgrim below because thats what Thanksgiving’s all about right? Or is it football…I forget.

thanksgiving sexy indianTurkey Artpilgrim princess

In 1994 MCA/ Universal Television created a two hour block of programing called “Action Pack” that would consist of TV Shows or a Made for TV Movie all done by Renaissance Pictures, which was founded by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert who brought us The Evil Dead films. This block of TV lasted until 2001 and gave us such shows as “Xena: Warrior Princess”, “Cleopatra 2525”, “Jack Of All Trades”, “Vanishing Son” and “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” not to mention the Hercules films that came before it was turned into an ongoing series and even one’s based on TekWar and Midnight Run. I can remember when the Hercules films first started to air; I was hooked and would watch them all the time, I even taped a few on the old VCR that was near its last legs of life. The big issue around here was that lots of times the Action Pack did not have a set time when it started and many times sports games and other programs would be on or push its airing to later in the day. This was changed after a while, and I can remember always waking up like clockwork to watch Xena: Warrior Princess, and my Dad turning to it and poking fun at it, as my Mom would make us breakfast. In this modern day and age of TV where crappy reality shows and infomercials rule the airwaves things like Action Pack and horror hosts are truly missed… and oh yeah MTV needs to just end already when they choose to air things like Jersey Shore, Teen Wolf and Teen Mom over playing music videos what they were founded on.  They are dead to me.

Universal Action Pack logo

On January 16th 1995, after a year of just being made for TV movies (5 in total) Hercules: The Legendary Journeys became a full fledged TV show that would last a total of 6 seasons with 111 episodes. The series would follow Hercules played by Kevin Sorbo as he traveled around wronging rights and challenging the Gods who were doing cruel things to humans. Many times he would be joined on his adventures by his best friend Iolaus (Michael Hurst) or even goofy con man Salmoneus played by Robert Trebor and together they would face warlords, thieves, monsters and Gods and all done in a cheesy over the top way. The show, while having some serious moments, was mostly a tongue in cheek show filled with silly humor and outrageous fighting. I loved this show when I was younger and tried to never miss an episode when I could find it on.  I loved old sword and sandal films and always enjoyed the stories and quests of Hercules so watching a TV show done by the people who made The Evil Dead films was a super win for me. One great thing about the show was when they had monsters on and the great cheesy special effects they used, while some times they would just CGI the monsters other times it was guys in rubber suits or makeup. During the show they also introduced a character named Xena who was a female warrior who was cold blooded and a killer.  Well she became so popular that they turned her good and gave her a show called “Xena: Warrior Princess!” Hercules was the top rated syndicated show for many years until Xena took the top spot, but Hercules was the original and spawned lots of merchandise from books to t-shirts and everything inbetween. It also spawned many clone shows like Conan The Adventurer, The Adventures of Sinbad, The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Tarzan: Epic Adventures and Beastmaster showing just how impactful this series was for the time. By the end of the series, Hercules lost steam and Xena was clearly the rising TV star so the show ended marking the end of Hercules being a TV superstar, and also marked the end for many of these silly adventure shows. The show did go on to be released on VHS and DVD so for those looking to rewatch or discover the show the home media market has you covered.

The Legendary Journeys 1The Legendary Journeys 2The Legendary Journeys 3

Kevin David Sorbo was born in 1958 in Mound, Minnesota and grew up in a normal household.  While in college and afterward, he began modeling in print ads and TV to help pay his tuition, and this helped kick start his acting career that started in 1986. Kevin took small roles in TV Shows like Santa Barbara, Murder She Wrote and The Commish until landing the role of Hercules in the 1994 made for TV film Hercules and The Amazon Women.  He would go on to play Hercules in four other made for TV films, a full fledged TV series as well as voiced an animated version in “Hercules & Xena: The Battle For Mount Olympus”. In 1997 he also played the lead character in the comic book movie “Kull The Conqueror” that was slated to be the third Conan movie, but was changed to Sorbo as Kull when Arnold Schwarzenegger turned the role down. Hercules The Legendary Journeys ended in 1999, and his next big show was the 2000 sci-fi adventure series “Andromeda” were he played Captain Dylan Hunt.  The show ended in 2005. After this role Sorbo took small roles in many TV shows like “The O.C.”, “Psych” and “Two And A Half Men”and did a string of direct to video films like “Never Cry Werewolf” and two Walking Tall films. Sorbo also has done some voice work for video games like “God Of War III” where he voiced Hercules and Crusher in “Skylanders: Giants” as well as a few more. Sorbo is still active in acting and has taken many roles now in Christian based films as well as other independent productions.  He can also be seen at many comic and sci-fi conventions as a guest. I always liked Kevin Sorbo as an actor and really think he made a great Hercules, and at some point in time I would love to work with him on an episode of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre where he and the Baron host the Steve Reeves Hercules movie. So here is hoping that Sam Raimi and company get an itch and make a new Hercules film for TV and have Sorbo back where he belongs.

