Anne Francis Stars In…Our Look At Forbidden Planet

Pop quiz time, Rotten Inkers! Can you name the ten films that are referred to in Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Science Fiction Double Feature”? It’s okay, I’ll give you a minute to sing through it in your head. Done? Alright. Even if you didn’t get all of them, I can bet that one you did catch was in the chorus. Sing it with me, “Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet.” This musical exercise is my less than clever way to introduce today’s update, all about seminal science fiction film Forbidden Planet. I’m Juliet, occasional co-pilot here on Rotten Ink. As you may guessed by now, having read my prior contributions to Rotten Ink, although I have massive love and respect for the horror genre, my earliest and continuing love is for science fiction. If Matt’s the Monster Kid of our house, I’m the spaceships and robots kid for sure. So it’s perfect that we’re about to dive into a film, and the comic books adaptations of it, that not only feature spaceships and robots but really influenced all of the spaceship and robot things to follow it. We’ll start with some history.

Forbidden Planet was released in 1956 by MGM and was shot in Eastmancolor and CinemaScope. It was written by Irving Block and Allen Adler (who was blacklisted from Hollywood during the second part of the Red Scare), directed by Fred M. Wilcox and stars Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen. It was the first science fiction film to take place entirely on an interstellar planet that was far from Earth, and the first to show humans traveling faster than the speed of light in a ship of their own creation. These are two of the many reasons Gene Rodenberry names Forbidden Planet as one of his main inspirations for Star Trek. You can also see its visual and design influence on the Star Wars franchise. And remember, this film was released 13 years before the moon landing and five years before cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to travel to space.

Another first for Forbidden Planet is its score. It was the film to have an entirely electronic music score, though at the time, it was referred to as “electronic tonalities” to avoid music guild fees. The composers, Bebe and Louis Barron were discovered accidentally when an MGM producer was visiting New York and saw them perform at a beatnik club and then hired them on the spot to create music for Forbidden Planet. Many people think that the pre-Moog synthesizer electronic drones were created with a theremin, similar to part of the score for Hitchcock’s Spellbound, but the effect was actually created by electronic circuits and modulators that Louis Barron built himself. For this and their work, Heavenly Menagerie, which is considered the first piece of electronic music committed to magnetic tape, the Barrons are considered pioneers of electronic music.

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Robby the Robot is notable for both his design and characterization. Robby’s design was developed from initial ideas and sketches by MGM production designer Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie, art director Arthur Lonergan, and writer Irving Block. The concepts were refined by production illustrator Mentor Huebner and perfected by MGM staff mechanical designer Robert Kinoshita, and Robby was built by the prop department. For his time, Robby sported one of the most complex robot designs moviegoers had ever seen, comparable in design only to Maria, the Menschmaschine in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (another of my favorite robot films). MGM spent a reported $125,000 on Robbie, which with inflation is about $1.1 million today, and compared to the overall budget of Forbidden Planet, he remains of the one most of expensive single props compared to the overall budget of the film he’s in. The suit itself is unique; made of three pieces that completely surrounded the actor and contained all of Robby’s electronics, it could be filmed from any angle without a reset unlike Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still, whose suit had to be reset for different angles to cover special fastenings that allowed for movement.

As a character, Robby was one of the first science fiction robots to have a distinct personality and to be considered an integral supporting character in his film. Again, Maria from Metropolis and Gort are good precursor comparisons. Contrary to Forbidden Planet’s poster and much of the advertising leading up to the film, Robby isn’t the villain, and in fact, follows a version of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics throughout the film including (and most important to the climax of the story), the fact that he cannot kill a human being. He is portrayed as physically strong, benevolent, extremely loyal to Alta and Dr. Morbius, and, at times, he’s a bit sassy.

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It’s unknown whether Robby takes his name from Fantastic Island’s Robbie – a mechanical decoy used by Doc Savage or from the Asimov story of the same name, which was published in 1940. However, after Forbidden Planet was released, Robby became a pop culture icon. He had another starring film role in MGM’s 1957 movie The Invisible Boy and makes a cameo in Gremlins. He appeared in many TV shows, including the The Addams Family, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mork and Mindy. He and and several props from Forbidden Planet were used in the “Uncle Sam” episode of The Twilight Zone (the original Rod Serling version), but Robby donned an alternate head for that appearance, based on one of the original, rejected models created for Forbidden Planet. Robby also appeared in several episodes of Lost in Space, in which he battled Robot B-9 (aka Robot), who he’s sometimes confused for. In 2004, Robby was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame.

If you haven’t seen Forbidden Planet, by now you’re probably wondering what the heck it’s about. Based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the story follows the crew of the starship C-57D, lead by Commander Adams, as they travel to Altair IV with the goal of discovering what happened to an Earth expedition sent to the planet twenty years prior. When they arrive on the planet, they find its only inhabitants are Dr. Morbius, his beautiful daughter Altaira, and Robby, their robot servant. But something sinister lurks on the planet, and Dr. Morbius is keen to keep it a secret. I’ll leave the story at that for now as we’ll dive further into it when we review Innovation’s comic book adaptation of the film.

As I mentioned above, I am a lifelong scifi fan, and I’m particularly fond of space stories and robot stories so it wasn’t hard to fall in love with Forbidden Planet. I first saw it when I was around thirteen years old. In 1996, MGM re-released the film on VHS and laserdisc with a special widescreen presentation for its 40th anniversary. My dad got the VHS as a gift, and one day I decided to check it out. At the time, I didn’t know about Forbidden Planet’s place in science fiction history, how really important it was the genre and how it influenced the creators of many of the things I already loved. What I knew back then was that it was a great movie. It’s lush, beautiful and puts you completely into its world. All of the characters are smart, including Altaira who is naive about certain things, having never lived with other humans, but can handle her own with the ship’s crew. Robby has such personality, and his look, as well as that of the other props, is yet another argument for practical effects and design over CGI. The story gets at all of the great science fiction questions of forbidden knowledge and its power, the ethics of being an outsider in someone else’s world and how far artificial intelligence should be allowed to go without human intervention. Forbidden Planet instantly took a space in my top five all time movies where it’s remained ever since.

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After Forbidden Planet was released, Robby the Robot became a pop culture icon and a favorite for collectors of science fiction merchandise. He’s been a toy, a Funko pop figure, a talking bank, and a bobble head, among other things (I own all of those, by the way). There are also model kits for both Robby and the ship. The iconic Forbidden Planet poster (a reproduction of which hangs above my bed) has made its way onto lunch boxes, t-shirts, and variety of print formats. The film itself has been released on VHS, laserdisc, DVD and BluRay, and the soundtrack is available on CD and both vintage and new edition vinyl.

In 1992, Innovation Comics, in association with Turner Entertainment, released a four part comic book adaptation of Forbidden Planet.  These comics are the subject of today’s update, and Robby reminds us that here are at Rotten Ink, comics are graded on a scale of 1 to 4 stars and that we are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s prep to board our spacecraft and journey to the Forbidden Planet.

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Forbidden Planet  # 1   ****
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 1 of 4

Commander J.J. Adams and his crew have been traveling the vast unknown of space for over a year on a mission to find out what happened to the crew of the spaceship Bellerophon, sent to Altair 4 twenty years prior.  Upon approaching the planet’s orbit, Adams’ ship receives a message not to land, but they do so anyway.  At first the planet appears to have no trace of any survivors of the Bellerophon, but the crew is eventually greeted by Robby the Robot, who takes Adams and his command crew, which includes Doc Ostrow, to meet his master Dr. Morbius.  Morbius is cautious, if not downright suspicious of the newcomers, informing them that, while he is the only survivor from the Bellerophon, he is not in need of rescue.  The issue ends as Adams and his companions meet Altaira, Morbius’ nineteen year old daughter who was born on the planet.

This first issue, titled Relief Ship, is a really nice start to our adaptation of Forbidden Planet.  David Campiti’s script follows the beginning of the film faithfully and closely, so you don’t miss anything that’s been shortened or adapted to work in comics.  Daerick Gröss’ painted artwork really captures the distinct look and feel of the film, and the way the panels are structured loosely on larger, more atmospheric backgrounds is really interesting.  I’ve not seen that done in other books.  My only hesitation is that occasionally Innovation’s adaptation books get too artsy and lose the story completely, and/or worse, the art slows down the pacing of the storytelling and the title is cancelled before we get a complete adaptations (I’m looking at you, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour).  So I’m proceeding cautiously because I don’t want that to happen with Forbidden Planet.  Hopefully the association with Turner for the publishing helped move things along a bit, and we’ll get the full story in these four issues.  So I guess it’s a good time to move on to Issue 2 and see if that’s the case.

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Forbidden Planet # 2 ***
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 2 of 4

Commander Adams and crew learn more about Altaira, Dr. Morbius’ daughter who we (and they) met at the end of issue #1.  Altaira is nineteen and was born on the planet.  Until this point, she had never met a human other than her father, and that combined with mysterious properties of the planet have somehow given her the ability to communicate with the animals residing on Altair 4.  This begins to change, however, as Altaira becomes intrigued by the crew of young men currently stationed on her planet, in particular Commander Adams, who at first spurns her rather naive advances but is ultimately unable to resist her charms.  Dr. Morbius is concerned for his daughter and for what her newly awakened passions might mean for all of their fate.

This is another great adaptation issue that, although it moves a few things around from the movie for a better page flow, once again stays faithful to the film’s story.  This issue, called The Innocence of Altaira, focuses on Morbius’ daughter.  This particular storyline is really interesting in both the film and the comic, and takes a scifi approach to the age-old story arc about the loss of innocence through the gaining of knowledge, either literal (which we’ll see more of soon) or sexual…or both.  Although she isn’t drawn to look like Ann Francis, the comic book version of Altaira is faithful to the film version, both highly intelligent and a bit naive and with a sassy relationship with Robby.  Once again the painted artwork is fantastic and full of the vibrant colors we expect from this portion of the film.  We’re at the halfway mark for this comic book series, and I think, if done correctly, based on our current pacing we could get the full film by the end of issue 4.  So onward, to Issue 3.

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Forbidden Planet # 3 ***
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 3 of 4

It’s time for Dr. Morbius to finally explain the truth to Commander Adams and Doc Ostrow, that Altair 4 does, as they’ve been suspecting, hold a dark secret.  Taking them through a passageway in his office, Dr. Morbius leads the spacemen into an old laboratory belonging to the Krell, a long dead race of super beings who inhabited Altair 4 in the planet’s ancient past.  The Krell were highly advanced and had managed to harness the power of their own minds to build a great civilization and in turn use the machines they created to further enhance their minds. But in doing so, they unlocked the Id, a powerful monster born from their own thoughts that was eventually responsible for the downfall of the Krell and the deaths of the crew of the Bellerophon.  Morbius is concerned that through his own actions and the arrival of Adams and his crew, the monster has once again awakened and will destroy them all.

In this issue we get the Krell mythology and the origin of the Id monster, and again, although a few things were slightly rearranged for the comic, by and large this reveal worked in the comic just like it did in the film.  The one minor place where I felt like the comic felt a little short, however, is that I don’t feel like the artwork has the same impact as the graphics in the film when it came to depicting just how vast, advanced and intricate the Krell technology was.  Don’t get me wrong, it beautiful artwork, but in the film, you could really feel the size and scope based on the both the design and the camera set up.  But don’t let my complaints fool you into thinking this isn’t a great comic with great artwork, it really is – and, unless something goes completely haywire next issue, it looks like we are poised to get the whole film adaptation in the scheduled four issues.  So let’s get to it!

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Forbidden Planet # 4 ****
Released in 1993      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 4 of 4

With the secrets of the Krell revealed, the Monster of the Id is growing stronger and threatens to destroy all of Altair 4.  Commander Adams and his crew are left with a choice: to flee the planet or to stay and fight.  Morbius, knowing that his own dabbling in Krell technology is in part to blame for the monster, encourages them to leave and to take Altaira with them.  As they try to make their escape, the monster attacks and Robby is unable to defend them because of a protocol that prevents him from harming Morbius or his family — you see, the Morbius has become part of the collective Id from which the monster is formed. So all hope is lost for the doctor.  Altaira and the recovered Robby agree to flee with Adams and his crew, and the ship blasts off into space as the planet implodes.

And there we have the epic conclusion to the comic book adaptation of Forbidden Planet, and yes, Innovation made it happen in the scheduled four issues.  This final issue holds the bulk of the action as our heroes must escape Altair 4 as the Id Monster grows stronger threatening to destroy them and the entire planet.  In this issue we see Altaira making the difficult choice to leave her father and Morbius having to reckon with the consequences of the damage he’s caused.  We also see Robby put to the test in a great example of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics when he cannot kill the monster because it and Dr. Morbius have become one in the same.  The was a great conclusion to a great comic book adaptation of the film.  From the script to the artwork, everything was done with care and respect for the source material which makes it a great read for fans and newcomers alike.  Take a look below at some of Daerick Gröss’ artwork.

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Often comic book adaptations of films are really hit or miss, but Innovation’s Forbidden Planet is definitely a hit for the casual or diehard fan.  Be sure to track this one down and check it out.  For our next update, we’re leaving outer space and landing back in the U.S.A. for Rotten Ink’s annual Fourth of July update wherein Matt will return to once again look at a title with a patriotic theme.  This time around he’s going with a classic, and I do mean classic – a reprint of the very first issue of Captain America.  So get your grill out and your sparklers ready (though keep them away from comic books for safety’s sake!) and get ready for our next update here on Rotten Ink.Captain America Logo 00

War Ready: The Robotic Tale Of Pacific Rim

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

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

Pacific Rim (2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Killdozer!

Back in the 70’s and 80’s made for TV films were very popular and were the networks’ way of trying to keep viewers staying at home instead of heading to their local cinemas. And in 1974, thanks to ABC a Horror/Science Fiction hybrid film based on an old 1940’s novel was unleashed on viewers and sparked a cult following…that film is Killdozer! This made for TV movie not only got the comic book adaptation treatment from Marvel Comics but also has been talked about in TV shows like Beavis And Butt-Head, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Tonight Show as well as in the film Planet Terror. In fact, some people think that the real life rampage of Marvin Heemeyer, who used a bulldozer to cause panic and destruction in Colorado, was inspired by this film and even the media used the name Killdozer when covering the tragically ending event. So as you can see, this film really has become a cult film and is the newest entry in my From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. So put on your hardhat, as Killdozer is ready to strike fear into our hearts and souls!

Before we get to the film and the comic, we must first get to know and understand our “monster.” Killdozer started out as a normal giant bulldozer that was doing work on an island. It makes the mistake of trying to remove a metallic rock that fell from space, and in turn, the alien rock takes over the bulldozer and turns it into a human killing machine that runs on its own and seems to have a mind as well with one goal, to kill. Killdozer does not talk, does not listen to reason, and almost seems to like to stalk its human prey before going for the kill. Killdozer’s power came from the rock that fell from space and not much is known about its full power and whether the glowing blue life force that left the rock to enter the bulldozer was indeed a living being. Killdozer pretty much ruled the small island it was on and used much of the environment against the humans. Killdozer is massive in size, and his main tools for killing are its large blade plate with its other tools of death being its continuous track that can run over and crush as well as its ripper that can shred human flesh. Killdozer can withstand fire and explosives and even can keep moving without fuel. But while Killdozer might seem unstoppable, it does have some weaknesses like it can be tricked and out maneuvered as it is slower moving, and it as well does not like electricity. So while Killdozer can be stopped, it will take lots of will to live and strategy to do so, and while only a machine with a mind of it’s own, it still is a killing machine that humans should be afraid of.

So as you can see Killdozer! is a several ton terror that is driven by unknown powers from space and almost seems like it could be a prequel character to the Stephen King story and movie Maximum Overdrive! Now we are at the point where we will take a look at the film and its legacy as well as my first time viewing of the film. The movie’s plot will be taken from our pals at IMDB, and the rest will be written of course by me. So let’s take a look at the film that was inspired by a book that sparked a comic.

Killdozer! (1974)

“Construction workers building an airstrip on a small Pacific Island encounter an ancient non-material lifeform which has lived in the ruins of an ancient temple for millenia. The entity is of course malevolent and commandeers the earthmoving equipment to the general detriment of all concerned.”

Killdozer started out as a novel by Theodore Sturgeon and was released in 1944. Thirty years later, ABC along with Universal Television developed a made for TV movie based on the book in order to scare viewers and keep them from going to the cinema to watch a horror film. The film premiered on February 2, 1974 on ABC and was met with mixed reviews by critics and viewers. It would be many years before Killdozer! made its way to home video when Universal, through their DVD-R on demand service called The Vault, released it. Killdozer! It was released on TV the same year as these other Horror Films scared viewers on the big screen: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, The Bat People, The Ghost Galleon and It’s Alive, to name a few.

I watched Killdozer! for the first time on January 16, 2018 via the Universal Vault DVD-R release…and I must say that while it’s was nothing too special, it had a fun early 70’s cheesy horror film feel to it and was very entertaining. What worked for this movie was the atmosphere as it was set on a very small island that gave our contract workers a very small area to hide in from the killing machine. The film starred Clint Walker who was in other made for TV Horror movies like Scream Of The Wolf and Snowbeast. It co-starred Neville Brand, who was in a number of Horror Films that include the 1977 Tobe Hooper film Eaten Alive, and they, along with the rest of the cast, do a great job pulling off that they are scared of a killer bulldozer. Another thing that shocked me is how good the score for the film was as it added to the over all Sci-Fi and cheesy nature of the film and was done by Gil Melle, who did scores for such other films as The Sentinel, Blood Beach, Frankenstein: The True Story and Death Scream, to name a few. Over all I must say that if you enjoy movies that have machines that running wild and try to kill every living person they see, then Killdozer! is one you will want to watch. I should also note that this film is bloodless, and all the deaths do not show harm coming to the characters.

Killdozer! found itself getting the comic book treatment the same year as the film aired on TV thanks to Marvel Comics and their series called Worlds Unknown that features cool science fiction and horror stories in every issue.  They have covered the likes of The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, to name a select few. And for issue 6, they adapted Killdozer! and even played up the fact it was also a made for TV Movie! I want to thank Amazon for having this in stock for this review. So before we frightfully dive into this comic, I need to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s travel into the comic world and see what kind of mayhem Killdozer! has in store for us.

Worlds Unknown # 6  **
Released in 1974     Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 6 of 8

A war in space that took place long before our written time caused a killer cloud that took over machines and made them act as if they had a mind of their own. And during this battle, one of these machines was blown out of space, and it fell to Earth on an island where it remained for many centuries! Tom Jaeger and six of his workers are dropped off on the island a billion years after the cloud has fallen, in order to make a landing strip for the air force in three weeks. One of the workers finds a temple and after hitting it with his bulldozer, he unleashes the cloud that takes the machine over and kills the worker driving it and turns its attention toward Tom who does his best to shut the machine down. The bulldozer does not stop there and targets and kills two more of his crew, causes Tom’s own workers to think maybe he is the one doing the killing. But once the Bulldozer goes on a rampage again, Tom and his worker Chub figure out a plan to stop it once and for all by making it enter the water and then electrocuting it! As they set their plan into motion, Al the other living crew member tries to sell out his fellow man, but if does not work as Tom’s plan kills the Killdozer.  He and Chub then watch as Al loses his mind.

Marvel Comics tried to take the novel and movie based on Killdozer and make a comic adaptation of them, and sadly, after reading it, they fell a little short. The plot is about seven construction workers on an island who become the target of a killer bulldozer that has been taken over by a cloud alien from outer space, and the humans must stay strong and together in order to stop the dozers killing rampage. The story has elements of the film as well as some of the novel and blends them together to sadly make a mediocre horror comic that does not pack any major chills and all the kills happen off panel. While it is only mediocre, it still is a fun read and it’s very cool to see Killdozer itself as a comic character. I do enjoy that in this comic Tom’s crew start to turn on him and wonder if he is the one killing them off until they finally see the Killdozer roaming around on its own. I also liked the idea of a temple being built around the cloud from an ancient civilization in order to keep it prisoner. The downside to this comic is none of the characters are that likable nor do we really get to know them at all. The pacing is fast and yet still pretty lackluster. Tom is a focused man who tries his best to warn his crew of the Killdozer! and Al is a coward who is willing to throw his fellow man under the dozer in order to save his own butt! The rest of the crew members are throwaway characters who are all manner of generic. The cover to this issue is very eye catching and showcases Killdozer about to kill. The comic interior art is done by Dick Ayers and is well done and has that classic 70’s Marvel look. Over all, this was a fun read and is a cool comic for fans of the film or novel of Killdozer but is not what I would called a must read for Horror Comic readers. Check out the art below to see Killdozer in all its Marvel Comics glory!

So while Killdozer did not set the comic world on fire, it was still very cool to see a comic based on a made for TV horror film. And while Killdozer has a very small cult following, it still made its mark in the world of Horror Films and Horror Comics, no matter how small the mark is. My next update will be about another DC Comic Superhero that I feel is very under used, and that’s Hawkman! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for our flying adventure with Hawkman.

Alien Invasion: Alien Nation

Imagine if tomorrow we found out that there is life on other planets.  Now imagine them coming to Earth and working everyday jobs alongside us; how would your mind handle this? Would you fear them because they were different and not born on Earth? Would you embrace them as fellow living beings? What kind of languages, religions and cultures would they share with us? I for one would be very interested to learn about and from them and would embrace them as fellow living beings….that is unless they are like the aliens from Mars Attacks or Independence Day.  Then I would say we as the world would need to come together and drive them from our planet! Today’s update is an Alien Invasion update that brings aliens to Earth who want to become productive members of our very own society and want to be treated with respect.  These aliens are The Tenctonese aka the Newcomers and are from the film Alien Nation that spawned a TV show, comic books and novels, and we will be digging into the DC Comic adaptation of the film as well as explore the world of the film that was released by 20th Century Fox in 1988! So sit back look to the skies and think about alien friendship, as I am proud to bring you Alien Invasion: Alien Nation.

So let’s start this invasion off right and take a look at the film that this comic is based on, as without this film Alien Nation would not be a cult classic film that many Sci-Fi fans enjoy and love still to this day. The movies write up will be taken from our good friends at IMDB, and after that, I will write a little about my first time seeing Alien Nation as well a few more memories of its legacy.

Alien Nation (1988)

“A few years from now, Earth will have the first contact with an alien civilisation. These aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after years of quarantine but are victims of a new type of discrimination. When the first Newcomer police officer, San Francisco is assigned his new partner, he is given Matthew Sykes, a mildly racist veteran, the animosity between them soon gives way to respect as they investigate the Newcomer underworld, and especially Newcomer leader William Harcourt.”

I can remember the ads on TV and in the newspaper for the release of Alien Nation. It really piqued my interest as growing up in the 80’s, just like Horror and Fantasy films, for me Science Fiction was a big genre as films like Star Trek, Star Wars, Aliens, Enemy Mine, Blade Runner, Back To The Future, Planet Of The Apes and Last Starfighter were all popular with fans and my generation as a whole. But sadly, I was not able to go to the theater and see Alien Nation as my parents did not want to go to see it, plus it was rated R so could not see it on my own as I was only around 9 years old when it was out. It would be some years later when I first got to see it thanks to a VHS rental from a local video store on a weekend. I can remember the whole family watching it and all of us enjoying it as it felt like it was a film that had a deeper meaning behind it and yet felt like a true modern style science fiction film. After the first time watching it, we saw it a few other times as it would later go on to be shown on paid cable stations we had, and at some point I ended up buying it on VHS. The film had an amazing cast that included James Caan, Terence Stamp and Mandy Patinkin, all of whom were fantastic in their roles with Stamp and Patinkin being unrecognizable in their roles as aliens. After seeing the film I can also remember watching the TV Show Alien Nation that started in 1989, and I remember finding some of the comics from Adventure Comics years down the line at The Bookie Parlor and can remember going crazy when I got to read the cross over mini series they did with Planet Of The Apes called Ape Nation in 1991. But by the mid 90’s sadly Alien Nation had lost its footing in the world of pop culture as the TV Show was cancelled after only 22 episodes and the comic series from Adventure Comics ended in 1992. But while Alien Nation never got a movie sequel or even a more modern comic series, it still remains a classic 80’s Science Fiction film that I think everyone should check out.

The Tenctonese are from the planet of Tencton and are human like in appearance besides their heads, which have no hair on them and are slightly bigger with reddish spots on them that also run down their spines. They are stronger than a normal man as well as smarter as they were born and bred in order to be slaves. They eat food raw and that includes meat and veggies and in order to get drunk, they gulp down soured milk! They can be poisoned and die by such things as chocolate, tobacco and fluoride with salt almost being like acid to them as it can burn their skin. Their nerves and organs are different than ours as is the way they make love and things that can harm humans seem to have no effect on them including many types of poisons. They also look at sex as something special and not taboo and find adult movies childish. So what I am trying to say is that while they can be killed, they are definitely smarty and stronger than us and if they were real and here on Earth we would be smart to work with them and not against them as they could very much be our downfall!

So we have talked about the film as well as the Tenctonese, and I think it’s time to take a look at the DC Comic adaptation of the film and get this invasion going! I also just want to say that one other reason I think I have always enjoyed Alien Nation is the fact besides being a good science fiction film it also is a good buddy cop film! But if you look in the sky, a message has just been written in the stars and it says, “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 let’s get to it and see if the comic holds up as good as the movie.

Alien Nation # 1  ***
Released in 1988       Cover Price $2.50       DC Comics       # 1 of 1

It’s been three years since the Newcomers came down from space on their ship and became part of the populace in America.  This anniversary is all over the news and is causing people to remember where they were when the aliens landed. While on duty, cops Matthew Sykes and Bill Tuggle are involved in a shootout with some robber newcomers who leave Bill dead and Sykes very bitter toward Newcomers. He decides to team up with promoted Newcomer officer Sam “George” Francisco as he thinks he might be able to help him find who killed his partner as a rash of fake robbery murders have been taken place targeting the aliens. Sykes and Francisco follow the leads and find out one of the gunmen from the robbery worked at a gas plant and that’s the connection between the cop killing and the Newcomer killings. The pair of cops go around and uncover clues and even along the way start to build a friendship as they both see that their job and family is what matters in both of their lives. And soon George opens up to Sykes and lets him in on a Newcomer secret that there is a powerful drug that was made that all Newcomers took when they arrived and some got addicted to it.  The drug has side effects, and he thinks that this drug is the reason for all the killings. They finally are able to figure out that Newcomer William Harcourt is the man behind the killings as well as the man behind making the drugs, and when George and Sykes go to arrest him, he overdoses on the drug and turns into a raging hulking alien monster who stalks Sykes down trying to kill him.  This fight leads them to the ocean, and Sykes is only able to beat Harcourt when he pushes the supped up alien into the salt water that acts as acid and burns him up. George is able to pull Sykes out of the water and into a helicopter and they solve the case, destroy all the drug, take down the super powered alien bad guy and still make it to Sykes daughter’s wedding.

This DC Comic adaptation of the film Alien Nation is a great read and holds the magic of the film and even quickens the pace slightly and delivers a great buddy cop science fiction comic. The film’s plot has a cop whose partner is killed by an alien and his next partner is from the same alien race that murdered his last.  He must learn to put aside his hatred in order to solve the case and become a more tolerate person. This comic does a fantastic job of blending all the elements that made the film special together to make for a quick pace comic. Matthew Sykes is a cop who is good at his job but fails in life at being a good person as he has a rough and hateful attitude, but as he goes long on one of his most important cases he learns to try and be a better person and not hate those who are different from him. Officer Sam “George” Francisco is a Newcomer and the first of his race to be on the force and climb the ranks, he is a good cop who is by the book and he as well learns by the end of this case to lighten up and finds friendship and understands its value in life. Our main bad guy is William Harcourt who is as well a Newcomer and is a rich alien who is very slimy and is involved with drug making, selling and the murders of his fellow race! And once he is discovered to be a scumbag he overdoses on his own drug and causes himself to become a hulking mutant alien and does his best to murder our two main characters! This comic is filled with action, drama and even a little dark humor and this helped add to the enjoyment of the read, and proves that many comic adaptations of films can be well done. The cover to this comic is well done and is eye catching for fans of the film, and the interior artwork is pretty good and is done by Jerry Bingham. Over all this is an entertaining and good comic based on a cult classic film and is worth a read for those who enjoy Aliens and Buddy Cop stories. Check out some artwork below and see what this comic has in store for you.

Alien Nation is a great science fiction film about an alien invasion that allows them to live among us and not try and take us over like say Independence Day or hunt us for sport like Predator that I have covered here at Rotten Ink in the past. But I think it’s time to leave this Alien Invasion behind and crank open another Undead File for our next update as we will take a look at the Original Walking Dead series! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch an Alien film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a zombie gut munching of a good time!

 

Matt Goes To The Movies 2016

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The year of 2016 was a crazy one for me as much of my time was spent working on comic books for Sparkle Comics, the company I co-own with Jason Young as well as trying to film Baron Von Porkchop episodes among many other things like helping on films and of course working on updates for here at Rotten Ink. One thing I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to this year was go to the movie theater so I want to apologies for the lack of depth to this list. 2016 was a pretty big year for cinema as we got many sequels to big budget movies like “Star Trek Beyond” and “Rougue One: A Star Wars Story.” We got classic books turned into big summer blockbusters like “Jungle Book” and “The Legend Of Tarzan,” not to mention lots of horror films from “The Conjuring 2” all the way to “Blair Witch,” the third film in that cult series. Hitting the cinemas this year, I filled my tummy with lots of popcorn and blue Icee’s and saw films in theaters like Regal, Cinemark, Danberry Huber Heights and Cranberry Cinema and had a blast watching the silver screen with friends like Juliet Fromholt, Jeremy Hoyt, Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Thomas “Maurice” Smith and many more all who made the experience more fun. A weird thing about this year in movies is that while it was filled with many blockbusters, it also had many flops that expressed moviegoers lack of interest in sequels and reboots to films of the past, but this year also proved that Disney knows how to pack them into the theater with superhero films as well as family friendly adventures. Plus, it proved to Hollywood that horror films make money and bring profits on smaller budgets. So let’s find our seats here at Rotten Ink Theater and chat a little about the films of 2016!

