Welcome to this Thanksgiving Rotten Ink update something that I hope has become a Turkey Day tradition for you just like the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathons use to be for me! And for this update I choose to cover something very special, as this is not only the Thanksgiving update but also is celebrating 10 Years that Rotten Ink has been up on the worldwide web. And normally Hercules would be the one to join us on Thanksgiving but as of last year we are taking a break from spending Turkey Day with him and this year will be our first without him and will instead be about a badass female warrior that is a Warrior Princess and I am of course talking about Xena and the comic series we will be looking at is the original series done by Topps Comics! So while that Turkey is still cooking in the oven and before your guests arrive or you leave to be a guest lets talk about Xena Warrior Princess on this Thanksgiving Day holiday.
Xena Warrior Princess was a spin-off show of the hugely popular syndicated show “Hercules Legendary Journeys” as Xena first appeared in the 1995 episode called “The Warrior Princess” and she became super popular with viewers as she was a badass female warrior who could handle herself against the likes of Hercules. So because of this on September 4, 1995 she got her own series thanks to Renaissance Pictures. The show in syndication was a major hit and was a ratings draw for all the stations who added it their line up. I for one would watch the show every Sunday Morning and would even set the VCR to tape the episodes I would miss due to family trips and such. The show would have Xena not only face her past of being a raider who killed but would also have her face fellow warriors, amazons as well as even monsters and Gods! And the big thing being is that Xena grew as a character throughout the series run and this added more appeal to the character as she would fall in love, show remorse for his actions and even would doubt herself at time. The show would last for six seasons and a total of 134 episodes and even when the show ended in 2001 it still was one of the most watched syndicated shows on television at the time. During its run it would win and be nominated for many awards including the Emmys and Saturns. It would build up a huge following in the LGBTQ Community, as Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle became role models for young ladies and spawned a lot of merchandise for fans to collect. Xena was a show that was for everyone and the character Xena is still popular even to this day as fans still would love to see her return to their TV screens. And for me it still ranks in my top 10 shows of all time as I was a big fan and still am to this day. The series has been released on home media via VHS and DVD and can be found on some streaming sites from time to time.
Xena was a feared female warrior who along with his army would loot, destroy and murder any villager in her path and she loved what she did. But her life changes when her own brother is killed in a raid by the Warlord Cortese and she sees the sorrow that her own actions has caused over the years and even her own Mother turns her back on her. Now on a mission for revenge and to right all her wrongs that she has done over the years, she also builds new friendships and trusts and becomes a symbol of change and empowerment from women. She is skilled with a sword as well as her chakram that she can throw super accrete. Xena also has a war cry that sends fear down the spines of her enemies and can stand her ground against any warlord as well as god like being. Xena was played by the lovely Lucy Lawless who was the crush for many nerdy kids of the time and in fact many still do have a crush on her, and I am not ashamed to say I still do as Lucy Laweless is an amazing actress who is beautiful on many levels. Lucy Lawless would go on to be is such shows and movies as The X-Files, The L Word, Spartacus, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Spider-Man, Boogeyman and Bitch Slap. She would even voice Wonder Woman in the 2008 animated film Justice League: The New Frontier. For those of use who grew up watching and for those of who discovered the show after its run we truly know how awesome, amazing, beautiful and ass kicking Xena and Lucy Lawless really is.
Gabrielle was a farm girl from the village of Potidaea and after being kidnapped by a warlord and then freed by Xena she decides that she wants to follow her savior and together the two have many great journies and adventures. Gabrielle is wise, sarcastic at times and becomes skilled with a staff as well as a sword later on and she becomes a warrior in her own right. Her sister is Lila who is her only sibling and they two do get along well. The character of Gabrielle was super popular with fans and growing up for me on TV you could not beat the duo of Xena and Gabriella as they just played so well off each other. Gabrielle was played by actress Rene O’Connor who was in such films as “Night Game (1989)”, “Stone Cold (1991)”, “The Adventures Of Huck Finn (1993)” and “Darkman II: The Return Of Durant (1995)” among others as well as was on TV Shows like “Tales From The Crypt”, “NYPD Blue” and “FBI: The Untold Stories”. Rene is a great actress and Gabrielle is an amazing character and for many Gabriella rivaled Xena at being their favorite character of the whole series, and lets be honest I think it was Rene who’s acting really made the character be so iconic.