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Before we get too much into our look at Topps Comics 5 issue run based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys we should also take a brief moment to take a look at a few of Hercules most popular sidekicks that not only joined him on this super popular show but as well as in this comic series. Iolaus is Herc’s best friend and his traveling buddy who goes on most of his adventures with him.  He is a skilled fighter and well trained with a sword. Iolaus is played by Michael Hurst and is the most popular and best liked of all his sidekicks and was in 79 episodes. Salmoneus is a older man who is balding with a beard who is a pure con man and will uses his friendship with Hercules to get money.  While he is a screw up, his heart is always in the right place and he values his friendship with Hercules. Salmoneus is played by Robert Trebor and appeared in 23 episodes and went on to be a regular on Xena Warrior Princess. Atalanta is a powerful female with strength and power who is a loyal friend to Hercules whom she also has a crush on.  She alongs side Hercules even created the first Olympics. She was played by female body builder Corinna Everson who made muscle bound women attractive to teenage boys.  She appeared in 3 episodes. So now you know a little more about his sidekicks, and if you watched the show then you I am sure all ready knew all this.

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On of my favorite Greek Mythology monsters has always been The Minotaur, and in 1994 one of the made for TV Hercules films came out called “Hercules In The Maze Of The Minotaur.” The film followed Hercules who was retired but is drawn back into adventure when a small village is being terrorized by a evil Minotaur. I really enjoyed the film and can remember watching it many times when it aired and even taped it on VHS. The Minotaur in the movie had a great classic look and was fun to look at as the head was 4 times the size of the actor’s body. The Minotaur was played by Anthony Ray Parker who was known for roles like Dozer in The Matrix and Deputy in The Frightners and many other small roles in movies and TV. It’s a fun silly adventure movie that’s a fun watch on a boring night.  So if you’re bored this Thanksgiving night and are looking for something to watch with your family, give this one a thought.

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Toy company Toy Biz, who was making toys based on Marvel Superheroes, decided to make figures based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys starting in 1995 that consisted on 5” basic figures, taller monster figures and even 10” figures. The toy line lasted for a total of 3 waves that included six different versions of Hercules, 2 Xena’s and other characters like Iolaus, Ares, She-Demon, Centaur, Minotaur, Mesomorph, Mole-Man, Salmoneus and Atalanta. The larger monster figures in the series included the likes of Hydra, Ceberus, Graegus and many others. I was a little older when these figures came out, but I still collected many of them from the first wave as I got Hercules, Xena, Iolaus and Minotaur and put them on a shelf in my room.  In fact I still have them to this day. Some years later at a thrift store I found the Hydra for .49 and had to buy it because why the heck not? The figures, while cheesy looking, held the appeal of the show and I for one am glad they were made. At some point when I am able to get a bigger place to live I am sure the old Hercules toys will make an appearance in my film editing room.

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Titus Software made a video game based on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in 2000 for the N64 that was about Hercules trying to save his father Zeus from his step brother Ares who has taken the King of the Gods hostage and by doing so had shaken the mortal world and Mount Olympus to the core.  It’s up to Hercules to save him and set everything right. The game was your typical beat em up on the N64 and was a fun solid action game. When the game first came out while I had an N64, Sony’s Playstation was more of my system so I never did play it on release as the rumor was that a port of it was coming to Playstation. I waited and waited and even a very cool Xena game came out and I bought it and beat it to hold me over, but Hercules never did make it to the Playstation and that truly did suck for fans like me. A few years ago when I was working on some video game reviews for Bloodline Video, I chose to play and review Hercules for the N64 and while the game was flawed it still was a very cool game that I gave 2 1/2 stars to.  Sadly though the gaming magazines were not as nice to the game, and it mostly got poor to middle of the road reviews. But if you have a N64 and liked the show, I would say check it out.