Film Reels

Normally I would start with my “Worst” list, but since I wasn’t at the cinema as much this year, I didn’t get to see the that many films, and lucky for me, none of the ones I did get to see were what I would call a worst film. So this time around we are going to start with science fiction and fantasy, two genres that are near and dear to my heart.  So let’s sit here for a moment and chat about them, shall we?scifi-16# 5

the-5th-wave-posterHigh school student Cassie Sullivan is stuck in a world of chaos as aliens are attacking the Earth, killing off the human race.  When her younger brother is taken, she along with some other survivors go to war to try and survive and bring back the world they once knew. This fun science fiction film was based on the book of the same name written by Rick Yancey and was filled with lots of action as well as aliens and their waves of attacks that included flooding and spreading a sickness. The film, while not groundbreaking, was a fun film to see in the theater and actress Chloe Grace Moretz is fantastic in the role of Cassie.  You definitely find yourself cheering for her to kick some alien butt. The film did poorly at the US box office for Sony and brought in $34,912,982.00 on a $38 million dollar budget, but was a hit overseas making the film semi profitable. I would say the film is worth checking out on DVD if you skipped it at the theater or even maybe a rental from a local video store.

# 4

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While a third Ghostbusters sequel with the original cast was just not in the cards, we did get a reboot to the series that featured a whole new female cast gearing up with their protonpacks and tackling a whole new group of ghosts as well as some returning favorites like Slimer! This go around we follow Dr. Erin Gilbert who lost her tenure at Columbia University after a video shows up online of her on a paranormal research.  Along with friends Dr. Abby Yates, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann and Patty Tolan, Erin opens The Ghostbusters, a business that is set to rid the city of ghosts thanks to equipment they make in house. But when the city of New York comes under attack by a powerful evil spirit, they are the only hope….but are they ready to be the heroes? The film was directed by Paul Feig and starred Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth and even has cameos from many of the actors from the original films. I found the film to be lots of fun, and the characters were well portrayed with Holtzmann being the silliest and funniest! The film had some funny moments, and I find the fact that many fanboys got butt hurt over the film being made with all females comedians as The Ghostbusters was just silly and showed that many of these types of “fans” ruin things for others as sadly the film did poorly for Sony at the US Boxoffice bringing in $128,350,574.00 on a $144 million dollar budget.  By the look of it, a sequel is not in the works. I would say if you skipped this at the theater make sure to give it a chance and watch it on DVD or Blu-Ray and make up your own mind about it.

# 3

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Disney has done another great job of turning one of their classic animated features into a live action film, and they made one heck of a great film with The Jungle Book! The film is about young human boy Mowgli who is raised by wolves in India, but when he becomes the target of the evil tiger Shere Khan, they are forced to send him away to rejoin the human race. Along his journey he is protected by black panther Bagheera and bear Baloo from not only Khan, but also giant python Kaa and King Louie, who is the king of the monkeys. But in the end Mowgli must face his fears of Shere Khan to save his animal friends and family from his terror as well as a fire that spreading across the jungle. The film was a great family adventure film and when sitting in the theater I felt like a kid again as Baloo sang “Bear Necessities.”  Everyone did a great job voicing the animals; I mean you cant go wrong with the talents of Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken. Director Jon Favreau did a fantastic job of making this film come alive and helps bring out the personality of the animals more by treating them as if they were real actors on set. The film did great for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in $364,001,123.00 on a $175 million budget making it a hit for sure! This was worth a watch and even a buy on home media if you enjoy the story of The Jungle Book as this is only slightly under the animated feature as being the best adaptation of the book.

# 2

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Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise are in major trouble when they travel into an uncharted nebula on a set up mission that leaves them at the mercy of Krall and his men who want to kill as many federation members as possible and have chaos throughout the galaxy. Can Kirk and his crew along, with their new alley Jaylah, escape the nebula and save lives in time before Krall and his fleet attacks? Watch this science fiction adventure film and find out. This was such a fun film to watch in the theater in Imax 3-D, and the addition of over the top action made it not your standard Strek Trek fare yet still kept the charm of what makes Star Trek Star Trek! This was the third in the reboot series, and after a very lackluster teaser trailer, the internet started the bashing and hating on the film before it was released.  This caused the film to perform poorly at the US Box Office for Paramount only bringing in $ 158,848,340.00 on a $185 million dollar budget. While this is not the best Star Trek film in the long running film series, I would say it’s a solid sequel that offers enough sci-fi tech talk and action to make it a fun summer popcorn movie.  Make sure to check it out on DVD as it’s well worth the watch.

# 1

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Jyn Erso is the daughter of Galen, the man who lead the construction of the Empire’s newest and most deadly weapon, the Death Star! She was left behind at a young age to be raised by Rebel extremist fighter Saw Gerrera as her father was forced into labor by Orson Kernnic, the director of the Empire’s weapons research. Now older and on her own, Jyn must track down her father who has the secrets to destroy the Death Star from the inside.  She is joined by a rag tag group made up of Rebel soldiers and supporters who go on a suicide mission in order to get the plans into the hands of the Rebels. Add in tension between Kernnic and Grand Moff Tarkin, who both want credit for the Death Star, and in a annoyed Darth Vader as well as cameos from classic Star Wars characters, and you have one well made and entertaining science fiction film! The film’s main characters have amazing chemistry with each other and the friendships that are formed make sense and just add even more layers to their personalities. My favorite character was Jyn Erso as she proved that this new crop of Star Wars films are in the right hands as they clearly care about character development and story. Seeing Darth Vader back in full badass action was something to behold in IMAX 3-D as it made me feel like a kid again, seeing Return Of The Jedi in the theater. Plus the digital Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin made my Monster Kid heart grow three sizes, and I would say that I would love to see Hammer do this and make a new Frankenstein Movie. This film is still in theaters and as of January 1st has brought in a total of $393,554,705.00 for Disney on a $200 million dollar budget and is showing no signs of slowing down. If you have not seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and do so as its well worth the 2 hours of your time.

So as you can see, Hollywood delivered some great sci-fi and fantasy films all that were fantastic watches at my local cinema, not to mention we got a new Star Wars and Star Trek film last year. But another genre of films that rocked the box office this year is my second favorite kind of films, right behind horror, and thats super hero flicks! So grab a refill on your large popcorn, and let’s talk heroes from the comic books who have made the leap to the big screen in 2016.

super-hero-16

# 7

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The moviegoing public seemed to not be able to get enough of Batman on the big screen, and after the last Superman movie, someone at Warner Brothers and DC Comics decided that the world needed a vs. film that pitted their top two superheroes against each other.  So Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice was created and unleashed on the masses. The film has Bruce Wayne being very angry over the fight between Superman and General Zob that left some of his employees dead and others injured, and now, as Batman, he sets his sights on stopping Superman once and for all as he feels the government has not done their job well of keeping this superhuman alien in check. Throw in Wonder Woman, Lex Luther Jr. and Doomsday, and you have this epic battle film that will test the strength and mental fortitude of our heroes. The film was a little too long and for the most part, much of the hate that Batman had for Superman was weak.  In fact half way through, you wonder just why he has projected all the hate he has in his heart toward the Man of Steel and with that, the film kind of falls apart. Other flaws for this comic book fan and movie lover were: the birth of Doomsday was just dumb and pointless and Lex Luther Jr. was a turd and acted more like he was the son of The Joker.  While it sounds like I didn’t like it, I really did enjoy it as it was a fun popcorn flick that showcased that superhero films are just enjoyable on the big screen no matter how flawed they are. The film was directed by Zack Snyder and starred Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Amy Adams and did pretty dang well for WB at the US Box Office bringing a total of $330,360,194.00 on a $250 million dollar budget. It’s worth watching on home media or even on cable as it at least will be sure to please during the fight scenes.

# 6

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back at it again as they target The Shredder and the footclan who are again attacking New York with the idea of taking over the world.  This time with the help of scientist Baxter Stockman, the foot create two mutants of their own, the warthog Bebop and rhino Rocksteady, to finally put up a fight against the turtles.  But they also have help in their battle with Casey Jones, a vigilante cop who has had enough of crime ruining his streets. Things get worst when Shredder gets help from Krang, an alien from Dimension X! This sequel is hard hitting and is packed with not only action but also lots of comedic moments that bring out the Turtles’ personalities that made them the popular characters that kids of yesterday and today know and love. This was a fun theater watch and seeing the Turtles battle Bebop and Rocksteady was something I, as a long time turtle fan, have wanted to see in a live action movie. The flaws of the movie for me was that actor Stephen Amell, who played Casey Jones was terrible and super weak in his portrayal that had him hardly wearing the character’s trademark hockey mask. Another lackluster thing was that Shredder played by Brain Lee also did not wear the character’s trademark helmet…when will Hollywood learn that people wanna see the character appear like they should and not just the actor’s face….we get what actor is playing the part! The film was directed by Dave Green and also stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry and Sheamus and sadly did very poorly for Paramount at the US Box Office only bringing in a small $82,051,601.00 on a $135 million dollar budget. While the film was judged pretty harshly by movie goers, I for one enjoyed it for the most part and found it a good summer popcorn flick based on characters I grew up loving.

# 5

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Dr. Stephen Strange is a genius surgeon who is cocky and ego driven, but after a major wreck, the nerves in his hands are shot and his career as a surgeon is over.  He tries all types of ways to get better that finally leaves him going to Kathmandu to seek out The Ancient One who teaches him that magic and other dimensions are the path to truly heal. But Dr. Strange gets more than he bargained for as he is forced to use his newly learned magic to fight a rogue group of dark magic students lead by Kaecilius who wants to bring the Dark Dimension ruler Dormammu into our world and bring life as we know it to an end. When the odds are against him, how can Doctor Strange out magic Dormammu in order to save us all? This was a superhero film that I was not fully looking forward to as I have never been a big fan of the comic series and for the most part find the character very boring, but this film stepped it up and made him very interesting for me. The film was directed by Scott Derrickson and actor Benedict Cumberbatch was a great choice to play Doctor Strange as he brings the character to life. This superhero popcorn film also stars Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor all of whom are fantastic in their roles of various characters from the Marvel Universe. The film has done pretty solid for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total this far of $230,323,048.00 on a $165 million dollar budget. It was well worth watching in the theater, and I will for sure buy it on DVD when released.

# 4

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The government is in big trouble when it comes to world affairs, and after Superman is no longer around, they create a task force of criminals who they will send on mission that could lead to death. The team is made up of Deadshot, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress, Katana, Slipnot and Harley Quinn and is lead by Colonel Rick Flag who informs them that if they break the rules and try to escape, they will be killed on the spot via a tiny bomb in their brains. When the Enchantress turns rogue and, along with her brother, wants to bring the world to an end, it’s up to The Suicide Squad to stop them and prove that not every bad guy is un-savable. To make things worse, The Joker has entered the combat zone as he wants his girlfriend Harley Quinn back by his side and not doing the work of government. The film also has cameos from DC Heroes like The Flash and Batman and was a really fun watch at the theater while munching on popcorn and drinking a blue icee, as I found it to be a fun ride filled with fun characters and enough action to please most fans. But for some reason like most modern DC Movies, this flick was meet with lots of internet hate even before it was released as fanboys decided they hated the casting of Jared Leto as The Joker and just over all wanted to hate on it.  I know lots of friends who joined the hate who never even saw the film but wanted to tell others not to watch it. The film as a great cast with Will Smith playing Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harely both stealing the show and making the characters their own while still holding onto elements from the comics they come from. The film did good for Warner Brothers, despite all the internet trash talking, at the US Box Office bringing in $325,100,054.00 on a budget of $175 million. This is another movie I was glad I watched in theaters and going in with low expectations and no pre-judging in my mind found it to be a great watch and one I will own on DVD very soon.

# 3

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The Apocalypse is the world’s first mutant and is godlike in nature.  In 1983, he is awakened and does not like what he sees of modern times and goes on a quest to get disciples that will act as his horsemen of the apocalypse.  He gets Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke to join his cause of allowing mutants to rule and for him to lead them to a new world. Charles Xavier and his X-Men that include Beast, Havok and Quicksilver along with new members Nightcrawler, Jean Grey and Cyclops must come together and trust Mystique and try to stop the destruction of the world as we know it and stop the next age of Apocalypse. This was a really fun and action packed film in the X-Men series and was a great watch in the theater. The film brought most of the returning cast from X-Men: First Class and continued the awkward relationship between Charles and Mystique. Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac was a great narcissistic villain who would manipulate his followers with ego boosting words, but clearly he does not care if they live or die as long as he is once more in power. I also like how they showed Apocalypse past in Egypt and that’s what starts the movie off. One down side is the film focuses way too much on Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence, and she does not rock her blue scaled skin most of the film.  It was clear she didn’t want to wear all that make up and body suit, and Fox wanted to showcase they had Lawrence still on board. This film also stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner and Olivia Munn, oh and it also has a cool cameo from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine! The film did poorly for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in $155,442,489.00 on a budget of $178 million. While this film was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, I for one found it to be a great super hero film and in fact bought it on DVD when it was released.  I suggest if you like the X-Men films and have not seen this one yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

# 2

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Wade Wilson was a member of a special force team who has fallen in love with a woman named Venessa and all is well until Wade gets cancer and is dying.  When they cannot cure it, he decides to seek alternative help that leaves him being turned into a burnt up looking freak who cannot die! This sets Wade off who becomes the costumed anti-hero Deadpool who lurks in the shadows afraid to let Vanessa know he is alive all the while tracking down Ajax, the man who he thinks can cure him of his disfigurement. But things get bad when Ajax and his team of enhanced mutants kidnap Vanessa, and Deadpool, along with X-Men members Colossus and Warhead, must get her back! This film is rated R and is packed to the brim with crude humor and brutal kills all done with tongue in cheek one liners and grace. Ryan Reynolds returns to the role of Deadpool, with his first appearance as the character being in the 2009 film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and owns it with his wise cracking delivery. Also starring in this over the top super hero action film is Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Stan Lee and Ed Skrein, all who do great things in the roles they were cast, no matter how big or small. The film did fantastic for Fox bringing in a total of $363,070,709.00 in the US on a budget of only $58 million! This is a Marvel super hero movie that is not for kids as it really is packed with blood, cussing and very crude humor but it made for one fun and enjoyable watch for this old comic book reader. I must also say that I have never been a super fan of Deadpool as even reading comics back in the day I never paid him that much attention, but I think it’s really cool that this film as well as good solid comics being made by Marvel has made him into one of the industry’s top selling heroes. Own it on DVD now, and it’s worth watching for sure!

# 1

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Captain America and Iron Man clash in this third film in the series about everyones favorite red, white and blue Avenger. What starts the war is that Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Falcon are on a mission to stop Crossbones and his band of mercenaries that leaves humanitarian workers of Wakanda dead, and the government now wants The Avengers and other superheroes to register with them and only work when the government tells them to. Worse, when the King of Wakanda is killed and everyone blames The Winter Solider, Captain America along with his team Ant Man, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Falcon turn on the registration act and try to protect Winter Solider who claims he is innocent. This sparks the new King of Wakanda, The Black Panther, to join Iron Man, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine and Spider-Man to all do to war and little does anyone know this is all a big set up game by the sinister Baron Zemo who wants to ruin The Avengers and all the good they stand for. This film has so many more layers than what I am sharing here as it would take awhile to explain it all, and you should have or need to see it to understand why it’s my top super hero film of 2016. Chris Evans is truly Captain America come to life, and I could not imagine these films going on without him, so here is hoping he sticks around for awhile. What is great about this film, besides the solid script and amazing actors that bring their parts to life, is the fact you get some many heroes for the price of one and this includes Spider-Man as Sony and Marvel have come to an agreement that allows the hero to now take part in the Marvel Universe films and let alone one that has them all in a fight much like the WWE Survivor Series! The film did outstanding for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $408,084,349.00 on the massive budget of $250 million. I don’t want to go on too much about this film as I think it speaks better for itself, and all I can say is Spider-Man and Black Panther are great new additions to this amazing film universe that Disney and Marvel are delivering to all us movie goers.

So as you can see, 2016 had some really great super hero films that delivered action and adventure and entertained the movie going masses. Another genre that delivered this year was horror, and while the theater was packed with more ghost and possession movies that seem to be the life blood of horror for the last few years, it also had some slashers and iconic characters returning to the silver screen that included The Tall Man of Phantasm and Godzilla! Blumhouse once more proved that there is money in horror films as many films they produced hit and scared the crowds.  They have quickly become a production team that I look forward to seeing what they release next. So let’s dim these theater lights a little more and let’s take a look at the top horror films that I saw in the theater in 2016!

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# 17

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Dana is a woman who is haunted by the accidental death of her baby daughter, and alongside her husband David and son Lucas she moves out of the city and into a giant old house in the country that was once owned by the town’s top judge. But after finding a closed off room in the attic that was not on the house’s blueprints, she soon starts to see ghosts of the judge and his dog and finds that the room held a family secret that left a young girl murdered.  Now she must solve the mystery or lose her own mind doing so. This film is yet another ghost/possession film and suffers from a paper thin story mostly dealing with Dana’s mental breakdown and is by all accounts very boring in its delivery to try to scare us in the theater. When seeing this film, only one other guy was in the theater and he seemed to be bored as he kept checking his phone and even after it was done looked over at me and talked about just how lame the film was and how the characters did things that lead to nowhere.  Sad to say, the phone checker was right, the film’s characters just seemed like shells of people doing silly things that had no real outcome. The actors in this boring horror film include Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Gerald McRaney and Lucas Till and while they are all great actors in other films, what they are given to do here is very weak, and this was one that I would suggest that most skip unless you have a free rental or is on cable TV. The film did poorly for Rogue Pictures only bringing in the small amount of $2,423,468.00 at the US box office on a $15 million dollar budget. Over all, while I love seeing horror films in the theater, this one almost put me to sleep even after drinking a large blue Icee, this is hands down the worst horror film I saw in theaters this year!

# 16

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Peter Taylor and his wife Bronny are having issues in their marriage, and their children also have their issues as daughter Stephanie has a eating disorder and son Michael is autistic.  The last happy moment of their life together was a family vacation they took with friends at the Grand Canyon where, unknown to them all, Michael removes and takes home stones that were placed to keep Native American demon spirits trapped.  Now with the stones moved and at the Taylor’s home, they must find out the clues to why mystery animals are appearing, why Michael is talking to the walls that he calls The Sky People and acting up. In the end they must call a healer to try and clear the house of the spirits ,but is it enough and can the love of a family be enough to send the demons back? While the film was not terrible it, was nothing new and seemed like just a watered down version of Amityville Horror and or even Poltergeist, and yep, marks yet another possession/ghost film to be released this year that seems to still be the flavor of the decade for horror film makers. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Paul Reiser and Llza Rosario and was directed by Greg McLean who is known for directing the Wolf Creek series. The film turned a profit for High Top Releasing at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $10,753,574.00 on a $4 Million Dollar budget. Not recommended for those looking for horror films that showcase the bad guys more than a total of maybe a minute the whole film or ones who don’t like slow burn horror

# 15

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Rocky is a young woman with a daughter who lives in Detroit with her rude and crude mother and in order to get money, she robs houses with her boyfriend Money and friend Alex who’s father works for a home security company. Rocky needs one last big score in order to move away with her daughter, and they select the house of a blind vet named Norman Nordstrom who was awarded money after his daughter was killed in a drunk driver auto accident. But once inside, they find out that this blind man is not helpless and has his own dirty secrets to hide away! Norman along with his dog hunt down the burglars and make them pay for entering his home and finding out his dark twisted secret that is worth killing for. Don’t Breathe is a horror thriller that has elements of being a slasher film as Norman is brutal in his ways of killing and seems to feel what he is doing is right! While I did enjoy this film and had a good time watching it in the theater with Juliet, the film had some flaws that were pretty outstanding to me.  The fact NONE of the characters are likable people.  From Rocky all the way to Norman, they are all bad people who do bad things! The fact that by the end Norman who is a normal man seems to not be able to be killed like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees as he seems to be superhuman and shrug off killing blows is dumb. Another thing that annoyed me is the fact that Rocky and Alex, during their time of trying to escape the house of this madman, never have the idea of using a weapon until toward the end of the film. The film does have some amazing actors who do fantastic in their roles as Stephen Lang is great as the blind Norman and Jane Levy is amazing as Rocky and the supporting cast as well hold their own. At the US box Office this film brought in a total of $89,059,699.00 for Sony on a budget of only $9.9 million making it a hit for the studio. Over all this Sam Raimi produced film was not terrible but also was nothing special and some of the flaws made it very annoying to this horror fan. I would say worth the watch on DVD and Blu-Ray. Also I should note that this film was one I was super hyped for after seeing the trailer and was a tad bit of a letdown.

# 14

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Rob Zombie strikes again with a foul language horror film packed with lots of blood and some weird yet fascinating characters with his film 31. The film follows a group of carnival workers who have been kidnapped and forced to play a game of life and death on Halloween Night by some rich people who have employed killers like chainsaw brothers Sick-Head & Psycho-Head as well as other killers Schizo-Head, Sex-Head, Death-Head and the all time kill champion Doom-Head to hunt them down and kill them as they beat on their survival. The film is packed with some brutal kills and for the most part the carnival workers are likable people who you want to see make it out alive and survive the killers attacks as well as you root for them to deliver justice to the psychos! The downside to the film, like most Rob Zombie films, is the dialogue is terrible in spots and so over the top its laughable as he tries to use almost every cuss word he can think of! The other flaw the film has was that in spots he uses shaky camera techniques in order to mask some of the film’s lower budget special effects. But while it has flaws it also had things I really liked about it as I found the killers odd and memorable, I loved the fact that the carnival workers fight back and are not just helpless victims, his use of classic rock songs also was pretty well done and the acting was good for what terrible lines they were given. The film has an all star cast with names like Malcolm McDowell, Meg Foster, Lew Temple, Ginger Lynn, Sheri Moon Zombie and a stunning E.G. Daily from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure as Sex-Head. Richard Brake who plays Doom-Head does great and the character is not only sadistic but also gross and just a foul human being. The film at the US box office brought in a total of $779,820.00 for Saban Films, and I must say while Rob Zombie films are not perfect, they at least have heart and are entertaining in some way or another. Oh yeah and I have to say I hated the ending – those who have seen this film will know what I am talking about.

# 13

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The Forest is a supernatural horror film based on the Aokigahara Forest that follows Sara who travels to Japan and journeys into the forest to find her missing identical twin sister Jess whom people believe went into the forest to commit suicide.  She is joined by Michi a park ranger and Aiden, a reporter. But she soon finds out that the forest has plans of its own and that the dead don’t rest in these haunted woods. So does she find Jess? Is she alive or dead? Why do people say not to stay in the woods at night? Watch this film to find those answers! The film is packed with jump scares, some creepy ghosts and a great atmosphere, but also has a cheesy hole filled plot as well as some paint by number horror clichés that make it an average supernatural horror romp. Natalie Dormer best known from the HBO show Game Of Thrones plays the twins Sara and Jess and looks fantastic, and the music done by Bear McCreary is well done and makes scenes pop. The film brought in a total of $26,594,261.00 for Gramercy Pictures at the US Box Office on a $10 million dollar budget. Not amazing and not bad, The Forest is one you might want to rent or check out on DVD.

# 12

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The Other Side Of The Door was a horror film that was orignaly supposed to be a wide release that then turned into a limited release, and I was lucky enough to catch it at Regal Cinema. The film is about Maria who is living the perfect life in India along with her husband Michael, son Oliver, young daughter Lucy and maid Myrtu, but that perfect life comes to an end when an accident leaves Oliver dead and Maria heartbroken and not able to get over the accident and the loss of her son. Six years after the accident, Maria gets her chance to tell her deceased son goodbye thanks to Myrtu who tells her of a ritual and place that will allow her to speak to him from the other side of a door.  The only catch is you can’t open the door…and of course Maria does and by doing so free’s something sinister. The film is another ghost/possession film and had a few good chills and had a great setting being in India, not your typical American or England backdrop. The film’s cast was good with Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto heading the pack and each doing well in their roles. The film did not perform great for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $3,000,342.00 due to them making it a limited release. Not groundbreaking but very entertaining and was worth the theater watch for me as well as Josh Weinberg who tagged along.

# 11

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The Witch was a Horror Film that had lots of buzz around it on the internet and among fans before it even hit theaters.  Stephen King even said The Witch scared the hell out of him, but could it live up to that for movie goers? The film is about William and his family leaving the safety of a plantation in New England and making a farm in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods and something sinister that steals and kills their youngest child. Quickly the family starts falling apart as oldest daughter Thomasin is blamed for the wrong doings by her mother, while all along The Witch of the woods and the mysterious goat named Black Phillip are the chaos makers at hand. The film is well acted with stand out performances from Ralph Ineson who played William and Anya Taylor-Joy who played Thomasin, and the atmosphere is great and has a feeling of dread all around the farm as we witness the breakdown of a God-fearing family. But the Witch character herself who takes two forms, one being old and the other glamor porn star, is just not really scary and is not really used throughout the hour and a half shocker. Much of the film, the characters spend time praying or chatting about God and religion, and I hate to say this, at some points I became very bored at drawn out moments. While this was not a bad movie, it was not as scary, spooky nor bone chilling as I hoped for. The only part that got me was when The Witch killed the young baby and mashed its body up and covered herself with its blood, and keep in mind this description is more graphic than what you see on the screen. It was also great to hear how split the group of friends and family I went with were on this film, and I had to laugh when one young lady at the end of the film let out a loud “This Movie Sucked” announcement. The film did okay for A24 at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $25,138,705.00 on a budget of $3.5 million, showing that lower budget horror films can make studios extra cash. While I didn’t hate this film, in no way am I a super fan of this film…I might check it out again once on DVD.

# 10

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The final Phantasm film and the fifth film in the series was released this year, and it was bitter sweet to see it in the big screen thanks to Horrorama as it was the end of the franchise and sadly just an okay entry in the series. The film follows Ice Cream Man Reggie as he is trying to track down his missing friend Mike and along the way fight off The Tall Man and his evil spheres and henchmen. But this is the world of Phantasm, so nothing and no one are what they seem, and Reggie must try and use his wits to figure out the real world from the other dimension. Reggie is joined by fellow Tall Man hunters and together they must team up against his horde of followers and crack the code and stop the coming end of times. The film was produced by Don Coscarelli the series creator and was directed by David Hartman and stars Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm and A. Michael Baldwin and sadly had its premiere on Video On Demand but lucky for me it was a film that had it’s Dayton area first movie theater showing at Horrorama allowing me to watch the film from the projection window. While I enjoyed the film, I also saw that it had lots of flaws and for the most part is just a showcase of Reggie with very little Tall Man surrounded by low budget digital effects. The film has been meet with mixed reviews and really does mark the end of the series as Angus “Tall Man” Scrimm sadly passed away in early 2016. Fans of the series should for sure check it out on DVD or streaming rental.

# 9

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Alice Zander and her two young daughters Lina and Doris are living in a Los Angeles suburban house in 1967 and charge people for giving them spiritual readings. But when Alice buys a Ouija Board as a new prop to use, she soon finds out that Doris has a real gift and can communicate with the dead including her dead father…or can she as soon it’s clear something evil has came through and is using the young girl as a vessel and its up to Lina and her mother to save their loved one from a terrible possessed fate. This sequel was leaps and bounds better than its predecessor and is filled with some creepy moments and is well acted with Elizabeth Reaser who played Alice Zander stealing the show, not to mention this film brings to life the events of the first film as it acts as a prequel. The film did pretty well for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $34,992,970.00 on a $9 million budget showing that movie goers still want to see possession and ghost films. Worth watching for sure and like I said, way better than the first film.

# 8

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James Donahue, the brother of missing person Heather Donahue, along with some friends go to the woods near Burkittsville when a tape is found in a tree that appears to show Heather alive and running through a house in the woods. Once there, they hook up with some local YouTube ghost hunters and soon find out that they are not alone as The Blair Witch is back and looking for more young adults to kill. Does James find his missing sister? Does the house in the woods really exist? And can James and his friends get out of the woods alive? All this is answered in this third film in the series that was original being advertised as The Woods. The film was one I was super hyped to see as I was a fan of the 1999 original film The Blair Witch Project and it had been over 16 years between sequels.  While I enjoyed the film, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of scares and some times unmotivated actions of the friends who make some really terrible decisions. One very cool thing is that in some shots you get a quick glimpse of what the Witch looks like, and I have a theory that she just might be an alien or even a interdenominational being! The film did good for Lionsgate at the US Box Office even though its was below what they expected as it brought in $20,777,061.00 on a $5 million budget! While not an amazing sequel, it’s way better than part two and was a fun watch in the theater, check it out on DVD.

# 7

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What was originally a short film made for the internet, Lights Out made its way to being a feature length that hit theaters this year. Rebecca is a young woman who is into drawing dark pictures who moved away from home when her mother had a series of mental breakdowns. After her stepfather is killed and her Mother begins acting crazy again, she takes her young brother Martin in who is not sleeping after being tormented by a shadow woman! Rebecca along with her boyfriend Bret and Martin are forced to stay at their mother’s house when the government forces Martin to be with his mother. The group soon learns that the shadow lady is indeed real and her name is Diana, and she was an odd child who was “friends” with their mother after they meet in a mental asylum and after being killed in a treatment gone wrong she lives on as a sinister shadow that lives on thanks to the weakness of their mothers mental state! Now Diana is mad and wants to live on and will kill whom ever tries to get in her way.  Now it’s up to Rebecca to save her family and rid the world of the sinister demonic Diana. This film is a jump scare fest filled with some creepy effects and a really cool monster as Diana could easily become a new horror icon that could spark sequels for years to come. The film was rated PG-13 and while not a bloodbath, it does have some gruesome moments that I am sure will scare the wits out of many viewers. Another cool fact is that this was released by Warner Brothers under New Line Cinema, and it made me miss when New Line was its own company and would embrace the world of horror films. The film did great for WB at the US Box Office delivering $67,268,835.00 on a small $4.9 million budget showing that horror films are very profitable and also sparked talks of a sequel! While not groundbreaking and pretty much another ghost/possession film, it was a fun watch in the theater and is one I now own on DVD and would suggest fans of these types of films to watch.

