Marvel Horror Showcase – The Golem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who The Heck Is Drastik? I Mean Really Who Is He?

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and to our first update in the countdown to Thanksgiving! Just like covering a Hercules comic series on Thanksgiving, covering a Forgotten Hero is now a tradition for November, and for this one I am picking a hero from 2004 that seems to really be lost with time as finding information on him has been dang near impossible and I am talking about Drastik! As I said his name, I can hear the crickets from you readers as many of you I am sure just said out loud “Who?” and maybe, just maybe, this update will inform you a little about he is and what he is about. So sit back, relax and enjoy this fine November as we take a journey into the comic world of Drastik….and I will say this will be a very short journey!

The company who made Drastik was called Critical Element, and they appear to have had their home base in California.  The company was owned and run by Robert Rowe and by all research and accounts that I could find, this is their only comic release! When looking up Robert Lowe to see what he has done in the world of comics, it as well turned up to be a dead end unless he is one of the following people with the same name: Robert Rowe the writer of music and audio research, or Robert Rowe who is a real estate agent for RE/MAX in Columbus, Ohio, or he could even be Robert Rowe the actor in such films as The Living And The Dying and The Stone House! So I am going to guess that it’s none of the above and that this Robert Rowe is just a normal independent comic writer and creator who believed in his comic and character and opened up a comic company to try and get his vision out into the world and into the hands of comic readers! The comic artist on this book is James E. Lyle, who is an independent artist who has done work for such companies as Solson Publications, IDW and Zenescope and is a journeyman of comics. But I have heard that artist Fred Carrillo also is said to have done the art for this comic…so who knows, but I’ll soon find out once I read this comic for the first time. And it appears that comic legend Gil Kane did the cover art, and all classic comic readers will know him from his work with Marvel and DC. So that’s about all I could dig up on the folks who brought this comic alive and again I have to praise the fact that this small company tried to make a mark on the comic world and did so no matter how small it was.

This update for some reason also reminds me of an odd piece of superhero merchandise that was released in 1975 and was a rock opera based around Spider-Man! This musical release was called “Spider-Man: Rock Reflections Of A Superhero” and shows that Stan Lee would whore out the mighty Marvel characters to anyone who had cash and would offer him a place on the project –  of course Lee narrates this musical journey of Spider-Man. This rock opera is about Peter Parker’s struggle of being a college student and a web slinger superhero and is a mixed bag of singers and musical artists making this come alive with such names as Marty Nelson, William Kirkland and Terence P. Minogue and characters that make appearances include Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. And I should also note that one of the funniest things about this is they act as if other Marvel Superheroes are playing the instruments as they have Incredible Hulk on drums, Luke Cage on bass, Silver Surfer on keyboards, Conan The Barbarian on strings and many of the other heroes lending their talents. That’s what I love about the good old days of comics, so many off the wall merchandise was made in order to spread the heroes to new set of eyes and try and bring in new readers. This weird Rock Opera was released on vinyl and late on CD, and after hearing about it I made sure to track down a CD copy of it and I must say this is one weird and wild ride and it should be turned into a stage musical play as I would 100% pay to see it! Do yourself a favor, if you enjoy Spider-Man and cheesy 70’s Rock N Roll, find this CD and give it a listen.

So here we are at the point of looking at the comic Drastik showing that this character made a very small mark on the world of comic heroes. So with a chill in the air this cold November day, I would like to think my pal Jason Young for getting me this comic from the Gem City Comic Con and would like to once more remind you that I grade this on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story! So if you readers are ready, I am as well as this will be the first time I read this comic, and I am looking forward to seeing what its really about!

Drastik # 1  **
Released in 2004     Cover Price $2.95     Critical Element     # 1 of 1

Drastik busts into a lab where an evil doctor was hatching an evil scheme and kills him for his soon to be crimes. We then cut to Los Angeles where a bank is being robbed, and the robbers decide to kill the security guard on duty! Meanwhile, while on a walk, Drastik hears the gun shots as well as the ambulance on its way to the bank and rushes there to make the robbers pay for their crime. As the robbers try and get away, our robot hero Drastik stops their getaway car and blows it up with one of the robbers still inside! As the others run away, he goes and checks and finds that the guard is in fact dead.  The police want the robbers badly, as does Drastik who is hoping to track the others down as well as the person who hired them to rob the bank. The robbers decide to set up Drastik and try to smash him in-between cars and this goes south when the robot jumps out of the way and is able to kill the robbers as well as get the name of their boss who he kills with a shotgun! Next Drastik swears that he is going to kill a serial killer calling himself the Ape-Mask Strangler and finds him and knocks him out with one punch!

This is a weird superhero comic that is very much pro vigilante justice as our robotic hero goes on a one bot killing spree of criminals! The plot of this comic is simple: Drastik has zero tolerance for criminals and goes into a rage when robbers kill a guard during a bank robbery and spends little time hunting them down and killing them and even finding their boss and murdering him all the while he also kills a mad doctor and a killer! It’s a very simple plot with not much depth to it as it was very cheesy stuff and feels very dated for 2004 when it was released with such a simple story. Drastik is a robot who acts like a human but has an ego that will not allow him to fail in his quest to stop crime for good, he is super powerful and smart and seems to have no emotions for those he kills but does for the victims of their crimes. He also is very much a smart ass as he has puns and jokes for the evil doers he is killing and for the most part is a pretty likable hero if you like vigilante justice! His friend in this comic who only is seen walking with him down the streets of LA is Valori Vane a woman he saved from a crime scene who know acts as his closest friend, she is not flushed out at all and is just kind of a background player. The bank crooks are just normal gangster looking criminals who are being lead by a homeless guy and none of them really put up a fight and all meet their end in the name of justice. The Mad Doctor and Ape-Mask Strangler are barely in it and we get no feel for who they are and how bad they were! That’s the main downside to this comic, NONE of the bad guys seem like they even stand a chance against this killing machine of a hero, and with no threat comes no suspense and that leads to an average independent hero comic adventure. The cover is pretty plan and is clearly just a sketch done by iconic comic artist Gil Kane set over a yellow background, but while simple it is eye catching due to the bright color and cool character design. The interior art is done by another iconic comic artist Fred Carrillo and is great classic comic book art and I really dig it as it reminded me of the comics I grew up reading. The story and character creation was by Robert Rowe and it makes me if he or some one he loved was the victim of a crime and this kill all the bad guys character was created as a way to deal with it…makes me wonder. But over all this was a fun average comic book that was a fun read and a great one to share with you readers as he really is a forgotten hero! Check out the art below to see the style of Carrillo and the classic look of it.

While Drastik is not a household name and is not ever going to get a big budget movie based on him, he still made is tiny mark in the world of comics and added his own brand of justice for readers to enjoy. It’s very weird to think that this character never got a second issue, and in fact, I don’t think he ever appeared again after this issue! But thanks again goes to Jason Young for giving me this comic as it was a fun one to cover on this countdown to Thanksgiving update and introduced me to a new character I would have never know was created. For our next update, we are walking away from a Forgotten Hero and back into the world of From Horror Movie To Horror Comic as we will be talking about the horror, comedy musical Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes! So make sure to join me back here for that one.  Until next time, read a comic or three, call a friend or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Oh yeah and until next time avoid tomatoes ’cause who knows, maybe they are trying to eat you!

Marvel At The Thanksgiving Might Of The Mighty Hercules

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that while you are reading this your home is filled with the smell of turkey, stuffing and all the other foods of this holiday. I am once more over at my parents’ house getting ready to chomp down on some turkey all the while chatting with my parents and watching football on the TV. This year has been a crazy one filled with great moments to be thankful for like the birth of Sparkle Comics and the continued success of Baron Von Porkchop as well some very rough moments like losing my cousin Norman D. 2016 has been a year filled with great moments with my girlfriend Juliet from going to Pittsburgh, to Horrorhound Weekend and everything in-between! So far Hollywood has delivered some fun films to watch in the theaters that I was able to see with friends. Video game companies have released some great games for me to play on my PS4 and even my NES with Homebrew and hacked games. Marvel, DC, Titan and IDW have put out some amazing comics for me to read from Sam Wilson Captain America to Tales From The Darkside. I am thankful for friends like Josh Weinberg, Henrique Couto, Todd The Fox, Queen V, Garrison Kane, Dusty Austin, Dan Harkless, David J. Getz, Geoff Burkman, Chris Seaver, Louis Justin, Spencer Lucas and so many more for giving me great friendship and moments that impact my life everyday. I am thankful for my friends from the Sparkle Comic family like Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Jeff Potter, Wheeler Hall, Damien Brunk, Natalie Claude, Jason Gilmore, Scott Scarborough, Tom Amrhein and Joe Grunenwald who are all so talented at what they do and are making a Dayton, Ohio based comic company come to life…it truly is comics made by friends for fans. I can’t forget my Horror Host family as people like A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Halloween Jack, Fritz The Nite Owl, Dale Kay, Janet Decay, Dr. Pureblood, Baron Von Wolfstein and Riggor Mortiss who are all amazing people with amazing shows that offer such great friendships and programs that are inspiring. I am very thankful for my cousin Stephen Alexander who makes Baron Von Porkchop come alive as well as he is one of my near and dearest friends. I am thankful you all, the readers of Rotten Ink who make this blog even more fun for me to write! And of course I am thankful for my family as they are truly the people in my life that keep me sane! Man, so much to be thankful for, so before we take a look at Hercules as done by Marvel Comics let’s go grab a plate of food and stuff our bellies as we travel to the world of Greek mythology once more.  This time around we’ll see what the world’s top comic company does with the son of Zeus. I should also note that this update will be a quick one as Hercules from the Marvel Universe demands that I spend more time eating mashed potatoes and turkey, and less time writing about him!

Thanksgiving Day Feast With The Trimings

The 1960’s saw Hercules being pulled from his time of Ancient Greece by Immortus to fight Thor or was it? That version of Hercules was really just a space phantom, and the real Hercules would meet Thor in his next Marvel Comic appearance. Hercules would defeat Thor in battle when Odin punished his son for falling in love with a mortal Earth woman named Jane Foster. But the two would turn into friends and would join each other in battle with Thor even rescuing Hercules from Hades when his uncle Pluto tricked him into becoming the ruler of the land of the dead.  Hercules would also go on to have brief fights with Hulk, The Avengers, Sub-Mariner and Dragon Man to name a few. After being banned from Olympus by his father Zeus for coming to Earth without his permission, he would go on to join The Avengers and seal himself being a true iconic modern day superhero helping them on many missions. Hercules also join such teams as Heroes For Hire, Damage Control, The Defenders and The Champions.  In all of these groups, he not only lent his Godly strength but also his mind for war and battle, making him a major and important member of each of the teams he has joined. During his Marvel Universe Hercules journey has also battled Ares, High Evolutionary, Mister Hyde, Mongoose and Doctor Doom to name a few. He also took over for The Incredible Hulk during the events of Planet Hulk, and after Hulk returned for the story line World War Hulk, Hercules teamed with Amadeus Cho for a while. And during Civil War, Hercules took the side of Captain America as he calls the Superhuman Registration Act supporters “Traitors”! During the Secret Invasion storyline Hercules lead a team called God Squad whose members included Snowbird and Demogorge to fight the Skull. These adventures are just a drop in the hat of the adventures Hercules has had in the Marvel Universe. Hercules is super strong and is skilled in boxing, pankration, archery and Greco-Roman wrestling and as well has a healing factor. His first appearance was in Journey Into Mystery Annual # 1, and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created this Marvel Comic version of the Greek hero who is still being used by Marvel this day. As a young comic reader I used to buy Thor comics off the newsstand, and when Hercules was guest starring, I can always remember looking at those as a treat. While not even in my top 20 favorite Marvel Comic characters, Hercules is still one I enjoy reading about, once more proving that the classic heroes of time never fully go away, they just get modernized for a newer generation.