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So I hope you have your walking shoes on, and that your belly is not filled with too much turkey and mashed potatoes because its time for us to go on a journey with Hercules and see what adventures we can get in to! So before we start I should remind you that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. I also want to thank Mavericks, Bell Book and Lone Star for having these issues in stock for me to be able to review for this Thanksgiving update. So let’s begin because Hercules grows tired of waiting for us.

Hercules 1

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 1  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #1 of 5

Salmoneus, friend of Hercules, is in a small village telling all who will listen and donate some coin about the famed 12 Labors of his friend.  After his story he meets Pronoea, a woman who pays him to help her find Hercules as she really needs his help. While traveling to find him, the pair comes across a band thief Centaurs who want to steal all their money but they are saved by Hercules who chases them off and finds that Pronoea’s husband has been kidnapped and he is more than happy to help her get him back. After Salmoneus heads back to the village Hercules and Pronoea begin their rescue quest that leads them to her husband who is the Titan Prometheus who has been shrunk down to normal size.  His voice taken and is tortured by a giant gold metal bird who rips at his guts everyday! Hercules is shocked to learn his own father Zeus is the one who is holding the Titan prisoner and after killing the golden bird Herc sets him free and finds out that Zeus, while the one who bound Prometheus, is not the one who made him mute and before they can escape they are attacked by Olympus fighters Bia and Cratos who knock out Hercules and re-chain Prometheus!

Topps Comics really captured the adventure and silly nature of the TV show perfectly with this first issue and proved that when they bought an IP, they treated it right. Hercules in the issue is very noble and clearly wants to do the right thing to help his fellow man. While Hercules is strong, it’s clear he is out matched when he must fight both Olympian fighters whose punches are as strong as a charging Rhino. Salmoneus is as sleazy as ever and, while a friend of Hercules, seems to always try to find a way to make a quick coin from the friendship. Pronoea and Prometheus are victims of the Gods who are using them as pawns in some sort of game to get at each other as well as Hercules. Bia and Cratos are mountains of “men” who have no mouths and are only around to destroy those they are sent after.  The Golden Metal Bird, while tough, is more of just a torture device. I find that the comic has some pretty gruesome moments as Prometheus has his stomach ripped open and you can clearly see his insides.  What makes this a nice touch is that this punishment is also told in real Greek mythology. The art done by Jeff Butler is fantastic, and all the characters look like the actors who play them on the show, and the story by Roy Thomas is also fantastic as this story arc is called “The Trial Of Hercules Part 1.” The cover as well is eye catching, and I can remember buying this issue new off the stands at Mavericks and thinking how cool the cover looked. Well this issue ends with Hercules being taken prisoner and taken away so let’s see just how much trouble our hero is really in shall we?

Hercules 2

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 2  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #2 of 5

Hercules finds that he is being taken by Bia and Cratos to Zeus who is putting Hercules on trail for freeing Prometheus from a punishment he placed on the Titan. The three Furies are acting as the jury, Zeus himself is the judge and Ares The God Of War is building the case against his half brother. Meanwhile Salmoneus and female powerhouse Atalanta figure out Hercules is in trouble and head to aid him. While Salmoneus shows up to the trail and acts as Hercules’s lawyer, Atalanta frees Prometheus who comes to Hercules’s defense and tells the truth that Ares is the one who made him mute to protect a secret that would have had all the Gods at war with each other! Zeus goes back to Mount Olympus as Ares and Hercules fight that ends with The Furies finding Hercules not guilty and Ares guilty and they take the God of War away to be punished. In the end Prometheus and Pronoea grow back to titanic size as Hercules with friends Salmoneus and Atalanta walk away possibly to have another adventure.