The show had many amazing side character over the years that made up the Xena universe like the goofball wannabe hero Joxer played by Ted Raimi, Autolycus The King Of Thieves played by Bruce Campbell, Cyrene is the mother of Xena and she was played by Darien Takle, Hercules and Iolaus would show up from time to time and they were played of course by Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst. And on the villain side two of the biggest baddies in the series (and man she had many) was Aries The God Of War played by Kevin Smith and female warrior Callisto played by Hudson Leick. And this is just a small amount of the recurring characters that appeared on the show and made it so awesome. My favorite side character has to be Callisto as she was beautiful, crazy and dangerous and was a great villain for Xena and her episodes were always well done. But to be fair Ares is also a very entertaining villain and Kevin Smith was perfect in the role and it’s a shame he had to pass away at such a young age. Man writing this really does make me look back and see just how awesome all of the characters I have mentioned and more really did make this show special. Oh and I need not forget Caesar played by Karl Urban was also a great baddie who was a pain in Xena’s side. Who was your favorite side character in Xena?
Like I have said I was an every week watcher of Xena The Warrior Princess and hands down one of my favorite episodes was called “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and was a Halloween episode that aired in October 1996. In this spooky episode Xena and Gabrielle go after Bacchus The God Of Wine who has a legion of female vampires, and during this adventure Gabriella is bitten and turned into one of his servants and its up to Xena to save her friend and kill Bacchus and allow all of those he has infected to return to being human. The episode also had appearances by Joxer and Orpheus and the episode played like a mix between a Horror Movie and a Rock Video that was airing on MTV at the time…and you can never go wrong with Gabrielle looking all gothed out…you just cant. The episode also had a very lesbian overtone and the demonic look of Bacchus was badass and it’s a shame that he was not used more often as a featured villain of the week for the Xena series. Long before the episodes made their way to home media this was one that I can remember taping off TV and watching a lot as the episode was just really cool and the plot felt like a good B-Movie vampire film. And the episode would also go on to be praised by not only fans but also critics who site this as one of the series best episodes. Those who have seen the episode know how awesome it is, and those of you who have not seen it track down the DVD set for Season 2 and give it a watch…also Toy Biz should have made an action figure of Bacchus and one of his female vampire minions…just saying.
Like all great shows Xena Warrior Princess has had her fair share of action figures and dolls with her first figure being in the Hercules Legendary Journeys line that was released by Toy Biz and she had two figures in the line with the difference being coloring on her armor. And at the time of these figures release I was collecting them all as Hercules was one of my favorite shows and it would be cool to have them set up in my room, and Xena at the time in my area was the hardest one to track down. And I have to also say the Xena from the Hercules toys looks nothing like Lucy Lawless and for the most part is a really cheesy figure. But when Xena got her own TV Show Toy Biz also gave her a toy line that featured not only Xena but also all the characters from the show and these figures and later dolls were way better done and captured likeness better than the Hercules line did. And of course I still have many of my Xena toys and if you are a fan of the show make sure to track some of these figures down as they are pretty cool and a part of the shows history.
When the TV Show was not on one thing fans could do is get the paperback novels based on Xena and her adventures to fill that void and these were good reads for fans. Many of the novels were written by such authors as Ru Emerson and Stella Howard and the novels most popular reads was the Quest Trilogy that was written by Emerson and consisted of “Go Quest Young Man”, “Questward Ho!” and “How The Quest Was Won”. And growing up I had these books and in fact I still have many of these books and while the lack the visional charm of the show Emerson and Howard did a great job of capturing the fun feel of it and really did deliver very entertaining reads. If you love the show make sure to tack down these novels and give them a read in your favorite spot.
Xena The Warrior Princess made her way to the world of video games and was in a total of three home console games and a few for the PC. In 1999 Titus Interactive released the fighting game “Xena Warrior Princess: The Talisman Of Fate” for the N64. It was met with mixed reviews as it was an odd fighter but did allow you to play as such characters as Callisto, Ares, Julius Caesar and Autolycus to name a few. Also in 1999 for the Sony Playstation and released by EA came a adventure game that had you play as Xena who is on a quest to rescue Gabrielle and must fight warriors and monsters along the way, and this was a game I have played and beat so many times as I just really enjoyed the quest hack slash style game play and plus it was cool to be able to play a video game based on one of my favorite TV Shows of all time. And yet Xena would also get a Game Boy Color game as well this time in 2001, as even the handheld market needed some Xena for gamers to play as. So while I am not a mega fan of the Game Boy Color or N64 versions, I am a fan of the PS1 version and say that if you have the old console at your house and want to play a Xena adventure give this one a try.