Marvel Hercules 1Marvel Hercules 2Marvel Hercules 3

Marvel’s Hercules has had his share of merchandise that includes besides the comics, action figures in the Marvel Legends line and more, statues and busts done by such companies as Bowen, many board game and table-top game pieces like Heroclix and has appeared on posters as well as many video games. Hercules is just one of those characters that lends himself into being made into merchandise and also was a perfect fit for comic books. Over the years I have played HeroClix off and on with friends and have used the Hercules piece before in battles.  While a solid figure who can deal out damage, he falls a little short if the luck of the role is not on your side. So if you’re a fan of Marvel’s Hercules make sure to check out many of the items I mentioned above as they can add great options to your collection.

Marvel Hercules bustMarvel Hercules action figureMarvel Hercules heroclix

So there you have it, a quick look at the history of Hercules in the Marvel Universe as well as a peek at the cool merchandise based on him.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready to take a look at this 4 issue mini series that I should thank Mavericks for having in stock those many years back that I bought them. But before we travel to Greece and see what Herc is up to, I should also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that I think we are ready to climb Mount Olympus and see just what mischief Hercules will get into, and if memory serves me correctly, this series is lots of fun and I am looking forward to re-reading it. So it’s Adventure Time!!!

Hercules 1 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 1  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 1 of 4

Hercules climbs to the top of Mount Olympus after years of being away and finds the day of his return is not filled with a feast but is to be spent in quiet in honor of his father Zeus. Hercules is bored and decides to horse around in his room with the wine maids and causes great noises that anger Zeus who in turn bans Hercules from Olympus and sends him into space until he learns a lesson.  With Apollo’s Chariot he enters The Andromeda Galaxy where he meets and spends the night with aliens of the Rigellians race, who record data for study.  They send a Recorder Droid with Hercules who continues his quest in space! Hercules lands at a planet that has a massive casino, and he and Recorder spend time drinking.  Hercules spends time telling stories to the waitresses to impress them, but he soon has the whole bar against him when he attacks with no cause a massive muscle alien who is actually a gentle giant! As Hercules and Recorder leave with their heads down, a spacecraft wrecks outside and Hercules saves the passengers as well as the town as he flings the fuel tank into the sky before it explodes.  Once more he becomes a hero and learns a valuable lesson of forgiveness.

Take Greek mythology and mix it with the adventures of Han Solo of Star Wars fame, and this is what you’re in for reading this fun adventure comic.  The plot is simple and very much inspired by many films based on Hercules as his reckless and self-indulgent attitude angers his father Zeus who bans him from Mount Olympus until he learns a lesson, but the twist this time around is he is not sent to Earth but instead to outer space where he quickly makes friends and has a robot sidekick named Recorder who will follow his adventures. Hercules is very cocky, and it’s clear his whole world revolves around himself and he expects everyone to roll out the red carpet when he comes around.  Most of the time, he thinks with his muscles and not his brain and thinks that fighting is the way to get respect from strangers. But he also knows what he must do when lives are in danger as he was willing to risk his own life to save those of aliens. But while Hercules is self centered, he still is a very likeble character as he is a brat but he doesn’t know he is a brat. Recorder is bland and around just to learn, but you can tell this android has a personality that will shine through by the end of this mini series. Zeus is just not having his son’s brash attitude anymore and wants to prove a point that his word is law on Olympus, and he is a character the demands and earns his respect. So far we have no major bad guys as this issue clearly is just the build up on how to get Hercules from Olympus to space. The cover is amazing and very eye catching, with the inside art being done by Bob Layton (who also wrote it) that is truly that classic 70’s and early 80’s magic! So let’s see what’s next for Hercules and see what he learns on what is his new quests.

Hercules 2 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 2  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 2 of 4

Hercules and Recorder lose a drag race in space, and this causes the pair to have to come up with money to pay off their debt.  This also leaves Apollo’s Carriage in the hands of the aliens who won, and the horses are not too pleased when the pair try to tamper with the gold carriage. Hercules goes on a rescue mission to rescue the kidnapped Layana Sweetwater, who is the daughter of a powerful galaxy politician. During the rescue Hercules beats up the space pirates and Recorder get his hand blown off, but they succeeds at the rescue, only to find out there is no reward money! Hercules and Layana fall in love, and while having a private time in their rented room, Recorder is arrested as they think he is a peeping tom robot! Hercules, after lying about why he and Layana can’t stay together forever, soon finds out that she ran away from home as her promised husband, who is a lizard man by the name of Count Igwanus who is “evil”, busts in and is not pleased to see his soon to be bride in bed with another man! Hercules takes the fight to Igwanus and his men but soon finds out that he has been played for fool as Layana lied about Igwanus, who in fact is a noble lizard man she was in love with and to marry the day she was kidnapped! After the matter is settled, and Igwanus takes Layana home.  He also pays Hercules the reward money, and he pays off his debt to the racers who are in the hospital now because of Apollo’s horses and Recorder is bailed out from jail.

The second issue of this mini series is just as charming as the first and once more follows Hercules and his adventure into space…wait, they should have called this “Hercules & Recorder’s Excellent Space Adventure”! The plot of this issue has Hercules and Recorder saving a young woman from pirates only to find that the money promised for her safe keeping was a fraud as are the lies Hercules and the rescued woman tell each other. Hercules is as cocky as ever but also noble as he wants to pay off his debts to a pair of space racers he lost to.  He’s also a liar as he beds a young blonde woman he rescues and then in order to get her from not falling in love with him lies about a lost love of his past. I will say that Hercules also seems to learn a lesson in this issue as he finds out lies have fall out and that when wrong, you must try to make things right. Recorder is not just a robot that is recording all what Hercules does but is also a hero as he steps up in the rescue effort and even loses his hand in the fight. The Horses of Apollo’s Chariot are very protective and it’s shown they will turn into fire eyed wild stallions if crossed that will put you in the hospital. Layana Sweetwater is a cute young blonde who was kidnapped and tells lies in order to try and get Hercules to let her stay with him.  By the end, she seems to not have learned a thing. Count Igwanus is just a Lizard Man in love who is confused when Hercules attacks him and his men, but he soon finds out that his soon to be bride lied to the Son of Zeus and even after all the fighting he still loves and wants to marry Layana. This issue was lots of fun and also has Hercules change his costume from his famous green and orange to a slick black and red one! Comedy, action, adventure and science fiction all come together so well in this issue, and for sure this was one hell of a fun read on this holiday! The cover is great once again, and the art inside is done by Bob Layton who also handled the story again. So far I would say Marvel is doing the Hercules character right, and I am having a blast with this one on this Thanksgiving Day! Let’s see what old Hercules and Recorder get into next, shall we?

Hercules 3 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 3  ***
Released in 1982    Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 3 of 4

Hercules and Recorder are under attack from a fleet of spacecraft ,and after trying to reason with them, Hercules gets mad and leaps into space from his chariot and takes over the aliens ship and lands it back at their base to inform them they mean no harm and only want to travel to a planet they heard had great wine.  While Hercules is trying to explain this, he meets Commander Malin who informs him that the reason he was under attack by his men was because he was flying in a restricted area as planets from this part of space have gone missing over the years and they have been put in charge to make sure no more go missing.  As Hercules and Recorder become guests of the massive war ship, they soon find that they are all under attack.  All of the fighters for the protection of the planets are destroyed, and it’s up to Hercules to stop this invading menaces.  He soon finds himself bound to the wall, the prisoner of a race of insect like aliens who worship a god they claim they must sacrifice planets to! Poor Recorder has his legs blown off, and Hercules powers up and breaks free and saves the target planet.  He and Recorder escape just in time as the aliens commit suicide after they think they failed their god. Commander Malin is pleased with the Lion of Olympus, Hercules and has Recorder’s legs replaced.  They all think things have ended well….that is till we find out that the god they worshipped was none other that the world eater Galactus!

This issue is all about planets going missing and Hercules having to step up and face odds that are against him and his robot friend.  Aliens from a planet long gone think that they must give other worlds to the one who ended theirs in order to please him for letting them live.  The one cool thing about this issue is that the good aliens are from different parts of the galaxy that must work together as a galactic Air Force in order to keep worlds safe from an unknown source of destruction.  It reminded me of the film “The Last Starfighter” as it also had aliens from all over teaming up to save worlds from danger. Hercules in this issue is brave and puts others before himself as he knows that he must stop the insect aliens from stealing planets to appease their god. In fact he goes into a brutal rage by the end and knocks the snot out of many of the bad guys and then uses a metal rod to blow up their device that sends the planets to Galactus! But what Hercules also does by saving that one planet is kill off two huge ships filled with insect aliens who kill themselves for failing and as well has pissed off the powerful Galactus, who now is on the warpath! Recorder can’t catch a break as he gets his legs blown off and must get odd shaped new ones as replacements. Commander Malin and his men are brave and noble but are also outmanned and outgunned, but they still go down with a fight. The insect aliens are cold blooded killers but do what they do in order save many planets.  They look at it this way, give one planet to save many, and when they fail to deliver this time around, they would rather die than face the wrath of Galactus. Speaking of Galactus, he only appears at the end of the issue, and man is he mad! The things I enjoyed about this issue is that it’s like they tossed elements of Greek mythology, Aerial Combat, The Last Starfighter and classic Marvel Comics into a blender and this space opera action drama is what was created. Bob Layton is on art and story again and does fantastic as he has done with the past two issues, and this time around the cover is good as the crazed madman look in Hercules’ eyes says a thousand words – all of them are cuss words and threats of bodily harm! Well let’s see what the fourth and final issue in this series has to offer on this glorious turkey day holiday update.

Hercules 4 Marvel

Hercules: Prince Of Power # 4  **1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 4 of 4

Hercules and Recorder are now on the planet they just saved and a massive feast with tons of wine, beer and brew is being served in his honor.  He even receives the most powerful of all alcoholic drinks in the world as the alien’s gratitude. Galactus is mad that his followers have failed and sends his new female herald Nova, who prepares the planet to be drained of its life by her master.  But Hercules finds out about the approaching doom and he decides that this planet is under his protection and will act as its savior once more. Hercules sweeps Nova off her feet and after he beds her, he takes Apollo’s Chariot and Recorder to Galactus’ ship and attempts to stop the world eater.  He soon finds even his mighty power and strength is not match for Galactus, who after beating the Son of Zeus still is on plan to drain and eat the energy of the planet. Hercules takes a few moments to think of a plan and decides to slip the whole bottle of the most powerful alcohol into Galactus’s drink.  This of course does not work but makes the world eater laugh and decide to leave the planet alone.  As Recorder returns to the Rigellians for repairs as well as with a memory filled with stories, Hercules returns to the alien planet and goes on a date with Nova who is now taking some time off.