This second issue and the last part of the “Hercules on Trail” storyline is a well done issue and once more captures the magic of the show making for a good read. Hercules seems like he is in deep trouble as he has crossed the path of his father Zeus who is not happy about it at all! Ares wants nothing more than to kill or watch Hercules get murdered making him one evil villain! Prometheus and Pronoea come in at the last moment for the save as they are able to tell he secret that the Titan knows; they truly are the lifesavers of Hercules. Salmoneus is as greedy and spineless as ever and it takes some pushing for him to even attempt to come to his friend’s aid. Zeus is stern and fair and flexes his muscles to show everyone why he is the King of the Gods. Bia and Cratos are pushed to the background of this issue and just become the whipping boys of Hercules’s rage. Atalanta, while cool to see in this comic, doesn’t offer much to the plot, and it’s a shame cause she is a real butt kicker in the show.  In fact one odd thing this comic does is showcase the fact other characters like to look at her boobs and butt! The Furies are ugly females who live for nothing more than to dish out justice, and they seem to enjoy the fact they get to attack Ares who made the mistake of trashing their odd appearances. This issue for being about a trail is pretty action packed and has many good fighting with the best being the Hercules and Ares brawl, and like the first issue this does have some blood as Atalanta is stabbed in the arm protecting Salmoneus from robbers. The art is top notch again done by Jeff Butler, and the story is still done by Roy Thomas showing that they make a great comic making pair. The next issue teases that Xena The Warrior Princess will be appearing and while the fan boy in me is pretty hyped for it, another side kind of just sighs and wishes they would just keep Xena in her own Topps Comic that was gearing up to being made. To sum it up these first two issue are fantastic and are perfect fun cheesy reads for fans of the show like myself.

Hercules 3

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 3  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #3 of 5

Xena, along with her friend Gabrielle, travel to her home village to find it burnt to the ground and her mother is being held captive by a scar faced general named Aesor who claims that he works for Hercules and that her mother will die if she does not join their army! Xena doesn’t believe these claims until she sees Hercules on the hill watching the carnage below.  This makes her mad, and she and Gabrielle beat up all the soldiers with only Aesor escaping. Xena’s mother takes her to see the body of an old man from the village that was killed during the raid, and Xena swears revenge and heads to Hercules’ village. Iolaus is throwing a birthday party for Alcmene as Xena shows up in a rage and starts attacking, right before things get to bad Hercules along with Salmoneus and Atalanta show up and Xena takes her rage out on her true target Hercules! The two do battle all the while Hercules tries to calm the situation down and proclaim his innocence, and only after Salmoneus talks sense into Xena (whom he is also friend with) does the pair decide to leave their friends behind and team up to find the answers. As the pair travel the run into an old woman who claims she saw Aesor going one way and turns out she in fact is a he and is the shape shifter who claimed to be Hercules known as Periclymenus.

This third issue is more about Xena then Hercules, and while it makes sense to build up this adventure, it’s still a little of a letdown as the title hero seems to be taking a back seat to a hero they clearly were getting ready to push in her own comic series. The story in this issue is pretty classic stuff as Xena thinks Hercules has wronged her village, but in reality the pair of heroes is being set up by a shape shifting bad guy who has his own plans of domination. Hercules once more is a hero and doesn’t want to fight Xena who is going crazy but more wants to talk it out.  Once more Herc is a class act. Xena is a tough woman who, while is a loose cannon, wants so badly to wrong rights and is doing so cause of her rocky past. Iolaus and the rest of the sidekicks, while great seeing them, all seem to just be glorified cameos. The fact Xena thinks that Hercules has sent men to murder and burn down her home village shows just how much she really doesn’t know her friend and proves that she is easily tricked into a rage filled rampages. Periclymenus in his true look is a creepy looking demon type and will indeed be a tough foe for our heroes to beat.  Plus he is able to change his looks and also has an army of back stabbing bad guys. This issue as well is a team up of artist Jeff Butler and writer Roy Thomas and once more proves they are a great team who seem to know the IP and really care about making a quality story. The cover I have is a little silly; it’s a huge live action still of Xena making it clear that Topps was already moving past Hercules and gearing up to focus on their new prized IP. Well let’s move onto the fourth issue and see how our heroes will be able to stop Periclymenus.

Hercules 4

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 4  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #4 of 5

Periclymenus’s army is attacking another village and have orders to kill everyone.  As the attack happens Hercules and Xena come to the rescue and find out that Periclymenus used them as a diversion so that he could attack Hercules’s home village and kidnap his mother! As Hercules and Xena rush to help, Atalanta, Iolaus, Salmoneus and Gabrielle hold off the attacking army but Periclymenus disguised as the fake Hercules is able to kidnap Alcmene and tells her he needs her help to find a man that will be able to give him the strength of Hercules to go along with the look! When Hercules and Xena arrive, the group informs them of the kidnapping and they all break into groups to find her.  Hercules and Iolaus are a team and end up finding Periclymenus who has found who he was looking for that was his brother who made an elixir that turns things super strong and changing into a Chimaera (a giant flying monster with the head of a goat, upper body of a lion and lower body of a dragon) and sets his site on killing Hercules!