# 6

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Dr. Seth Ember is a man who lost his family in a terrible car accident that was caused by a demon named Maggie.  This accident also left him in a wheelchair and put his faith and will to live for anything besides revenge to the test. You see Ember spends his time in a trance near death’s door that allows him to enter the subconscious of possessed people and exorcize the demon from within by giving the person’s own will a choice to expel the demon from their own bodies. But when Maggie shows back up inside a young 11 year old boy, he must come face to face with his family’s killer and will put his very own life and soul on the line as a warzone has been set that will leave everyone around to never be the same again. This film, while a possession film, is done differently from most as it downplays the religious elements and up plays the scientific and psychic way to defeat a demon, and our hero is wheelchair bound and not a saint of a person at all as he is only doing this for his own quest for revenge making him not your typical hero. The film stars Aaron Eckhart as Seth Ember and co-stars Carice Van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno and even has WWE wrestler Mark Henry in a cameo role. The film was a team up of WWE Studios and Blumhouse Productions and was a solid entertaining PG-13 horror film that was super enjoyable in the theater even if Juliet and I were the only people their to see it. The film has some blood and violence with some chilling moments and sadly did very poorly for High Top Releasing at the Box Office in the US only bringing in $4,777,253.00 on a budget of $5 million and for some reason had very poor word of mouth among horror fans. While this film was not perfect, I did find it pretty original for a genre of horror that is getting very stale, worth watching on cable or renting from your local video store and for me, I am sure I will pick it up on DVD when released.

# 5

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Japan is under attack by a giant lizard monster who keeps evolving and is being called Godzilla. The prime minister of Japan and his cabinet must find a way to keep the giant monster at bay or even better yet kill it and even get the help of America but all military attempts fail as Godzilla has his own tricks that include fire breath and fire blasts from his tail. Finally after many human deaths, lots of destruction and many failed attempts Godzilla is stopped thanks to a team effort that leaves him frozen from the inside out and like a statue, but not all is as it seems as Godzilla’s tail may have its own living race of creatures ready to come alive. This film is very slow moving and mixes elements of horror, science fiction and drama to deliver a very new and unique re-telling of the origin of Godzilla as many options are hinted at yet never confirmed, and some how this odd combination works really well! Godzilla looks like he has never looked before, and this new generation of films looks like it might be one that evolves with each new installment. This is a real hard movie to explain as it has lots of political moments and is less about Godzilla and more about the state of Japan. The film had a very limited theatrical release here in America, and I was lucky enough to catch it at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek along with my friends Jeremy Hoyt, Erin R. Ryan and Sean Leo. Shin Godzilla brought in $1,918,403.00 in the US for FUNimation on a budget of $15 million and this was just icing on the cake as the film made way more in Japan. Worth watching and one I will own when on DVD, but I must also say this film is not for everyone and would probably bore many younger Godzilla fans.

# 4

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Michelle leaves her fiance after an argument and during her drive out of town, she gets into a terrible accident when a truck smashes into her and wakes up in chains in a fall out bunker owned by a man named Howard. Michelle thinks she’s being kept captive but soon learns from her host Howard that an attack has taken place that has left the outside air poisonous, and his story is backed up by Emmett another man taking shelter in the bunker. But after Howard’s odd and some time anger filled moods as well as witnessing a woman die from the air outside, the mystery of who did this attack as well as Howard really is unfolds. The film has so many twists and turns and delivers suspense with a horror vibe so well that I found myself glued to the movie screen watching it, and that’s saying something as the film this loose sequel spawned off of Cloverfield, which was not very good in my opinion. The acting is top notch with John Goodman as Howard stealing the show as well as other actors Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. delivering solid performances. The film is packed with some suspenseful and sinister moments, and I don’t want to spoil anything on what is really outside as I think it’s something you need to just see for yourself. The film did good for Paramount at the US Box Office bringing in $72,082,998.00 on a budget of $15 million causing talks of a sequel. Worth watch and was leaps and bounds better than the original and does away with the shaky came found footage style and delivers a solid spooky and well done movie.

# 3

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The Boy was one of those films that when my cousin Stephen and I saw the trailer at work when it was released into the world wide web, we knew we had to see it the weekend it came out, as growing up Stephen was scared of creepy dolls, and it’s our thing when we talk horror films. The film follows Greta, a young American woman who is getting away from her abusive boyfriend and takes a nanny job in England for the Heelshire family.  When the parents go on a holiday she is to watch after their son Brahms. But things are very odd as Brahms is nothing more than a doll who the Heelshire’s treat as a living child, and worse she learns from grocery delivery man Malcolm that Brahms died in a fire after an “accident” happened to a young girl near the house. Brahms has rules that must be followed, and Greta soon finds out that things are not as they seem as The Doll seems to have ideas of its own or does it? This is the kind of film that takes twists and turns and keeps a spooky gothic/haunting pace and then turns it up a notch with a surprise ending that some fans might see coming, but others might not…so I will not spoil it for you here. The film stars Lauren Cohan as Greta who is best known for playing Maggie Greene on the hits TV Show The Walking Dead, and she does a great job and is truly a stunning actress. During the film my girlfriend Juliet leaned over in pure joy and said the film reminded her of a cult classic “Tourist Trap,” and the rest of our viewing party seemed to get a kick out of this weird little horror gem. The film did pretty good for STX Entertainment at the US Box Office Bringing in a total of $35,819,556.00, if you like horror films set in a spooky old castle home and like creepy dolls check this one out on DVD or Blu-Ray.

# 2

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Leo Barnes is now working as a security chief for Senator Charlie Roan, a woman who had her family killed on a purge night many years back and wants to get rid of the day that she finds barbaric and wrong. But when she ruffles the feathers of the New Founding Fathers, they lift the band on not being able to kill a government official and hire a group of mercenaries to take her life! Leo, along with cornerstore workers and a group of protesters, must keep her safe throughout the night so she can make it to election day and rid America of this terrible yearly event. This is the third film in this amazing series and blends horror really well with action, drama and most surprisingly, a message, as all the films thus far have been not just about brutal killings but more about how society is going and how the 1% truly do call the shots. Leo and Senator Charlie are both very likable characters that you find yourself cheering for as are the workers of the small corner store who show that community and friends need to watch out for each other during the good and bad times. Another aspect of this film I liked is how America has turned the Purge into a tourist attraction where rich people from all over the world come to kill the weak and poor. The film stars Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell and Berry Gabriel and did really well for Universal at the US Box Office as if brought them in $79,042,440.00 on a small budget of $10 million and once more this was produced by Blumhouse proving these guys know horror! Own it on DVD and if you have not seen it and have enjoyed the other two films in the series, make sure you check this one out as it was a easy pick for my # 2! I want to also note that I saw this film at the Cranberry Cinema with Juliet during a Monsterbash vacation.

# 1

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In 1976, Lorraine and Ed Warren were looking into the haunting at the house in Amityville and during this investigation Lorraine gets a vision of her husband’s death as well sees a evil demonic Nun who haunts her dreams as well as her family’s even after leaving the home. Now in 1977, single mother Peggy and her children are living in a home in England when an evil spirit comes out to play and possesses young Janet who can speak with the voice of a 77 year old man as well as other creepy stuff happens around the house. The church asks Ed and Lorraine to look into the case, and they soon find that there is more evil at play than just the ghost of the house’s former owner as the Nun is there and wants to make Lorraine’s vision of her husband’s death a reality! Can Ed and Lorraine save the family from the torment of the evil spirits and can they prove the vision wrong? Watch this creepy ghost film to find out! This sequel is as good as the original, and Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who play Lorraine and Ed Warren are fantastic and truly are what make these films work so well as you find yourself bonding with them. The films villain is Valak a demon who takes the appearance of the Demon Nun and who is just pure evil and is sure to scare many viewers with her sinister looks. Director James Wan knows how to take the true case files of the Warrens and along with his writers created a spooky film that does not suffer from being only PG-13 as it uses mood and jump scares to fill the audience with fright and when seeing this in the theater I can tell you I heard many of my fellow movie goers gasp and shriek with terror and to me that shows this flick did what it was suppose to do. The film was put out by Warner Brothers via New Line Cinema and did great at the Box Office here in the US as on a budget of $40 million it brought in $102,470,008.00 proving as I have said many times in this update that horror is profitable. I own this film on DVD and watched it again, and it still holds up and won easily my # 1 spot for best theater-viewed horror film of 2016! So if you like your horror films filled with demon nuns, jump scares, cool and creepy soundtrack and likable characters this one is for you!

So there it is. my best of 2016 in films I got to see in the theater, and I must say while I didn’t get to go as much as I wanted, the times I did get to go I had a blast! And I will make this promise that next year I will make sure to make more time to get my butt to the theater so that my Best of 2017 will be epic! Plus with rumors next year of new Friday The 13th, Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville films, the horror competition will be high and dare I say cutthroat! But the Rotten Ink Theater clean up crew is here to sweep out all the popcorn so we should wrap this up.  I hope you enjoyed this update as much as I did writing it and our next update we are headed to Africa to spend some time with The Phantom! So until then, go see a movie or four and support your local movie theater!

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Flash Gordon Savior Of The Comic Universe!

ROTTEN….INNNKKK….Savior of the Blog-verse! Yeah, I know that was super lame and not very clever, but this winter seemed like a good time to do a terrible parody of a classic Queen song as it fits today’s update as we take a look at the 1980 film Flash Gordon and the Whitman Comic adaptation.  It’s pretty great adventure stuff to get the blood pumping this cold winter night! Can you believe we are this close to Christmas and our huge Christmas Eve update? This time of the year is always wonderful, looking back at things from your youth and fun times with family and friends, and that’s why I choose Flash Gordon as the film and character this time around.  It’s something that always brings back good memories of when I was a kid. When we were young, my parents had a Beta player and this is how I first saw Flash Gordon as my Dad rented it from the video store for me and my brother.  From start to finish I can remember we both were glued to it.  Later, when it would showed on cable like HBO or Showtime, we taped it and would dust it off from time to time. I can also remember using our G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures to play Flash Gordon as figures based on this movie were never made in my youth. I miss those days of going to the video rental store with my parents and picking out a couple of films for us all to watch on a family movie night.  I have one funny story about a Troma movie that was rented for the kids that I will share in an update in the future. So get your space suit on and bundle up as space is even colder than this winter night, and we’ll go on an adventure with the one and only Flash Gordon.  Oh yeah, make sure to also bring a blanket, some hot chocolate mix or even some hot tea as the chill in the air will make them a must.

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In 1980 an epic science fiction film was released by Universal and was slated to be the next mega hit in the genre like Star Wars before it.  Best of all, the film was based on a character who already had a built in audience as he had comic strips, comic books, radio dramas, novels, movie serials and toys based around him so by this point Flash Gordon was a household name.  So why didn’t it overthrow Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back as the # 1 film of 1980? Flash Gordon ended up at # 23 bringing in $27,107,960.00 on a budget of $20 million, beating out such cult films as The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, The Fog, Mad Max, Prom Night, Motel Hell and The Gong Show Movie. I think some of the issue started with the production of the film as the rights owner for Gordon in films was famed producer Dino De Laurentiis who, in the 70s, turned down George Lucas who wanted to make a Flash Gordon film.  This sparked Lucas to make Star Wars.  Meanwhile De Laurentiis wanted to make his version of Flash Gordon cheesy and humorous, and this angered Sergio Leone, who was slated to direct, as he wanted it to be more faithful to the comic strip. But after many setbacks, a director was found in Mike Hodges, and casting started with Sam J. Jones playing Flash Gordon, Melody Anderson as Dale Arden, Chaim Topol as Dr. Zarkov and Max von Sydow as Ming The Merciless, all of whom were wise choices for their roles.  But once more, late in production drama reared its ugly head again and fights between De Laurentiis and Jones left the actor leaving prior to post production forcing lots of his dialogue to be dubbed by a voice actor.  This drama also lead to a sequel never being made. But in 2015 rumors began going around that a reboot sequel might be in the works and that Sam J. Jones might be returning in the role of Flash! So what do you readers think, should they make a Flash Gordon 2 with Sam J. Jones returning in the title role or do you think a remake is the wiser choice?

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The soundtrack to Flash Gordon is fantastic with the score being done by Howard Blake and the rest being done by the amazing band Queen! While the score is mostly forgotten, the song “Flash Gordon” by Queen is the first thing that pops into the people’s minds when hearing the characters name…you know at least a handful of times you yourself have done it while reading this update. That’s one thing the film always had going for it, the soundtrack was a popular album for people of the 80’s to have in their collection of vinyl and cassettes. Queen always did make amazing rock n roll music, and their work for Flash Gordon showed that they could also make the music of the movies and will always rank up as one of the most catchy theme songs for any science fiction characters. And for those wondering, I do play the score music from Blake on WYSO from time to time.

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As I have stated, growing up me and my brother were fans of the film, and I would have loved if some company like Kenner or Remco would have made 3 ¾” figures based on this film as it would have been epic while playing Star Wars if Flash Gordon showed up and Princess Leia fell in love with this hero jock and he and Han Solo had to fight it out to win her heart. But in 2015, thanks to collectible website “Entertainment Earth” and toy company “BifBang Pow!” a series of figures was made. They released four figures this size that include Flash Gordon, Ming, Aura, Vultan and Barin, and each come with weapons and bendable knees and elbows. When I was just a youngster, the only things that I can remember that were released was a video game, the comic adaptation, the novel based on the film and the soundtrack. So for those youngsters reading this, and those young at heart, if you buy these Flash Gordon 3 ¾” action figures make sure to have them mix with your Star Wars toys as well as your Funco ReAction figures and have one hell of an epic Toy War!

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While we might not have gotten action figures, 20th Century Fox Games did release a video game based on the film for the Atari 2600 for all the fans to enjoy in 1983, but like most movie tie-in games, this one really had nothing to do with the movie and was in fact originally not even a Flash Gordon game as it was really just a redone port of a game called “Spider City” that was a popular PC Game in the early 80’s. But in this version you play as Flash Gordon who has entered Spider City to rescue missing spacemen and to destroy all the hatching spider pods. You of course are flying a ship, and by beating levels, the game will give you an extra life.  The graphics are what you would expect from an Atari 2600 game. The first time I learned about this game was in 2009 when Game Swap Kettering was stocking the store, and one of the Atari games in the box was Flash Gordon and of course I had to buy it and play it.  While very cheesy, it still was fun play and something that fans of classic gaming should try. Check out below for a screen shot of the game as well as the cover box front and back, and all you old school gamers who grew up playing this understand just how fun this and so many other Atari games can be.

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So we have taken a look at Flash Gordon the Movie, the soundtrack, the video game and the toys, and now I think it’s time that we all climb aboard the Whitman Comic Rocket and travel to Movie Adaptation Land and see just how well this one holds up to the film. I want to thank Jason Young and his Mom for selling me these issues in a long box buy and must remind all you readers and astronauts that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s prepare for lift off! I should also note that the adaptation was placed many issues into the long running Flash Gordon comic series put out by Gold Key and Whitman so that’s why the numbering is high on these issues. So it’s take off time, get ready to have a fun adventure with Flash Gordon and friends.

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Flash Gordon # 31  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 31 of 37

Flash Gordon is a football player for the New York Jets and is on a plane with Dale Arden when their plane goes down and lands near a greenhouse where by gunpoint they are forced onto a spaceship and into orbit by Dr. Zarkov who believes that they all must stop an alien attack that he thinks is forcing Earth’s moon to crash into the planet killing everyone.  He wants to find and stop the mastermind behind it. In space, the three pass out and are swept into a black hole and end up landing in the Mongo Kingdom run by Ming The Merciless along with his daughter Princess Aura and his golden metal masked adviser General Klytus.  This is bad news as Ming wants Dale as his slave, Aura wants Flash as her slave, and Klytus wants all three Earthlings dead! Flash does not stand for this and fights with the guards, but all this does is give him a one-way ticket to a public execution that very night! Flash is given a shot and then gassed and is believed to be dead, but in reality Princess Aura changed the shot that let her new man live and uses her boyfriend’s (Prince Barin of the Treemen) planet as a hiding place for Flash. Meanwhile Ming has taken Dale as his own and has ordered Zarkov’s mind to be taken over and turned into a slave! But thanks to Aura’s crown, Flash is able to contact Dale and tell her he is alive.  This causes her to escape Ming’s bedroom and start her escape and saving of Zarkov.

This comic adaptation does a good job of compacting the film into comic pages and moves the pace along really well! So far the story is the set up and has Flash, Dale and Zarkov traveling to space and crash landing on Mongo, the planet of galaxy warlord Ming, and finding out they are just pawns in his twisted game to destroy Earth. The comic has action, adventure, drama and romance as all these things were tangled together in ink and paper. Flash Gordon starts out as a hero jock who wins the attention of a young woman he is next to on a plane, but quickly turns into a hero as he is a prideful man who would clearly die to protect his new friends. Flash also has a charm as both Dale and Aura fall in love with him just by seeing him.  I wonder if it’s because he is a pro football player who has money or if it’s his chiseled good looks? We also learn he is good at fist fighting as he handles many guards at once and seems to know how to defend himself. Dale Arden seems like a normal young woman who, when survival is on the line, will fight back and not just roll over and die. It’s also clear that Dale fell in love with Flash Gordon at first sight and that she will not be Ming’s love slave without putting up a fight. Dr. Zarkov is a crazed old man who’s outlandish behavior got him banned from NASA and his way of getting help on his rocket ship is to pull a gun on people who just survived a plane crash. It’s odd as both Flash and Dale seem to forgive him pretty fast and even look to him as a friend.  Even more crazy is they would not be in the danger they are in if not for his crazy gun pulling ways. To be fair though, Dr. Zarkov did do all this to save Earth from doom that would be coming from the sky. Ming The Merciless is cold blooded, and life and death do not matter, as in his mind all that does is his rule over all. I think Ming is a great villain as he tries to murder outsiders on sight, forces women to be his love slaves and rules his Kingdom with such an iron fist that other planets are scared to feel his wrath. Princess Aura is a mystery at this point as she is a man-eater who clearly uses men to get what she wants but also seems to not enjoy her father’s wicked ways. General Klytus is clearly a man who loves to place judgment and punishment on anyone he feels is a threat to Ming and his rule. We don’t get much background on Prince Barin besides he loves Aura, and he is the leader of the Treemen. The winged leader Vultan of the Hawkmen is also around but is not given anything to make a judgment of his character. The cover is your typical cheesy photo collage mixed with art design that Whitman and Goldkey Comic used on most their adaptations, but the inside art is fantastic and done by Flash Gordon comic series artist Al Williamson who is an underrated artist who captures science fiction elements really well. This is a great start as on this cold day; I really enjoyed this first issue in the adaptation and I am really looking forward to seeing what issue 2 has contained.

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Flash Gordon # 32  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 32 of 37

While escaping, Dale Arden runs into Dr. Zarkov who claims that his mind could not be beaten into being blanked, and the pair board a ship and try to leave only to be captured by the Hawkpeople lead by Vultan.  They are about to deliver them back to Ming when Dale begs him to join forces with Flash Gordon, who still lives, and the Treemen to overthrow Ming who is they all hate. Meanwhile Klytus has heard that Gordon is alive and warns Ming who has his daughter who has returned home arrested and tortured in order to find were she has left Flash. Flash himself is being tormented and set up to be murdered by Prince Barin, who is jealous that Aura has fallen for the Earthman. During the fight, the Hawkmen attack and take both Flash Gordon and Prince Barin prisoner as Vultan is not going for an alliance against Ming and is delivering them all to the evil ruler. Prince Barin as a royal can challenge a duel before sentenced and picks Flash Gordon, and the two fight on a circle that has spikes. Flash wins and saves Barin from falling off the circle as Klytus arrives on the ship and demands all the prisoners come with him and this sets Flash off and he slams Klytus onto the circle of spikes killing him! Vultan and the Hawkmen fly away as they fear the wrath of Ming who now has shown up and has Dale, Barin and Zarkov taken to his castle, and after Flash refuses an offer from Ming to join his side our hero is left on the ship that is now blowing up.

Flash Gordon steps up his game and not only passes the Treemen’s log test that has a poisons beast inside it, but he also beats Barin in a duel to the death as well as murders Klytus by slamming him down on spikes! Flash didn’t even blink as he slammed a living person onto spikes, killing him in a terrible painful way. But to be fair, the man who he killed was Klytus, the evil right hand man of Ming who looks like he took fashion tips from Dr. Doom and had sent a number of people to their deaths. This second issue covers Flash fighting the odds and yet still some how turning the negatives into positives and starting an uprising against the rule of Ming. It’s great as Ming even mentions that his subjects are starting to talk about this man named Flash Gordon who has beaten all the odds. Ming The Merciless in this issue tries his best to corrupt Flash, and when he can’t, he wants him dead, not to mention he also is ok with the torture of his daughter as he is pissed she disobeyed his wish of having Flash killed. Ming is also claiming Dale as his future wife and adds forced love to his evil deeds. Prince Barin is a jerk who comes around once he finds that Flash is a good man.  Vultan comes off as a coward and a lackey for Ming as Dale and Zarkov take a backseat and are just prisoners who are the driving force for Flash Gordon to fight and do the right thing to save them and the Earth. The cover is another photo collage/art mix and is cheesy good as the art inside is Al Williamson again who is doing a great job at capturing the looks of the actors as well as his backgrounds are really well done. This second issue is as good as the first.  Coming up is the final in this adaptation, and I for one am enjoying every page.

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Flash Gordon # 33  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 33 of 37

Flash Gordon escapes the blown up ship on a tiny glider and is able to contact Vultan and the Hawkpeople who now are on the side of good and set up one of Ming’s warships that they take over. Meanwhile Ming has set his wedding to Dale for that night and is forcing his daughter Aura to be the Maid of Honor and is going to kill Zarkov and Barin live for entertainment! Aura sneaks away and frees Barin and Zarkov from the prison, and the two flee into some tunnels. Flash, Vultan and the Hawkmen bring the fight to Ming’s kingdom.  As Dale is being forced to marry Ming, the Earth is also on a path to doom as in only six minutes the moon will crash into the planet causing earthquakes and tidal waves. Flash crashes the ship into Ming’s castle and impales the evil ruler with the tip on the ship.  Ming however does not die and Flash rushes him with a sword in hand as Ming turns his own power ring on himself ending is reign of terror. In the end Aura and Barin take over ruling Mongo, Vultan takes the job of royal guard commander and Dale, Zarkov and Flash stay on Mongo as they do not have a ride home.

The doomsday clock was almost at 12 for Earth, but thanks to the heroic act of Flash Gordon and his allies, we are all safe for the time being. The plot of this issue is this simple: Ming is having a shotgun wedding, Flash has brought people together to fight the power and in the end, good clashes with evil and as always, good wins. Flash Gordon once more proves how loyal and brave he is, as he takes his own life in his hands and crashes a ship into a castle that had a force field around it and was only saved by Barin who blasted the controls with a pistol. But what Flash did to save the Earth as well as Dale shows you that he is a real hero who puts the needs of others before his own. Dale and Dr. Zarkov do what they can to help with Zarkov trying to help turn off the force field and Dale bides them time to attack. Glad to see Vultan and the Hawkmen turn from cowards to right doers as they join the forces to bring Ming’s evil rule to an end. Prince Barin wins the most as he gets not only Ming’s hot daughter Aura, but he also gets to rule the planet! Ming does not put up much of a fight as after he has the ships front needle impale him, he then would rather zap himself with his own ring than to fight Flash Gordon. I always wished Ming would have been a more badass villain like Darth Vader in Star Wars in this film and comic as an epic fight between Flash and him could have been a major movie moment of the 80’s. I think what really make this comic adaptation work is that it feels like a grand space adventure that you’re on with an iconic character that is allowing you to tag along on. The comic does a pretty good job of working the movie into comic pages but like most adaptations, some of it feels very rushed with elements missing. One par that is removed is the silly comedy moments of the film and in its place are more serious action moments. The cover is like the others, and Al Williamson’s art is classic and captures the feel of not only the movie but Flash Gordon altogether. If you’re a fan of this movie or even just enjoy a good Flash Gordon story, I would say check out these issues as well as the rest in this comic series as they are a fun read and can hold you over till Gordon’s next big screen film hits your local cinema. Below is a piece of art from Williamson that I think showcases everything that this comic has to offer, so take a look at it and enjoy.

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So yeah, Flash Gordon,, the film from 1980 as well as the comic adaptation of it are great ways to be entertained, and those of you who didn’t like the humor of the movie should check out this comic adaptation as it’s all the action elements. I really do miss the old movie adaptations from companies like Marvel, DC, Whitman and Dell as they always seemed like having something a little extra on the movie or even TV Shows they were based on. But it’s now time to reveal what our Christmas Eve update will be about.  We will be leaving the Mongo Kingdom and instead enter Kingston Falls as we take a look at “Gremlins” and the Golden Book comic adaptation based around this iconic movie that was one of my all time favorites in youth! So until then, be safe this winter, spend some time with your loved ones, read a comic or three and make sure to return on Christmas Eve to spend some time with Gizmo and all his friends.  See you all then!

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Star Trek : The Intergalactic Icons Of Space

Space is a vast place filled with all types of mysteries and things that we have yet to discover.  Many people my age grew up with space and planets like Mars being things that sparked imagination as well as discussion in and out of school.  Not to mention things like Star Wars, Flash Gordon and The Last Star Fighter were popular films, and some even had toy lines that all kids still played with. But one space themed show always got my attention was Star Trek.  Characters like James T. Kirk, Spock and Leonard McCoy were all interesting and already had iconic status in the mid 80’s when I first remember watching the show. So for this update, I figured that in honor of the new Star Trek film in theaters, the announcement of a new TV series in the works and the fact that earlier this year Juliet spoke about Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was time for me to take a look at Marvel Comics series based on the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise! So set your phasers to stun and be ready to beam aboard as we boldly go where Rotten Ink has only gone once before!

Enterprise Ship In Space

Gene Roddenberry was born on August 19, 1921 in El Paso, Texas and later with his family moved to Los Angeles and became a fan of stories about Tarzan and John Carter Warlord of Mars. Roddenberry majored in police science but found his calling in aeronautical engineering that lead to his stint with the United States Army Air Corps and would lead him to later working for Pan American World Airways.  During his time as a pilot, he would be involved in a total of three crashes, two as the pilot with and one as a passenger. The last crash, while working for Pan American, was so bad that 14 people lost their lives and many others were seriously hurt.  A short time later this lead to him stepping down in the company and pursuing his love for writing fiction and working for the Los Angeles Police Department as a traffic cop and later as a member of the Public Information Division as his writing was really good. During this time, he was also able to serve as an advisor for such shows as “Mr. District Attorney” and “Highway Patrol” in the 1950’s. These shows kicked off Gene’s dive into television as a producer and writer, and he delivered for such shows as “The West Point Story”, “Bat Masterson”, “Have Gun Will Travel” and “The Wrangler”, but in 1966 it was “Star Trek” that made Gene a true icon of science fiction Television. Gene would go on through out the 70’s and 80’s writing and producing shows and the Star Trek movies. His next TV hit would be the 1987 series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Gene was married twice with his last wife being Majel Barrett who is the voice actress of the starships in the Star Trek universe as well as played Nurse Chapel in the original series and Lwaxana Troi in the Next Generation. He also had three children with his son Rod following in his footsteps in becoming a TV producer with his biggest upcoming work being the new 2017 Star Trek series! Sadly this icon of TV writing and producing passed away on October 24, 1991 at the age of 70, and while gone, his work lives on and entertains viewers still to this day. This update is for you, Gene Roddenberry, as well as all the cast and crew who made Star Trek possible.

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I first watched the original Star Trek TV Show with my dad who would tune in when it aired in reruns. I can remember always being so hyped to see what strange alien was going to be on next, and Spock was my favorite character as he had pointed ears. My dad also use to tease my mom about Captain Kirk as she was not a William Shatner fan and used to say he couldn’t act.  I was around 5 or 6 years of age at the time, and as I grew up I have always had a very big attachment to this series and love it still to this day. Star Trek first aired in September 8. 1966 for CBS and was produced by Paramount and quickly became a hit for fans of science fiction television who loved the futuristic tech talk and quickly bonded with the likable crew lead by the Starfleet rebel Captain Kirk or so you would think! The truth is when Star Trek first aired, it did very poorly on the Nielsen ratings and was canceled by NBC after 3 seasons and a total of 79 episodes, and it was not until its syndication run that it built up a major cult following that sparked it into the major science fiction brand it is today. Imagine that, when originally airing the show was not catching on and was not gaining viewers, and once it was cancelled and shown in reruns it became a mega hit, much like modern shows like “Family Guy” that was cancelled and fans were able to bring it back for more seasons that lead to it wearing out its welcome years ago. Once the show picked up steam in the world of syndication, this lead to a string of movies as well as a ton of spin off TV series. It’s odd that to me as a kid, Star Trek was just so magical and filled with so much high tech wonder and was as enjoyable to me as Star Wars and Flash Gordon, both of which I also grew up with. In 2017 a new Star Trek series will be released for CBS and the premier episode will air on broadcast TV with all following episodes only available via their subscription based streaming service called “ CBS All Access,” and to me, this is a really dumb and not only limits the amount of people watching this series, but also cheapens it. I should also note that in 2006 Paramount and CBS decided to re-master and re-due the effects for the original series and once more it went into syndication, and I can remember my friend and roommate Patrick Neeley watching them at night and talking to me about them the next day. The original Star Trek series has been in my life for as long as I can remember from watching with my dad to popping it in on DVD for my viewing enjoyment, it still remains an amazing series that defines the term science fiction.

Original Star Trek Cast On Set

As I said the cheesy wonderful aliens were one of the reasons I loved this series when I was a kid, and hell, even to this day, because who could forget such characters as the lizard race Gorns, the fuzzy furballs the Tribbles, the one horned white gorilla Mugato or the Salt Vampire, not to mention the Klingons and the likes of the powerful Khan! While much of the time the aliens were just guys and women in greasepaint or rubber suits, something about these basic looking aliens was a draw for viewers like myself. I can remember as a kid loving the Gorn and Salt Vampire and wishing toys were made based on them so I could have them attack my Star Wars figures! Plus the show was our first taste of Khan who would go on to be one of the most sinister bad guys in Star Trek history. So if you’re a fan of aliens and all the different races that could be out in our shared universe…or just like cheesy TV shows with actors with greasepaint on their faces or wearing big old rubber suits, make sure to check out the original Star Trek series as its sure to please that alien need. Check out the pictures below to see some of the aliens from the series and to show you just how different they all are from each other.