This final issue is lots of fun, but also seems a little rushed and is not the note I would have like to see Hercules and Recorders’ space adventure end as they separate from each other and Herc just goes on a date with Nova. The plot has Galactus wanting to eat a world, and Hercules who is being treated like a king (or is that a god?) is enjoying the huge party on the planet and sets his sights on stopping Galactus from eating away his world that’s filled with good wine and drink. I love the idea that Hercules is so ego driven that he thinks he can stand toe to toe with Galactus and even tries his best to punch out the mighty icon of Marvel who dines on worlds and has zero feelings. Hercules, while still very much a muscle bound meat head, learns in this issue once more that he can use his mind and win a fight over using his fists, and that others in the universe are as well important as just himself and his fellow Greek gods. He also once more shows that he has the charm as he beds Nova, a female who is on fire and is the herald of Galactus. Recorder is beat up and has tons of replacement parts, but you can tell he has built up a friendship with Hercules and is very bummed when the Rigellians come to reclaim him for his information and to stop the use of their credit that the pair had ran up. Nova at first comes in like a Horseman of the Apocalypse ready to spread gloom and doom, but by the end acts more like a love struck high school girl. Galactus is as wise as he is hungry and is amused by the tricks and bravery of Hercules and decides to spare the world and allow his herald time off to amuse his new Greek hero friend. As I said before, what I didn’t like is that the team up adventure and friendship of Hercules and Recorder come to an end here and while they battle one of the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous characters, it’s hardly a battle and more like a scuffle that ends with drinks afterwards. The cover for this issue is okay and has Galactus looking as if he is melting Hercules with beams from his eyes. The art and story inside is once more done by Bob Layton and is great stuff, and really makes me wish that the series lasted a little longer. So with this being Thanksgiving and all, I would like to wrap this up by saying this was a solid and great adventure starring Hercules and shows that Marvel knows how to comic book the Greek hero right. Check out some artwork below to see how epic this comic series is!

hercules prince of power art 1

So now that we have returned from space on Apollo’s Chariot and from yet another Thanksgiving adventure with Hercules, I would like to wish you all once more a safe and fun holiday season and hope that this update helped brighten your day even a little bit. I want to also note that in the future i will cover the next Marvel Hercules mini-series based on his adventures in space. Our next update starts our countdown to the big Christmas Eve update and will be about those warrior trolls known as the Stone Protectors who I am sure made at least a handful of Christmas’s brighter when youngsters got the toys, VHS tapes or comics for gifts. So until, then eat a little more turkey, read a comic or three and spend some time with your loved ones! See you next update.

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Who Remembers Solarman?

Welcome to another update, our first one in our countdown to Thanksgiving here on Rotten Ink, as we once more take a look at a superhero that failed to capture readers and lead to a short-lived comic series that left the character almost forgotten in modern times.  For this one we will be taking a look at Solarman, a Marvel Comic character that’s long been forgotten by most. What’s really crazy is that this character is one that Marvel really wanted to take off as you will see during this update. It’s crazy to think that Thanksgiving is weeks away, and that great food and family time is just around the corner. I am sure some of you can’t wait to smell that turkey cooking, and for all my vegetarian friends, I am sure you hyped for the tofu turkey and all the wonderful sides like corn, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Turkey 2016

When you think of holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, one thing comes to mind, the word home. For me, the old two story house in Waynesville on Royston Drive will always be home.  One day I would love to buy it and have Juliet and I live there, but another place I call home is the basement of my parents’ house that was dubbed Independent B Movie Studios as it is the place that ideas for films like Werewolf Of Ohio 1-2, The Wolf Hunter and Cocktober Blood were all brainstormed. It was the “set” for no budget films Nightmare and One Second Too Late. It was the place that the first ever Horror Movie Marathon took place, and it hosted many long nights of playing video games with my pal Jason Gilmore as we tried to beat games like Resident Evil 2, Silent Hill and Clock Tower. It was the place that my old computer sat were I would write scripts for possible films and during breaks would play cheesy DOS games like X-Men, Waxworks and Plan 9 From Outer Space from hard disks. It was a place that acted as shelter for me and my past girlfriend Misty as we were in-between apartments and acted as a place for me to stay when I needed a place to lay my head for the night. Now, in 2016, it’s completely different from what it use to be in its heyday.  Gone are the movie posters all over the walls; gone is the floor model TV along with the VCR, DVD player and many video game systems.  Gone are the old computers, and gone are the days of it being the house of ideas for no budget movies but it will forever be a special place for me and many of my friends as it was a magical place filled with lots of amazing memories and great times. Below is a modern picture of the old “studio” with the amazing orange carpet that has been down there since the start of its legacy.

Independent B Movie Studio

In 1979-1980, David Oliphant created three digest-sized comics based on a character he created called Solarman that were more educational comics than your normal superhero fare.  The character was named Davos who lived inside the Sun and came to Earth.  He became a baseball player and taught the wonders of Solar Energy. In 1989, Marvel decided to buy the character rights and use him as a new hero that would set the world ablaze with his comic that was to be written by Stan Lee. They changed the character from just being a solar alien to the a teenager getting the power from a dying alien.  In other words, Stan Lee went the route he has traveled so many times and wanted to reproduce the magic of Spider-Man, but unlike that character, this one failed to capture the readers, and issue one came and went with a whisper. But this did not stop Lee and Marvel as in 1990 they tried again with an issue # 2, and this as well came and went with little to no fanfare. A third issue was not in the cards nor has a re-launch ever seen the light of day from Marvel. So what went wrong with Solarman as Marvel pushed so hard and even had the comic legend Stan Lee write his adventures? My opinion is that in 1990 the character had a dated feel to it, and by this time kids and readers were more into Batman, Spider-Man and X-Men and a character who’s a kid with sun powers was just too silly and tame for them.

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In the 90’s, Marvel Comics captured the Saturday Morning Cartoon world with such classics as X-Men, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer and The Incredible Hulk, but in 1991, they also tried again with Solarman by turning him into a cartoon pilot for FOX with the intent of turning it into a full cartoon series.  This also failed as FOX never ordered the series after its airing. The plot of the cartoon was that of the first issue of the comic with a little added and taken away and done in the style of The X-Men that was a huge hit for FOX’s Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup later on. I was a major Saturday Morning Cartoon viewer when I was a young, and in 1991, I was watching such toons as Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Bobby’s World, Darkwing Duck, Doug, Ren and Stimpy, The Simpsons, Tom & Jerry Kids to name a few.  I can 100% say that I don’t remember the Solarman cartoon at all and don’t remember a single kid on the playground or at lunch talking about it! So do any of you, my readers or friends, remember this cartoon special airing? Did you watch it? Was it good? Comment below and let me know.

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So now that you are up to date on who and what Solarman is, I think we are at the point of the review where we will take a look at the comic series from Marvel based on this forgotten hero. I want to thank Dark Star in Yellow Springs for having these comics in stock in their dollar bin and must also once more like a broken record tell 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 if you’re ready to travel to outer space and back to Earth again, let’s grab some water and a snack and visit the world of Solarman.

Solarman 1

Solarman # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989     Cover Price $1.00     Marvel Comics     # 1 of 2

Gormagga Kraal and his robot warriors are traveling in space and draining suns of their solar energy in order to feed his ultimate weapon that will help him rule the universe. Aboard the ship is an old scientist named Dr. Sha-Han and his young daughter Altarra, both of whom are shocked by the evil of Kraal who has now set his sights on the sun the Earth orbits. Sha-Han as seen enough and steals the Circle Of Power, an item that can create a powerful life that can stop the path of destruction Kraal is blazing.  When Sha-Han’s escape pod is shot down, it crashes to Earth, and while dying he meets young want-to-be comic book artist Ben Tucker who he gives the circle of power (a bracelet) to and visits him as a spirit as he dies on the beach to tell him whenever he is in danger let the sunlight hit the bracelet and that will unleash the power of Solarman! Ben Tucker is a teenager whose dad owns a gym and wants his son to train to be a jock, while all he really wants to do is draw comics for Marvel.  On his way to school, he is attacked by some robots who are looking for the bracelet who kidnap him and take him to space where Gormagga Kraal orders for his arm to be cut off so he can reclaim the bracelet.  But Ben is saved by Altarra (who dies saving him) and her tiny robot Beepie who allows sunlight into the ship, and Solarman takes over the body of Ben and blows up the massive ship forcing Gormagga Kraal to escape on a tiny escape pod vessel. Ben returns to Earth with his new friend Beepie and starts to work on his next comic called “Solarman”.

The best way to start this off is saying that this is Marvel Comics version of Green Lantern with teen drama with a main character that looks a lot like a young Peter Parker. This first issue is pretty well done, and I for one think that if they should have put it out via Star Comics and played up the fact that it’s a superhero for kids as it mixes comics and old scifi films together to create a world where aliens want to steal the energy of our sun and robots in trench coats can walk freely down the road. The plot is: an alien overlord wants to rule the galaxy and is stealing the Sun’s energy to store for his powerful super weapon.  He targets Earth’s Sun but is set back when one of his own helpers steals a powerful weapon to crash land on Earth, passing the weapon onto a nerdy kid who now gains super powers. Yep that sums it up pretty well, and I should also add in that it has a Shazam (Captain Marvel) feeling to it as well. Ben Tucker is a button up, white shirt and tie kind of kid who spends his free time drawing comic strips with the hope of being hired by Marvel.  While most geeky kids can identify with him, the downside is he comes off like a stereotype of how people think comic “nerds” act. But while he is a nerd, Ben is still a likeble kid who I am sure has a touch of us all who are creative. Solarman is powerful and wears lots of orange and yellow and has cheesy lines that would make Flash Gordon blush.  This first issue only gives me a small taste of their hero and not enough to fully judge, I would say he’s not terrible as he makes me want to check out the next issue. Oh and I should say he’s like Solar Man from the movie Superman IV: Quest For Peace as he has to get his power from the sun and without it he’s useless. Beepie is a generic tiny robot that fans of R2-D2 and BB-8 from Star Wars will surly love.  He’s a loyal little guy who wants Earth not to be destroyed so he is kind of a hero. Sha-Han and Altarra are blue skinned aliens who serve a purpose and move the story along.  Not much more can be said about them besides they are both dead. Gormagga Kraal is also a blue skinned alien who has a metal arm that can stretch and has a terrible attitude and does not value life as he doesn’t care how many have to die for him to complete his goal of galaxy ruler.  This guy would be great friends with Zardoom (Defenders Of The Planets) and Ming The Merciless (Flash Gordon), and I could picture them at a Starbucks plotting how to take over Mars. The cover is pure late 80’s cheese and has a Star Comics look to it.  The art is done by Jim Mooney with the story by Stan Lee. While Marvel really wanted Solarman to be the next big thing for them, this issue just was not a draw for readers at the time. I for one enjoyed it and think it’s a solid above average comic that’s aimed for young readers.