This fourth issue is action packed, and every main character from the show has a good role to play! The whole plot of this issue is a kidnaping and rescue that leads to the baddie getting more power just in time for a final showdown that will be coming up in the final issue. Hercules saves people’s lives and for doing so he puts his own mother at risk.  This major risk helps bring out the human side of him and helps us as the reader feel as if things really could go badly for him. Xena in this issue takes a backseat and plays the role of sidekick as well as Atalanta, Salmoneus and Gabrielle; while they all fight they are not the main focus. Iolaus is a true friend of Hercules and fights along his friends side even when the odds are against them. As for Periclymenus, we learn a little something about him.  So besides being a shape shifter he also has a brother who makes powerful elixirs that can give him more power and up his shifting abilities. Plus the fact that he is now a giant Chimaera looking to rip Hercules apart adds so much to the danger Herc is truly in. Butler and Thomas make a great pair again and deliver another solid and fun issue, and I am really hyped to read the 5th and final issue so let’s not wait any longer.

Hercules 5

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  # 5  ***
Released in 1996   Cover Price $ 2.95   Topps Comics   #5 of 5

Xena and Gabrielle find Aesor who is being chased by a club wielding giant, and they make a deal with him that they will save him if he takes them to where Periclymenus is holding Hercules’s mother. Meanwhile Hercules and Iolaus find a way to hurt the Chimaera version of the shape shifter who disappears. Hercules finds his mother who must bandage her head due to fallen rocks as Periclymenus’ brother tells them all about their troubled past as well as that when he changes now that his striped black birthmarks will appear on what or whom ever he looks like. Xena and crew coming running up with a giant following and to everyone’s horror they watch has he smashes Aesor into paste! But together Hercules and Xena stop and reluctantly have to kill the giant, just as Periclymenus shows himself again as he was the bandage around Alcmene’s head.  He battles both Xena and Hercules and even knocks his own brother off a cliff.  In the end Xena tricks him into falling to his death or so they all think as he really just took the place of his brother and plans to fight another day as our heroes think the battle is over.

Periclymenus is cold blooded as he knocks his brother off a cliff to his death and then uses his own brothers appearance to have Hercules and Xena save his evil life! He was a great bad guy and when gaining his new powers really was a tough foe for our heroes to fight. Hercules uses all his power, will and wits to try and out muscle the shape shifter and does so to save not only himself from death’s grip but also his mother and friends who are also all in grave danger. Xena uses her skill and mind and is the one who gets the battle to end when she tricks the shape shifter into reaching for a small bottle of the elixir causing him to fall off the same cliff he shoved his brother off. Alcmene as well as both Gabrielle and Iolaus all play small but important parts to this issue’s wrap up story and each show a warrior’s spirit. The issue as well has some blood as the Giant splats Aesor with his club that becomes blood soaked, and then the Giant gets stabbed in the face by Xena’s sword and then falls on top of a stone spike and all done with the red stuff showing. Butler and Thomas once more make a great team and it’s really cool that they were the team for all 5 issues, and each one was well done and solid showing the talent each had and the love of the source material they shared. In fact I would say that this could be one of the best comic series based on a 90’s TV show made at this time and once more brings out my respect for Topps Comics, a company that truly is missed by this comic reader. If you’re a fan of Hercules The Legendary Journeys or just fun cheesy adventure comics based on Greek myths, then I would say that this comic series is worth your time for a read, and I will say they held up after all these years and I liked them back then and find myself liking them now.

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So I hope you had a legendary journey with Hercules and me on this Thanksgiving in 2014, and I must say that this Topps series was really well done and makes me miss them as a comic company even more! Plus it makes me miss the good old days of TV way before reality shows ruled the airwaves when shows like Hercules and Xena were highly watched and loved by viewers. Oh well, like everything in life stuff changes and we ca’nt stop the future. Our next update will be a comic based on a episode of the 1982 Incredible Hulk Cartoon where Hulk fights an ancestor of The Hunchback of Notre Dame! Well I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends and that your bellies are not too filled so that you saved room for dessert.  So until next time, enjoy life and make sure to have your own legendary journey!

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