Star Trek Khan TVStar Trek GornStar Trek Salt Vampaire

One thing I need to briefly talk about is the episode called “The Devil In The Dark” that has Kirk, Spock and McCoy traveling to Janus VI, a planet that has lost over 50 miners to a creature that lives underground. As the episodes goes on, Spock learns that the creature is called a Horta after a mind meld and later finds out that the Horta is just protecting eggs that will allow its race to continue. The Horta in appearance is compared to a silicon-based lifeform that has a rock and lava look. But for me as a youngster, it reminded me of meatloaf…not the singer, the food! I can even remember eating meatloaf and joking about it being on Star Trek. I mean really look at it, it’s like meatloaf with ketchup and marshmallows on it! Compare the picture below, and you be the judge.

hortaGood Old Meatloaf

Many Trekkies considered “Star Trek: The Animated Series” to be the fourth season as many of the actors returned to lend their voices to their animated versions as well as it continued the five year mission they were on. Star Trek: The Animated Series first aired on NBC on September 8, 1973 and lasted 2 seasons and a total of 22 episodes that were 24 minute long that followed Captain Kirk and his crew of the USS Enterprise on all type of adventures in space. The series was made by a team-up between Paramount Pictures and Filmation with Gene Roddenberry overseeing its production. Filmation’s original idea for the series was to have young teen characters being cadets following the main cast around turning it into more of a straight kiddy show, Roddenberry put his foot down, and that idea was later used for the 1977 live action series Space Academy. But like all Filmation Cartoons, the budget was low, and the series suffered with poor reused animation and many other small errors. The series did have William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Majel Barrett and Nichelle Nichols all return to voice their respected characters but sadly Walter Koenig did not return as Chekov was replaced in the cartoon by two characters called Arex (a three armed thin alien) and M’Ress (a female cat person) who were a major part of the crew now. While after its run ended and some years later, the film series started, the animated series seemed to be left out of canon as many issues and characters from the toon seemed to be missing and forgotten. The series during its run was not a huge hit with kids watching Saturday Morning Cartoons, but was respected by reviewers and parents who found it entertaining. Growing up I only saw episodes on reruns as well as on VHS, and I can remember liking it but also was confused by it as by that point I had watched the live action series as well as many of the movies. Love it or hate it, Star Trek: The Animated Series is a part of Trek history, and I for one enjoy every cheesy moment of it. Those looking to watch the series it has been released on VHS, DVD and Laserdisc and from time to time pops up on Netflix.

Star Trek The Animated Series 1Star Trek The Animated Series DVDStar Trek The Animated Series 2

With the animated series being canceled in 1974, fans would have to wait for their next Star Trek fix until 1979 when Paramount released “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” to the theater going audience. The film was directed by Robert Wise and brought back all the major actors and characters from the classic series with a budget of $46 million dollars and had a run time of 132 minutes.  It also had a score from Jerry Goldsmith and was produced by Gene Roddenberry. The film brought in $82,258,456.00 and came in at # 5 for the year beating out such films as “Alien”, “The Jerk”, “The Muppet Movie”, “Moonraker”, “The Black Hole”, “Mad Max”, “Tourist Trap” and “Zombi 2” among many others. The film was met with mix reviews with many critics being down on the film’s plot that they said was too thin and spread out for over two hours, but fans were a little more behind it as they got to see their favorite characters back on a all new adventure. Growing up I can remember watching this movie and while I found it entertaining, I think mostly cause the fact it was Star Trek. I was always more drawn into “Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan” and “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock” when wanting to watch them on VHS via a library rental. I don’t want to get too much into the plot of this movie as the Marvel Comic series first 3 issues in the series are an adaptation of the film so I will save it for those. While not as well loved as many of the sequels this film started it all for the film franchise that is still going to this day.

Star Trek The Motion Picture 1Star Trek The Motion Picture 2Star Trek The Motion Picture 3

Star Trek also has amazing music that helped not only the TV Show but as well as the Movies! The original TV Show soundtrack was done by the likes of Sol Kaplan and Gerald Fried among others with Alexander Courage being the man behind the Original Series title theme. With the movie soundtracks being done by the likes of Jerry Goldsmith as well as other composers like James Horner, Cliff Eldelman, Leonard Rosenman and Dennis McCarthy. The most iconic theme for the films that would latter be the opening theme for Star Trek The Next Generation was done by Jerry Goldsmith and remains a very iconic piece of score music. The soundtracks for the TV Show as well as the Movies starring the original cast has been released on many different formats from Cassette Tapes to CDs and are must haves for fans of the movie and show. I for one own many of these soundtracks on CD and play them on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO many Sunday nights, one of the listeners favorites is a track called “The Mountain” off the Star Trek V: The Final Frontier soundtrack. So if you’re a score music fan, make sure to check out some of the Star Trek movie releases they are well done and great songs to relax to.

Star Trek CDStar Trek TV SoundtrackStar Trek The Motion Picture soundtrack cd

Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise have not only jumped from TV to movies but also to video games! Some of the top games starring the original cast include “Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator” was originally a arcade game and in 1984 was ported to the Atari 2600 and has you taking control of the Starship Enterprise and defend against invading Klingons. Next up “Star Trek: The Rebel Universe” for the Commodore 64, IBM PC and Atari ST in 1987 and has you take control of the bridge and try and find the secrets of the Quarantine Zone. And lastly “Star Trek: 25th Anniversary” was released in 1992 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and has you take control of Kirk, Spock and McCoy and try to solve the mystery of the tear in space-time! And of course this is just a drop in the hat of video games that was released starring the original Star Trek cast, but these three are the ones I remember best from my younger days! So what is your favorite video game starring Kirk and the crew?

Star Trek The Rebel Universe C64Star Trek Strategic Operations Simulator Atari 2600Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES

The Original Star Trek series has had its massive share of merchandise based around it and cover all types items like Halloween Costumes, Drinking Glasses, Trading Cards, Toys, Video Games, Lunch Boxes, Novels, Comic Books, Magnets, Shirts and so much more! Growing up I can remember playing a strategy board game with my Uncle Thurman that was lots of fun and I am sure we drove him mad as at my brother Bryan and I’s young age we didn’t get the rules all that well. Growing up I also had a Captain Kirk 3 ¾” Mego action figure I got from a garage sale that joined my Toy Wars alongside Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures. I also when a youngster owned many of the Novels and Book and Record sets based on the TV Show and Movies as well as some of the Marvel Comics. Funny enough early this year while working at Game Swap a young lady brought in a large box filled with vintage Star Trek figures and toys and what was really neat was seeing the Mego dolls mint in package! So if you’re a fan of Spock, Kirk or any of the other crew members of the Enterprise many amazing products are out in the world for you to collect.

MEGO Star Trek dollsStar Trek LunchboxStar Trek Novel original cast

Playmates was a major force when I was a kid in bringing action figures into the hands of the youth with such toy lines as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Toxic Crusaders, Dick Tracy, Darkwing Duck, Monster Force, Barnyard Commandos, The Addams Family, Earthworm Jim to name a few and also on this iconic list is Star Trek! The toy line for Star Trek mostly focused on Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as the newer TV series that followed like Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but also in the line was the original series that showcased some of the characters in their younger selves and in some waves them older. While I had maybe a couple when I was a kid the older I got for some reason I started to collect them, I bought myself all the original series crew as well as Voyager and Juliet the Next Generations crew and together we have gotten many of the Deep Space Nine crew members. The Playmates figures for some reason have a collectable appeal for me and as I find them cool looking and the fact they covered not only the Starfleet crew but also many of the aliens from the past to the then present. Below is a picture of my original crew figures as well as some of the Aliens from their show and movies.

My Original Star Trek Playmates Figures

You know what just for the fun of it and cause I love going back and playing old NES games on my trusty old RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) I picked the day May 25, 2016 to just play around and try to see how far I could get in Star Trek: 25th Anniversary in just 1 hours of play! Now this game is one I played when I was younger and never could get very far as I have found it to be a very hard play, but will it be as difficult as I remember? The weather outside was around 84 degrees with the sun pocking out from some hazy clouds, I decided to go up against the game around 6pm and stop at 7pm and see just how far in the game I could get! So with a tall glass of water I was ready to travel to 8-Bit space. I started these two hours with big dreams and hope that I would make it far and to no one’s shock I didn’t make it off the first level…as frustration of playing the same opening stage sent me into a poor game play frenzy! At first I forgot that the Blood Worms can hurt you if you don’t bring the flower to the medicine man of the village and then after getting the eye key and once in the tunnel I kept screwing up the patterns you had to memorize on the wall to get through the doors and by the time 7am came around I was still on the first level! During my little 8-Bit quest my landing Party was me as Kirk and always Spock but sometimes I would switch McCoy with a Security Officer. The game play on this game is a little clunky and has your characters follow a grid to get from point A to pint B. Still as challenging as I remember and I recommend old school gamers to give this one a try, as it’s a fun play that offers enough tough moments to make for long time play. Below is some pictures I took while playing the game.

Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES in the RESStar Trek 25th Anniversary NES RES Still 1Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES Res Still 2

Want to just touch up on this as I fell many Trekkies will agree that there is nothing more sexy than a woman who embraces geeky culture like Comic Books, Video Games and Science Fiction Films/Shows and a woman in a Starfleet uniform is pretty top notch stuff. I mean who could resist the beauty of my favorite cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty dressed as a Starfleet officer? I know I cant! But I just wanted to let all you true nerd girls out in the world that you are appreciated and keep being you!

Ivy Doomkitty star trekhottie star trek fanblonde star trek fan

So before we get into the Marvel Comic Star Trek Original Crew Series I would like to take a brief moment and just kind of give you a crash course of the main crew members of the USS Enterprise, I feel that many of you all ready know and love the characters but I figured on a slim chance their could be some newbies reading this update to the Star Trek universe I should do my duty and educate you with some slight knowledge and research. So sit back and relax and get to know the crew of the Enterprise, as I will guarantee that by the end they will seem like old friends.

Captain James Tiberius Kirkwilliam shatner

James Tiberius Kirk is the Captain of the USS Enterprise, he was born in Riverside, Iowa and as a youngster witnessed a massacre that claimed 4,000 lives by the hands of a madman. Kirk went on to join the Starfleet Academy and became the only person to every pass the Kobayashi Maru test that was designed to be unbeatable; he did so by thinking outside the box and reprograming it! He survived on many ships and even thought a class at the Academy all the while getting promotions until finally becoming the youngest Captain in Starfleet history! Kirk took over the USS Enterprise for a five year mission, and along this journey he made friends and lots of enemies as Kirk always did what was right. Kirk is also a ladies man as he has hooked up with not only human women but also a few aliens! Kirk is noble, cocky, adventures and smart and has earned the love and respect of his crew as well as higher ups of StarFleet even though he tends to break lots of rules and disobey orders. Actor William Shatner played Captain Kirk in the series who is also known for his TV Roles in shows like T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911, The Practice and TekWorld! Shatner is an icon for Sci-Fi fans and remains active in acting even at his age of 85!

Chief Science Officer SpockLeonard Nimoy

Spock is Vulcan who’s mother is human and this gives him slight emotions, something that full blooded Vulcans find illogical! His father is the very wise and highly respected Sarek, who loves his son but also finds his friendships on the Enterprise odd. On the U.S.S. Enterprise Spock has two roles: science officer and first officer and is best friend to Captain Kirk and will do whatever it takes to keep the ship and its crew safe and is very loyal to the Starfleet, Spock even gave his own life to save the lives of the crew when Kahn attacked the ship causing a radiation leak. After being reborn thanks to the Genesis Project, he rejoins the crew and takes his position on the Enterprise again and later becomes a federation ambassador where he tries to patch up the relationship between them and later also tries to help Romulus from a supernova that leaves him trapped in a parallel timeline. Actor Leonard Nimoy played Spock in the series who is also known for his TV roles in such shows as Mission: Impossible, In Search Of, Ancient Mysteries and Fringe. Sadly on February 27, 2015 the world lost Nimoy from complications of COPD. Leonard Nimoy was and still is a icon of geek culture and beyond.

Dr Leonard Bones McCoyDeforest Kelley

Leonard H. “Bones” McCoy is the medical officer for the USS Enterprise and is also very close friends with Captain Kirk. He is divorced and would later marry Natira, the priestess of Yonada, and has one daughter. McCoy at one point has to take the essence of Spock who has passed away and return it to his body on the planet Vulcon in order to return his friend and some time verbal punching bag Spock back to full life. While he gets annoyed with Spock and his logical ways, it’s clear throughout the series and movies that he really does care about him and looks at him as a good friend. While he is good at what he does in the medical field,  McCoy can be very tense and can get very angry when requests are made he feels is impossible or to demanding. One thing that has eaten away at McCoy his whole life is the fact he helped his father commit suicide when he was gravely ill, and after his father’s death a cure was found that would have cured him. McCoy is a loyal sometimes cranky crew member who is the best damn medical doctor you could ever ask for, and later in his Star Fleet career he would become an Admiral. Actor DeForest Kelley played McCoy in the series who is also known for his roles in such TV shows as The Lone Ranger, Route 66 and Bonanza among many other western shows. Kelley would sadly pass away on June 11, 1999 at the age of 79 from stomach cancer. The world lost a great character actor and one of my favorite characters of the Star Trek universe.

Commander Montgomery %22Scotty%22 ScottJames Doohan

Montgomery “Scotty” Scott acts as the Enterprise’s second officer and chief engineer and is truly the man who makes the star ship come alive and keeps up the maintenance and acts as the miracle worker when things need to be fixed in a pinch or even under pressure of battle. While many of the crew are his close friends, he looks at the Enterprise as a son and treats it with high respect and acts as if the ship is truly his responsibility. When both Kirk and Spock are off ship, Scotty becomes the acting commander of the ship, even though he would rather just be the ship’s engineer. After his retirement from the Star Fleet, Scotty gets aboard a shuttle that crashes in a Dyson Sphere and uses the transporter to store himself in the buffer for decades and is recovered by the USS Enterprise-D and its commander Captain Picard, and even in the future he saves the ship he loves one last time. Smart, witty and lovable, Scotty is a guy who is loyal to his fellow crew members and his ship. Actor James Doohan played Scotty in the original series and is also known for his TV roles in Encounter, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The F.B.I. to name a few. Sadly in 1994 James Doohan passed away at the age of 85 from pulmonary fibrosis. Scotty is a great character and really is the blood that keeps the star ship up and running.

Lieutenant Hikaru SuluGeorge Takei

Hikaru Sulu is the third officer, a Lieutenant and senior helmsman of the USS Enterprise and later becomes a Captain and commands the USS Excelsior. Sulu is very wise and good at what he does and has pulled the starship out of danger many times. He is a master of fencing, botany and gymnastics and when need be could and has taken control of the Enterprise as acting officer in charge. Sulu would later in life go on to have a daughter named Demora Sulu who as well is working for Star Fleet. Actor George Takei plays Sulu in the original series and also starred in such TV Shows as Batman Beyond, The Simpsons and Archer to name a very select few. Takei is still active in acting and even runs his own social media that is filled with some funny thoughts and posts.  He is 79 years old as of this update going up.

Lieutenant Nyota UhuraNichelle Nichols

Nyota Uhura is a lieutenant and chief communications officer for the Enterprise and is well respected for her talents and skills. She is skilled at singing and has entertained her fellow shipmates with songs during off duty get togethers. During her time with the Federation, she has been promoted to lieutenant commander and then full commander later on. She as well as the rest of the crew also get in trouble when they disobey orders to get the reborn body of Spock off Genesis and goes back to just being communications officer under Kirk’s crew. It’s implied that she and Scotty might have been romantic together and in the new Trek universe she is dating/romantic with Spock. Actress Nichelle Nichols plays Uhura in the original series, and she has also been on TV shows like Futurama, Batman The Animated Series and Heroes. While slowed down, Nichelle is still active as an actress and is 83 years old as of this update posting.

Ensign Pavel ChekovWalter Koenig

Pavel Andreievich Chekov is the navigator for the Enterprise and is super smart and an honor graduate from the Space Academy. When needed he can also fill in as the ship’s science officer when Spock is away and is very capable of doing so. He later gets promoted to a lieutenant as well as tactical officer and chief of security. He is loyal to Captain Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew and even helped Kirk hijack the Enterprise so they could get the newly reborn Spock off of the Genesis planet. Actor Walter Koenig played Chekov in the original series and also made appearances in such shows as Ben Casey, Columbo and Babylon 5. Koenig is still active as an actor and is 79 years old as of this update’s posting.

Nurse Christine ChapelMajel Barrett

Christine Chapel is the head nurse of the Enterprise and works under the orders of Dr. McCoy. She mostly stays on the ship when others explore planets but has left from time to time. While originally she was trying to work things out with her fiancé Dr. Roger Korby, his disappearance left her without a man, and she began finding herself having feelings for Spock.  The fling would end up going nowhere. Later in her career, she becomes a doctor aboard the Enterprise and later is stationed at the Starfleet headquarters. Actress Majel Barrett played Chapel.  She was the married to show creator Gene Roddenberry and appeared as the voice for the computers in many of the Star Trek shows and movies. Barrett passed away in 2008 from leukemia.  She was 76 years old.

Spock Kirk Scotty

So that was just a very brief look at the crew of the USS Enterprise and many great facts and achievements from them have been left out of this quick look as I really think that if you have never watched this show or movies, you really should check them out for yourself as they are truly great science fiction watches. So I guess we should beam onto the Marvel Comic series based on Star Trek’s original crew, and I should also thank Mavericks Cards And Comics, Bell Book And Comic, Dark Star and Lone Star Comics for having issues in stock so that I could do this review. I am also getting a message from my communicator from Kirk telling me to remind you 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 i’s art and story. So if you’re wearing a red shirt, you might want to change out of it now as it’s time to go on 18 missions with the crew of the USS Enterprise. So beam us to it Scotty!

Marvel Star Trek 1

Star Trek # 1  ***
Released in 1980    Cover Price .40    Marvel    #1 of 18

A powerful light cloud being is floating in space and is destroying ships and what ever else gets in its way! It’s been years sense the USS Enterprise went on a mission and Kirk is able to finally talk his way back into becoming the Captain of it once more and is setting out to try and stop what ever this thing is from reaching anymore planets, his crew has many familiar faces on board like Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura as well as some new faces including Captain Decker who is forced out of running the ship and into a officer role on this mission by Starfleet and Kirk who is taking over causing some major heat between the two. At the Enterprise Crew meeting they watch in horror live as a space station is attacked and just vanishes thanks to the light cloud! And worse just before this the teleport was not ready on the remodeled Enterprise and many new crew members lost their lives, and this brings aboard a “drafted” Dr. McCoy who was retired and Ilia a Deltan who will act as the ships navigator on this dangerous mission. Decker and Ilia know each other and its clear that this once Captain had a relationship with her. While taking off on their mission the Enterprise gets stuff in a wormhole along side a meteor and Decker over rides Kirks command to use Phasers and uses torpedo’s instead and this saves the ship damage and gets them out of the wormhole but also causes even more of a rift between the two Captains! Once safe and back on track a small ship asks to board the Enterprise and to Kirks shock and joy the pilot of the small ship is Spock!

This Marvel Comic series starts off with an adaptation of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and to be honest it was a wise choice as it was a great way to showcase the crew as well as bring everyone up to date on what was happing with the original crew. Plus it also helped add to the amazing over all enjoyment this comic reader and Trekkie had relaxing and reading it and remembering back to the first time I had seen the movie as well as read this issue in my younger days. The story this far has Admiral Kirk hooking and crooking his way back into becoming the Captain of the Enterprise that is being sent out on a important mission to stop an unknown cloud object from reaching the planet that its two days away from. Throw in some drama between the ships former Captain as well as some old relationship baggage and your have this issue in a nutshell. Captain Kirk in this issue is a man on a mission and his mission is not just save people from the unknown that’s heading their way but to also get command of the Enterprise once more. Kirk is as cocky as ever but it’s clear he is slightly outdated when it comes to all the improvements that have been made to his ship. Captain Decker is a man of pride and he feels betrayed by Kirk and Star Fleet as he is taken off Captain duty and forced to serve under the man who weaseled the position away from him, but Decker is also a slime ball when it comes to his love life as its reveled that he just up and left Ilia without even so much as a goodbye. Speaking of Ilia she is straight business and wants to do the best at her job, but while she puts on a strong front it’s clear she was hurt by Decker’s past behavior. Dr. McCoy is upset that he was forced back into active duty as he was enjoying retirement, but quickly comes around when he sees that his good friend Kirk is the one who really wanted his help on this mission. Spock starts the issue off on his home planet trying to ride himself of emotions that his human side has and soon finds he cannot and returns to the Enterprise unannounced and is a sight for sore eyes for his friends. The rest of the original crew Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura all are present but are background players. The Cloud Light Thing in the sky is clearly a force to be wreckend with as it not only takes down a federation station but also a Klingon ship! What is this cloud…I guess we will have to read more issues to find out! The plot while slow is a good way to reintroduce the crew to fans as well as to new readers and that’s why it was wise to kick this series off with the film adaptation as it was the new Trek product out and could help kick of Trek-Mania for youngsters of 1980. The cover is cool and eye catching for classic Science Fiction fans and the art inside done by the team of Dave Cockrum & Klaus Janson (Inks) and is pretty great stuff with most the characters looking close to the actors who played them. Over all a great solid first issue to kick off Marvels Star Trek series and makes me really looking forward to the next mission…I mean issue.

Marvel Star Trek 2

Star Trek # 2  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #2 of 18

Captain Kirk welcomes Spock back into the crew as he takes his place as the science officer, but while everyone is happy to see him, Spock shows no emotions toward them and this causes some tension between he and McCoy. Spock also helps Scotty figure out a way to save fuel and go into warp drive and while flying they run into the cloud that attacks! After a very powerful blast the Enterprise is in trouble until they are able to send the cloud a message of peace and that attacks stops leaving them puzzled and relieved that the cloud has given up its aggression. As the Enterprise flies through the cloud the find at in the middle is a ship so huge its like nothing they have ever seen before, and worse a living energy comes aboard and kills a security officer and tries to steal the ships records and when Spock tries to stop it Ilia gets the beings rage and it makes her vanish into thin air. The alien cloud ship then pulls the Enterprise into its docking and sends a robotic version of Ilia onto the ship who is suppose to record the everyday functions of humans for a master named V’ger, while the real Ilia is deceased this robot has her memories and Kirk decides that Decker should be her guide on the ship hoping that the relationship between the two can help take it off course for Earth as it’s now only six hours away! In the end Spock lurks in the shadows and gives a crew member the Vulcan nerve pinch and the issue ends leaving us not knowing why he did his action.

This second issue in the Movie Adaptation part is the set up for what the story is really about as we learn the cloud is really around a giant ship that is a beings named V’ger who records and loves knowledge. The Enterprise is the only hope for Earth as they are the only ones who have gotten this close to the ship and have the key to maybe save Earth in the forum of the robotic Ilia. Captain Kirk is as sure of himself as ever and his war of words and control with Decker rises to anger in this issue as every suggestion Decker gives the Captain is ignored and this even leads to Ilia being killed causing tension between the to very hostile. The thing is Kirk is not listening to Decker but is listening to Spock who he trusts and who he doesn’t feel intimidated by, and worse Kirk orders Decker to be the guide to the robotic Ilia and try to charm this machine with the memories of his one time lover in order to save Earth. Dr. McCoy is the man who figures out the make up of the robot and is the possible key to save them all if they can teach the machine to bring the message back to it’s master that people deserve to live. Bring the question who or what is V’ger and why does he want to combine with the “Creator” and if he does what does this mean for the universe? This is the main question that should and was on the minds of readers of this comic. While besides Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Decker the rest of the crew have small parts but are all very important to the issue as their actions and jobs move the plot along. The Science Fiction action is high in this issue as we get a space battle as well as a semi fight with an alien energy being that leaves two crew members dead. Plus the issue ends on a cliffhanger as Spock knocks out one of his own fellow crew and his reasoning is left with the message “Continued Next Issue”! The issues cover is pretty great and has the energy being reeking havoc on the Enterprise bridge and the art inside is once more done by Dave Cockrum who does a solid job of capturing the actors likeness in some shots, while in others his art seems a little rushed. Over all a solid issue that moves the plot along and is doing a good job of capturing the mood and feel of the movie it’s based on. So lets get to issue three and see why Spock did what he did and who or what V’ger is!

Marvel Star Trek 3

Star Trek # 3  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #3 of 18

Decker is trying all he can to get to the memories of Ilia who is very robotic and just wants more and more data for her master V’ger who plans on absorbing the crew after he gets the information he seeks. Meanwhile Spock has knocked out his fellow crew member so that he could get into a space suit and float into the center of the ship that he has figured out is V’ger! Kirk goes out after Spock and they find the V’ger breaks down all that is kills and stores it as part of it’s own being, and when Spock attempts to mind meld with it and is overloaded with its power but finds the V’ger is a living machine that comes from a planet of living machines and his quest is to find out the meaning of its life as well as find God to get the answers. V’ger has reached Earth and is about to kill all humans living on it but Kirk as an idea and says he has the answers its looking for and after a small outburst V’ger allows the Enterprise to enter into it’s main brain frame were Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker and the robot Ilia exit the ship and find the V’ger is really a missing NASA satellite called the Voyager Six that went missing 300 years ago and that its real creator is man! Decker enters the satellite’s missing code ending its reign of terror as it now has the answers its seeks but this turns Decker and Ilia into light beings and the next evolution for mankind. In the end Kirk and the Enterprise crew have saved the day and head into space for many more adventures.

The movie adaptation ends here and has Kirk and the crew having to use their wits and knowledge to stop the destruction of Earth. So V’ger is really just a missing NASA satellite that 300 years ago did not get to fulfill its mission of sending back data is collected to the space station after it was lost in a black hole. So in reality many people lost their lives all over a satellite that could not share its data with NASA. Kirk is very quick with his plan as he is able to save the Earth by bluffing and then able to prove that man is V’ger’s creator when he comes up with the code that is needed to unload its data. Decker is also a hero as he manually enters the code after they learn the satellite has been damaged and this causes Decker to become something more than human and as well be with Ilia forever. Spock who was having issues of his own due to his failed test on Vulcon has his answers and at one point cries for V’ger who will not truly have his. The nice touch to the end of the comic is that the Enterprise heads out into space looking for more adventures and is the perfect set up for this Marvel Comic series. The cover is great and has The Enterprise in battle showcasing the ship and what it can do, the inside art is once more done by Dave Cockrum and is fitting and better looking than issue two. Marvel Comics did a great job of adapting this film into a comic and I could say that in the 80’s and 90’s no one did these types of comics as good as Marvel. So with this Motion Picture adaptation out of the way lets see what new adventures the Marvel Bullpen have in store for us.

Marvel Star Trek 4

Star Trek # 4  ***
Released in 1980    Cover Price .40    Marvel    #4 of 18

The Enterprise has been selected to transport an alien named Raytag M’Gora who is insane and was captured and must be returned to prison that he escaped from. Also on this mission they must play host to Ambassador R’Kgg who’s people are open to negations with the federation, while Kirk don’t mind given the Ambassador a ride he is very angry about the prisoner as his ship is not set up to transport a crazed alien like that. While beaming Raytag M’Gora aboard the alien breaks free and runs amok until Spock is able to use the Vulcan Nerve Pinch to knock him out and place him into his cell. Raytag M’Gora begs Kirk not to return him to the prison planet as he claims it’s a terrible place and it is what drove him mad and warns them if they get to close to the area he will not be the only prisoner! The closer they get crew members begin to see werewolves and monsters with Sulu and Chekov seeing a ghost. Kirk don’t know what to make of these supernatural sightings but believes his crew and soon comes face to face with Count Dracula who appears on the bridge and knocks security around before disappearing, adding to the mystery that is unfolding on the Enterprise. As Dracula escapes he makes his way to Ambassador R’Kgg and kills him, and after doing so the evil visions disappear until the Enterprise finds a Haunted House planet and Kirk, Spock, McCoy and other crew members beam down and find a young woman being attacked by Frankenstein’s Monster! They are able to defeat the Monster but soon find themselves surrounded by monsters and the young blonde woman tells them she has been held prisoner there for a long time and wants to leave. But no one is leaving as well armed Klingons appears and take the landing party prisoners and send a message to acting commander Scotty that they have his friends and want the ship turned over. In the cell Raytag M’Gora lets out a crazy laugh as our issues ends.

The Crew of the Enterprise vs. the monsters is the best way to describe this fun and entertaining issue, and while it does not feel like a Star Trek episode it does feel like an episode of the animated series mixed with Scooby-Doo. The plot has Kirk and crew getting tricked into a Haunted House world while trying to deliver a alien prisoner back to prison and it appears that the illusions and plan was that of the Klingons who hate the federation and want to see Kirk and his crew pay for crimes they feel the universe has infected them with. Kirk is right to not want to take this mission as the ship and crew was not prepared for the evil and madness that waited them during this one. Spock tries his best to put logic to what he is seeing as many of the monsters that appeared were based on legend of Earth’s novels and ghost stories, but he is also the one who finds that the monsters are made of a living organism. Ambassador R’Kgg seemed like a good natured alien and while killed supposedly by Dracula I think there is more to R’Kgg than what we have seen in this issue and almost think he is playing possum on the words of Raytag M’Gora who was the last person he talked to. Speaking of Raytag M’Gora while I think he is crazy and has a violent streak in him, I do think he was trying to warn the Enterprise of what was awaiting them at the Haunted House planet. Plus who is this young blonde woman and why is she in this Haunted House world? Nice to see that the Klingons are the ones behind this set up and fake haunted planet, as it makes sense that they would do whatever they can to capture Kirk and his crew. Not to mention a highlight for this Monster Kid comic reader is the fact that Dracula from the Marvel Comic series Tomb Of Dracula has a cameo as the issues also has a werewolf, ghost, grim reaper and Frankenstein’s Monster to name a few of the ghouls who attack. While again it does not feel like the TV Show nor the movie that spawned this series it does have a nice comic book feel to it and that’s what makes it fun. The cover is cool and the art is still being done by Dave Cockrum making this solid and fun issue for this reader. While again many of the crew take small roles its great to see Kirk and Spock take on monsters even if they are not real and makes me look forward to how this mission will work out for them, so lets not wait and move onto issue five.