The score music used for Xena The Warrior Princess was done by Joseph LoDuca and is fantastic stuff as the opening theme always built the excitement for the episode and is something that we all remember to this day as it became one of the most iconic themes for a TV Show at the time. Let’s be honest, you have hummed the theme at least once as you have been reading this update. Many of you might not know that composer Joseph LoDuca is the musical mastermind behind scores for such movies as “The Evil Dead”, “Brotherhood Of The Wolf”, “Boogeyman”, “Curse Of Chucky” and “Bad Samaritan” and shows like “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”, “Cleopatra 2525” and “Jack Of All Trades” to name a few. And if you like myself enjoy the music of Xena you can get many volumes of the scores on CD thanks to Varese Sarabande; the musical episode even found its way onto CD! So make sure if you are a music collector to track these down as copies can be found on EBay and Amazon.
As you know Xena was one of the biggest syndicated shows of all time and this is what lead to it having so much merchandise to be made about it and besides comics, novels, video games, toys and soundtracks, the show also got Home Media, Posters, Shirts, Costumes, Trading Cards, Cardboard Standees, Stickers, Drinking Glasses, Magazines, Clocks, Key Chains, Bags, Jewelry, Snow Globe and so much more official and unofficial stuff! And because I am a fan I do have much of this stuff as I have several shirts as well as some of the trading cards along with the other stuff I have mentioned I own. So if you like Xena and are a collector, the world is filled with lots of cool stuff for you to get for your collection.
As you can see, Xena was a major force for TV in the 1990’s and sparked a tidal wave of great merchandise as well as gave female viewers a cool character to look up to as she was strong and a badass and at the time this was a little more rare for TV to have such a character in “nerdy” shows like this at the time. She also is an icon in the LGBTQ community as they show was laced with a lesbian overtones and this again was not the norm for this time on broadcast TV. And I want to also note that for fans the novels, comics, video games and even toys helped add new adventures for Xena while they waited for new seasons to start and new episodes to air. I want to thank Half Price Books and Game Swap Kettering for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. 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 i’s art and story. So with that while the turkey is still in the oven and those potatoes are not yet mashe, let’s go on an adventure with Topps Comics and Xena The Warrior Princess.
Xena Warrior Princess # 0 **1/2
Released in 1997 Cover Price $2.95 Topps Comics # 0 of 2
Xena and Gabrielle are walking along a path and stumble on a tomb at the side of a mountain and just as they notice it the ground shakes and a horde of zombie warriors come from the ground and go on the attack! Xena fights hard but is unable to save Gabrielle who is pulled underground by the zombies. Xena rushes inside the temple hoping that she can find Gabrielle alive inside and meets Psoriasese, the undead caretaker of the temple who warns Xena of the Dragon God who dwells inside and who has already claimed the soul of Xena as he wants her to enter his temple, this does not scare Xena who enters to save her friend as she learns that if she stabs the Dragon’s heart she will not only kill the beast but also free all the souls he has trapped. Xena ends up fighting and killing the three monsters that guard the dragon’s gate and once inside the Dragon taunts Xena with Gabrielle who is now in the zombie trance and this causes the warrior princess to go on the attack! After dodging the dragons attack as well as trying to hit his heart she is lucky to shrug off his attempt to put her into the zombie trance and is able to throw her sword into his heart and kill him and this frees the souls of all those he damned! In the end Xena and Gabrielle come back together as people are back to normal all around them and continue their quest.