Solarman 2

Solarman # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990     Cover Price $1.00     Marvel Comics     # 2 of 2

Ben Tucker and his friend Jeanie are watching the news, all about holes in the ozone layer, and as Ben draws Dr. Doom, the friends chat about him and how he is the ultimate bad guy. Meanwhile Dr. Doom has shot a satellite into space and is the one who is causing the holes and wants a ransom from the world in order to stop it. Later in the day, Ben goes to his Dad’s gym to find his father being strong-armed by some goons and quickly goes out side and turns into Solarman and runs them off. When returning as Ben, he tries to tell his Dad he is Solarman but his father thinks his son just reads too many comics. Ben decides that he must keep his secret to himself as well as must stop Dr. Doom and travels to his location and tricks him into thinking he needs an interview for the school paper as they view Doom as a legend or so his story goes.  But Doom is not fooled for long as he throws Ben into a prison room. Lucky for Ben, the room has windows and sunlight and this allows him to turn into Solarman who flies into space and destroys the satellite and comes back down to tangle with Doom until the sun is about to set and leaves Doom in a foul mood! In the end as Ben returns home and bonds with his Dad with a picture he drew him, and it’s reveled that the Dr. Doom he had fought was nothing more than a hologram as the real Doom was in the basement sick with the flu.

This is the final issue of the series before Marvel gave up on trying to make readers care about Solarman and his adventures in Sun powers at least in the comic world. This issue’s plot has Ben Tucker and his hero side Solarman dealing with Dr. Doom who is trying to ruin the ozone layer as well as try and gain the respect of his father who wants a jock for a son and not an artist. The pacing is well done, and the action of Solarman is kept being used at the right times to further the plot more and not to waste panels with fights that were just put in to take up pages. Ben Tucker this time around is more skilled in his art and seems to have a crush on his friend Jeanie who always seems to be around and pushing for him to get his big break in comics in a sly kind of way. Ben himself is weak physically, but mentally he is strong and knows after a failed attempt that he must keep his hero side a secret. Solarman is as cheesy as ever as his power is high but his one liners are so bad they would make Spider-Man cringe.  Besides his power, he can also fly and breath in space with no problems. Ben’s Dad is as gym orientated as ever but shows he is no push over as he does not back down to three thugs who want his gym to pay them for street protection. It also shows that he loves his son no matter what he does or does not do. Dr. Doom is once more mad with power and wants to world to beg at his feet as he wants to be their ruler.  The fun part about this is the whole fight I as the reader was like come on, Doom could mop the floor with Solarman.  Then at the end you find out the real Doom is sick in bed with the flu…that’s right Victor Von Doom has the flu in this comic and the Doom that’s doing all the bad things is really just a hologram. The cover is pure early 90’s ham and eggs as it’s as basic as they come, and the art inside the issue is well done by Mike Zeck. Over all while Solarman is a very lame in nature superhero, but I still found the comic to be entertaining and could not see really why it only lasted two issues and became a forgotten Marvel Comic. If you find any issues in your local comics shops .25 or $1.00 box, give it a chance as you might just find yourself enjoying it. Below is some artwork from the series so give it a look as it might be what pushes you over the edge of wanting to check it out.

Solarman art 1Solarman art 2Solarman art 3

Solarman was a character who had lots of potential, and for the most part his two comic adventures were lots of fun and could have lead into more and more if fans of the 90’s would have supported it. But let’s flare away from Solarman for our next update and this time take a look at another Horror Host Icon, Iowa’s own Dr. Morbius as we continue our countdown to Thanksgiving. So I hope you enjoyed this quick update, and that you’re having a great November so far and are just enjoying life as we all live it on this great planet we share and call Earth. So until next time, read a comic or three, support your local Horror Host and as Bill & Ted would say Be Excellent To Each Other.

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Spider-Man Cares About Your Teeth

Do you like candy? How about soda or bubble gum? What about cakes and pies? Well we all have a sweet tooth from time to time and besides your dentist, you know who else cares about your teeth and dental healthcare? Is it the president of the United States…nope. While he cares some, the man I am talking about really cares a lot. Could it be Timmy The Tooth…well, no. While he does care about our teeth, he is not who we are talking about at this time. The man I am thinking of is a hero of the super variety, and it’s not Colgate Junior or Sparkle Man.  I’m talking about the one and only Amazing Spider-Man! You see, when he’s not beating up the likes of Rhino and Venom, he is fighting the good fight against cavities and gum disease alongside AIM toothpaste, and this quick update to Rotten Ink is about Spidey’s fight for healthy teeth and will serve as a reminder to brush your teeth three times a day.

Colgate JuniorTimmy The ToothSparkle

When I was young, I believed in the Tooth Fairy just like most young kids did.  When I would loose a tooth, I would leave it on the kitchen counter and in the morning there would be a dollar left in its place. I was always confused about why I had to leave it on the counter and not under my pillow like the story goes, but when I would see that dollar that question would be thrown out the window as I would just think about what toy or comic I could buy for my cash prize. I always pictured the tooth fairy as a beautiful blonde woman with a smile that would light up a room.  She loved her job and collected all the teeth and kept them in jars. But my belief in the Tooth Fairy was very short lived as my Mom spilled the beans that there was no such thing and thats she and my dad were the ones leaving the money.  It’s a good thing too because I could remember at night counting how many more baby teeth I had left and adding the dollar amounts to each. My parents always made sure that my brother and I brushed our teeth and even got us kid friendly mouth wash, and at school in Waynesville, they use to make us swish fluoride like once every two weeks and man that stuff the school gave us was so gross.  The taste still haunts my taste buds to this day. One cartoon that sticks out in my mind that I saw when I was younger was Ren & Stimpy on Nickelodeon called “Ren’s Toothache” where Ren’s teeth all rot and fall out and he even gets a visit from the Tooth Fairy who is a creepy old man dressed in a tutu who leaves him lint instead of money. This episode is so gross and so oddly great, it has always stuck out in my mind. I also want to point out that the Tooth Fairy has been turned into a monster in a few horror films but the most popular was the 2003 film Darkness Falls about an evil spirit of a woman who was wrongfully accused of kidnapping some missing children and is burned alive.  Now in modern times her ghost is killing kids and families if they see her as she comes for the lost teeth under pillows. The film was a minor success but did spark a Dark Horse Comic prequel as well as an action figure made by McFarlane Toys. So that’s just a few of the things that I think of when teeth and dental care pops into my mind.

Blonde Tooth FairyR&S ToothfairyDFalls Toothfairy

In Waynesville I can remember also watching many great educational shows during class like Reading Rainbow, Mr. Wizard and Slim Goodbody, who will be the topic of this section of the update. Slim Goodbody was created and played by John Burstein and was the Superhero of Health who wore a tight body suit that showed muscle and organs and would teach kids good eating and grooming habits to try and stay healthy. Burstein created the character in 1975 and made appearances at hospitals as well as had small segments on TV shows like Captain Kangaroo, Good Morning America and The Today Show.  With these segments Slim Goodbody became a popular character in children education. By 1980, PBS gave Slim Goodbody his own series that for years would be the network’s second highest rated show, and with this also came making books about health. To this day Slim Goodbody is still teaching his message and even was featured in a 2013 Super Bowl ad for Radio Shack that showcased many 80’s icons including Hulk Hogan and Jason Voorhees. I always enjoyed watching Slim at school and learned a lot of things about the human body from Slim, oh yes I also learned things about teeth from him! So here is to you, Mr. Slim Goodbody, for being a good role model to kids. Oh yeah one other thing, with Slim’s popularity it’s shocking that no one made a comic series based on his healthy adventures…another missed series that Star Comics could have made.

Slim Goodbody 1Slim Goodbody 2Slim Goodbody 3

One thing before we get into the Marvel/Aim Toothpaste comics that I would like to talk about is the 80’s and 90’s weird toothpaste flavors for kids, the most notable being bubble gum that was green and was a tie-in to the cartoon series The Real Ghostbusters and used Slimer as its mascot! The Slimer toothpaste had a real sugary taste to it and looked a little strange sitting on your toothbrush. My parents never did get it for us as they almost always bought us just Crest, but my cousins Wayne and John did have the toothpaste and while at their house, we got to try it. One thing is for sure, back in the 80’s and early 90’s companies sure did try very hard to encourage kids to brush their teeth and floss and used all types of gimmicks to try and make it cool; from mascots to cartoon tie-ins, companies wanted to kill those pesky mouth germs. So did any of you readers out there ever brush your teeth with Slimer toothpaste?

Slimer Toothpaste 1Slimer Toothpaste 2Slimer Toothpaste 3

One other thing I loved as a kid were the character tooth brushes by companies like Oral-B.  Picking a tooth brush always was fun as you flipped past Star Wars characters, Bugs Bunny and even WWF Wrestlers. Ones I can remember having as a kid were The Ultimate Warrior, Bugs Bunny and Darth Vader and while they were very generic in style, these character brushes made brushing more fun.

Star Wars ToothbrushWWF Toothbrush

So are you ready to brush your teeth with Spider-Man and Aim Toothpaste? Cause Spidey really wants you to have a good check up next time your at the dentist! So I should thank Mavericks and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock, and I should also remind my readers 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, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s take a hit off the “laughing gas” and give a great big smile cause Spider-Man is going to kick some bad teeth care in the butt.

Amazing Spider-Man Aim Toothpaste 1

The Amazing Spider-Man: Aim Toothpaste  # 1  ***
Released in 1980    Cover Price .40    Marvel Comics      #1 of 2

Peter Parker has to babysit and take J. Jonah Jameson’s nephew Randy to the dentist as part of his job at the Daily Bugle.  While there he meets dentist Raymond Sadetsky who had created a Dental Laser that will change the face of tooth care forever! But during Randy’s check up, The Green Goblin kidnaps the dentist and even beats Spider-Man who tries to rescue the dentist. The next day when Peter and Randy are at the zoo, they pass by a police car and hear that Green Goblin is now attacking the Robert Bite’s jewel shop, and after ditching Randy once more Peter becomes Spider-Man and rushes to the rescue, only to once more fail.  This time Green Goblin escapes with tons of rubies and before he leaves, lets out a clue about bridgework. The next day Peter Parker takes Randy to the dental exhibit to snap some pictures for the Bugle, and all the while the Goblin’s “clue” picks away at Peter who drops off Randy at Aunt May’s and heads to a steel mill underneath a bridge and finds Green Goblin stealing some piping.  Once more Spidey tries to stop him and fails; this time web head even finds himself at death’s door as he is buried under tons of steel! While Spider-Man tries to save himself, it’s very clear Green Goblin is using Sadetsky to build him something that will make him rich and even be used to kill superheroes…but what is it? Spider-Man gets free of his death trap and thanks to his Spidey tracker finds the Green Goblin’s secret hideout right as he receives a powerful laser ray and during the fight Sadetsky gets hurt and Spider-Man must get him to the hospital and Goblin gets away. In the end Green Goblin goes to the Dental Exhibit with his laser to steal all the gold and silver used for fillings but is stopped thanks to Spider-Man who knocks him into a giant pair of teeth that holds the Goblin down. Peter Parker sells some pictures of the Goblin and Spidey fight as Randy goes back to the dentist to fill the cavities he has, and Raymond Sadetsky is a-ok.