Marvel Star Trek 5

Star Trek # 5   **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #5 of 18

The Klingons to show Kirk on this Haunted House planet they mean business kill one of his crew members as everyone watches on unable to help. They then turn on Kirk and the crew and take Spock hostage and they beam up to their Bird-Of-Pray were they tell Spock that he is the only one that will survive from the Enterprise as they have orders to kill the crew and take the ship to learn how it’s new warp drive works! While Kirk and his crew deal with the unknown woman they beamed aboard that they find out is not human and worse the Kingons attack their warp drives and leaves the Enterprise stranded in that location! Spock finds out that the “Monsters” that are attacking his fellow crew members is due in part to a man who was a Horror Movie archivist who is being used as a weapon by The Klingons! Working with the Klingons on this take over mission is Raytag M’Gora who has a projector implanted in his skull that helps bring the monsters to the ship, and we also find out that the unknown woman is the image of the “weapons” wife! Spock figures out and is able to warn The Enterprise to destroy the image of the woman that triggers the archivist to wake up that in turn over loads the projector inside Raytag M’Gora killing him and sending the monsters to the Klingons ship! Spock and the Archivist beam aboard the Enterprise and they leave the area and complete there mission and deliver the dead body of Raytag to the prison planet.

The monsters of the movies run wild on the Enterprise thanks to a horror movie fan! The plot of this issue has The Klingons using a new weapon they developed that allows a persons fears to come to life against the Enterprise so they can take over the ship and learn new federation secrets, but thanks to the brilliant mind of Spock the plan not only fails but also backfires as they become the target of the monsters. Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise Crew are helpless in this saga as The Klingons dismantle their warp drive, take Spock hostage and have the monsters under their control, but I should say while the odds were grim Kirk very lost the fighting spirit. Spock meanwhile even as a hostage keeps his wits just like all Vulcans would and is the brains behind turning the tables on his captures. The Klingons are cold-blooded killers and not only murder one Star Fleet security officer but also have plans in place to kill everyone on the Enterprise! The monsters while just made real by imagination and memories are still a force of destruction and murder, and the poor sap who is creating them is just a pawn in a sick game of ship stealing. Raytag as well is a pawn but a willing one as he felt by helping the Klingons they could save him from a fate of being a prisoner the rest of his life, as for the mystery woman she is just a sad case as she is just the memory of the Archivist’s murdered wife. The classic banter between Spock and McCoy is present in this issue and that’s always fun to read as it really made me flashback to many of the scenes from the films were the two were at odds over silly disagreements or just McCoy not understanding the lack of emotions of Vulcans. While this was a silly plot for the most part I still found myself enjoying reading it and wondering what adventures the Enterprise would have next. Being five issues in I must also say that my favorite character has to be Spock as while not done perfect and for some reason is slightly off he seems to shine more than most the other crew members. Kirk is great just as is McCoy but while they are as well close to their movie and show characters they still are slightly off. The art in this issue is done by Dave Cockrum again and while it is good for some reason some panels seem off as in one panel has Kirk looking like a pig face version of The Phantom Of The Opera and another has McCoy looking like a bug eyed monster, very odd a very sloppy. The cover is great and eye catching and leaves you wanting to see why McCoy is killing a woman with a phaser. Over all a slightly above average comic adventure of the crew of the Enterprise that leaves you wanting to see what the next adventure awaits us.

Marvel Star Trek 6

Star Trek # 6  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #6 of 18

The Enterprise is picked to escort Ambassador Phral of the planet Yannid VI to a signing that will allow them to join the federation, but after the transporter has an issue and when Phral appears onboard he has a knife in his back and is dead! Kirk calls the palace on Yannid VI and they confirm that the Ambassador was alive and well when he left to beam aboard The Enterprise and this could cause major issues of them joining the Federation. Kirk assigns Spock and McCoy to try and figure out what happened while he tries to talk peace and confirm that they will find the murderer of their citizen. While investigating Spock and McCoy find lots of odd details about this murder like that fact it appears he has dead 15 minutes before he was beamed up as well as all video of the beam up is missing due to a power surge. Tension is running wild on Yannid VI as many of the people want to join the Federation while others want to join the Klingons and this becomes dangerous when Sulu, Chekov and a female crew member DiFalco are attacked at a bar and are able to escaped when they are beamed aboard the Enterprise. Kirk has been very edgy sense the death of the Ambassador even snapping at his crew and finally comes clean and tells them about when he was younger he on accident shot Phral on a rescue mission that at the time was a prince and put the would be ruler into a coma making him miss his turn of ruling. Spock has news for the Captain as he thinks the body on the ship is that of an imposter set up by the real Phral who wants revenge on Kirk and wants to start a new life. Kirk, Spock and McCoy put on disguises and beam down to Yannid to find a famed plastic surgeon as they think she might be helping him on this set up, but she is killed and Kirk and crew are found by the Prince and his guards who blame them for the death of the Doctor as well as the Ambassador! Spock using his logical mind is able to trick Phral who has had plastic sugary into exposing his true idientity and this clears Kirk of wrong doing as well helps Yannid VI in joining the Federation as they see Kirk and crew are men of their word.

Spock does it again as just like Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy or Batman he uses logic and great detective skills to solve a crime of murder, set up and betrayal. This issues plot is this an Ambassador who is to sign for his planet to join the federation and who has bad blood with Kirk is killed while beaming aboard the Enterprise and this leads to Kirk being the prime suspect and puts a strain on them joining the greater cause of peace with the Federation, but thanks to McCoy and Spock they are able to find the answers to who is the real killer and expose a plan that would have not only caused Kirk to loose his career but also could have caused war! Kirk is a man with lots of stress and some guilt as he feels like an accident when he was a young Star Fleet member left a man who was to be King in a coma making him loss his chance at ruling, not to mention he was sent to save the Prince and in turn is the one who ended up hurting him. But while Kirk is short tempered he still does his job and puts his two best crew members on the case to solve who set this murder up. Spock and McCoy are fast and solve the case in short time as all the evidence don’t add up and they are onto the twisted plan that was put into place thanks to video from Yannid and the body onboard. Nice to see Sulu and Chekov get to show off a little as they sword fight off their attackers in the bar! Ambassador Phral is a bitter, greedy and lying man who set up his own “death” in order to get away with stolen money. His actions caused a Civil War on his home planet as well as could have caused a war with the Federation! Not to mention he murdered a doctor as well as some poor soul to get away with his crimes, but thanks to Spock and McCoy his cover is blown and he is taken away for punishment. This was another great adventure and love that Sherlock Holmes reference and feel to it, not to mention McCoy gets to deliver “She’s Dead Jim” during the books final. The cover is ok and nothing special and the art is done by Dave Cockrum again and is pretty good, I should also note that Marvel’s Editor In Chief at this time was the one and only Jim Shooter! To sum it up a good issue that made for a fun read that blended Science Fiction with Detective touches that entertained for sure.

Marvel Star Trek 7

Star Trek # 7   **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #7 of 18

The Enterprise is sent to a planet that in a short time will be surrounded by a poisoned cloud that will leave its 200 residents dead and the world un-livable. Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy and two security officers beam down to the planet to try and talk to its people to come with them in order to survive. Once on the planet Kirk and crew soon find that the simple minded aliens have been awaiting them and have giant statues built of the crew members in town that have been their for millenniums, and worse they will not leave as they think Kirk, Spock and McCoy will protect them from the approaching death cloud. While Scotty takes control of the Enterprise and tries to disrupt the cloud with phasers and fail Kirk, McCoy and Spock follow a alien who is about to evolve and find that these aliens are very smart and when Spock mind melds with the alien he finds that the planet has a defense system that defeats the cloud and that this alien race can see the future and as our crew leaves they have more questions than answers.

A planet is in danger over a dangerous cloud and Kirk and crew must try and stop it and save the alien race that dwells on the planet is the plot of this issue and while solid and good it does kind of feel like a throw away issue, as the dangerous cloud has a been there done that feel to it. The threat seems high for the crew as always as they must risk their own necks in order to do their job for being the saviors of the universes. The Alien race are simple weird looking creatures who are all kind hearted, but while they seem dim witted they are in fact slightly more intelligent than they appear and can also see into the future. Kirk in this issue goes to the planet to try and talk to it’s people about beaming aboard the Enterprise in order to survive but finds himself stuck on the planet and death approaching and must send his own ship and crew on what could be a suicide mission in attacking the cloud to try and break it up! Kirk is under lots of pressure but as always he holds his cool and helps lead the charge in everyone’s survival. McCoy and the security guards are just around and don’t offer too much to this issue but are at least cool to see around. Scotty steps up this issue and burns his hands bad trying to beam down Kirk and his landing party even after he warned them this was not a good idea and as well takes control of the Enterprise and tries his best to defeat the cloud and protect his fellow crew members. Spock is the true hero once more as his actions and quick thinking is what saves the day and gives him the idea of pulling a lever that activated the planets defense. The Cloud is just that a cloud that floats around space and spreads poisoned air and radiation to planets it passes by. The cover is pretty great and is very eye catching and the art inside is done by Mike Nasser and is really good! Over all a good issue but nothing special.

Marvel Star Trek 8

Star Trek # 8  **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #8 of 18

The Mox an alien race has attacked The Enterprise and has the ship in a force field that is also sending out electronic waves that is driving the crew mad with massive headaches as well as is draining their weapons and warp drives of energy and if this continues to much longer the ship will explode. Kirk and crew are in bad shape and when Spock is kidnapped and beamed aboard the enemy ship it is now not only a battle for survival but also now a rescue mission. Kirk, McCoy, Chekov as well as a few fellow crew members beam down to a near by planet that is populated by The Mox and start their rescue mission as the Enterprise is still in a bad way in space. While on the planet they are attacked with older style weapons from guns to spears and find another race is on the planet that as well are after The Mox! On the ship Professor Fowler is dying from a heart element as Dr. Christine Chapel tries to explain to her that the ship is stuck due to an attack and her life is in danger as she needs a heart transplant! On the planet Kirk soon finds out that the aliens that attacked them are called The Orgs and they are on a mission to attack The Mox who are really robots who are at war with the Orgs who they find threatening as they are battling over the planet they both share. In the end Spock is able to use his skills to free the Enterprise from the force field that was holding it and in turn Kirk uses the ships phasers to stun all The Orgs and with the help of Professor Fowler who sneaks herself onto the planet she with her new robotic heart is able to bring peace between The Mox and The Orgs and this mission comes to an end.

The war between machines and humanoids takes place in this Star Trek issue as they cant get along as one wants what the other has and the other lives in fear of what the other wants to take away. Kirk and the crew are under attack as well as The Mox who are the machines go on the attack and hold them at bay as they want to steal Spock who they think can talk to some simple creatures who have strong psychic powers that live on the planet and think they can protect them from the attacking Orgs who are planning to go to total war that night, so as you can see once more Spock is the main hero who not only helps The Enterprise escape the force field trap that is about to blow up the ship from the pressure but also helps stop the war that is about to break out. So what I have learned these eight issues so far is that while Captain Kirk is in charge the really hero in Marvel Comics eyes was Spock. Professor Fowler is a character who is very sick and is in need of a heart transplant who for some reason gets a second wind knocks out several crew members, hijacks the transporter room and beams herself to the planet as the war is going on, is able to get a robotic heart and stay on the planet and brings peace to the two feuding sides. But really you could have cut Fowler out and the story would have been just as impactful and a little less mashed up feeling. The cover has Spock being surrounded by The Mox and is ok and the art inside is done by the team of Dave Cockrum & Ricardo Villamonte and looks pretty good and the characters look like the actors pretty well. Over all another fun issue and shows that Star Trek and Marvel Comics made a good team to bring entertaining issues to readers hands.

Marvel Star Trek 9

Star Trek # 9  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #9 of 18

The Enterprise is heading for some down time and while heading back to a base station they find a missing federation ship named the Endeavor that has been missing for 22 years! They try to communicate with the ghost ship and get no response, but they do get attacked by the ship and must defend themselves and shot down the attacking ship. Once the Endeavor is down Kirk and crew beam aboard it and find the crew all long dead and killed by phaser shots, and worse one of the Enterprise crew members becomes possessed and tries to murder his friends! Spock and McCoy get the possessed crew member under control and they all head back aboard The Enterprise and learn from the ghost ships logs that a madness swept the ship and caused people to become murderous and savage after picking up an 89 year old woman who was supposed to have died at the age of 36 who is the grand mother of Enterprise crew member Karen Hester who is a zoologist and one time lover of Captain Kirk. The mission is clear now and Kirk along with Spock, McCoy and fellow crew head to the freezing cold planet and find that it held a secret and illegal lab that was conducting transporter beam experiments that caused many deaths and the possessed crew members have the spirit of those who died being guanine pigs and want to kill Karen as she is related to the head doctor who conducted these experiments. In the end Kirk figures out a way to trap the possessed spirits that call themselves Unity on the planet and blows up the secret lab with them inside and in the end the infected crew members are getting better and Karen transfers off The Enterprise as she still loves Kirk and knows she has to let him go.

This feels like an episode of the classic Star Trek series as the plot has a ghost Starfleet ship being taken over by the spirits of people who were killed during transporter experiments and now want revenge against the doctor who conducted them, who has long been dead and they confuse her relative and currant Enterprise crew member as their target and its up to Kirk to save the day. The Unity is the spirits and by all accounts they are very dangerous as they can force living people to turn on each other in fits of rage and don’t care about anything else besides revenge. Kirk is calm and shows why he is the captain of the Enterprise as he is quick witted and able to trick The Unity to it’s death as well as saves his infected crew members from a death that would be right around the corner, so for this issue Kirk is the true hero! Karen Hester is a woman who while a member of the Federation is really just hung up on Kirk as she dated him for three years and can not get over the fact they broke up, she is an interesting character as he grandmother was responsible for the deaths that made up The Unity. The rest of the crew are around and play background characters very well and add their own touches to the adventures that unfolds before us readers eyes. The cool thing about this issue is that it allows Kirk to be the hero and not Spock like so many other issues in this series has allowed. The cover is pretty cool as The Unity looks great, but the crew members look pretty sloppy. The art is done by Dave Cockrum & Frank Springer and looks good and fitting for this sci-fi comic based on a TV Show and Movie. Over all issue nine is really solid and one that was a great read and captured the mood and feel of Star Trek really well.

Marvel Star Trek 10

Star Trek # 10  **1/2
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #10 of 18

Captain Kirk is getting over the flu and worse the planet the Enterprise is researching is surrounded by magnetic fields and a ground team must take some readings form it’s surface. Spock and McCoy volunteer and after crashing on the planet thanks to the magnetic field they soon find themselves without a way to communicate with the Enterprise and have even stumbled upon a primitive race that is about to sacrifice a woman named Shulu to the dragon god, and after she escapes their grip she runs into Spock and McCoy to protect her from the angry tribe that want to see her dead! Spock and McCoy’s phasers clog up as well thanks to the magnetic field and while McCoy and the girl get away, Spock is captured and forced to be a slave to the Dragon Lizard worshiping tribe as McCoy along with the smaller tribe that Shulu comes from come up with a plan to rescue Spock that has McCoy teaching them how to make and use bow and arrows. A rescue mission happens and Spock is set free and the evil tribe leader is killed and McCoy soon learns that his new friends are just as cruel as the ones they over threw and Spock and McCoy find themselves once more being hunted as the new tribe in power turns on them for questioning their customs, in the end Kirk and a shuttle comes down and saves the pair from what would have been a for sure death at the hands of primitive humanoids.

This tenth issue adventure is pretty good but also feels a little lackluster and almost like a throwaway episode of the show as they stretch the plot out as long as they could and than padded the rest of the issue with looks at the uniforms and gear of crew members to meet the page count. The plot is this Spock and McCoy get stuck on a planet with primitive man and save the life of a young woman who was going to be killed to please a false god, Spock gets kidnapped and enslaved and this forces McCoy to team with the smaller tribe and break federation rules when he teaches them how to make new weapons and defeat their enemies and saves Spock. And before the pair is saved they learn that one mans evil ways just leads to more evil ways. Captain Kirk in this issues takes a back seat as he is sick with the flu and only in the end comes to his friends aid when they are late to report back to the Enterprise. Spock is noble and stays behind to save the life of the young woman and McCoy and becomes a slave for his deeds, Spock truly is a logical and iconic hero character. McCoy shows that he is a loyal friend to Spock as well as proves he will not stand by if human lives are in danger. The cover for this issue is great and makes it look like in the issue Spock was going to gladiator fight with a primitive man and while that would have been amazing and fit the tag line “ Spock…The Barbarian” it sadly did not live up to that epicness and instead we got a middle of the road fun story. The art in this issue is done by Leo Duranona and Klaus Janson and for the post part looks rushed and seems unfinished, and besides the ships and a few panels of crew members it’s the sloppiest work this far in the whole series up to this issue. To sum it up a cool read but by far the weakest issue this far, so lets just move on past this one.

Marvel Star Trek 11

Star Trek # 11  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #11 of 18

Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise watch the logs of another federation ship that’s crew was slowly killed by radiation and the effects it had on their bodies and minds. The Enterprise is to move Dr. Wentworth and his patients off a planet that could be effected by the radiation and must beam them all aboard and take them to a new location. First beamed aboard is a young lady named Andrea Manning who is the doctors assistant and who also has a unknown strange past with Scotty who seems sad and not to pleased to see her. With the guests now all aboard Dr. Wentworth tries his best to spill his mumbo jumbo on the crew about not taking orders and to live their own lives as it’s clear his clinic is not so much for healing, as it is a cult! In the engineering room a Witch from classic folklore attacks Scotty, knocks Kirk and Spock around plus kills two security officers before disappearing. The Witch’s name was “Black Annis” and was a myth from Scotty’s youth and after seeing it he has fallen into a bad state of fear that leaves Kirk, McCoy and Spock worried about his health and mental well being. Meanwhile Wentworth has used his power of persuasion on Sulu and Uhura and they have changed course from the Starfleet base to now a vacation planet and this angers Kirk who does not know why now his crew are not listening to his direct orders. After arresting those who are uprising against orders they soon find that more Scottish folklore monsters are after Scotty and that Andrea Manning is the one who is responsible for these terrors! As Spock and McCoy try to stop Andrea from bringing more monster to life, Kirk has it out with Wentworth who is on a quest to take over the Enterprise and spread his mind control across the galaxy…but this don’t end well for the Doctor as Kirk with a well placed punch leaves the old man knocked out on the floor. And after summing the Loch Ness Monster to attack the Enterprise, McCoy quickly sedates Andrea and the monster vanishes and they crew snap out of their brainwashed trances and deliver the Cult members to the Starfleet base.

This issue’s mission has Captain Kirk and crew going up against a Cult ran by a doctor who has the power to mind control and his assistant who can bring things form your memories to life and use against you. This has a real 60’s Manson Family and even Health But Guru feel to it as Dr. Wentworth the madman with the power of mind control wants to rule the galaxy and will use other to get it all the while faking spreading the message of being once self, when really your just being his puppet. Andrea Manning while a cult member and the doctors # 1 (as The Joker from the Tim Burton Film would say) has he own reasons for unleashing monsters from Scottish folklore onto the Enterprise as she is very upset with Scotty who was once her boyfriend and who dumped her for so he could focus on his career in Starfleet, and man she wants to mentally break him before she murders him as she tries her best to scare him to a state of 100% terror. Kirk handles his crew turning against his orders, his friend Scotty being scared out of his wits and a cult leader trying to steal his ship really well and gets to work out his frustration from all these things with one well placed and powerful punch to the cult leaders face. Scotty gets the worst of it all as the fears of his youth are used against him and all because he broke up with a young lady many years back. Crew members McCoy, Spock and Chekov all do their part to stop this sinister plan while poor Sulu and Uhura fall victim to mind control. Over all this is a very solid fun issue that had the right blend of action and science fiction sandwiched in-between a cool cover of the Enterprise under attack. The interior art was great and done by Joe Brozowski and Tom Palmer and could be my favorite art this far in the series as the characters look like the actors who played them and all side characters as well looked fantastic. This issue is making me look forward to the next issue mission as Marvel at this point in time is doing Star Trek justice in the world of comics.

Marvel Star Trek 12

Star Trek # 12  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #12 of 18

Janice Rand is now a Lt. Commander of the Icarus and is married to a Phaetonians alien named Kadan who is without a body and a energy ball inside of a pyramid case and along with more of his race they are about to take on a mission to travel to uncharted space, the downside is that Rand will be the only human aboard the ship and for the rest of her life she will not have any more human contact. This upsets Kirk who has had a past relationship with Rand, as he feels that not only her time in space alone is a bad idea but so is the fact that she is married to a alien with no body! After some words Kirk gives her his blessing on this mission that turns bad quick as the barrier drives the Phaetonians mad and now her once loving and logical husband Kadan is a madman who is controlling the starship that is now gone mad killing ships that get in its way, all the while Rand is now a prisoner! Rand during the impact with the barrier gains physic powers and sends a mind message for help to Spock and this causes Kirk to spring into action and try and save his one time woman and also the planet of the Phaetonians as Kadan plans on crashing the Icarus into it as he and the crew feel homesick! Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Sulu beam aboard the Icarus and fight off traps and force fields until Spock is able to join minds with Kadan and save the planet and the Icarus crew from certain death. In the end the Phaetonians are taken to a mental asylum as they have gone mad, Janice Rand goes back to normal and is now safe and feels important as she helped Spock with Kadan’s mind meld as well as now she can divorce her husband and all ends well for Starfleet.

Captain Kirk has done it again as he on this mission not only saves a planet from destruction along with his crew but also hits on a married woman and by the end of the mission opens her mind up for a divorce! Kirk is a real ladies man as well as a great Captain and friend to those aboard his ship The Enterprise. Janice Rand is still hung up on Kirk and marries a alien who has no body, but does have a big brain and chooses to take on a mission that will have her dying in space with a ship with no human crew members! Her goal is to chart un-charted galaxies and to make an impact in her life time…but in the end does so as she truly does help Spock take control of her husbands mind who is the one controlling the out of control ship headed for impact with his home planet. Spock once more is the main man who saves the day as his mind meld technics is what allows them to take control of the ship and deliver it to a safe place. What really worked for his issue was the fact that the ships Enterprise and Icarus played cat and mouse games and the chase felt like a true episode of Star Trek! I also want to note that while Kirk and crew were on the Icarus the Enterprise was being commanded by Scotty who’s idea to save the planet was to wreck the two ships together killing everyone on board both ships, and the worst part is he was going through with the idea until Spock at the last moment was able to take control of the runaway starship! Over all while this issue is nothing to special it does have a great feel to it and I found myself enjoying reading the story as it unfolded. The cover is great and has Kadan in the center as well as an illusion of what his people use to look like above Kirk, Rand and Spock who are in pain over his power…very cool Marvel Comics stuff! The art inside is ok and is slightly sloppy in spots and is done by the team of Luke McDonnell and Tom Palmer and again while ok it does not have the appeal like the last issue did in the art department. Over all our 12 mission with the crew of the Enterprise and Marvel is well done and shows that comics based on Movies and TV Shows can be done right when in the hands of creators who care.

Marvel Star Trek 13

Star Trek # 13  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #12 of 18

Hephaestus is a resort planet filled with peace, as it’s a neutral zone and important minerals wanted by the Federation so Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise is sent down to get permission form the planets president named Mukii and talks go well as he agrees for them to mine the minerals they need. But also on the planet is Klingon Commander Kagg and his crew who want to talk Mukii and his people out of helping the Federation and more allow them to protect them and act as their allies. As tension between Federation crew and Klingon crew heat up leaving Chekov in a fistfight with a very rude Klingon who was abusing a native of Hephaestus, this resort planet is slowly turning into a war zone. As Dr. McCoy enjoys a drink at the bar he is approached by his estranged daughter Joanna who lets out her rage on her father who in turn tries to defend is actions and even meets her ill Vulcan soon to be husband Suvak who during the argument passes out! The fight leaves the native Hephaestus dead and both the Klingon and Chekov in jail, with Dr. McCoy and Dr. Chapel having to perform an autopsy on the dead primate man learning that a chip is what gives them intelligence, and when Kagg shows up the plan is revealed that the Klingons want to take over the planet and want to know were the secret base that makes the chips that makes the Hephaestus people smart is and has found it and placed a bomb in the factory to blow it up and stop the only source for the chips to be made! In Kaggs escape he takes nurse Joanna McCoy hostage and this leaves to Spock and Kirk trying to track him down, as Dr. McCoy and Dr. Chapel stay with Suvak who is dying and shows true love and courage as he goes to his loves aid in the factory and holds Kagg at bay as Kirk and the rest of the crew are beamed aboard the Enterprise, but not before Kirk sends the blueprints of making the chips to his ship. The factory blows up killing Suvak and Kagg in the process. In the end the rift between Joanna and Dr. McCoy is even wider as her love is now dead, but words from Spock speak logic to Bones who ends up ending the issue beaming down to speak to his daughter and rebuild their relationship.

This is like classic Star Trek meets classic Planet Of The Apes as the natives of Hephaestus are smart ape people who look and dress a lot like the apes from that film series wrapped up into one classic Marvel Comic issue. The plot of this issue has the Enterprise having a showdown with Klingons on a natural planet that is run by smart primate people who are being targeted by the Klingons as they want to take over their planet and by the Federation who wants to have them as allies and use some of their land for mining. And throw is a couple of murders of the Hephaestus people as well as the drama of Dr. McCoy seeing his daughter after many years of being at odds as well as the fact she wants to marry a Vulcan who is dying and you have this action back issue wrapped up. While Kirk and Spock are the main focus of the hero part of the issue and both risk their lives to save the Hephaestus people, it’s Dr. McCoy who steals the show as his drama with his daughter and the raw emotions of hating the fact she is marring a Vulcan is what drives the issue into being more than just another space adventure and rescue comic. Joanna McCoy has followed in the footsteps of her father as she is a nurse, but her feelings toward her father are every bitter and she does not respect him nor want him in her life! The Klingons lead by Commander Kagg are as blood thirsty as ever and kill and bully their way into trying to conquer and take what they want, but as always they fail and end up one the bad end of the outcome. The Hephaestus is a race of Primate Aliens who have gotten their smarts from Aliens who visited their planet years back and gave them chips in the back of their necks that allowed them to become smart, I dig the fact that with smarts came the want to make money as they turned their planet into one giant spa! The cover is great and has Kagg holding a gun to Joanna McCoy’s head and Kirk and Spock about to spring into action to save her! The interior art is done once more by the team of Tom Palmer and Joe Brozowski and looks great! Over all another great issue and proved that Jim Shooter who was the Editor In-Chief during this time was one of the best things to happen to Marvel Comics, a great read about a fun mission from the crew of The Enterprise.

Marvel Star Trek 14

Star Trek # 14  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #14 of 18

The Enterprise has found a planet that looks like ancient Egypt and it’s about to be in the patch of a lethal meteor shower that will leave any living thing dead. Kirk, McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov and many more crew members beam down to look for life and warn them of the coming doom from the sky while Scotty, Spock and a small handful of others stay aboard the Enterprise to monitor the approaching meteor storm. While on the planet Kirk is possessed by the spirit of Menteptah II a long dead pharaoh who watches as the Enterprise crew have to fight off a giant sphinx robot that they finally bring down by blowing its head off with their phasers, but the crew themselves are soon on the end of a phaser blast as the possessed Kirk blasts them and keeps them hostage. Kirk then takes his new prisoners communicators and destroys them as he thinks they can help him bring his long dead people back to life, but he missed one as McCoy had taken one off of a security officer that was killed during the battle with the giant robot. When caught using it McCoy is stunned and he and Sulu are taken to a primitive sick bay that has the hole crew getting iv’s filled with drugs that will make them slaves to the possessed Kirk who has already conned Uhura into thinking she was his queen. Spock beams down to the planet and snaps Kirk back into reality as McCoy escapes the sick bay and uses modern medicine to snap the crew out of their brainwashing. The mummies come alive as they were just normal men in a state of long slumber and are beamed off the planet to a safe location away from the meteors and harmful sun radiation that was effecting their planet. Kirk and Spock were also able to save Scotty and the Enterprise that was hit by a powerful shrinking ray fired off by one of the pyramids when they figure out the ancient computer system that controls the plants defense system. In the end everyone is back to normal and once more the crew of The Enterprise has saved the day.

“Captain Kirk and the Curse of the Space Pharaoh” is what I nicknamed this issue that has Kirk being possessed by a dead pharaoh and controlled by an Egyptian God statue who wants to use the Enterprise crew to wake up his followers that have been asleep for decades. When Captain Kirk first goes to the planet he is doing so with a noble cause as he wants to save anyone that may be on the planet from the approaching meteor shower of death, but once he gets possessed he becomes a madman with power who wants slaves and wants to please his God by doing what he commands. If not for Spock Kirk and most of the Enterprise crew would have been in a trance and no longer themselves forever! Spock for most the issue hangs out on the Enterprise with Scotty and a skeleton crew, but once he hears the message from McCoy he becomes a one man army as he beams down and rescues the day. I also like the side story of the Enterprise shrinking due to a pyramid laser ray as it adds even more adventure and drama as Scotty is in total danger. The cover is classic early 80’s Marvel and the art inside is done by Luke McDonnell and Gene Day and looks fantastic! Over all this is another solid and good issue and holds the magic of the TV Show and the Characters and is worth the read for sure.

Marvel Star Trek 15

Star Trek # 15  **1/2
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #15 of 18

Captain Kirk calls a meeting in his room and when McCoy and Spock show up they are greeted by a monster who shocks them, but they soon learn that its just Kirk in a costume and that many of the crew will be wearing them as they are going undercover on a prison world! Their mission is for a four man team to act as guards and break into the death row section of the planet where prisoners are killed in brutal ways no matter the crime they committed, the second part of the mission will follow after the success or failure of the first part of the mission. The Enterprise captures the real guard ship and Spock uses mild melding to calm them and sends them back home as members of the Enterprise will be taking their place as the mission is now told as they are looking for a young man named Tak who went missing heading for the prison planet and they need to bring him back safe and find out why he went their in the first place. Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura put on the costumes and head for their mission were they run across just how brutal the planet and its executions really are. While sent out to find a missing prisoner Kirk and the crew find Tak as well as are busted by a guard they must knock out and leave in a ditch! Tak informs them that he wants to die on this planet as an accident he had while drunk left his true love dead! Tak once more runs away before he can be rescued and shape shifts into a prisoner about to be executed and is saved my Kirk and crew again only for they themselves to be saved by the guard they knocked out who kills the evil warden and takes over the prison and wants to run it way different. Kirk and crew along with Tak are beamed aboard the Enterprise and Tak is set to get the mental help he needs.