This is a pretty fun first comic for Xena The Warrior Princess and does a pretty good job of capturing the mood and feel of the TV Show is based on, but I will say some of the humor in the comic does fall flat at times as the jokes and one liners were cheesy. The plot is very simple and has Xena fighting zombies, monsters and a dragon in order to save her friend Gabrielle who was kidnapped by them, and like always Xena and her warrior skills save the day. Xena in this issue is skilled in her fighting and is confidante in her skills as she has no fear charging into a tomb filled with the dead and monsters in order to protect her friend, she truly is one of the best female warriors in all of fandom. Gabrielle in this issue is very bored and sadly does not get her chance to see much action as she is taken by zombies and turned into one of them before she knew what even happened, and she still is very much around for some comedy relief at the start of the issue. The issue’s bad guy is the Dragon God who is in this tomb to try and collect souls to please Hades and to get his way into being in the underworld. He has the power to use a death stare in order to turn people into his mindless zombie slaves and to send their souls to Hades! He is very mean and evil looking but is also very slow in his attacks and had one big weakness his heart that is the key to free all those he damned. The comics action is well done and I do like the fight she has with the three monsters as she makes quick work of them and makes them pay for the decades of killing of people they have done and sends them all to the underworld. The cover I have is eye catching and showcases Lucy Lawless as Xena and the interior art is really great and done by Aaron Lopresti who can truly draw dragons, zombies and monsters and his work on Xena is good and it looks like Lawless. Over all a good start to this series as its fast paced and has some great art and fun action.
Xena Warrior Princess # 1 ***
Released in 1997 Cover Price $2.95 Topps Comics # 1 of 2
Salmoneus is in charge of the Spring Fair and a threat has been made toward the hero turned king Perseus’s life and that is why he has called in many of his friends to help protect the king’s life as well as keep the fair safe. On hand is Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer The Brave and for a brief time Hercules and Iolaus are around to stop a drunken giant. As the heroes all come together a strange old man in a cloak offers money to a charity if Xena and Hercules would fight each other to see who the better hero is, they refuse and Hercules leaves to visit his mother. Meanwhile Xena, Gabrielle, Iolaus and Joxer stick around to protect the King during the fair but things go wrong when the Gorgon Sisters show up as they are the sisters of Medusa and want revenge on Perseus for killing their loved one. The Gorgon Sisters can turn people to stone via their eyes as well as firing laser beams from them and they are able to turn Perseus, Iolaus, Salmoneus and Gabrielle into stone and worse a spear has went through Gabrielle right as she turned! Xena tricks the Gorgon Sisters into hitting each other with their stone eye beams, and this kills them both. As Xena and Joxer go to check on their friends cloaked man appears and shows that he is classic hero Gilgamesh and that Xena should join him on a quest to get a plant that gives eternal life as in 30 Days all those turned to stone will turn normal and this would be the death of Gabrielle!
What a fun comic as this brings in so many familiar faces from the classic Xena and Hercules TV Shows and brings them all together in order to protect Perseus who many know not only by the myth of his story but also the film Clash Of The Titans from the 1980’s. The story is that Perseus is now a King and his throwing a big fair for his people that the conman Salmoneus is in charge of, but a threat is looming so he calls on his hero friends to come act as guards and security only for them to have to face the evil sisters of Medusa who turn many into stone and during this fight Gabrielle is hit with a spear right as she is turned, after killing the sisters Xena now must find a way to save her friend in 30 Days as once she turns flesh again she will surely die. Xena in this issue shows that she has no fear as she rushes head on to fight The Gorgon Sisters and out smarts them in order to end their lives, as they are immortal but they could not survive their own attacks. Xena by he quick actions is able to save many lives! Poor Gabrielle tries to help during the mayhem but finds herself being hit in the gut with a spear and then turned to stone at the same time, she has thirty days to live as stone before returning back to flesh and bleeding to death. Joxer is a goofball and during the fight has his helmet fall and saves no lives nor does not battle the Sisters. The one odd thing is that Hercules is around for a few moments, but leaves before the attack to visit his mom…its like could he not wait one day to visit her and help his friends stay safe? Poor Iolaus and Salmoneus find themselves stone, but do try to help during this attack. I for one don’t trust Gilgamesh who uses Iolaus as a human shield, tries to hire Hercules and Xena to fight and then tries to say he has a way to save Gabrielle’s life as well as give him more life as he should have been dead long ago…don’t trust him as he comes off shady. The cover is very cool and eye catching and the interior art by Joyce Chin and is great stuff, I really like her style lots and she captures the looks of the actors who play the characters and adds he own touch and style to them. Over all this is a great start for this mini series and shows that Xena is not only great on TV but also in comics!