The adventure Spider-Man has just to try and make brushing your teeth hip and cool as well as going to the dentist is one heck of a fun ride that comes off not too preachy and holds a classic Silver Age Marvel charm. First things first, I have to say is J. Jonah Jameson is a terrible uncle as he passes of his young nephew on Peter Parker and makes him take him all over New York.  Now think about that how well does Jameson really trust Parker as a responsible adult…not at all! Randy is a very well behaved kid who wants to be a photographer so being around Parker is a good learning tool for the young man, even though his Uncle wants him to be a reporter. Peter Parker does a great job babysitting and does an even better job ditching the kid when he needs to change into his alter ego. Spider-Man for some reason feels out classed in this issue as Green Goblin makes a fool out of him many times during the several battles they have, but when push comes to shove Spidey saved the day and even managed to save a dentist. Green Goblin is filled with giving clues in the issue and really reminded me of the DC Batman super villain The Riddler, but man he sure does pack a punch and gives Spider-Man a run for his money. While the comic is sponsored by AIM Toothpaste, besides one tiny ad in the back and the logo on the cover, they do not push themselves into shameless plugs and ram that everyone should use their toothpaste down the readers throats. The over all feel of the comic is that of a classic Marvel Spider-Man issue, and I must say this reader enjoyed every cheesy panel of it. The comic would have cost .40 but if you bought AIM, if was free with the purchase. Alex Saviuk, who was an a-lister artist that worked on the normal Amazing Spider-Man series and is truly a master of the Silver Age, does the art. Check out below for a sample of the art from this issue.

Spider-Man Aim Art 1

So with that let’s get onto issue 2 and see what other tooth filled adventure Spider-Man can have and what super villain will stand in the way of good dental care this time!

Amazing Spider-Man Aim Toothpaste 2

The Amazing Spider-Man: Aim Toothpaste # 2   **1/2
Released in 1982    Cover Price .60    Marvel Comics      #2 of 2

Peter Parker has been sent to Cape Canaveral to take pictures of a space shuttle/ weather satellite launch for the Daily Bugle, but while in the pressroom, he notices Doctor Octopus who seems to be in pain and rushes out of the room and drives away.  Peter as Spider-Man now follows him and finds that Doc Ock is going to the dentist Dr. Allen who gives the super villain a filling in a tooth giving him a problem and also notices a metal object wedged in one of his teeth and this sets Doc Ock into a rage! Once Dr. Allen helps Doc Ock, he then goes to help Peter Parker who followed his arch enemy and loses his trail when the dentist gives him a check up, but while there he learns that Doc Ock has a small transmitter in his mouth and he is planning on high jacking the launch! Peter rushes out and turns back into Spider-Man and makes short work of Octopus’s thugs and then Ock himself.  One power punch even knocks the transmitter from his tooth! In the end Doc Ock gets more dental care in prison, and Peter Parker sells his pictures of the launch and the fight.

This second AIM Toothpaste comic is pretty good but does not hold the charm of the first give away issue and is way more preachy about tooth care. Spider-Man, while fighting one of his biggest arch enemies, really doesn’t have much to do as his fight with Ock only lasts a few punches as does his fight with the henchmen. Peter Parker is more of the issue’s focus and that’s just so he can visit the dentist and give a run down on how he takes care of his teeth and that he learned good dental habits from his Aunt May. J. Jonah Jameson has a cameo that amounts to nothing more than giving Parker his assignment and in the end telling him that he should visit a dentist regular for healthy teeth. Doctor Octopus is up to his old tricks, but his tooth pain is causing him some major issues and even distracts him from his main prize of high jacking, but man does he go down like a chump in his fight with Spider-Man! The plot is very simple, and most of the issue takes place it seems in the Dentist Office where they push facts about brushing and not eating a lot of sugar snacks with Dr. Allen. Over all there is not much here in this issue, and while it was a fun read, it’s also very forgettable and is clearly sponsored by a toothpaste company. The art is done by ummmm..I don’t know as there are no credits besides of course Stan Lee presents.  We can’t forget that credit now, could we? But take a look below for an example of the art.

Spider-Man Aim Art 2

That’s one thing I loved about classic Marvel, they would do free give away comics for all types of products and charities, and they were always fun cheesy adventures. Spider-Man I think was always a perfect fit for these types of comics because he was well loved by kids, and you could put him in all types of adventures with mascots like Cap’n Crunch or the Quick Bunny.  He could even tackle things like fire safety all the way to back to school, and he would not lose any credit at being a superhero in the youth’s eyes. So when it comes to dental work and to make sure kids brushed their teeth with AIM Toothpaste, Spider-Man was the perfect spokesman!

Spidey Says Brush with Aim

So I am sure you’re wondering what our next update will be about. I mean what could top an update about Spidey hocking a toothpaste product? Well, we will be taking another look at an icon of Horror Hosting as we take a look at USA Saturday Nightmares! So make sure to come back for that one.  Until then make sure to brush your teeth, read a comic and support your local Horror Host, and oh yeah Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

USA Saturday Nightmares Logo copy

The Incredible Hulk vs. The Great, Great, Great, Grandson Of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Welcome back readers! Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and that you’re not to burnt out on turkey as Christmas is just around the corner. My Thanksgiving was nice as always, spent with my family. This month of December we will be leading up to my big Christmas Eve update that will be as fun as last year’s look at Thundercats. So I am sure you are wondering what I have planned, but you’ll have to wait until next update for that teaser. This update we will be taking a look at a one shot comic that was based on an episode of the 1982 NBC Incredible Hulk cartoon put out by Marvel Comics the same year.

No Turkey

In 1966, a 30 minute cartoon series called “The Marvel Super Heroes” went on the air in the US via syndication.  It was made by Grantray-Lawrence Animation and Marvel Comics Group and features not only The Incredible Hulk but also episodes based around Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Prince Namor. But we are not going to talk about the other superheroes of the show and just focus of the Hulk ones that were based on the comic books and used artwork done by Jack Kirby and others as the animation.  They would crudely animate them and use over the top voice overs.  Each episode would be chopped into three chapters to tell the whole story of the chosen story arch. The Incredible Hulk had a total of 13 solo episodes and along with the others lasted till late 1966 for a total of 65 episodes among them. I can remember catching these shows years and years later in the 80’s on TV and also on VHS and always thinking how cheesy they were.  While I enjoyed the Hulk episodes, I found the Captain America ones to be the best. Some episodes can be found on VHS, and on DVD for Region 2 players but as of 2014 no DVD nor Blu-Ray are planned for the US market.

Hulk 66 Cartoon 1Hulk 66 Cartoon LogoHulk 66 Cartoon 2

In 1988, Marvel Productions made a cartoon series for NBC called “The Incredible Hulk” that was played during their Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup. The animation style was chosen because it was very close to the artwork that was being used in the comics at the time, but much like most cartoons of the 80’s many shots were reused saving money for the company. The episodes would follow Bruce Banner who would find himself in bad situations that only is alter ego, The Hulk, could get him out of. In this series he would meet and fight with such super villains as Doctor Octopus, Puppet Master, Spymaster, Hydra and Quasimodo, and would also team up with the likes of Rick Jones, She-Hulk and Betty Ross. The series also introduced a new set of friends with a Hispanic father and daughter named Rio and Rita who joined The Hulk on his adventures. The series only lasted one season and a total of 13 episodes, but even with such a short run thanks to reruns and VHS when I was a kid I was able to watch this series and will forever say it’s my favorite Hulk animated series to date. The cartoon had a few episodes make it to VHS and once more as the complete series was released on Region 2 DVD. No US release on DVD and Blu-Ray are planned.

hulk 82 cartoon 1hulk 82 cartoon logohulk 82 cartoon 2

In the 1990’s FOX Network was one of the top stations when it came to cartoons, and I am not just talking about the Saturday Morning line up.  They showed many great cartoons from Batman The Animated Series all the way to X-Men; they had the lock on superhero cartoons for years. In 1996 UPN started to show another cartoon based on Hulk called yet again “The Incredible Hulk” that was made in the hopes to capture the same popularity as FOX’s major Marvel cartoon hits like 1992’s X-Men and 1994’s Spider-Man, and while many others cartoon series tried like 1994’s Fantastic Four and Iron Man and even later 1998’s Silver Surfer, they all failed to capture the magic and Hulk was as well a miss when it came to kids watching. This series followed The Hulk who was less dimwitted than the cartoons that came before and would add more smashing and fighting as baddies like Abomination, Wendigo, Leader and so many more became the punching bags for the old green menace. The cartoon’s main attraction was that it had the voice acting of Lou Ferrigno doing the Hulk, giving it a tie into the live action show and that it had many cameos from other superheroes like Iron Man, Thor and Fantastic Four. I watched the cartoon from time to time but was way older at this point and was more into girls, rock and roll and horror films than watching toons on TV. The series lasted two seasons for a total of 21 episodes that have not come out complete on DVD in the US, though at one point this series and many of the others that came before it could be watched on Netflix for a short time. Over all seen a few episodes even as of late and must say it’s a pretty good series but not nearly as fun as the 1982 one. Oh yeah and for season two, the show had a name change to “The Incredible Hulk And She-Hulk” after UPN felt that the first season was way too dark and that by adding She-Hulk they might can get a female audience to watch.

hulk 96 cartoon 1hulk 96 cartoon logohulk 96 cartoon 2

So that was a look at the cartoons based on The Hulk from my generation, but a 2013 series called “Hulk And The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H.” airs on Disney X-D and follows The Hulk who leads other Gamma monsters into battle is being made for kids of this generation. I have not seen the show but will probably watch it once it hits DVD. But now let’s talk about the 1982 episode of The Incredible Hulk called “When Monsters Meet” where Bruce Banner and Betty Ross travel to Paris and become the target of an ancestor to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame who wants a key that Betty is wearing around her neck as he knows it will unlock a vast amount of treasure just waiting for his taking. Of course when this Hunckback appears so does Banner’s anger, and The Hulk is set to stop the creep once and for all. What a cool idea for a cartoon, and I am sure it had both Super Hero and Monster Kids happy as the two titans of brute power slugged it out for their amusement on Saturday Morning Cartoons. This episode as well as the rest in the series was narrated by Stan Lee who helped try to build the mood as well as fill in the blanks of what and who the characters are, making you as the viewer feel as if you now knew everything about the likes of Quasimodo. The episode is the fourth episode in the series when it aired and helped set the bar for the episodes to come. I first watched this episode on VHS via the Marvel Comics Video Library Volume 5 that I bought from a local video store when I was in my mid teen years, and I can remember thinking just how fun and silly the cartoon was and how The Hulk looked like he should in animated cartoon world. If you’re looking to watch this episode you can via VHS, DVD and even on Youtube, check it out if you like 80’s cartoons and enjoy all things Hulk.