This fifteenth issue in this Marvel Comic series of Star Trek issues is a good read, but could be one of the weakest this far next to maybe issue ten. The issues plot has the Enterprise crew going on a top-secret mission in a territory that is hostile and must save a young alien man who has went missing on a planet that is the galaxies worst prison with the most brutal death row! Kirk tells his crew that this mission is one they can by no way connect to the federation so if they must die in order to protect their employer so be it! The crew is wearing goofy costumes most the issue, besides Kirk who’s mask is ripped off so the good old captains face is seen by not only the prison guards but also us readers. The Warden is super evil and gets pleasure in watching the killing of his prisoners as he finds that they do not deserve respect in life or death, but he meets his maker by the hands of his own guard who puts a phaser blast hole in his back as he wants to change the evil ways of the planet. The cover for this issue is pretty good as it makes it look as if Captain Kirk has turned into The Devil as the crew look on fearful! The interior art is pretty sloppy and weak and is done by Gil Kane, and that’s shocking as his work for the most part was pretty good in other Marvel and DC Comics. While this issue is not terrible and was an enjoyable read, I just found it to get semi generic and nothing special. I do like how it has a message of don’t drink or do drugs and drive as it could lead to death! To sum it up this issue is like a throw away episode of the TV series and while worth the read will be one that you would rate lower.

Marvel Star Trek 16

Star Trek # 16  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #16 of 18

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, a security guard and Themon (who is Chekov’s girlfriend) beam down to a federation planet for its annual check-up to its people but what they find instead is a tribe of trolls who attack them and kidnap Themon! Before the battle gets to fierce McCoy and an injured Troll are beamed aboard the Enterprise so they can study what they are! While Kirk and the crew fight on against the trolls they are saved by gnomes that are lead by Torval who informs them that the colony people of this planet they were looking for are dead and eaten by the trolls! Kirk and his crew are lead to a cave were the trolls live in order to try and save Themon, while aboard the Enterprise beamed up with the now un-needed supplies are two bat riding trolls who attack and are quickly captured when the crew learn they are powerless with out their hats on and once this happens they turn back into gnomes! When Kirk and crew find Themon she is trying to communicate to the trolls who are far less hostile now and seems to understand what they crew are saying! Meanwhile McCoy figures out the real trolls are in fact people and with some medicine they will turn back normal and he comes down to the planet and transforms the trolls back to normal. Kirk and Spock put two and two together and figure out Torval and his gnomes are the real bad guys who have set this whole thing up, in the end they defeat the gnomes who explain that only four of their race are alive and they just wanted a place to be left alone, and they get it as the leave them be and transport the colony away and all ends well.

This issue pits Kirk and the Enterprise against Trolls and Gnomes on a planet that was set for research and once the smoke clears they find that the gnomes whom they thought were allies are in fact the enemies who are using hat magic to destroy and trick those who stand in their way of living on the planet alone! Kirk in this issues is leading not only the ship but the landing party and seems to be is a world of disbelief as he jokes off the fact that they are being attacked and saved by creatures of Earth folklore. Not sure why he is acting like those who are stating and believe what they are seeing is real are crazy, he just does. Nice to see Chekov used more in this issue and even given a girlfriend in the blue skinned Themon who seems to be just as into Chekov as he is into her. The rest of the crew serve their purpose with McCoy being the real hero as he figures out the cure to make the trolls back to normal and saving them from a terrible life. The Gnomes who get their power from the their hats are few in numbers with only four being all that’s left of their race, but when their little minds are together they can kill and disrupt to get their way of wanting to live in peace. The Trolls are savages at first but once they can calm down and understand what the Enterprise crew is saying they become as gentle as babies. The threat in this issue while small still packs a great adventure feel to it as the gnomes try their best to even crush the crew and trolls alive with a cave in! The cover is eye catching and the art inside is done by Luke McDonnell and is ok but in some spots is really bad as one panel has Kirk looking like Sloth from the film The Goonies, as he eyes are weird and off center. Over all another fun Marvel Trek mission that was well worth the read and highly entertaining for fans of the TV Show and the movies.

Marvel Star Trek 17

Star Trek # 17  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel    #17 of 18

The Enterprise is called to a planet where a federation satellite crashed, and its fuel may cause the atmosphere to become toxic when coming in touch with the air. To see if the fuel has affected the air Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the planet that is very primitive in nature much like medieval times.  A young child witnesses them beaming down and believes they are angels. While in town McCoy heads to the town’s hospital that is a barbaric house of pain and suffering as the sick are not cured but left to heal by the hands of faith. While Kirk and Spock make the mistake of talking to a old man who studies the stars, the townspeople think they are evil so they are attacked and taken away, and when they discover Spock’s pointed ears they think he is a devil. McCoy finds that the air is poisoned and that the sick and elderly are being affected, but he as well is arrested and branded a devil worshiping evildoer.  The young child is also captured as they think she is mindlessly following the evil ones, and Gorman, who is the star researcher, saves her from being tortured and causes the holy warrior guards to give chase tricking them to leave and making it easier for Gorman and the young child visit Kirk and Spock in their cell and give them back their broken equipment that they use to free themselves, but sadly they must leave McCoy behind as he is in another cell and informs them that the air is turning toxic and they must get the Enterprise to drop the anti toxin into the atmosphere before it’s too late. In the end Kirk saves McCoy, who is about to be drowned by the Holy Warriors that think he is a witch, as Spock is able to contact the Enterprise by making a primitive radio that alerts them to drop the antidote right on time. In the end Kirk, Spock and McCoy return to the Enterprise, and Gorman and the young girl know that science is the way to cure and create things to better mankind.

This issue’s mission lands Kirk and select crew on a planet that is much like the medieval era where superstition runs wild and people still think witches and devil are out to get them.  In reality, the ones they target just understand science and want to use it to better mankind in its quest to evolve and cure illness and understand the world around them. This issue reminds me a lot of the third Evil Dead film “Army Of Darkness” as the future seems to clash with the past and by the end it all mashes together for the better. Kirk, Spock and McCoy put themselves in danger in order to find out if the planet’s people are in trouble from toxic air thanks once more to the federation who goofed up and wants the Enterprise to be the clean up crew in secret to protect its reputation. The people of the planet are so into superstition that they are on a witch hunt and are clueless that the air around them is slowly killing them. Gorman and the little girl are great side characters as they are clearly the only ones smart enough to figure out Kirk and crew are their to help and even are the key to how Spock and Kirk free themselves from the jail. The story feels like a classic 1960’s episode of the TV show, and once more, Marvel showed that they could do science fiction right when based on a popular franchise. The cover on this issue is okay and while not really showcasing what the issue was about, is eye catching to Trekkies for sure. The interior art this time around is being done by Ed Hannigan and looks pretty good like your typical B-Title art from Marvel. Over all this issue was great and a fun read that captured the silliness and epic nature of Star Trek missions.  So what I am saying is this issue was good stuff.

Marvel Star Trek 18

Star Trek # 18  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Marvel   #18 of 18

The Enterprise is being blocked by a giant ship planet that sends over probes that allows it to beam aboard both Kirk and Spock.  They meet a giant robot named Sustainer who informs them that he wishes them no harm and needs their help, but this help will have one returning to the Enterprise and will leave the other dead. Before they can get answers, Kirk and Spock find themselves on opposing pirate ships.  Kirk dies saving Spock’s life when a piece of the ship falls and crushes him. As Spock carries his dead friend and Captain, the Sustainer informs him that he can bring Kirk back to life.  This confuses the pair even more as they escape the sick bay and find they are now in some sort of mechanical maze, that this time leaves Spock dead and resurrected. Sustainer brings Kirk and Spock to the bridge of his planet ship and shows them the Enterprise on the screen and starts to use his ships power to heat up the Enterprise, slowly cooking the crew alive! The only way he will stop this massacre is if Kirk or Spock give their life for them and this time the death will be final, Spock uses the nerve pinch on Kirk and volunteers death for the lives of his fellow crew members, but Kirk awakes just in time and once more saves Spock from death’s grip. Sustainer is happy this has happened as he never wanted to kill and was only stealing the emotion of friendship and doing great things for others as his creators are in sleep chambers on this ship.  They are greedy and self centered, and by stealing these emotions from Spock and Kirk, he can now install those feelings into his creators making them a better race. In the end Sustainer sends Kirk and Spock back to the Enterprise, and all ends well as the galaxy is shaping up to be a better place for all alien races.

The final Marvel Comic mission has a message about loyalty, sacrifice and helping others in need and is told between Kirk and Spock who are being tested by a giant robot who in turn is trying to use emotions to teach his creators a better way to live their lives instead of being selfish. Kirk and Spock have respect for each other as fellow Starfleet members but also are close friends as they clearly would risk their own lives to save each other from danger and death. The rest of the crew of the Enterprises sadly are just pawns in this game of stealing emotions and self sacrifice as they are trapped in a tracking beam and later are almost cooked to death like sardines in a can. Sustainer is a giant robot that is loyal to his creators and yet knows that they are flawed and that their own selfish nature is what has lead to their almost complete extinction. His plan for help is to trick Kirk and Spock into doing tests that always leave one person dead.  Each time the death comes from a selfless act in order to help the other, as Sustainer is taking that emotion and thought process and pumping it into the sleep chambers of his creators in hope it will make them better beings. It’s strange that this story is how they decided to end the Star Trek Marvel Comic series with a moral meaning issue and not a battle with the Klingons or some other alien race, as I would have liked to have seen maybe a few more aliens from the TV show make an appearance during this 18 issue run. While Marvel only ran Star Trek for 18, far less than the 107 made for Star Wars, it still was a fun and high quality science fiction comic adventure that took classic characters and allowed them to battle Klingons, fight gnomes and even find a haunted house planet to keep their mission going and act as a way to keep fans happy as they waited for the next movie to come out in the series. The cover is okay and informs you that this was the final issue in the series and showcases Kirk and Spock in a mind meld.  The final issue art duty went to Joe Brozowski, and you could tell he gave it time and respect. Being a long time fan of Star Trek I will say that while I highly enjoyed this comic series, it does have flaws like odd character attitude changes and cheesy missions, but if you like fun with your Trek I would say make sure to give this series a read. Below is some art from this series and yes it’s all taken from when they fought the monsters as it combined two things I really love lots: Star Trek and monsters!

Marvel Star Trek Art 1Marvel Star Trek Art 2Marvel Star Trek Art 3

This month I covered things that I was a huge fan of in my youth and still am to this day including Horror Host show Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grampa, Sunday Funnies iconic character Dick Tracy and last but not least sci-fi mainstay TV and movie franchise Star Trek.  It was a blast going back to my past and re-visiting my past memories and joys that these media characters gave me and still do. Our next update will be our first in our countdown to Halloween and will take us out of the unknowns of space and into the deep blue ocean as we take a look at Jaws 2 and the Marvel Comic adaptation of the film.  So until then, make sure to take a few moments and give some thought to movies, TV shows, comics, music, books, video games, horror hosts and most importantly the people who have been impactful on your life and helped shape you into the person you are today. So read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, and I’ll see you on Amity Island for our next Jawsome update.

jaws_2_logo

Alien Invasion…Independence Day

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, or, if this is your first time visiting, thanks for checking out my tiny little spot on the web. It’s June, and that means we are at the start of the Summer Blockbuster season at movie theaters.  Hollywood is about to unleash all types of films for our viewing pleasure like they have for many years now, and one film coming is the sequel for Independence Day that was 20 years in the making! It’s crazy to think that Independence Day is 20 years old and that Hollywood has just now decided to make a sequel. Could you imagine if this movie was a reality and all the nations all over the world had to come together to fight off a galactic enemy who wanted to take over our planet, I am sure us Earthlings would not go down without a fight! So lets gear up and get ready to fight for mankind as we dive into this Alien Invasion update that pits Rotten Ink against those world stealing aliens of ID4!

ID4 Aliens in cases

Before the war to settle the July 4th score takes place, I would like to talk about an alien sighting in Carmel, Ohio on December 12th 2014 that left the two eyewitnesses shocked. That night the married couple were driving home down Carmel Road when just passed the church a large grey skinned being ran in front of their truck and into the woods across the street, the alien was described as being about 7 feet tall, with no arms or face with long backward legs that where very muscular in nature. The couple called the cops and reported the sighting,but nothing was found in the area. The husband, who’s not UFO believer as well as an Ex-Marine, drew a picture of the alien creature for the police, which you can see below. I should also note that the area has had UFO sightings, and the case is still open to this day. I think that Josh Weinberg and I should go on a road trip and try to hunt and capture on video this Carmel Alien!

Carmel Ohio Alien

Independence Day was released in theaters on July 2, 1996 by 20th Century Fox and is about aliens trying to take over the world and Earth fighting back on July 4th as we will not go down without a fight. The film was directed by Roland Emmerich and stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch, to name a few.  It was one of those overblown summer movies that had the hype machine behind it before it even rolled on the movie screen. Kids at my school were all talking about the film and how they went to the theater to see it and how it was the best movie they have ever seen, and in the back of my teenage mind I thought, you all said that about Toy Story and Batman Forever last year. My parents didn’t want to see this one in the theater and neither did my Bother and I, so we all waited for it on home video. I can remember renting this film from Blockbuster Video on VHS and the family watching it after dinner and we all walked away from it saying it was ok but man was that cheesy! The acting and dialogue are all over the top and at some points so damn silly you forget this is a big budget action film and not just some direct to video Sci-Fi film. Over the years I have seen it a few more times on DVD and still to this day I find it to be a silly over done film that serves it’s purpose in entertaining the viewer all the while delivering eye rolling moments. The one thing I can say I really did like about this film was the alien design as the tiny little guys wearing these giant scary suits that make them look like some odd looking Gamera of Godzilla villain mixed with a H.R Geiger painting. But it didn’t matter if I seen the film in theaters or not as it was the # 1 film of the year brining in a total of $306,169,268.00 and beating out such films as Scream, Jerry Maguire, Twister, Star Trek: First Contact, Mars Attacks! and Island of Dr. Moreau to name a few. When this film was released did you love it? Like it? Or Hate it?

ID4 Movie 1independence day posterID4 Movie 2

Like all good over blown summer blockbuster movies of the past, lots of merchandise was released to cash in on the popularity of Independence Day and to milk those few extra dollars out of the wallets of fans.  Besides the Marvel Comics adaptation, other items included widescreen edition trading cards by Topps, novels, video games, soundtrack on CD, t-shirts as well as action figures and a PC game that was so cheaply made the diskette we had never loaded right. For years to follow, I can remember finding the action figures on thrift store shelves for as cheap as .09 a figure.  Yeah, less than a dime. The soundtrack is something I never have picked up over the years and that’s odd because the music is done by David Arnold who also did scores for such films as Stargate, Last Of The Dogmen, Tomorrow Never Dies as well as many other James Bond films. But who knows, maybe some day I will get the CD and play it on Alpha Rhythms as Arnold is also doing the music for part two and that’s for sure on my to-buy-and-play list!

ID4 ToyID4 SoundtrackID4 Trading Cards

While the PC game that came with the figures is the first video game based on the movie I ever played, it’s the one for the Sony Playstation that sticks in my mind the most as it could have been one of the weakest and hardest to play movie tie in games for that system I have ever played next to “The Crow: City Of Angels.”  It’,s not so much that the levels are hard its more that the controls keep it form being playable and enjoyable. Fox Interactive was the company that put out this game and I can remember renting it from Blockbuster Video and me and my friend Jason Gilmore playing it and being so annoyed with it that we turned it off pretty quick as the fun factor was nowhere in sight. After many years passed and when I was doing small Video Game Reviews for Bloodline Video I ended up getting the game from Game Swap in Kettering with the idea of reviewing it for the site and after trying to play it again I found it just as terrible as it was when first released and never did review it. To sum it up if you like bad games tied to movies or just want a terrible flying shooter with bad controls then check it out for sure.

PSX ID4 1Independance Day PSXPSX ID4 2

On July 4th 2009 The Angry Video Game Nerd took a look at the terrible PS1 Independence Day game and also found it to be a clunky mess of pixels and un-fun gameplay. Everything he says about the game from the terrible graphics to the poor controls is the same feeling I had when I first played it when it was released. So if you want to see the wonders of how bland this game is, make sure to check out this episode as The Nerd will fill you in on just how bad it is. That’s one thing I like about The Angry Video Game Nerd; he does fun themed holiday episodes, and this was the perfect bad game to showcase on July 4th. So what are you waiting for, go check out this episode on YouTube or his official site at Cinemassacre.

Angry Video Game Nerd ID4 1Angry Video Game Nerd ID4 2Angry Video Game Nerd ID4 3

So now that we are all brushed up on ID4 and ready to hit theaters to watch the sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, we should get to the meat of this update and take a look at the Marvel Comic Movie Adaptation of the film as well as the extra issue, #0, that acts as a prequel of sorts. I want to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock for me to use for this update. I want to remind you readers that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So lets join the fight for our Independence against those pesky aliens as Marvel Comics lead the charge.

independence day 0

Independence Day # 0   **1/2
Released in 1996     Cover Price $0.00   Marvel Comics   # 0 of 2

In Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, late at night during a massive thunderstorm three aliens crash their spaceship into the desert land owned by Mac Brazel who calls the sheriff.  He brings the army and covers up the crash by claiming it was just a downed weather balloon. While at the military base, Dr. Rose is trying to save the life of the only surviving alien and soon finds out that the aliens are not peaceful as the creature bonds their minds for a brief moment with the only message being the word “Kill.” The army takes all the alien bodies as well as technology and hides it all away in a secret base where in the year 1967 new head of the CIA Albert Nimziki visits the secret base and meets Dr. Rose who is retiring from the base very shortly and informs him that in 20 years they have not been able to crack the alien technology or their writing. They hire a young hippie named Brackish Okun to take over the department, and Dr. Rose warns him not to trust the CIA and names Nimziki as the one to stay clear from. Flash forward to 1986 where we meet Russell Casse, a crop duster who is abducted by aliens on his way home from work and is tortured by the aliens before placed back on Earth.  The thing is no one believes him, and he becomes not only a drunk but also a laughing stock in the town. We also meet a young man named Steven Hiller who wants to be the first African-American astronaut, as well as Senator Thomas J. Whitmore who is running for President and wins the office in 1993 and hires both Albert Nimzicki and General Grey to his cabinet as well as Connie Spano who’s now ex-husband David punched him in the face many years back. By 1996, Steven Hiller is an Air Force Pilot and President Whitmore is loosing support during a reelection year, but none of this will matter as over the Earth a massive alien spaceship is taking its place to declare a war to all the people of Earth.

So did you ever wonder about the backstories of the characters from the film? Well this issue is your dream come true as it covers decades and showcases just how these characters got to the places they were when the alien attack starts. Our story starts with the famous UFO crash of Roswell New Mexico in the 40’s and ends with the giant alien mother ship hovering over Earth, ready to star a war. The coolest aspect of this comic was the fact that briefly at the start they covered the Roswell cover-up and reading it made me flashback to the old Unsolved Mysteries TV Show when they covered it complete with the odd metal with alien writing on it. The aliens themselves are shown to be very mean spirited and want nothing more than to kill humans and torture them for study. Now let’s breakdown first impressions of the major players in the upcoming issues who are explored here. First up is President Thomas J. Whitmore who comes off as a good man who might be in way over his head running the country as he is breaking under pressure and the American people have seemed to turn on him for his lack of knowledge. Albert Nimzicki, the head of CIA and now cabinet member of the President, is a jerk, He comes off as a slime ball and it’s clear none of the other characters really like him. General Grey and Connie Spano are good people who are loyal to the President and want him to get elected for a second term. Brackish Okun is a goofy man as a college student in the 60’s and is an aging goof in 1996 as poor Russell Casse is a man that can’t get any support from anyone with his tale of being abducted by aliens. And lastly Steven Hiller was a young man with goals in the 80’s and by 96 he is even one step closer to his goal of being in space, and oh yeah, he’s in love with a stripper. Over all not some much action is this issue as it’s more of a history lesson about the characters. The art is pretty good, though it’s style I like for comics.  The characters loosely look like the actors who play them, and I mean loosely. I should also note that many artist made this issue and they are Terry Pallot, Steve Moncuse, Larry Welch, Steve Erwin, Rod Whigham, Phil Moy and Gabriel Gecko. Over all it’s a pretty cool issue if you’re a fan of the film as this helps bring these characters more alive by explaining a little about them. But I think we spent enough time on this issue and we should move into #1.

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Independence Day # 1   *1/2
Released in 1996     Cover Price $1.95   Marvel Comics   # 1 of 2

People of Earth have picked up a faint message from space near the moon, and they know it’s alien in nature! President Whitmore along with his wife Marilyn and young daughter Patricia are interrupted by a call from General Grey who calls for a meeting of the staff. At the meeting Whitmore, Grey, Connie and Nimzicki find out that the large ship by the moon has launched several other smaller ships that are heading for Earth and this makes them alert the military to get ready for the unknown. But when the Alien ships start hovering over major cities all over the world, it’s clear that something wicked is up! All over we see how people are responding to these UFOs as Russell Casse’s kids watch on in front of their mobile home.  We see Steven with his girlfriend Jasmine and her young son Dylan watch in horror, plus David Levinson (Connie’s Ex-Husband) and his father Julius and boss Marty realize that the satellites they run have been hacked by the aliens and is broadcasting a countdown! David and his father rush to the White House to fill them in on the countdown as Steven reports for active duty to fly in a fighter jet if needed.  Connie, General Grey and President Whitmore watch on is horror as the alien craft blows up military helicopters. David makes it and shows them the warning as they all leave the White House just in time as the aliens attack and blow up major landmarks all over the world!

Oh man is this issue boring! Even with the aliens gearing up for the attack, there’s just hardly any action, but there is a whole lot of talking about what’s coming and what can they do about it. While reading this, I found myself zoning out and thinking about such things as Amazing Spider-Man comics and even what would I do if I ever made a new Werewolf Of Ohio. The plot for this first section of this adaptation is this: alien ships come to Earth and take up key spots around the world.  As the Earthlings watch in wonder and plan for the best and worst cases, all our heroes wander around trying to be ready for what needs to be done and by the end the aliens strike first blowing up buildings and landmarks. President Whitmore is trying to be strong and lead America in this frightful time, and Connie and General Grey stand by his side no matter how nervous they are getting. David and his father Julius are on a mission to warn many of the important people in government about the countdown signal in the cable satellites. David comes off as a conspiracy theory nut but it’s clear he still loves his ex-wife. Russell Casse is still a drunk who’s own kids don’t respect him, but it’s the opposite for Steven Hiller who’s girlfriend and her son love him as he is noble and willing to fight the fight if he’s needed. The characters, while okay, all seem like generic stereotypes taken from all types of different science fiction comics, novels and films making them familiar but nothing special. The cover is eye catching for fans of the film as it depicts the films most famous scene of the White House being blown up by a UFO laser blast. The art inside is really not my style and looks sloppy, and like before, the characters kind of look like the actors who play them.  The artist is Leonard Kirk, who is known for his work on other Marvel titles like Agents of Atlas and Dark X-Men. Over all this was not a very good issue in my opinion and was so boring that I feel as if I should just walk away from this issue and move on to # 2.

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Independence Day # 2  **
Released in 1996     Cover Price $1.95   Marvel Comics   # 2 of 2

The Air Force and the alien starships are fighting in the air, and Steven Hiller takes one down by tricking it with fancy movies and causing it to crash. Meanwhile President Whitmore and members of his cabinet and guests head to Area 51 and meet Brackish Okun who informs them of the alien ship they have stored there for over 40 years and how in the last 24 hours the ship seems to have activated itself. Hiller captures one of the aliens, and they take it to Area 51 to be studied.  The alien is alive and awakens during the study and speaks through Okun informing them that the aliens want humans dead as they want the Earth for their own! President Whitmore’s wife is involved in a helicopter crash and sadly dies, but David finds a way to drop the alien ships force fields and a world wide attack is planned and joining the air force fight is the President, Hiller, David and even Russell Casse who arrived at Area 51 to get help for his sick son. As David and Hiller take the old UFO and enter the mother ship in space armed with the computer virus and a nuclear warhead, the Air Force with President Whitmore and Russell fight the UFO’s that are attacking Earth.  In the end Russell sacrifices himself and blows up one of the big battleships as David and Hiller sets off the warhead in the mother ship bringing it down! Earth wins the fight against the aliens and all ends well as America saves the day again.

The final issue in the adaptation has lots more build up and then comes in for the kill with a sky battle that pits Earthlings against the Alien invaders! Really that’s the plot … it starts with lots of science and cheesy pep talk dialogue and then turns into some under whelming air battle that ends pretty quick. President Whitmore bounces back from the death of his wife pretty quickly and turns the politician side of his life on pretty quick and not only gives a eye rollingly lame hype speech to the people of the world but also jumps into a jet and takes the fight to the aliens in the sky. Whitmore is so over the top, and his I love my country and will “Fight For Freedom: Wherever There’s Trouble, President Whitmore’s There” attitude is stuff of laughable b-movies of the past. Brackish Okun spent decades studying dead aliens only to be killed by the first live one he tried to study. Steven Hiller has no fear and flies a UFO into space, blows up the mother ship and then still returns to Earth to be with his stripper girlfriend. General Grey takes a backseat and just acts as the yes man of the President and Albert Nimzicki kind of just vanishes. Russell Casse decides to do something good and flies the plane that blows up the battle ship and in the process kills himself and leaves his kids orphans. David Levinson is the real hero of this comic as he is the one who figures out how to take down the UFO shields as well is on the ship that goes to space to nuke the mother ship. Connie falls back in love with her ex-husband and his father is proud of him for being a hero. Man, this movie just didn’t make a good comic adaptation as for the most part it was boring and the dark letters on dark dialogue boxes made for some hard reading at times. The cover is just okay.  The art by Leonard Kirk is as blah as the last issue, and I think I am ready to leave this invasion behind. Below is some artwork from the comic that I think looks the best of what was presented.

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While the movie is okay, this Marvel Comic adaptation was a snore fest and should be used in hospitals for people with insomnia as I am sure it will have people sawing logs in no time. With that said, I am pretty hyped to see Independence Day: Resurgence in the theater as I am a fool in my old age for Summer Blockbuster films. Plus the Aliens go down pretty easy and the threat of this invasion was easily defeated by Earthlings. But lets leave ID4 behind for something a little more sports entertainment like and that’s step into the wrestling ring and come face to face with the Master of the five count King Kong Bundy! So until then, make sure to go see a movie in the theater, read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host.  See you next update!

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The Next Generation Of The Final Frontier

First officer’s blog, Stardate 69885.3.  Greetings, Inkfleet cadets – Juliet once again reporting for blogging duty.  Today we’re heading to the final frontier to talk about a show (and the comics based on it) that is and was incredibly important to me, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I’ll henceforth be abbreviating as ST:TNG.  So why The Next Generation and not the original series?  As I’ll get into further along in this update, I adore the original series, but ST:TNG was such an important part of my childhood, for better or worse.  Matt, on the other hand, is a HUGE original series fan so it’s only appropriate that I handle this one while he takes on the original series at a later date.  So settle in with some tea – earl grey – hot and prepare to bolding go where no one has gone before.

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In 1986, 20 years after Star Trek’s debut and as Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were demanding larger salaries during the production of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Paramount began to consider a new Star Trek television series.  This actually wasn’t the first first time they had toyed with the idea.  In 1977, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had announced that Star Trek Phase II would be coming to the small screen as part of the newly created Paramount Television Service.  The series was to feature a second five year mission for the original series crew, but when Paramount Television Services failed to launch, the plot for the pilot episode was rewritten and became Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Star Trek: The Next Generation was announced in October of 1986, the cast in the spring of 1987.   Originally Gene Roddenberry hadn’t planned on being involved in the production but came on as creator, working with Paramount exec Rick Berman, after he was unhappy with some of the original concept designs.  The show premiered in October, 1987 in what’s called first-run syndication, meaning that any TV station, regardless of network affiliation, could carry the show in the timeslot of its choosing – a fact that I actually just learned while researching this blog that clears up a lot of my own confusion as to whether I was viewing the episodes first-run or in syndicated re-runs (both, kind of).

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The first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” introduces us to the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D (Kirk’s Enterprise was the NCC-1701 in the show and then the NCC-1701-A beginning in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) roughly 70 years after Kirk and co’s original five year mission.  Captained by Jean-Luc Picard, the Enterprise’s ongoing mission is, like in the original series, to seek out new life and new civilizations.  This Enterprise, however, is home to more than officiers, and the presence of children and families on the ship becomes a subtle but important theme throughout the show’s run.  The Federation and the Klingons enjoy a relative peace, making it possible for a Klingon officer, Lt. Worf, to be head of security.  New threats, however, have emerged most notably with the Borg Collective joining other villainous races like the Romulans.  The Borg are a cybernetic race assimilated from other conquered species.  Their origins are a bit vague as they hail from the faraway Delta Quadrant (where Star Trek: Voyager takes place), but their story and the threat they pose is explored throughout ST:TNG and the subsequent movies and shows.  I’m actually really curious to see if they’ll be a part of either the forthcoming CBS Star Trek series slated for 2017 of which very few details have been revealed, or, if perhaps they’ll make an appearance in the Abrams-verse Star Trek films, which are simply an alternate timeline/universe split off from the original series – more on that in a moment.

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I would be remiss to mention the Borg without mentioning Q, as he both begins ST:TNG and introduces the Borg to the Enterprise crew and the viewers.  Q is an omnipotent being, one of many like him who form the Q Continuum.  Masterfully played by John de Lancie, Q serves as a both a framing device for the entire ST:TNG series and a recurring meddlesome presence who, although typically arriving humorously, often raises huge philosophical and ethical questions about the Enterprise’s mission to “seek out new life and new civilizations.”  So although he was a bit over the top, Q really helped add a whole new dimension to the stories of his episodes.  Speaking of dimensions (see what I did there?), Q was often (especially in the novels – again, stay tuned, we’re getting there) involved in stories that explored the concept of multiple dimensions and the space-time continuum.  Although The Original Series dealt with these concepts quite a bit, I feel like they really shone in ST:TNG, and the novels that centered around time were particularly interesting and well crafted. We’ll talk about those in a moment, but first a bit about my history with the show itself.