Xena Warrior Princess # 2 ***
Released in 1997 Cover Price $2.95 Topps Comics # 2 of 2
Xena and Gilgamesh are on their quest to get the plant that grows every 500 years and gives a person immortality, but they are attacked by some Lion Men and they have to kill the flesh eating beasts and soon find that Joxer has been following them as he wants to help! Gilgamesh opens up to Xena and says that he once touched the flower and that is how he is still alive after all these centuries and that he does not want to die as he feels the effects fading and that watching his friend die before him is what has driven him to this quest as he thinks heroes should not have such fates. The three head to the river and meet the ferryman who uses a sea monster to get them across, once at the location Gilgamesh uses his club and knocks out both Xena and Joxer and then ties Xena up into the air and tells her that he must slit her throat in order for the planet to fully bloom, and she reminds him that he was one of the greatest heroes and that this is murder…he knows she is right and stops his attack. But before they can talk, more monsters appear and Xena and he team up to bring them down. Gilgamesh then says while his life will end he thinks the roots of the flower will heel the wounds of Gabrielle if they can make it back in time. Thirty days pass and those turned to stone turn back to flesh and at the last second Gilgamesh makes it to Gabrielle in time and saves her life! As Gilgamesh leaves to return to his homeland to die, Hercules makes it back from his mom’s home and asks Xena what he missed.
The final issue in this mini series has Xena on a quest for a plant that should be able to save the life of her best friend Gabrielle, but soon finds that she was tricked and a sacrificial lamb so that her blood can help the planet bloom, but her attacker and quest buddy Gilgamesh could not commit murder and they end up using the plants roots in order to at least save the life of Gabrielle as the root heals her wounds. I told you readers not to trust Gilgamesh and while in the end he turns into the hero is was, he had his own self in mind and was willing to kill a brave warrior in order for himself to live forever. Xena as always is brave and kills some monsters as well as goes into the unknown in order to save her friends life as well as help a legendary hero live forever. Gilgamesh is aging and dying and while he was a great warrior at one time its clear his fear of death as well as aging is breaking him down. Joxer is around but is pretty much just used as comedy for the issue. Hercules, Iolaus, Salmoneus and Perseus show up at then end of the issue and add their own charm, but are pretty much just background characters. Gabrielle turns flesh and is saved and still has her sense of humor as she talks about having a tummy ache. This comic mini series has lots going for it as I feel the story is fun and fitting for an episode of Xena, the art is really great and all artists do a great job of making the characters look like the actors and yet also add their own touches, it has lots of action, humor and monsters…plus you can not go wrong with having Hercules in a cameo role. Topps Comics really was a great indie comic company in the 90’s that delivered very entertaining reads and I think their Xena series is proof that they put care behind their releases. The cover is pretty great and showcases Xena being a badass and the interior art in this issue is done by Joyce Chin again and is great stuff, as she even adds a little sexy cheesecake feel to Xena throughout. To sum it up these comics lived up to what I remember and if you are a Xena Warrior Princess fan make sure to give this mini series a read. Checkout the artwork bellow to see the style used by Chin in the series.
Xena Warrior Princess was a fantastic TV Show that was a big part of my TV watching growing up and made for a great comic book series thanks to Topps Comics who I feel was gone way to soon as I think the amount of amazing comics they could have released over the years they have been gone could have been very epic. You can tell that the creative minds behind this mini series at least cared about delivering a entertaining comic and great read to the fans of the show and that’s what makes it standout from many of the others that have failed their readers and fans. And I think truly that the show should return for one more season and it’s a must that Lucy Lawless and Rene O’Connor step back into the roles of Xena and Gabrielle, but enough of that talk as I could chat about Xena for days! Thank you so much for spending a small part of your Thanksgiving with Rotten Ink and I hope looking back at Xena Warrior Princess made your Turkey Day a little better. Before we part ways let me tell you that our next update is our kickoff to Christmas Eve and will be about the first Superman movie in cinemas that had him meeting Mole Men, that’s right it’s a photo comic graphic novel based on the George Reeves as Superman film “Superman And The Mole Men” so that should be a fun flashback. So I hope you are enjoying your meal with your family, friends and pets and as always until next time read an indie comic or three, watch a Xena episode or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you soon as Superman has some Mole Men to save!