Hulk 82 when monsters meet 1Hulk 82 when monsters meet logoHulk 82 when monsters meet 2

Before we move onto the comic adaptation of the episode we just spoke about I want to talk about another horror film I would love to see get made into a comic mini series and it as well was made in 1982! The film is called “Curse Of The Cannibal Confederates,” and it could be one of the cheesiest horror films I have ever seen, but damn would it be a fun film to turn into a comic. The film was directed by Tony Malanowski and follows six friends, one being a blind girl, as they go camping and hiking, but while finding an old church and graveyard in the woods they bother some items left behind and one takes a journal written by a Confederate general who was tortured alongside his men and are the ones buried in the graves. Taking the journal off the Church land makes the General and his men rise from the grave as zombies to eat the living and get back what’s theirs. The movie is released by Troma and is ranked as one of the worst films in their vast library or so Lloyd Kauffman says in his book “All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger”, but this didn’t stop the film from coming out on VHS and DVD from Troma as well as part of Brentwoods/BCI sets on DVD called Toxie’s Triple Terror Volume 1. If a comic series was to be made, it could follow a new set of campers who go out into the woods and stay the night at the old church after hearing the legends of the Confederate Zombie Soldiers.  They bring cameras along with them to make a documentary and at night they all get a little drunk and get destructive and burn an old confederate flag taunting the spirits of the soldiers, and this act brings the dead back to life once again! The comic is then about them trying to get out of the woods alive, and as a side story two cops, who are the sons of the cop characters from the movie who are killed and eaten, are also around trying to see if the legends are true and if their fathers really died as legend tells. This could be a fun mini series and could make up for the lame movie kills with over the top zombie art kills and a spine tingling story. I would like to see Troma make the comic themselves and if not them than IDW.  If I could get one of my comic book friends to make it I would say that Bruce O’ Hughes, Eric Shonborn or Justin Wasson would be the best for the job as each have their own styles and all that could fit the mood of the story and characters. Maybe someday once I get the Night of The Demon Comic done. I will try and get this one done. Oh yeah and the film has an alternate title “The Curse Of The Screaming Dead”. So until then for god’s sake please don’t read any journals found near cemeteries.

Curse Of The Cannibal Confederates 1Curse Of The Cannibal Confederates dvdCurse Of The Cannibal Confederates 2

So we took a look at cartoon versions of the Hulk, the episode from 82 that this comic is based, a comic series I would love to have made based on a Troma movie as well as a little about my Thanksgiving.  So now I think its time that we take a look at this one shot Marvel Comic starring one of my all time favorite superheroes, The Incredible Hulk, and guest starring one of Horrors most iconic characters The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  So I have to remind everyone that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I was lucky to get this comic for free thanks to Joe G and Mavericks Cards and Comics who gave this away for Free Comic Book Day some years back. Joe use to work for Mavericks and was helping out on Free Comic Book day and when the normal stock of free comics were given away Joe brought some of his own in to continue the fun…and I was lucky enough to get this issue, so a big thanks goes out to Joe and Mavericks for going above and behind that Free Comic Day. So let’s travel to Paris and watch two monsters clash in the streets for our amusement.

Hulk Vs Quasimodo 1The Incredible Hulk vs. Quasimodo # 1   **1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #1 of 1

Bruce Banner and Betty Ross are on a trip to Paris and visit the famed cathedral of Notre Dame, as high above them Quasimodo and his large bat humanoid friend Salvatore watch and target a key necklace that Betty is wearing.  You see her necklace key alongside The France Prime Minister Of Finance’s opens a hidden vault filled with money and gold. While Quasimodo hatches a plan to kidnap Betty and get the key, Bruce and Betty meet up with Professor Jaques Royale who gives Bruce an untested cure, that Bruce shrugs off as a cure for a cold so Betty doesn’t get hip to the fact he is also The Hulk. As Bruce tries to get them a taxi, Quasimodo pops from the sewer and grabs Betty, taking her back down with him.  As Bruce gives chase Quasimodo puts Betty in a hidden room deep in the sewer and comes out to face Bruce who quickly turns into The Hulk, and the two monsters exchange punches. As the fight between the monsters rages on the formula cure falls from the Hulks pocket and Betty climbs the side of her prison wall and escapes only to be followed by Salvatore who finds out the location of the hidden loot and tells Quasimodo who has shaken the Hulk off his trail by making him fall into water and almost drowning! Betty meets up with The France Prime Minister Of Finance, and they enter a metro car filled with gold and head to the secret hidden spot.  Meanwhile The Hulk has turned back into Bruce and finds the cure at the same time Quasimodo finds him. Quasimodo says he will trade information on where Betty is and will not go after her and the gold if Banner gives him the cure. Bruce gives him the cure, and when it doesn’t work fast enough Quasimodo goes on a rampage to steal the gold as Bruce turns into the Hulk and makes quick work on the attacking Salvatore, and goes to stop Quasimodo who turns into a normal man thanks to the cure.  The Hulk stops the train car that was out of control. In the end all ends well for everyone besides Bruce Banner who still is cursed with The Hulk.

This comic follows the cartoon it was based on for the most part; the one major change is that I felt the fights between the two in the toon were way more epic than they are in the comic. The plot is simple: Bruce and Betty go to France each with their own “secret” mission. Betty is to help transport gold to a hidden vault with a key that was entrusted to her by her father Thunderbolt Ross, and Bruce is there to give some science lectures but mostly around to get an untested cure. The Great, Great, Great Grandson to The Hunchback of Notre Dame Quasimodo wants what both of them have and more so wants to be cured and not an ugly monster any more. This clearly is not in the main story arc of the ongoing comic series as many changes are around from Betty not knowing Bruce is the Hulk and the fact that Quasimodo for the most part fought the Hulk fist to fist and was able to hold is own for the most part. The Hulk is the slow-witted Green Skin Goliath that we all know and love who just wants to protect Betty and smash things. Bruce Banner is the same old same old smart guy, but is a lot less of a sad bastard. Betty for some reason is like a secret agent in this issue and holds literally the key to all of France’s money.  While she does play the helpless victim for a short time, she clearly can take care of herself as she escapes Quasimodo’s prison cell on her own. Quasimodo is a jerk for the most part and while he knows he’s ugly and a monster he thinks by stealing gold and money that he can buy himself happiness. In fact even though it looked as if Bruce was going to give him the cure formula Quasimodo bullied his way into snatching it from his hands. Salvatore the giant bat is pretty much a generic henchman who can bully the weak humans but is no match for The Hulk. The comic, while not the completely the same as the cartoon, holds true enough to the source material to make it an enjoyable read. Oh yeah and at the end of the issue, they try and make sure to remind you to watch Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends and Incredible Hulk on NBC Saturdays! The comic’s artwork is well done and is by the two talented artists Sal Buscema and Steve Mitchell, and the cover is fantastic and reminds me of an old Monster Magazine like Creepy meets a classic 70’s Hulk Comic cover. Great Read, Great Cartoon Adaptation and once more thanks Joe G and Mavericks for having this comic out for Free Comic Book Day.

H vs Q Art 1h vs q art 2h vs q art 3

Nothing says the holiday season to me more than The Hulk…am I right or am I right? Here is to hoping that some day Disney will get in gear and release all these Hulk cartoons as well as all the rest of the classic Marvel cartoons on DVD/Blu-Ray. Thus far they have released the 1967 Spider-Mans, The 1992 X-Men series as well as the 1994 Iron Man and Fantastic Four, but nothing more for a few years now. Fans have begged for them to release the 1994 Spider-Man series, and while they have put select episodes on DVD and VHS no full seasons are in the works. Well over all I find this one shot issue a very cool tie into a very underrated Saturday morning cartoon tht should have truly lead to a comic series based on his animated adventures, and if Star Comics was around at this time it would have been a perfect fit to go alongside Wally The Wizard and Thundercats. Our next update will bring us a little closer to Christmas, and while doing some deep thinking on what to do and I decided that we will take a look at a Dell Comic based on a Roger Corman film that was adapted from the writing of Edgar Allen Poe that stars horror actor icon Vincent Price and that’s Tomb Of Ligeia! So until next time have a safe Holiday Season, buy your Christmas presents from local stores and make sure to stay nerdy and read a comic or two.

The Tomb Of Ligeia Logo

The Old Time Defenders Of The Planet Earth

When the world thinks of super hero teams, many come to mind like The Avengers, Justice League of America, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Teen Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and of course at the top of that list are the Defenders of the Earth, right? Okay, I know most of you have never heard of them or if you have, I am sure you have forgotten about them until now. So let me tell you who the Defenders of the Earth are, and I can guarantee that you will know most the names mentioned. King Features Syndicate made comic strips, and some of their most popular ones were Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake The Magician.  In 1986 they decided that it would be a great time for them to put these characters together in a cartoon that would spin off into toys, video games and comics. Flash Gordon of course is the star football player who got lost in space and became a hero when he went up against the evil Ming The Merciless.  He was so popular that the character had toys, film serials and films made about him.  He was created in 1934. The Phantom was created in 1936 and is a costumed crime fighter in Africa.  His costume is a purple skintight body suit that covers most of his skin besides his face, he also wears a small mask that covers his eyes making them seem solid white. His costume set a standard in super hero history. Mandrake The Magician was created in 1934 and is a crime fighting magician who used his tricks to bust gangsters and other forms of low life. Throw in Mandrake’s assistant Lothar and all or their kids, and you have The Defenders of the Earth! And guess what, Star Comics did a four issue run about this “amazing” team and in this blog entry we will be taking a look at them.

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The 1986 cartoon was an action adventure series that ran for 1 season but had 65 episodes. The cartoon’s plot was that Ming The Merciless had used up his home planet of Mongo and has set his sight on Earth in the year 2015 with the help of ice robot Garax and his ice robot men. Flash Gordon’s wife Dale Arden has been kidnapped and killed leaving Gordon mad with his teenage son Rick Gordon goes to Earth to protect it from harm and along the way they team with The Phantom and his daughter Jebba Walker, Mandrake and his adopted son Kshin, Mandrake’s strong and loyal assistant Lothar and his son L.J and all come together to forum The Defenders of the Earth.  The group’s headquarters also has a super computer that has the sprit of Flash’s dead wife inside called Dynak-X that helps them on the way. The cartoon was on when I was a youth, and while I watched it I never found it to be as exciting as other cartoons based on super heroes. The Phantom was the only one in the series that I was a fan of, and I am sure most of that came from his kick ass ways.  Plus it’s funny how they changed the character to give him super powers when he chanted, this changed who and what the Phantom really is from a normal guy trying to do good in an area that’s plagued with crime. While I was a fan of Flash Gordon thanks mostly to the live action 1979 film that had the rocking music by Queen, he was just not a drawing power to get me to tune in every episode. As for Mandrake, I had no clue to who he was, and while a classic character, he just didn’t make a fan out of me.  Plus adding a bunch of teenagers and kids is a sure way to lose me in any series. And to spice things up, Ming was not the only bad guy in the series but most of the others did not have the evil nature like him making them feel like filler, only there to fill up time and episodes. Again, the cartoon was not bad, it just did not, in my opinion, have that special something that made me want to catch every episode and draw me into buying the other products of the show. BCI and now Mill Creek has released the series on DVD so if you were a fan of the show, the characters or want to check it out, it is out there.