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I was four years old when ST:TNG premiered so unlike The X-Files, I don’t have a distinct memory of the first time I saw the show.  Rather, the show’s been ever-present in my life; much like public radio, ST:TNG was just always there.  By 1991, our local station had also started re-running episodes daily as I do have very clear memories of watching ST:TNG every night at 7pm after Little House on the Prairie in our then-new house (which is my parents’ house to this day).  Several year later, I think after the show had ended in 1994, they moved the reruns to 11pm, and I remember being completely upset because that was past my bedtime. Pretty quickly, however, my bedtime was changed to accommodate watching ST:TNG every night even though I had probably seen every episode five times over already – thanks, Mom and Dad!  That should be some indication of how much the show meant to me.  I’m going to get into that a bit further, but first let’s talk about some of the merchandise as this kind of all ties together.

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There was SO.MUCH merchandise for ST:TNG.  The variety of toys alone was rather staggering.  I can remember going to the Bookie Parlor (yes, the same comic store Matt’s spoken of fondly many times here on the blog) as a child and being rather amazed at how many ships and playsets were available, not to mention the posters, books, comics, t-shirts, lunchboxes, pogs and more.  In terms of action figures, the first set of ST:TNG action figures came out in 1988 from Galoob.  This set of 10 3.5 inch figures came out as a limited release and are pretty rare to find today.  The largest and popular assortment of ST:TNG figures were the 5” Playmates figures that were released in waves of 10-23 figures beginning in 1991.  Funny enough, I never had any of these as a kid.  I couldn’t even tell you why, but I only ever got a handful of the First Contact figures which were larger at 6 inches tall.  However, thanks to the heroic efforts of Matt, in my 30s I’m now the proud owner of a nearly complete set of the 3.5” ST:TNG figures.  Other notable merchandise that I actually owned includes a replica communicator that actually featured Patrick Stewart’s voice,  a giant poster with bios of each crew member and a more recent acquisition: a complete of set of PEZ dispensers of the whole ST:TNG crew (check out the photos below).  Though not exclusively ST:TNG, I also owned and proudly wore a Women of Star Trek t-shirt that featured the amazing ladies from the original series all the way through Deep Space 9 (my version of the shirt pre-dated Voyager’s premiere though I’ve seen later editions that included Captain Janeway).

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There were also VHS tapes, and lots of them.  Beginning in 1991, tapes of individual episodes were released and eventually every single episode made it onto VHS.  They also made it onto LaserDisc, released with two episodes per disc.  Again, a full run of the series was released in this format.  The first season of ST:TNG came out on DVD in 2002.  All seven seasons were eventually released, and in 2007, the full series was released in a 49 disc set.  The series was also released on Blu-Ray, remastered from original 35mm footage using a special technique that allowed for maximum picture quality.

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The the video game department, ST:TNG had lots of options for the PC gamer, from movie tie-ins for Generations and First Contact to highly specialized games such as Armada and Borg Assimilator.  On the home console front, NES, Gameboy and Gear Gamer players got Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993.  Sega would follow in 1994 with Star Trek: The Next Generation – Echoes From the Past and Generations: Beyond the Nexus.  ST:TNG made it to the Playstation 2 with Encounters and Conquest (which was also available for the Wii), and was represented in the Xbox 360 and PC game Star Trek: Legacy.  Arcade fans got to experience the super cool Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine.

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Of all the really cool pieces of Star Trek: The Next Generation merchandise that I either owned or coveted, by far the most important items to me were the paperback novels.  They began in 1988 with Ghost Ship, the first of the numbered series, which went all the way to 63.  I was the proud owner of all of the ST:TNG numbered paperbacks through #45 (at the time, that was the most recent release).  I got the majority of the early run at a library sale, and began seeking out others at the library and then buying them from Books & Co as I found them.  There were also one-shot novels outside of the numbered series including titles like Q-Squared, Vendetta, Imzadi and Kahless.  These books were hugely, hugely important to me as a young reader.  I had always been an advanced reader for my grade level, but because I was so excited about having more ST:TNG stories to consume beyond the seven seasons of the show, I devoured these books, sometimes reading one in a single evening.  From the age of 11 to 13, you typically didn’t see me without one or several ST:TNG paperbacks in my possession at all times.  My quest to find new ones to read meant I spent a lot of time looking through the sci-fantasy paperbacks at my local library and eventually I began picking up other titles, both by genre mainstays like Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffery and other random one-offs, some very good and other delightfully cheesy.  But it wasn’t all warm fuzzy scifi nerd joy for a young Juliet.  As I’m sure you can imagine, the other 11-13 year olds I went to school with didn’t quite think the ST:TNG novels were as cool as I did.  Pair that a teacher who required you to track the pages you’d read, out loud, in front of class each day (remember that sometimes I’d read a whole novel on a usual day), and you’ve got a lot of pre-teen mocking and accusations from  classmates and a teacher that I was lying about the reading.  Sigh. Pre-teen angst aside, I learned a lot from these books as I came to understand which of the regular authors tended toward which type of stories and who was stronger with certain characters.  It’s helped me as a writer think about my own strengths and the type of stories I both like to tell and am good at writing.  By far, my favorite ST:TNG novel writer was Peter David.  I absolutely loved his use of multiple timelines that could both stand on their own as interesting stories and intersected in interesting ways.  David’s Q-Squared more than likely laid the groundwork for me to fall in love with even more complex timelines in novels like The Man in the Empty Suit and even experimental work like House of Leaves.

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The novels weren’t the only books released around the ST:TNG franchise.  There was an episode guide called The Complete Guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation that was re-released several times as the show was renewed for additional seasons (and that at one point in my life, I had memorized – no joke).  There were also several technical manuals, books about the science of Star Trek, and a host of other random series tie-ins like Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek:  The Next Generation.

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This of course brings us to the comics.  There were several series of ST:TNG comics released by DC and later their Wildstorm imprint.  For our purposes, I’ll be covering the first ST:TNG six-issue miniseries, now called Volume 1, released in early 1988.  They were written by Mike Carlin, who was also group editor for Superman at the time and later served as DC’s executive editor from 1996 until 2002.  The artwork was by Pablo Marcos, who had previously made a name for himself doing horror comics for Marvel.  Marcos would stay on for a good portion of the second ST:TNG DC run (Volume 2), the bulk of which was written by Michael Jan Friedman.  Big thanks to Matt for tracking down the Volume 1 series for me via Lone Star Comics, and before we engage, remember that here on Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and look for how close the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s set a course for the DC six-issue mini-series of Star Trek: The Next Generation….Engage!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation  #1  *
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.50    DC    1 of 6

We begin with Captain Picard’s opening narration (the same one that opens the show), which leads into a monologue of his reflections on the Enterprise, its mission and the fact that unlike his prior command posts, this ship is carrying not just his crew, but their families including many children.   On the bridge, Picard’s crew, including Commander Riker, Lt. Worf, Lt. Yar, Counselor Troi, Lt. Commander Data and Lt. LaForge, are ready to proceed with their first mission as they conduct scans of a nearby planet and adjust to working together.  An alien race makes contact and expresses and interest in meeting the Enterprise crew.  As Picard begins to make plans for an away team, Dr Crusher and Wesley visit the bridge to ask for more medical supplies, but everything is interrupted when the supposedly peaceful aliens fire on the ship.  After consulting with Riker and Troi, Picard decides that the away team will go ahead as planned with Riker, Troi, Yar, LaForge and Data visiting the alien planet.  As soon as they arrive, they’re fired on again again and pursued by warriors in a large armored vehicle.  Meanwhile, back on the ship, Picard has to deal with young Wesley asking him about his plans for dealing with the potentially hostile aliens and a husband and wife bridge team who are bickering nonstop.  Back on the planet, Yar gets the hostile aliens under control for the moment, and Troi probes their minds to discover that their actions aren’t necessarily purely hostile but that they’re involved in some kind of war games.  The team is then transported elsewhere, by another set of aliens who apologize for the welcome the Enterprise crew has received to their planet thus far.  Out of concern for his crew, Picard has jumped into a transporter and ends up on the same ship as his away team to be greeted by the aliens, who appear to be children.

Huh.  So…that was….an issue that I read.  The beginning of this issue read almost like it was going to be a comic version of the first episode of ST:TNG, Encounter at Farpoint but ended up veering off to its own story. According to the editor’s notes in the back of the comic, DC began work on this ST:TNG mini-series in early 1987, right around the time the show began shooting its first season, which I think, explains a lot about why some of the characterizations feel just a bit off.  For example: in the show, Data rarely speaks with contractions, save for some very deliberate scripting choices and the occasion flub, but in this comic, he uses them nonstop.  It’s entirely possible that decision wasn’t made until Brent Spiner began shooting as the character so the DC folks had already started working on the comic and this wasn’t communicated to them.  The way the characters interact with one another, even the way they address each other (commonly by first names instead of by last name or title) also feels just a bit off from the show. Speaking of out of place, the biggest problem I had with this issue were the things that felt like DC trying to “comicfy” ST:TNG – as if the show itself didn’t have the right elements for a comic in the 1980s (come on guys, it’s in space!) so they added giant Mad-Max-esque armored vehicles, warriors who looked like your usual Conan-Krull-HeMan clones and gave the bickering bridge couple capes…just so you were sure you were reading a comic book  The art itself is okay – very much of its time and nothing to write home about.  The cover is pretty cool with a painted looking Enterprise in warp flight over the LCARS display.  Let’s see if they can iron out some of my complaints in the next issue, though it’s got Picard fighting aliens in front of a Christmas tree on the cover so I’m not exactly optimistic.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #2  *1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    2 of 6

The Enterprise is en route to a Federation Starbase for standard maintenance, and the crew is preparing to celebrate Christmas on the holodeck.  The sensors pick up an alien vessel traveling at warp speed nearby so Riker proceeds with the usual diplomatic greetings, but when the communications channels are opened, the Enterprise’s instruments go berserk.  They recover quickly and finally reach the strange mummy-like aliens who are happy to accept the crew’s invitation to join them in their holiday celebrations.  The rest of the crew make merry on the holodeck, which is made up to look like ski slopes, but Picard and Yar excuse themselves to greet their alien visitors.  As they proceed to the holodeck, one of the aliens wanders off and catches Wesley, who’s also wandered away from the party, but says that he’s “not the one I’m looking for.”  Wesley tries to warn Picard and the rest of the crew, but when confronted, the aliens just say that there was an odd presence that they were chasing, which could also explain the earlier malfunctions on the Enterprise.  Picard doesn’t seem terribly concerned, so Wesley throws a tantrum and leaves the party.  Troi chases after him saying she believes him because she’s sensed something strange as well.  The aliens and the Enterprise crew clash as the presence once again wrecks havoc, materializing to look like Santa Claus (seriously).  When this happens, the aliens are unmasked and revealed to look suspiciously like a race of Grinches (again, seriously).  Finally the presence is freed out in space and the aliens agree to stay and celebrate Christmas with the Enterprise crew.

I spent the first few minutes of this comic extremely confused because I thought that this was going to be a continuation of the story from issue 1, but nope.  Instead we forge ahead into a rather ridiculous holiday story that ultimately results in the Enterprise crew and some aliens bonding over the spirit of Christmas.  It’s exactly as cheesy as it sounds, and I groaned loudly when the mysterious presence began to manifest itself in the shape of Santa Claus.  I won’t tell you what I said, when, upon flipping back through the pages to write this review, I realized that the aliens looked like the Grinch. Sigh. I suppose I should mentioned that I’m not a fan of holiday specials in general so the concept was already rather painful.  But even putting that aside, this just felt way too wacky to be ST:TNG – like bad fanfiction.  The art in this issue was slightly improved from the last – the characters are starting to look a bit more like themselves.  Let’s see if we can take a few more baby steps towards a good read in issue 3.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation  #3  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.35    DC    3 of 6

The Enterprise is beginning another mission when Picard catches Yar and Wesley running through the corridors playing a game.  He chastises them, and Yar tells Wesley a bit about her childhood on a rough colony planet before she’s summoned to the bridge.  The Enterprise has encountered a strange ship of unknown origin with no apparent lifeforms on board.  Yar volunteers to lead an away mission, saying that it’s best to investigate now that get caught in a trap later.  The mission, however, quickly goes awry as the team is attacked by invisible assailants, who seem to somehow know Tasha Yar.  Back on the Enterprise, Picard has to figure out whether or not to destroy this mysterious ship, and as he grapples with the ethics, Q appears on the bridge to throw his two cents in.  The alien ship begins firing on the Enterprise, and Picard makes the decision to protect the civilians onboard by separating the saucer section and commanding from the battle bridge.  Meanwhile, Wesley observes the transporters being used without anyone seemingly being beamed aboard the saucer section, while Deanna senses a psychic attack on Tasha Yar.  Q tries to bait Picard into destroying the alien ship, but then the Enterprise receives a hail of distress from the human-like creatures aboard who claim to have been abandoned by their leader.  While Q continues to argue with Picard, the aliens board the battle bridge and accuse Q of breaking his part of their deal.  While Picard tries to make sense of the arrangement that Q has made, Gordi informs him that the saucer section has vanished in space as our story is to be continued.

FINALLY, a comic that feels like ST: TNG and not some silly kids book (no offense if that’s what you’re into, it’s just not what I’m after in a Star Trek comic).  The story for this issue very much had the feel of a regular episode with moments of comedy, adventure and drama as well as Q meddling about as Picard tries to navigate the Prime Directive and captaining a ship with both commissioned crew and civilians onboard.  If that wasn’t enough, we got the ship separating, which always felt like a treat in the show (by treat, I mean thing that would cause a young Juliet to demand the attention of everyone around me: “Look! Look!  They’re going to the battle bridge which means THEY’RE GOING TO SEPARATE THE SHIP!!”).  The art’s still not fabulous, but for the most part, everyone looked remotely like themselves.  I’m actually a bit excited to see how this one wraps up so let’s move on to the next issue.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #4  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.35    DC    4 of 6

The saucer section is lost in space as Q argues with Picard’s crew on the battle bridge about his role in this situation claiming that there’s someone else controlling the situation that even he does not have influence over.  Meanwhile, the saucer section under Riker’s command is experiencing strange turbulence as it hurls through space.  In sick bay, Tasha Yar awakens to see a mysterious cloaked figure named Reglech, who she recognizes from her childhood on the colony planet.  While Picard discovers that Q has mysteriously lost his omnipotent power (and manages to get a good punch in), Wesley sneaks onto Riker’s bridge and manages to be in the right place at the right time when Riker relieves his helmsman of duty.  Tasha, meanwhile, has wandered away from sick bay with Reglech who taunts her about her childhood.  As a Q appears on Riker’s bridge, other Q’s watch as Tasha overpowers Reglech and observe that she shows promise.  Tasha brings “Reglech” (who’s now revealed to be another Q) to the bridge and the Q’s leave the saucer section, which finally stops shaking.  Meanwhile back on the battle bridge, Q finds himself abandoned on the Enterprise, powerless, and lashes out.  As the saucer section comes back into range, Q’s tantrum causes Gordi to be shot by a phaser, seemingly killing him….to be continued.

Interesting that this comic came out in May 1988 because almost exactly a year later, season two episode “Q Who” would air, the main plot of which is that Q is kicked out of the continuum for his meddlesome behavior.  That aspect of this issue is interesting, but feels kind of rushed in comparison to the way the story is told in the episode.  The bits about Tasha’s childhood are also interesting but rushed.  One thing that did annoy me was that the Bickley’s, the bickering husband and wife crew members from the first issue, are back and bickering in full force.  Seriously, who are these people and why are they necessary?  They aren’t even comic relief, they’re just annoying.  Another thing that’s more bothersome than outright annoying is Data’s reaction to Gordi’s apparent death.  I’m hoping they better explain his emotion-drive outburst in the next issue because this early in the show, it’s really not fitting for the character.  So is Gordi really dead?  Let’s find out!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #5  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    5 of 6

Gordi is seemingly dead, and Data is furious.  The Android attacks Q as the saucer section is re-attached to the ship.  Dr. Crusher arrives on the battle bridge and begins to tend to Gordi.  She takes him and Q (who’s still powerless and was pummeled by Data) to sick bay.  Worf and Picard discuss whether or not Q’s lack of power can result in him eventually changing and shedding his trickster nature, while Data worries over Gordi in sick bay.  Reglech has been confined to the detention deck with the aliens from the ship back in issue 3 (hey, remember those guys?) and manipulates them into facilitating his escape.  Tasha pursues the escaped Reglech, who goes to sick bay as Q is awakening.  Reglech is to kill Gordi, but Data jumps in the way, seemingly unhurt by his phaser blasts.  Then Q jumps in the way, sparing both Data and Gordi as he willingly sacrifices himself.  This puts Q back in the good graces of the continuum and he leaves the Enterprise unharmed as Gordi finally awakens.

All told, this isn’t a terrible arc, though really, I think the story would have been better served over a few more issues.  I seriously forgot about the aliens from the beginning of the story and was a bit shocked that for all of issue 4, they were apparently biding their time on the detention deck.  The Enterprise crew is once again all over the place.  It’s really interesting because for as well as they’ve got Picard down in this story arc, other characters just seem so off in terms of characterization.  Data is by far the worst offender.  Whereas others seem off, there are things about him in this story arc that are straight up canonically wrong.  As I mentioned in the prior issue’s write-up, I was hoping that his emotional outburst over Gordi’s attack was some kind of product of Q’s meddling, but apparently, it was just the product of bad writing -or- of the comics being written/produced prior to or concurrently with the beginning of the first few episodes so the characters weren’t really properly fleshed out.  And that’s the thing I have to remember, people reading these comics in 1988 only had a handful of ST:TNG episodes to compare the characterization to whereas I have multiple viewings of seven seasons under my belt, not to mention the novels.  So with that in mind, I’ll move on to the final comic in this six-issue mini-series.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #6  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    6 of 6

The Enterprise is finally on its mission to the mystical planet Faltos (which is where they were headed before the great Q interruption that made for the last story arc).  As Picard gives the orders to set course, Data begins to argue with him about the coordinates, saying that Picard is wrong.  Just as Data is about to be relieved of duty, the crew figures out that he is telling the truth, Starfleet command has implanted secret information about Faltos into Data’s brain.  The Enterprise finds the mysterious planet and send an away team to meet with the Faltos world tribunal, made up of many different races of aliens. Deanna has a bad feeling about the mission, but Riker doesn’t want to keep the tribunal waiting so they proceed.  The tribunal treats them as welcome guests, so welcome, in fact, that they’re informed that the Enterprise’s crew will now be permanent residents of the planet as so many visitors have done before them.  Naturally, the away team and Picard are outraged, and as they try to figure out what to do, Data realizes that perhaps there’s additional information hidden inside him.  So Picard and Dr. Crusher beam down to the planet under the pretense of diplomacy and proceed to help Gordi tinker with Data.  they learned that Data’s creator, Dr. Soong, studied crystalline energy while trapped on Faltos and used that knowledge, now implanted in Data, to escape.  So Picard and his crew put their plan into action and escape in the Enterprise, but not before the leader of the world tribunal uses his powers to remove all knowledge of Faltos’ location from Data’s (and thus Star Fleet’s) memory.

Story-wise, this was actually a pretty good way to wrap up this six-issue run.  Of all these comics, this one felt the closest to an actual episode of the show, just adapted to the pacing needs of a single issue comic, and there’s a part of me that actually wonders if this story wasn’t somehow recycled for an early episode of Voyager that’s very similar.  I’d love to know a bit more about Faltos, and see more of the planet, but even that didn’t bother me as it was obviously the easiest thing to skip for page restraints without messing up the actual story.  The art, on the other hand, still wasn’t great.  There are panels where everyone looks good, like comic stylized version of their TV characters, but in others, the characters, Data in particular, just looked ridiculous.  Earlier in the series, I was really unsure as to whether I’d be interested in reading the volume two comics, but I think with this ending, I may give them a shot at some point.  Speaking of which, I have a few more comics to cover here on Rotten Ink, the two movie ST:TNG movie adaptation comics.

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Of course, there were actually four ST:TNG movies, or three and a half depending on how you classify Generations since it is technically both an original series and Next Generation movie.  Generations was released in 1994, and the tactic of having a film covering both shows was interesting.  On one hand, I get it – all of the Trek movies up to that point were based on characters from the original series, and only three years prior, while ST:TNG was still on the air, Star Trek VI came out in theaters.  The flipside of this is that ST:TNG ended a successful TV run only months before Generations was released in theaters so it kind of begs the question, what else did that property need to do to prove itself worthy of getting its own film.  But ultimately Generations was a good passing of the torch and paved the way well for First Contact, which to me is the best ST:TNG film.  I’ll leave the plots of both of these for a moment as we’ll get to them in the comic reviews below.  After First Contact in 1996, Insurrection followed in 1998. I have mixed feeling about that one.  I don’t think it was quite as bad as many people claim, but it reminds me a lot of X-Files: I Want To Believe in that it really wasn’t a film, just a two-part mid-season episode on the big screen.  And then we have Star Trek: Nemesis.  I’ll level with you, dear Rotten Ink readers, I’ve only seen once, in the theater, and even fourteen years later that still feels like enough.  I ought to be able to have the same attitude about Nemsis that I do about Insurrection because I think the logical side of my brain knows that’s the case.  However, because Nemsis was considered such a commercial flop and a mess of a movie, it ended up being the last Star Trek movie before the JJ Abrams films (which I actually don’t mind especially since they’re attempting to simply make them an alternate universe which keeps in the spirit of Star Trek), which just really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  But we aren’t talking about Nemesis as there wasn’t a comic adaptation of it.  So here with go with Star Trek Generations.

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Star Trek Generations # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $3.95    DC    1 of 1

Captain Kirk, Scotty and Chekov are in attendance for the high profile launch of the Enterprise B.  On the ship’s maiden voyage, it encounters a distress signal from the Laku, a transport ship of refugees.  The rescue effort, however, goes completely awry resulting in Captain Kirk’s death.  Years later, the crew of the Enterprise D is celebrating Worf’s promotion when news arrives both of a personal tragedy for Picard’s family and in the form a distress call from the Amagosa star observatory.  The crew meet Dr. Soran, who was once a refugee on board the Laku.  He’s in league with the Klingon Duras Sisters, stealing trilithium and kidnapping Gordi, all in an effort to return to something called the Nexus.  Picard agrees to a prisoner exchange, but tricks the Klingons and goes after Soran, entering the Nexus himself.  While the Enterprise battles the Duras Sisters, Picard meets up with Kirk, who’s been living inside in perfect fantasy in the Nexus since the launch of the Enterprise B all those years ago.  Together, the captains defeat Soran, but not without a price as Kirk truly dies this time around.  Picard returns to his own reality to find his crew safe, but the Enterprise D destroyed.

I should have known that with Michael Jan Friedman credited for the story adaptation, this would be a great comic.  As I mentioned above, Friedman wrote most of the ST:TNG Volume 2 comics as well as a good number of original Star Trek and ST:TNG novels.  So not only is the characterization spot-on, the plot follows the movie extremely closely with good pacing for a comic adaptation (pacing is one of those things that seems really tricky to nail when adapting a film into a single comic).  The only thing that didn’t quite work story-wise was the subplot of Data getting the emotion chip, and that’s really because so much of what makes that great in the movie is Brent Spiner’s acting, not the script itself.  Plus, a tricorder singing about “lovely little lifeforms” just doesn’t read with the same charm it has onscreen.  Gordon Purcell’s artwork is wonderful.  Everyone looks, not just like the actor that portrays them, but there’s a lot care to capture their facial expressions and mannerisms.  Also, (and I realize that this also has to do with age and changes in the way comics are printed) the colors are really rich.  This comic both does the film justice and is an interesting read on its own.

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Star Trek First Contact # 1   ***
Released in 1996     Cover Price $5.95     Marvel     1 of 1

Picard still has nightmares about his time with the Borg, and because of his when they attack Earth, Star Fleet sends the Enterprise E (yes, they got a new ship) to patrol the Neutral Zone instead of into the action.  But when they learn that Star Fleet is losing, Picard disobeys orders takes the Enterprise into the thick of battle.  They’re able to destroy a Borg cube, but not before it launches a smaller sphere ship that creates a temporal vortex that sucks the Enterprise in.  Quickly the crew realize that they’ve been transported back in time, and that the Borg are trying to go back to assimilate Earth before First Contact (the first time humanity used warp engine technology triggers a visit from the Vulcans) and thus change the future.  The Enterprise destroys the sphere, but not before some surviving Borg beam onto the ship and begin assimilating it, including the Borg Queen who takes a special interest in Data.  Meanwhile on the ground, an away team attempt to aid Zefram Cochane and his assistant Lily in succeeding in their destiny of flying the first warp ship thus alerting the Vulcans to the fact that humanity has evolved in its intelligence.

Switching things up a bit, this adaptation was released by Marvel instead of DC.  Luckily, in the same vein as DC’s Generations adaptation, this was written by John Vornholt, who’s written a ton of Star Trek novels so it’s safe to say that like Michael Jan Friendman, he’s well versed in the universe and the characters.  The story fit the film nicely, but for me didn’t have the same impact as the movie.  To be fair, First Contact is by far my favorite ST:TNG movie, and to again draw an X-Files comparison, like Fight the Future, it’s one I still get excited about watching no matter how many times I’ve seen it (and I still get a little teary-eyed when First Contact happens).  So for most people, this comic will absolutely do the job and then some, but I still came away just a little underwhelmed.  The artwork by Terry Pallot and Rod Whigham is good.  Slightly more cartoony than the Generations artwork, but still great for the human characters.  Actually my super minor artwork complaint is more about the space scenes.  In panels where something is happening with the Enterprise, especially when it’s fighting the Borg cube, there are super cartoony sound effect words that for me ruined the mood of what otherwise would be a very dramatic moment.  The overall presentation of the book is nice – it’s thick with a cardstock cover as part of the Star Trek 30th anniversary line of products.  Again, this is certainly worth a read to get a taste of the film and for ST:TNG fans.  Earlier in this update, I showed you the Enterprise D, so check out the Enterprise E below….

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Alas, it’s time for me to set coordinates for another mission and return the helm to Matt for our next update.  We’ll be staying in space (sort of) and in the 90s for his next update, which is also (sort of) holiday themed. While I was crying over Vulcans in First Contact in 1996, earlier that year another space movie was released that also pitted hostile aliens against humanity for the fate of the future.  Since we’re two years too early for X-Files Fight the Fight, I’m obviously talk about Independence Day.  So join us next time as Matt dives into this film, its comic tie-ins and it’s sequel…20 years later.

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Matt Goes To The Movies 2015

Matt Goes To The Movies 2015 Screen Logo

This past year was pretty solid for the movies as fans of all genres had something to look forward to with three of the top choices being The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Jurassic World and Star Wars: Force Awakens! But while many movie goers were waiting for those three films, I was silently waiting for the new Mad Max, Rocky and Terminator sequels as well as all of the horror films that were released last year. This time, I didn’t just see movies at my favorite theater Cinemark at the Greene but also watched flicks at Regal, Cinemark Dayton South and Cranberry Cinema and watched films along side the likes of Juliet Fromholt, Josh Weinberg, Jeremy Hoyt, Stephen Alexander II, Anne Rotolante, Patrick Steele and my brother Bryan and his family! I ate many bags of popcorn and drank many Icee’s and loved the cinema experiences…well for the most part! This year was flooded with lots of other moviegoers who brought rowdy kids to the films, morons on cell phones and of course the loud talkers, but even these pesky people couldn’t bring down the mood and feel of the cinema. The ones who annoyed me the most were the loud talkers and kids during horror films, as their behavior took away from the atmosphere of films like Woman In Black 2, Green Inferno and Insidious Chapter 3! But let’s not waste too much time on cell phone zombies and talkers; let’s get to the Rotten Ink Theater and discuss the films I saw! Be sure to read on with caution as some write ups might have spoilers!

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As always, we are going to take out the trash first as I present to you the worst films of the year…and oddly enough, I didn’t see too many bad films this year.  Only one film has made the list and while it was not terrible, I found it to be a major letdown.  So let’s get to the worst!

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# 1

Vacation 2015 poster

Rusty Griswald decides to take his family on a trip, not to Europe, but to Wally World, the same place his father Clark took him to so many years back. So Rusty hits the road with his wife and two sons, and along the way, they run into all types of crazy and crude adventures till they reach their goal of Wally World.  Throw in cameos from Clark and Ellen Griswald, and you have Vacation. The things that work for the film is some moments will make you flash back to the other films in the series, the downside are the moments that reminded me of the crude humor of American Pie and The Hangover. While I didn’t hate this film, I was just very much disappointed with it as I was really looking forward to a true National Lapoon’s Vacation sequel, not a crude humor cash in. The film did just okay for New Line Cinema at the US Box Office bringing in a total off $58,863,141.00 on a $31 Million Dollar budget. Again, if you have not seen this yet, skip it and just pop in the DVD of the original and enjoy a comedy classic.

So now that the stinky worst film has been taken out, let’s take a look at action…and oddly enough, this year I didn’t see too many action films and that’s a shame as it’s a genre I enjoy seeing in the theater! I missed the new Fast And The Furious film as well as several others, but here is the list of the ones I did get to see! I even added a sports drama in the action section to help add depth.

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# 2

No Escape (2015) Poster

No Escape” was a fun action thrill ride that has Owen Wilson playing a father who took a job overseas in the water service and soon finds that who he works for forced themselves into the market.  Now a group of rebels have risen up and are killing anyone who they think is ruining their county.  So Wilson has to save his wife and two daughters and get them to safety before they become victims in a bloodbath of anger. This was a fun edge of your seat movie that had many moments that made you wonder how the family was going to survive this riot uprising! The film also adds in Pierce Bronson as a man who is trying to help the family out but also has his own reasons for being there.  Really, this was a good action flick that mixed in just the right amount of a thriller to make it work. The film did pretty good for the Weinstein Company and brought in $27,079,507.00 just in the US Box Office on a $5 million dollar budget. Well worth the watch in the theater, even if the person I went with was Josh Weinberg and he kept texting throughout it!