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The show’s toy line was put out by Galoob in 1986, and the figures had a dial on their backs that when twisted made them perform fighting action and came with a weapon. The line consisted of Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician, Lothar, Ming The Merciless and Garax. Not only could fans get the figures but also vehicles were made such as Defenders’ Claw Copter, Phantom’s Skull Copter, Flash Sword Ship, Garax Sword Ship and Ming’s Serpent Monster Mongor. The figures were not bad, and while I only had two I found them to be fun and for the most part well made toys.  My only issue with them is that the joints seemed to become very loose on one of the ones I owned. The first figure I ever got was The Phantom, and I got him at Odd Lots brand new for $3.00.  A year later I got Flash Gordon at a garage sale for under a dollar. One summer when we were moving from Waynesville to Kettering, we stayed at my aunt’s house while she and her family went to Greece and we waited for our house to be cleared to move in.  Behind their house was some small woods, and one day I went back there to check them out and found a lot of broken toys behind there.  I was older at the time like 16 or 17 and laughed as I found many broken Power Rangers that were missing arms and legs, and found a few that seemed to have been set on fire and this brought back memories of The 4th of July.  But one thing caught my eye as I saw a broken Flash Gordon who was missing his legs and arms and was faded from the sun.  I took the torso and later made it into a wheel chair bound Captain Pike (Star Trek) style figure for the fun of it.  Yeah, I had a sick sense of humor.

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Like all cartoons of this time, more merchandise came out besides the action figures that included lunch boxes, VHS tapes. kids books and of course a game for Commodore 64. When all this came out in 1986, I could not think of one kid I knew who owned anything Defenders of the Earth, or if they did no one talked about it or brought it around the school yard. I think one of the things that worked against this cartoon and its products was the fact the heroes were too dated for many kids to get behind. 

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So now that you know who and what Defenders of the Earth is all about, are you ready to look at Star Comics 4 issue run? Oh and guess who helped write issue one, the one and only Stan Lee! While Lee has done a lot for the comic industry, I also feel that he takes credit for a lot of things he didn’t or had really very little to do with, but with that said ya still got to respect the guy for all he has done.  So here is to you, Stan The Man Lee! Oh and after our look at Defenders I thought a cool little bonus review was due for all you great readers out there! I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 Star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material.

Defenders of the earth 1

Defenders of the Earth # 1  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #1 of 4

 Flash Gordon crashes on Earth at the home of Mandrake The Magician, his adopted asian son Kshin and strong as an ox assistant Lothar and his son L.J.  Gordon is knocked out from the crash, and Mandrake uses his magical power to hide Flash from a race of ice robots lead by Garax who have been sent by the evil Ming The Merciless. When Flash comes to, he tells Mandrake that Ming has kidnapped his wife and son and is coming to Earth to take it over and that they must stop him! Flash, Mandrake and Lothar go to the jungles of Africa and meet The Phantom and his daughter Jebba Walker and they join the group to save Flash’s family and to stop Ming. The kids are left on Earth as the heroes head to Mongo. Dale Arden and son Rick Gordon are captive.  Rick escapes with the help of a strange creature named Zuffy, but her son’s escape leads to Ming torturing and killing Dale.  When the heroes get there they save Rick, and Flash learns of his wife’s death.  Before they can capture Ming, he and his son Kro-Tan escape and land on Earth and make a base in the Arctic. Zuffy finds a crystal and gives it to Flash that holds his wife’s spirit. With Ming loose and on Earth and to avenge the death of Dale our heroes Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician and Lothar decide to stay as a team called The Defenders of the Earth!

I must say this is a great first issue and did a great job of keeping old heroes exciting for the younger reading crowd.  I am sure that this was mostly thanks to Stan Lee who wrote this issue, and while I hate to say it, Lee does have a way to make characters interesting to kids. The plot is the set up of how the team Defenders of the Earth came together and was a way to add some major drama with the death of Dale Arden.  I am sure that for long time Gordon fans it was shocking to see a beloved character killed off in a kids comic/cartoon. Mandrake The Magician is the only one that in the comic still comes off dated, and they try so hard to get him over in this issue, even with being dated I found myself liking him. The Phantom is clearly the star of the comic and it’s so obvious that Star Comics knew that he would be the one kids would flock to. The big change for The Phantom is the fact they gave him supernatural powers that he gets from the jungle.  I am sure they did this in order to spice him up and make him appealing to kids who like heros with power like Spider-Man and Captain America. Lothar seems like a waste and really isn’t given anything to do in this issue besides be a body and an extra hero for the new team. The kids of the heroes are a waste and are very much not needed and seem to be thrown in just to make it so young readers can identify with them.  If they have more time in the following issue it could be what takes me out of the series. Like any good 80’s cartoon/comic there is a little sidekick, that while annoying always seems to be there and fall ass backwards into saving the day, and in this series it’s Zuffy, a strange tiny purple alien with a mop top hair style who can’t speak but sure as hell get his message across via movements. This issue also does a good job of making Ming the Merciless come off as a complete and total evil S.O.B and does so as he murders Dale and then comes to Earth to kill us all! Good work on keeping this close to the cartoon and good work with the art that is clearly done by some of Marvel’s top artists.  The cover is super eye catching. Can’t wait to see how issue 2 is! 

Defenders of the earth 2

Defenders of the Earth # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #2 of 4

The Defenders of the Earth need a base, and Mandrake’s mansion just wont do.  So Flash calls in an alien race called the Cryl lead by Morbius to help build a headquarters, and the crystal with Dale’s soul in it has been put into a super computer made by Rick called Dynak-X. Ming The Merciless has picked up on the area of the base and sends out Garax and his men to ambush the Cryl and kill all of the Defenders of the Earth. Flash goes up to meet his friends and takes his place in the battle as the ambush happens.  Mandrake uses his magic to make an illusion to save his friends as Kshin and Zuffy find an opening in the side of a volcano near the mansion. After outsmarting Garax and his men, The Defenders of the Earth and the Cryl turn the volcano into their new base, and use the lava to power it. Ming is very upset and sends Garax and his men to bomb the Mansion and everything around it, and as they do so, the blasts trap the Defenders inside.  With the help of Dynak-X and a well placed bomb by The Phantom, it appears as if they all die and Ming basks in his winning glory. But this of course just gives them more time to come up with a plan to bring down Ming once and for all.

This second issue is average and seems to be way more talkie than issue one.  It doesn’t keep the total action pace up, giving moments that drag. The issue’s plot is just that The Defenders need a base and while trying to build it they come under attack. The Phantom in this issue is pushed more to the back, and Flash Gordon seems to be more of the focus.  Once more Mandrake is used a lot and does the same tricks as he did in issue 1. Lothar again is wasted and just is filler, but this issue also has the teens and kids as more of a major part of the plot.  While most are okay, Kshin is an annoying little turd who I can tell is going to be a character I will hate. One thing they did in this issue is play up on the hurt and sorrow that Flash and Rick are feeling about losing Dale.  This aspect adds some deep drama that is pretty shocking for a kids comic. This issue also builds up that Kro-Tan is plotting to over throw his father and be the new ruler of Mongo and every other planet they conquer.  I hope this subplot goes somewhere and is played out. The comic’s action is spaceship battles and not nearly as cool as hand to hand. The art and cover is great again and both very much eye catching.  The plot is as stated before very average. Let’s see if issue 3 is any better. 

Defenders of the earth 3

Defenders of the Earth # 3  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #3 of 4

Everyone is trying to make the volcano hideout feel like home, and Jebba along with The Phantom have made their own little African jungle in one of the caves. But in Africa the Bandar tribe is under attack from Kurt Walker (The Phantom’s brother) and two of his goons.  Kurt is trashing The Phantom and claims he should be their ruler, and when they refuse him and his men storm off. Kurt makes the mistake of telling the goons where the tribe hide their jewels and gold and is attacked and thrown from a bridge by those who now want to rob the tribe.  The water carries him to a cave where he finds a strange suit and hood, and after putting them on he becomes a weather controlling wizard/demon named N’Dama! N’Dama returns to the tribe and freezes his two goon friends to death ushering in a huge snow storm with a threat to the tribe to take him as his ruler or die.  The Phantom and Jebba rush to their jungle home, and The Phantom must come face to face with his brother who is now more demon than brother.  In the end The Phantom watches as his brother is consumed in fire caused by his own new power, and Ming has created Frost Men who he is ready to unleash on Earth.

This is back to being a good solid issue and goes back to the meat and potato of an action comic.  This issue’s main focus is The Phantom and his daughter Jebba returning home to take on a family member who is corrupted with extreme power. The action of the comic is when The Phantom goes toe to toe with N’Dama, and while not a slugfest like a Spider-Man vs. Kraven The Hunter fight it still makes for the most exciting part of the issue. This also makes for most the drama as it’s brother vs. brother and family issues come out. Another plot that seems to be starting up is the tension between Rick Gordon and Jebba Walker who both seem to be crushing on each other but neither making a move. It also surprises me that Rick, Jebba nor L.J. get on my nerves given my track record when it comes to unnecessary teens and kids being in media for no reason. I still do however dislike Kshin and thank God he gets very little panel time in this issue. It’s clear that with this issue Star Comics knew that doing a full issue around the most popular member of the team, The Phantom, would drive up sales with kids.  I am not sure how well this plan worked but it did make this now 32 year old reader happy. Another nice thing to see is that Ming nor Garax are the main bad guys, and this gives a breath of fresh air to the series and makes it so the two main villains aren’t played out. This one also has it all: a good plot, great art and an eye catching cover, and this one is what action kids comics should be like! Let’s see how the 4th and final issue holds up.

Defenders of the earth 4

Defenders of the Earth # 4 **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #4 of 4

Mandrake thinks it’s time that he starts to teach Kshin the art of being a master magician and takes him to a special room in the now destroyed Mansion. Mandrake tells his young son of how he gained the magic that involved the death of his parents via an avalanche and being rescued by a group of magical monks. But in another dimension Dr. Dark, an evil magician, is deep in thought of revenge upon the one who trapped him there :Mandrake.  Ming picks up on the evil power he has and frees him to Earth,  Ming tells his new ally that Mandrake and all The Defenders of Earth are dead, and Dr. Dark busts his bubble with the fact they are not! Dr. Dark goes to the mansion and has a magic fight against Mandrake, as Rick and Jebba see some of Ming’s Frost Men at a rock concert, and it’s shown Jebba can read minds. Mandrake is whooping up on Dr. Dark until the evil one uses Kshin as bait and leads to Mandrake’s life ending when nearby candles burn out.  Dr. Dark leaves to get his army to team with Ming’s to battle the Earth as Kshin uses all he has learned to save his dad. In the end The Defenders of Earth know that War is coming against both Ming’s Frost Men and Dr. Darks evil servants.