# 1

Creed Poster

Creed was hands down one of the best films of the year for me and was one that I was most looking forward to as I have been a fan of the Rocky franchise since I was a youngster.  This movie lived up to everything I wanted from it, from drama to sports action, it had it all. Adonis Johnson-Creed is the son of Apollo Creed from a woman he had an affair with.  He fought his whole life to prove something to himself and thanks to the guidance of Rocky Balboa, he stands a chance at becoming a famed fighter like his father. Adonis must learn not only to fight as a trained boxer but also balance his life with his mom (Apollo’s wife), girlfriend Bianca and learning that Rocky is sick. I don’t want to spoil too much of the film’s plot nor the ending but fans of Rocky and Rocky II will eat it up. Sylvester Stallone is fantastic as the aging Rocky and gave the performance of a lifetime, and Michael B. Jordan is amazing and makes Adonis Creed a likable character and delivers the “Rocky” of this generation. The film had a great showing for Warner Brothers bringing in a total in the U.S of $98,756,653 on a $35 million dollar budget as of Dec 30th 2015. Again, I can’t stress enough how great this film is and when seeing it in the theater with my girl Juliet, she teared up at moments of well written and acted drama.  Do yourself a favor, and check it out on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Yeah, I really was slacking in the action department.  I mean I had to add a sports drama film to the list, but it counts because it has Sylvester Stallone and boxing action in it, right? But what I did not slack on is science fiction and fantasy films that had some major heavyweights duking it out, not just at the box office but also for my # 1 spot! So let’s take an epic journey and see who won the pick to be the best 2015 had to offer.

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# 8

Pixels Poster

Aliens have sent Earth a challenge and are using our classic video game characters like Frogger, Pac-Man and Space Invaders as their warriors to battle our top arcade players of the past in a best of three match that pits the humans against real life pixel characters. This film got a lot of hate for no reason and many judged it because it starred Adam Sandler who for some reason is now the kiss of death for a film.  But while it’s no masterpiece of cinema, it is a fun space invader comedy film with cool retro video game characters like Donkey Kong, Space Invaders & Q*Bert and some fun chuckles. Pixels failed at the US Box Office only bringing in $66,412,189.00 for Columbia Pictures on a $88 million production budget. If you watch this film on DVD or Blu-Ray, go in with a clear mind and all the pre-online hate washed from your brain.  You might find yourself having a good time.

# 7

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The evil witch Mother Malkin has escaped and is causing death and terror.  The only hope is Master Gregory, a monster hunter who captured her many years back.  But when his ward dies in battle, he must find a new one who has to be the seventh son of a seventh son and finds him in a young farmer named Tom who he trains to become a killer of witches. Things get tricky when Tom falls in love with a witch and Malkin has called some of the top generals in the world of supernatural.  Gregory must face massive odds to save the world as we all know it. This is a cool fantasy film set in the age of knights that has many monsters and over the top battles that are sure to please most fantasy film viewers. The film was panned by critics, and sadly it tanked at the box office.  I feel like this is yet another of those films that got unfairly judged due to all the delays this production was plagued with. With that said, though the film does have some goofy moments like the over the top accent Jeff Bridges uses while playing Master Gregory, but for the stuff like that there is a dragon, attractive women and a foul troll like monster to make up for it. The film only grossed in $17,223,265.00 at the US Box Office for Universal on a $95 million dollar budget, but luckily it did a little better overseas.

# 6

jupiter ascending poster

Jupiter Ascending is one of those films I think was unfairly judged before it even opened in the theaters, due to delays, and the so called internet “press” before it came out was very negative.  Many moviegoers listened to these “critics” who said it was no good before even seeing it…this is what I call The Lone Ranger Effect. Juliet and I happened to enjoy this sci-fi flick that seemed like a mixture of many genre classics of the past thrown together. It felt like Star Trek, Star Wars, Flash Gordon and Masters Of The Universe had a child that was filled with lots of explosions and air chases. The story follows a young woman named Jupiter who works as a maid for a cleaning service run by her family, but she soon finds out she is much more as she has the soul of a reincarnated galaxy queen in her genes.  The Queen’s two sons and daughter want to manipulate and kill her to retain all she left them when she died in the past! But one lone bounty hunter along with his allies want to keep her safe and allow her to rule without the harm of her children’s greed. How can one woman change the fate of the world, and how will a simple maid deal with all the power and drama? This film’s plot has so much more to it but I don’t want to spoil too much as I think it’s worth a watch for sure. The film stars Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Sean Bean, and all of them do a good job pulling off their characters.  The film was directed by The Wachowski’s who are known for The Matrix films. It did poorly for Warner Brother only bringing in $47,387,723.00 at the US Box Office, but while it did poorly in theaters I can see this film gaining a cult following on the home video market.

# 5

Cinderella Poster

Disney has been doing a great job of making live action versions of their classic cartoon films, and Cinderella, much like Maleficent, is a perfect example of that. The story follows Ella, the daughter of a traveling merchant who sadly loses both her parents but not before her father remarries and she has to take care of her stepmom and two step sisters. They treat her not as a family member but more like a slave as they make her cook, clean and wait on them hand and foot. Poor Ella is even made fun of, and they start calling her Cinderella as they tease her looks after she cleaned the fireplaces and had ashes on her. The Prince of the kingdom is having a ball and with the help of her fairy godmother, she is able to attend and steals the Prince’s heart.  After she leaves before the magic of her glamorous life runs out, she leaves behind a glass slipper that is used in finding her. The classic story has never looked this good on the big screen, and I really liked all the actors casted as Lily James is perfect as Cinderella and Helena Bonham Carter is fantastic as The Fairy Godmother and Cate Blanchett is sinisterly good as the Step Mother. The film did pretty well for Disney at the U.S boxoffice bringing in a total of $200,025,513.00 proving that the classic stories never go out of style.

# 4

Terminator Genisys poster

The fifth film in the Terminator series was one of the films I was looking forward to this year as I heard that it was a film that would change the series timeline as we know it.  After viewing it, the film lived up to what I wanted it to be. In the future John Conner sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother Sarah, but when he gets there he finds things are not like they should be as Sarah alongside a Terminator she calls Pops are hunting down and killing every attempt that’s made by Skynet to take her life! They travel through time and soon find out that John Connor himself has been compromised by Skynet and he is the ultimate Terminator! Can Sarah, Kyle and Pops stop the coming of judgement day or is all hope really lost for mankind? The film has lots of action and some cool twists that made it a solid sci-fi action adventure, and while Juliet and I both liked it, it appears that the moviegoers in America were not as hip to the idea of a 5th Terminator film and would rather have spent money on such classic 2015 films like “50 Shades Of Grey”, “Get Hard”, “Spy” and “Trainwreck”! The film did very poorly at the US Box Office, only bringing in $89,760,956.00 on a $155 million dollar budget. While this film was suppose to be the lead in to another trilogy of films, it appears Paramount has pulled the plug on that idea ending the threat of Skynet once and for all…or until they remake it…ugh!

# 3

jurassic world poster

Finally, after 14 years of being closed, Jurassic Park reopens with the fourth film in the series called Jurassic World, and it was amazing and well worth the wait! The film is packed with the charm of the original series but also brings in a touch of horror to make the dinosaurs a little more scary. The plot has the park opening and becoming a huge attraction for families around the world to come and see living dinosaurs, but like all big business comes the want and need to bring in more visitors.  So in come genetic hybrid dinos, but they make a mistake with one that becomes the ultimate killing machine and worse it escapes and is on a killing warpath! Throw into the mix a park big wig and her nephews as well as a trainer who has bonded with a pack of raptors, and you have one fun rampage film! The film stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt and B.D. Wong, who fans of this series will know as Henry Wu. The film was a mega hit all over the world and brought in $651,519,326.00 for Universal at the U.S. Box Office, and by doing so, left itself open for many sequels in the coming years.

# 2

Star Wars The Force Awakens Poster

Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattered box office records and washed the bitter taste of the prequels out of the mouths of fans with a solid and well done sequel directed by J.J Abrams, the man who also rebuilt the Star Trek movie franchise. The story has Luke Skywalker missing and in the shadow of the Empire arose The First Order who is also trying their best for galaxy domination! Scavenger Rey alongside one time stormtrooper Finn must deliver a droid called BB-8 to the rebels lead by Leia Organa and get help from some familiar faces, namely Han Solo and Chewbacca! Throw in a new sith named Kylo Ren and add in some drama, action and heartbreaking moments and you have one hell of a great space war movie! Plus the new characters of Rey and Finn are likeable and great additions to the Star Wars universe. I saw this in IMAX 3-D opening weekend, and the place was packed.  It was amazing seeing how many grown men and women cried during this movie and how many got swept up in nostalgia when the opening credits popped up or when Han and Chewie first appeared. The score was fantastic and done by John Williams once more, and I can’t stress how amazing after all these years it was for me to see iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, C3PO and R2D2 on the big screen again. The film is doing fantastic for Disney bringing in an amazing $629,034,583.00 as of the day this update went up just at the US Box Office! If you enjoy Star Wars movies, video games, comics, novels, cartoons or toys then check this out for sure as major things happen, some that just leave you stunned and heartbroken.  It’s worth owning on DVD or Blu-Ray when released.

# 1

Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road was one of the films that I was the most hyped for in 2015, and it lived up to everything I wanted and more! The film follows Max who is kidnapped by a group of wasteland warriors known as War Boys and is used as a human blood bag for their ill warriors. Furiosa is a driver for the War Boys and their leader Immortan Joe.  On a run to get gas, she steals some things that mean a lot to Joe, and he will do whatever it takes to get them back! Max ends up free and tags along for a wild and furious ride with Furiosa that pits them against Immortan Joe and his War Boys! This movie is filled with lots of amazing car action and lives up to what a Mad Max fan would want from a new film in the series. While I did miss Mel Gibson as Mad Max, Tom Hardy does a pretty good job filling his boots. Immortan Joe who is played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Toe Cutter in the first Mad Max film, is fantastic and is one screwed up false idol! The film is not so much about gas as it’s about the shortage of water and how one crazy person/company in the future could control it all…cough: Nestle. The film also stars Charlize Theron as Furiosa who has become a very popular character and is a cool strong female character. The film did okay at the U.S Box Office for Warner Brothers as it brought in $153,636,354.00. Here is hoping that this film did well enough to make another sequel as I am ready to travel in that wasteland again in my favorite local theater.

There were so many sci-fi and fantasy films this year and to boot, so many great ones! But sorry, Star Wars and Jurassic Park, while you both were great, you’re just no match for Mad Max on the Fury Road! Next up, we move to the topic of comic books as we once more were treated to many super hero films in 2015.  So grab your cape and let’s take a wild ride to see what hero took the # 1 spot for me!

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# 3

Fantastic Four Poster

Fantastic Four was another movie that suffered from being judged before it even hit theaters, all based on a poorly put together trailer and the fact they changed the Human Torch Johnny Storm’s race.  Like Pixels, I think people were way too hard on this movie. Now I must say that this film does have lots of flaws and at times it felt as if the actors had no real direction or motive to put in a powerful performance. The film’s plot has Reed Richards being offered college tuition as he has mastered sending objects to another realm and along with Victor Doom and brother and sister Sue and Johnny Storm, they make a machine to send humans to that dimension.  An accident leaves them all with super powers and turns them into freaks of nature, even his best friend Ben Grimm is suckered in to this mess and transformed. Reed gets the power to stretch his body, Sue can turn invisible and create forcefields, Johnny can turn into a walking talking fireball, Ben turns into a living rock creature and Doom becomes something more and builds a godlike complex that leave the four having to battle Doom in the other dimension to stop his takeover of Earth. The film is silly, and the characters at time seem lost or as if they are bored, but over all I had fun seeing it at the theater. The film did poorly for Fox and is considered one of the biggest bombs of the year as it only brought in $56,117.548.00 at the US Box Office on a budget of $120 million! Love it or hate it, the film entertained me so it did its job.

# 2

avengers age of ultron poster

The Avengers came swinging back into action in 2015 and was an entertaining summer popcorn film that combined two of my favorite things: movies and comics. Iron Man wants to save the world, and by accident, he creates a living robotic being named Ultron who wants to clean the world of humans and start over! Tensions mount as The Avengers are defeated for the first time by Ultron and his two new mutant helpers Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver! But in the end, the team comes back stronger than ever and gets the help of the twinsas well as a clone of Ultron named Vision who all soon learn Ultron is a menace.  Together they save the Earth and defeat the robot armageddon. The film was a lot of fun, but I didn’t feel as it was as strongly as the first film and some subplots seemed out of place and were too Wheadon “Buffy” for me as now Black Widow and Bruce Banner have a forbidden love..silly. With this said, I enjoyed this superhero mega budget action movie and am looking forward to Avengers 3! Avengers 2 did amazing for Disney bringing in a total of $459,005,868.00 at the US box office showing that these heroes still pack a punch for movie watchers.

# 1

Antman Poster

When I first heard they were making a movie based on Ant-Man, I chuckled and thought who is going to play Hank Pym! Then when I heard Hank Pym was being played my Michael Douglas and he was not the focus of being Ant-Man as that was going to Scott Lang played by Paul Rudd, I thought Marvel had lost their minds putting an actor who’s been in a bunch of cheesy comedies as the title hero. But when I saw the trailer, all those doubts flew out the window and I became even more hyped to see this film based on a B-grade Marvel Comic character. The plot has Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, having to trust a master cat burglar named Scott in order to stop his one time company from getting the shrinking human technology.  So Scott becomes Ant-Man, and along side Hank and his daughter Hope, must stop this from happening as well as defeat the sinister Yellowjacket! This film is not only a superhero one but also part heist with a dash of comedy. Paul Rudd surprised me and turned in a great performance, and everything from the acting to the soundtrack worked. In my opinion, hands down this was the best superhero film of the year! The film did well for Diseny at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $178,780,134.00 on a budget of $130 million and at the foreign Box Office add on another $275,900,000.00! Say what you will, but Ant-Man packed a big punch for movie fans.

Never in my life would I think a film about Ant-Man would beat out a film that had Captain America and Hulk in it.  Crazy, but it did and took my # 1 spot! Up next is my favorite genre of films and one I look most forward to writing about for this Best Of update, horror! Once more this year was filled with lots of ghost and possession films as Hollywood thinks that’s all we horror fans want to see at the theater, but I think they are starting to learn as many of these titles did good but not great at the box office. Give me Slashers and classic monsters back and keep the ghost films away for awhile.  I would like to see more Halloween, Friday The 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre films in the theaters. But let’s waste no more time and jump into my top 15 list of horror films I saw in the theater this year!

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# 15

The Boy Next Door Poster

Jennifer Lopez looks fantastic in this horror thriller that has her playing a single mom who is a high school teacher that is trying to move on past her ex-husband who is trying everything in his power to get her back! Her neighbor is a sick old man whose nephew has come to live with them after his parents died in an accident.  This young man befriends J-Lo’s son. After a bad date and a few glasses of wine, she is seduced by the young man next door and they have sex.  This starts her downward spiral as the young man is unstable and becomes so obsessed with her that it leads to possibilities of losing her job, her husband and possibly her life! This film was a fun cheesy thriller that has some moments of suspense and even violence that help it along to be entertaining.  While the plot is mostly predictable, it was still very much worth watching. I saw the film with Josh Weinberg, and he also thought the film was okay. The film at the US Box office has brought in $35,423,380.00 for Universal on a lower budget making it a good solid hit for them.

# 14

the lazarus effect poster

Is there a afterlife? And what if science could find away to bring you back after death? This is the plot for The Lazarus Effect. Zoe is the leader of a research team that includes her fiancee Frank.  They are being filmed by a student as they embark on using a serum they created to bring the dead back to life and have success in bringing back a dog. But things go wrong when the college pulls funding and their research becomes property of a major drug company! Zoe and her crew sneak into the lab for one last test, and an accident leaves Zoe dead and her team using the drug on her.  But when she comes back, something is different, and their beloved co-worker is now an evil killer who is out for blood and can’t get past the major sin of her past. The film was a fun watch, and on the day we saw it, Juliet and I were the only people in the theater watching. The film has some cool yet cliched spooky moments, and Olivia Wilde who plays Zoe does a great job of being the sweet doctor who turns into a black eyed demon.  But the film does have some major plot flaws and characters who make some of the dumbest decisions in any movie I have seen this year, with Frank being one of the most annoying characters I have seen in a long time who seems to be as dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to the fact his mate is not his sweet girl anymore. The film was not a huge hit at the US Box Office but did well for Relativity bringing in $25,784,902.00.  While not a great film, it was worth watching for sure.

# 13

The Gallows Poster

The Gallows was one of those lower budget horror films that when I heard about it piqued my interest and was one that I wanted to see if it could be the next franchise in the genre.  Sadly, while I had a good time watching it in the theater, it was a letdown for the most part. When I saw the name New Line Cinema attached and the trailer dropped the names of Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees and compared them to this film’s villain, named Charlie, I thought for sure we would get a supernatural slasher film, but instead we got another Paranormal Activity clone with a killer that is hardly seen. The film is about a young man who is hanged by accident during a play in 1983, and in 2013, the school is trying the play again.  A group of teens get trapped in the school at night and are hunted down by the ghost of the dead actor who wears an executioner’s mask and carries a noose. The film is bloodless and is of the found footage nature, making for lots of moments of shaky camera work and jump scares but has no really bloody moments. The film’s main attraction for me was actress Pfeifer Brown, who plays the character Pfeifer, the queen of the drama department who was easy on the eyes, as well as the setting of an old creepy school at night which worked in spots. The film did okay for its low budget for New Line and brought in a total of $22,764,410.00 for them at the US Box Office. It could have been better and could have been worse.  This is a film I might watch one more time when it hits DVD to see if I missed anything that might have made this scary.

# 12

Unfriended Poster

Laura Barns was a girl in high school who was filmed passed out at a party after she had an “accident.”  Someone posted the video to Youtube, and so Laura’s harassment and bullying began, which leads to Laura killing herself. On the anniversary of her death, a group of friends meet up for a Skype chat that is hijacked by the account of the dead Laura wanting answers about who posted the video, and if it doesn’t get the real answers people begin to die! One by one the friends drop off but not before each person’s dirty little secrets are shared.  In the end does the spirit of Laura get the answers she seeks? Check out this horror film that takes place almost solely from the view of a computer screen.  While silly in parts, it at least tries to have a message about thinking before you put something on the world wide web that could be hurtful to others. The film’s murders are a little cheesy and amateurish, but they at least get an A for effort in having the guts to murder someone with a curling iron. The only major downside to the film is the ending that felt tacked on and takes away from a more powerful ending that it could have had by having one of the characters have to live with her mistake and secrets out in the world, but instead they went the route of spooky ghost coming to get you. The film made some money for Universal bringing in a total of $32,482,090.00 at the US Box Office. While not a fantastic horror film by any means, I still was entertained by this modern digital way to showcase horror by adding in social media and the cruel nature of high school drama.

# 11

poltergeist poster

This is one of those cases when you look at a film that been remade by Hollywood and ask yourself why would they do that? The original Poltergeist is a perfect rated-PG horror film that scared kids and parents alike and was a team up between Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg that was just a good scary flick. Sam Raimi and his Ghost House Pictures decided that they needed to remake it, and while they believed in their remake, moviegoers didn’t as the film performed very poorly at the theater. The film follows the Bowen family who are down on their luck and must move into a house in a not so nice neighborhood that seems to have some odd issues with the lighting and static electricity. After they learn that the house was built on top of a graveyard, their young daughter Maddy is taken away by spirits, and the family along with paranormal investigators must find a way to save her before it’s too late! The film adds some changes that help make it different from the original, and by all accounts Raimi should have made a sequel and not a remake.  Over all it was okay and was a nice summer popcorn film. The film only brought in $47,425,125.00 for MGM and shows that maybe movie goers are getting tired of remakes of classic horror films. I should also note that I am not a fan of kid actors, but the ones in this film do a good job!

# 10

The Green Inferno Poster

The Cannibal gerne was alive and well in 2015 thanks to Eli Roth, the director of Hostel and Cabin Fever. The film follows Justine, a young college girl who gets wrapped up in helping an activism group try and stop the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.  After they help slow it down, their small plane crashes and they become captives of a tribe of cannibals who kill not only to eat but also for ritual. Justine must muster up the inner strength to make it out alive.  This really gives a new meaning to who will survive and what will be left of them! The film is brutal, but not as brutal as one would think of when watching a cannibal film of the 70’s as only one scene really pushes the envelope on the splatter. Lorenza Izzo plays Justine and is fantastic as she is likeable and you find that you don’t want her to end up as dinner for the tribe. The film was supposed to be released last year but was pushed to this year and made High Top Releasing $7,105,595.00 on a $5 million dollar budget in the US.  So while this leaves itself open for a sequel, it was by no means a hit at the box office.

# 9

krampus poster

The Engel family have gathered for Christmas but when young Max looses faith in Santa Claus, he unleashes the sinister Krampus and his helpers who are out to ruin his Christmas or is that save it? One by one Max watches as his family disapear by the hands of Krampus and his minions.  As they fight back, the odds seem grim.  Can Max take back his Christmas and save his family…watch and find out! This film is one part horror and one part comedy and is brought to you by Michael Dougherty, who also did the holiday themed film “Trick r Treat” and made for a fun watch in early December when it was released in theaters. The film had a good atmosphere as the family is stuck at home with their neighborhood deserted during a freak snow storm with no power and no cellphone reception, and one pissed off shadow of Santa Claus looking for some new souls to take! The creature effects are pretty cool with twisted elves wearing human masks being the most freaky and killer gingerbread men being the silliest and dumbest.  Over all the film was okay and nothing too special. I found other Christmas themed horror films like the original Black Christmas and Silent Night Deadly Night to be way better to chill the holiday season. The film did okay for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in this far $41,333,325.00. If you like Christmas themed horror films or are looking for a fun watch, check it out.

# 8

goosebumps poster

Goosebumps was a popular book series and TV show when I was a youngster, and it’s still popular with today’s youth.  When I heard a film was being made I was pretty hyped, but when I heard Jack Black was in it playing the series creator R.L. Stine, I lost some steam on wanting to see it. But all that changed when I saw the first trailer and all the classic Goosebump monsters on the prowl – I was sold on the idea of seeing it! The film follows a young man who is new in town and in next door to a strange man and his daughter.  You soon find out the man is R.L Stine and that when one of his Goosebumps manuscripts is opened, it frees the monster from within its pages.  Worse, the books are in the hands of that evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy all thanks to the young man accidentally opened one and caused a panic. Can R.L. and the teens stop this monster invasion of their town or will they end up being the monster capital of the world! This is “The Monster Squad” for this generation and was lots of fun, even for me at the age of 36.  It’s well worth seeing in the theater and was a nice change of pace to see a family friendly horror film in the theater! The film made $78,121,323.00 at the US Box Office for Sony, making it not as big of a hit as they were hoping but still one heck of a fun watch for those who wanted to see zombies, a yeti, a werewolf, gnomes and so many others ghouls and monsters at their local theaters.

# 7

Crimson Peak Poster

Edith Cushing is the daughter of a wealthy New York businessman who can see the souls of the dead.  As a child she gets a visit from her mother, who had passed away, warning her to stay away from Crimson Peak. Grown up and after the death of her father, Edith moves away to England with Sir Thomas and his sister Lucille and soon finds that their crumbling mansion is filled with not just red clay but also ghosts, all disfigured and haunting.  Once Edith figures out she is at Crimson Peak, can she not only survive but also solve the mystery of this dreaded family and their home? This film is a gothic romantic horror film that embraces the ghost genre but also tries to add its own charm and atmosphere the way only director Guillermo del Toro can. The film has lots of twists and some surprises that sadly I could see coming 5 miles away.  While this did make the movie slightly less enjoyable for me, it did not take me out of it and I will not spoil the surprises and twists for you here. What kept this movie entertaining for me was not only the set designs and the gruesome ghost effects, but the acting that was top notch with Mia Wasikowska who played Edith being the stand out.  She is fantastic, and I found myself cheering for her to escape Crimson Peak! The film was not a US Box Office winner, only bringing in $31,090,320.00 for Universal on a $55 million dollar budget. While this is not del Toro’s best horror film, it was at least entertaining and had some great moments mixed in with the predictable ones.  It’s worth checking out if you like gothic horror.

# 6

insidious chapter 3 poster

Insidious Chapter 3 is not so much a sequel as it’s a prequel to this new popular horror series. Quinn is a young woman who lost her mother to cancer and wants to have one last chat with her.  She goes to talk to a retired Elise, a former medium who had to give it up after her husband died and an evil spirt tries to attack her whenever she now does a reading.  Her mistake is that she tries to do one for Quinn and by doing so, has a spirit called The Man Who Can Not Breath (an old looking ghost with a oxygen mask on) start to follow Quinn! A bad accident happens that leaves Quinn in a wheel chair with broken bones and even had her flatline in the hospital.  The spirit claims half of her soul when this happens, and it’s up to Elise and Quinn’s father to save her from its evil grips! The film once more is filled with pop up frights as well as a cameo from the series original evil ghost The Black Bride, and adds more to this series back story and shows that while a horror film is slow, it can still back many good scares as Juliet, who I saw this with, jumped out of her seat many times! The film did okay at the U.S Box Office for Focus Features, bringing in a total of $52,218,558.00. The film ends with a possibility of an Insidious Chapter 4, and it will be interesting to see what they did with the new spirit thats introduced at the end.

# 5

The Woman In Black 2 Poster

Hammer Horror has cranking out films about ghosts and possession since their comeback and don’t skip a beat with this sequel to The Woman In Black. The film takes place in England during World War II and follows a group of children and their teachers leaving the city for the safety of the country.  One little boy is targeted by the spirit of a vengeful mother who is The Woman in Black, and she wants him to die like her child did so many years back. It’s up to one brave school teacher and an air force pilot to save the child and find out the secret of this evil spirit. The film has some great atmosphere with the old house and ocean scenery and a chilling soundtrack but is plagued with cheap loud jump scares and a predictable story. Over all The Woman In Black 2 is a fun PG-13 rated horror film that was a nice way to kick off the horror films of 2015 as it was the first to be released to theaters. The film brought in $26,501,323.00 for Relativity and sadly was not a big money maker, but will hopefully do so on home media and digital.

# 4

The Visit Poster

Paula has been at odds with her parents for years after a big blow up causing them never to meet their grandchildren until one weekend that has Rebecca and Tyler meeting them and staying with them after a train ride. Rebecca brings along some cameras and wants to make a documentary for her mother about the trip, but what seems like a fun time with the grandparents turns into a bizarre creepy one as they act odd, complete with good old Grandma running around the house like a wild woman late at nights! This film has a twist ending like all M. Night Shyamalan films, and this one works better than most. The film is not a blood bath and has none of the red stuff flowing.  What it does pack is spooky elements and creepy old people doing odd things that makes you as the viewer uneasy. I don’t want to spoil the ending and twist so I will just say check it out on DVD or Blu-Ray and have a creepy good time with a film set out in the middle of nowhere! The film did okay for Universal and brought in $63,882.720.00 at the US Box Office on a small $5 million dollar budget! Check it out if you want to see a cool film with great atmosphere.

# 3

Victor Frankenstein Poster

Victor Frankenstein suffered from bad marketing and a trailer that made it look more like a dark comedy than a sci-fi, horror drama film that it really is. The film follows Victor Frankenstein and his assistant who he names Igor after rescuing him from a life of being a hunched back clown for the circus and their scientific journey into creating life! The pair build a primate creature, and this leads to the main goal of bringing a man back to life.  Along the journey Igor wins the heart of his dream girl and the pair do business with a rich cut throat scientist and must dodge a police officer who is obsessed with stopping them from messing with God’s nature. This was a fun classic monster film that showed that done right the classics will never go out of style…well at least for fans of the classic monsters. The acting is well done with James McAvoy playing Victor and Daniel Radcliffe playing Igor.  The pair blend the horror, sci-fi, comedy and drama elements perfectly together, and they make the characters seem like legit friends. The moving going public once more did not come out and support this film making it a bomb for Fox and bringing in a very small $5,747,301.00 in at the US Box Office, showing that Americans would rather spend their money at the theater seeing Kevin Hart or Melissa McCarthy play the same roles over and over again. The Frankenstein Monster shows up at the end of the film and is a pretty cool design and the action that takes place in the final battle is pretty fun and packed with fantasy epic moments. Do yourself a favor, and check this film out when it comes to DVD and Blu-Ray.

# 2

Sinister 2 Poster

Sinister II is yet another film this year that I feel was unfairly judged by critics and fans that caused it to strike out at the box office when it was a solid follow up to the original that was packed with creepy moments and some brutal deaths. The film follows Courtney Collins and her two sons Dylan and Zach who live in a old farmhouse hiding out from their father who is abusive.  Meanwhile Deputy So & So is on the hunt to figure out who has been killing families that leaves one child always missing. But we all know that Mr. Boogie and his ghost kids are to blame, and when one of the kids is targeted to watch 8mm films of brutal deaths the cycle continues! This film was lots of fun and have some really disturbing deaths as well as some jump scare moments, I for one really like the Mr. Boogie character and would like to see a part 3 sometime in the future. This film does not just rely on gruesome deaths to chill the bones of the viewer it also uses lots of cult and paranormal elements to add more shivers. The film has some great surprises and elements that are sure to shock and scare. The film didn’t do that well at the US Box Office for Focus Features only bringing in $27, 714,992.00, sadly not sure if this will ger a sequel but here is hopping it does as it was the closest thing I got to a Slasher film this year overrun by films about ghosts and possessions.

# 1

IT Follows Poster

It Follows is one of those independent horror films that shakes up the world of horror and shows that not every film this generation needs to be a ghost or possession story. The film is about Jay, a college co-ed who goes on a date with a young man.  After they make love, he knocks her out and when she awakens, she is tied up and he tells her that she will now be followed by It, a shapeshifting walking thing that if she is touched by she will die! The only way to save yourself is to sleep with someone else and pass it along. The film follows Jay as she comes to terms with a thing that follows that her friends cannot see, just so desperately want to help defeat. The movie is filled with surprises and twists that will sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. I saw this film at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek with Jeremy Hoyt, and we both agreed that this was a top notch thriller with an original and entertaining plot and is worth watching for sure. While this was a hit at filmm festivals and art house theaters when it opened wide, it brought in only $14,674,076.00 in the US for Radius, and thats a shame as I would have hoped horror fans would have went to the theater and supported this great film.

It was a great year for movies at the cinema, and it was made better by all my friends and family that came with me to the theater. It was amazing seeing sequels to films like Star Wars, Mad Max, Terimator, Rocky, Jurassic Park, Sinister and others that didn’t take the cheesy remake or reboot route. The Horror Films of the year did a pretty good job of scaring viewers when they were suppose to. This year is also filled wall to wall with great films and will be another year of films that will make me nerd out! So up next we are going to take a look at the mini comic based on the Atari 2600 game called YARS’ REVENGE so all you old school gamers and comic readers make sure to come back for that one! In the comments below make sure to let me know what you favorite film of 2015 was as I would love to see what you my friends and readers are enjoying these days. So until then watch a movie or two and support your local movie theater.

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