Star Comics has done it again, much like Inhumanoids this series ends in the middle of a storyline, making you wonder what was to happen during this major war.  This makes me very annoyed with Marvel for pulling the plug on series from Star that should have played through. This issue’s main focus is Mandrake and his son Kshin as he teaches his son magic.  Father and son must team to undo what their main nemesis Dr. Dark has set in motion. The magic battle reminded me a lot of Dr. Strange and for the most part I am okay with that. Again it was nice to see a new bad guy (Dr. Dark) who unlike N’Dama is teaming with Ming to rule the Earth.  Plus Dark’s Phantom of the Opera face is pretty sweet. Flash Gordon and The Phantom take the backseat in this issue as Mandrake takes the wheel and Lothar has a little more panel time then normal. I also like the way this issue builds up that Ming will turn on Dr. Dark to gain his raw power. Over all this issue was an average romp that was a fun read but a terrible way to end a series.  Worse, it leaves you hanging for an issue 5 that never came.

The Defenders of the Earth Star Comic series was a good fun adventure comic that despite flaws and some annoying characters still held entertainment value. As a youth I more then likely would have judged this comic a little harder for the lack of major action and way too much dialogue, but now I can see that the comic was trying to build up a story and flesh out the characters. I find this 4 issue run to be thus far some of Stars better written stuff, but the lack of respect that Marvel gave us the readers by just ending the series is very fitting for a company who tries to over charge for issues nowadays. Plus it’s nice to see that while it follows the source martial, this series also created its own, with the only major change coming from Ming’s daughter being MIA. If you like any of the characters on the team, loved the cartoon or love Star Comics then I would say check this series out.

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As an add-on bonus, I am going to be looking at a comic that was a free give away on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2010, and cost me a dollar at The Gem City Comic Con based on Michigan horror host Wolfman Mac and his Chiller Drive-In! Chiller Drive-In (formerly Nightmare Sinema) hit TV airwaves in 2007 on public access and became such a hit that by 2009 it had been shown on RTV, a national station. Wolfman Mac is a werewolf from the 1930’s who while being chased by angry villagers stumbled onto an abandoned drive-in theater, and being a lover of bad cheesy flicks, he decided that it would be a good idea to re-open the drive-in once more. Wolfman Mac is an all around good guy (or is that creature?) who seems to worry about the viewers and tries to stop others from bad ideas.  He is a great classic style host who seems to be very much kid friendly. He is joined by Boney Bob, a 1920’s actor who died in order to avoid taxes.  In the 30’s he spent time back in Hollywood as a skeleton extra on the set of horror films, but when work dried up he was downgraded to school room skeleton at a local college.  He left the job and hid out at that same drive-in that Wolfman Mac stumbled on. Boney and Mac are business partners and now spend time rebuilding and running the drive-in. Boney, while a good skeleton, is a con man and will do anything to get money. The show also has many other characters that pop in that include Son of Froggy, Trog a robot, Professor M. Balmer, Undead 50’s Sex Kitten Rebulla, Scarlett LeFever Wolfman Mac’s dead girlfriend and many more great silly off the wall characters. Fans of horror hosts of the 70’s and 80’s will really dig the style and show of Wolfman Mac. 

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I have never gotten to meet Wolfman Mac in person but have spoken to him via Facebook, and he seems like a werewolf who loves his craft. While at Horrorhound Weekend in March 2011, Baron Von Porkchop and I were able to meet Trog and The Son of Froggy from Chiller Drive-In and that was a fun time to be had by all! And we then ran into Son of Froggy again at Cinema Wasteland in October 2011 during “A. Ghastlee Night at the Movies”. That’s one thing I will say about all my horror host friends is that they are more like family.  They understand and get The Baron and I, who are both goofy horror freaks. Baron has it rougher then me being a ghoul from the early 1800’s who I dug up in late December 2010.  He is way out of touch with most normal folks. But here are a few pictures I took of Baron along side cast members of Chiller Drive-In. 

Baron and Son of FroggyBaron and Christmas Robot

So now that you know a little about Wolfman Mac & Boney Bob, let’s take a look at this comic book version of the show. Remember I am going to grade this comic on a standard one to four star rating.  I am going to be grading the story, the art, how true it was to the source martial it was based on and its entertainment value. So let’s see if this chills my blood!

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Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive-In # 0  ***
Released in 2010   Cover Price Free   Chiller Drive-In Comics   #0

 Zombies Gone NAG” All the zombies that work for Wolfman Mac and Boney Bob at the Chiller Drive-In have gone on strike and have formed a Union called N.A.G. (The National Association of Ghouls) and have demands before they get back to work that include Brain Breaks and an extra half an hour for lunch.  They use a Gravedigger to work on the deal that Wolfman Mac agrees to and rolls into the issue’s main story called “Return From The Grave.”  At a funeral a vampire pops out of his coffin and attacks all who are attending and is about to feed but before he can T. Stone McAllister, Monster Hunter, comes and saves the day. Back at the Chiller Drive-In all the Zombies are on break and Wolfman Mac is down because no work is getting done. And so ends Issue 0 for now!

 This is a nice free little comic that was a nice way to promote the show and the artist involved, and I would have loved to have had this comic to give out when I worked FREE COMIC DAY at Mavericks. The downside is that this is a very quick read and the main story seems very rushed and not as big of a build up as one would have wanted. The Chiller Drive-In parts are fun and really cartoonish and is clearly geared towards young readers as it even has an anti-smoking spot. The only two characters used in this issue is Mac and Boney Bob, and this gives it a nice feel, like part of the show’s universe. The art in both The Wolfman Mac and Return From The Grave is well done, and sticking close to the source material this is a nice fun very quick read that is worth a check out for fans of Wolfman Mac and Horror Hosts. This issue also teases a full issue # 1 in the summer of 2010, and it seems that this has not happened.  That’s a bummer; I feel that this could have been a fun read for those of us that enjoy this type of book.

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While we are on the subject of werewolves, this would be a perfect time for me to talk about the first no budget film I ever directed called Werewolf of Ohio.  After high school I worked as a bagger for Kroger in the now shut down Van Buren Shopping Center and made lots of great friends like Sarah Boian, Jason Shivadecker and Jason Gilmore, not to mention I worked with already friends of mine Josh Weinberg and Garrison Kane.  At my work is where the legend of The Wolf Man of Ohio began! While working at Kroger at Halloween time we got in a shipment of Universal Monsters Halloween masks, and I was drooling looking at them, in particular The Wolf Man one due to the fact that it is one of my favorite movies of all time. I went around all day talking about how I could make a movie based around that mask, and even spouted some nonsense about putting The Wolf Man in a “Suicide 3” movie if we made it.  After hours of hearing me talk about the film ideas I had for that mask, the cashiers and baggers did something super cool when they bought me the mask and told me to make some movie magic.  And that’s what I set out to do with Josh Weinberg who had left Kroger at this point and was working for Click Camera who loaned him a VHS Camcorder! 

Werewolf of ohio VHS

In late 1999 Josh and I, armed with our on loan camera from Click and our werewolf Halloween mask, set out in his beat up stick shift truck and hit the roads thinking of what my new Wolf Man film could be about, and while driving the story just popped into my head! Josh would play a young man who is on a quest to hunt down The Wolf Man (played by me), a werewolf who terrorizes Waynesville, Ohio and killed his parents and younger sister some years back.  Now he, alongside a camera man (originally cast as Kevin Kinsley but turned out to be played by Brandon Womeldorff), sets out to get evidence that the beast is real and to document its death at the hands of Josh.  We loved the idea and went out to film this twisted sad tale.  We drove around during and after a huge rain storm and filmed moments after the rain stopped around Bellbrook and Kettering (State Farm Park again).  It was just the two of us.  I would act as the Camera Man and Josh would talk about his anger, sadness and need for revenge.  When The Wolf Man was on screen, Josh would run camera. The Wolf Man wore a hood and robe and walked around in daylight and night, making this beast a bigger danger then most werewolf legends. We even drove to Waynesville to film the town’s sign just to add that “real” feel of this “found footage” film. We filmed the climax at State Farm Park and filmed at night as Josh spots The Wolf Man who in turn chases him and the camera cuts off ending the film, or so we thought. After looking at the film we found some scenes just didn’t fit like a talk show interview with Josh that just came off to goofy. Some just were shot bad like the ending were Josh didn’t get The Wolf Man chasing him in one frame making the film’s total runtime about six minutes. I was really disappointed in the film and knew we had to film more to save the film from being a total waste, but the film did fall onto the back burner for almost two full years. By the time I got back to the film I had worked on a few more films and was ready to “save” this film from the trash pile, so I sat down and watched the footage and wrote out a script to finish the film out, Josh was back on board, and Kevin Kinsley was going to step into the role of The Camera Man making it easier for The Wolf Man to interact with them.  In 2001 we started the process of wrapping up the film. Things were going smoothly, and then Kevin was fired for over sleeping on the first day of shooting and Brandon Womeldorff stepped into the part and proved to be a better choice as he also offered ideas and angles. The second part of the film has Josh waking up after the attack covered with blood (yep more ketchup) and buying himself a gun and once more rants and tries to kill The Wolf Man who now wears a red flannel. After the last day of filming, it was rushed into editing at Fairmont High School and Brandon had it cut and ready in one sitting! It then was packaged and ready to be sold at our first horror convention called Fright Vision. While the film sold like hotcakes on VHS and has even gotten a cult following, I have always loved the film for being my own first film but also always find flaws in it after every viewing. I also found that The Wolf Man is my favorite character I have ever played, and one day hope to step into the mask for a new film. The film was followed by a sequel and has made it to DVD in a way but that’s for another update.

Josh and Camera ManWolfmanCamera mAn

Here are some fun facts about Werewolf Of Ohio:  Local filmmaker Andy Copp once wrote about Werewolf of Ohio in the local paper as low budget films/makers you should keep an eye on. Chris Seaver of Low Budget Pictures (LBP) put The Wolf Man in his film “Mulva 2: Kill Teen Ape”. The original title of the film was Wolf Man of Ohio.  Werewolf of Ohio is the second best selling VHS release in Independent B Movie history.  At a number of conventions horror host icon Dr. Creep of Shock Theatre and New Shock Theater helped push the product to buyers,  Centerfold frontman Patrick Neeley did the end theme to the film, and its title was “An American Werewolf in Dayton. The film’s original release had random girls running and a number of other girls in the deleted scenes they were added as filler from stock footage found at Fairmont High School. My brother Bryan once said Ohio should use Werewolf Of Ohio as a travel video, due to all the scenery shots and drive scenes. I hope you enjoyed this look at my “classic” film! Below is the master tape with the original title.

WOO vhs

Well, we have Defended the Earth for 4 issues along side Flash Gordon and friend,s and we took a quick pit stop at the Chiller Drive-In to visit Wolfman Mac and took a look back at some fun young moments of my life and told a tale of the Werewolf of Ohio.  So what is next, you ask.  Next update we will take a look at an epic action star who had a cartoon and toy line and lead a group of Karate fighters.  This 4 issue series from Star Comics is CHUCK NORRIS AND THE KARATE COMMANDOS! So I will see you then.

chuck norris karate kommandos LOGO