DC At The Movies: Superman (The Christmas Eve Special)

Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas to all my friends, family and readers on this special Christmas Eve update to Rotten Ink. I hope on this day you are surrounded by loved ones and sharing good stories and memories with one another. Last year for Christmas Eve I took a look at DC Comics movie adaptations of the early Batman films, and this year I have chosen to cover the one and only Man of Steel, Superman, and the films from the Christopher Reeves years and those that followed and were inspired by it. So pull up a comfy chair near your heater or fireplace and pour yourself a glass of eggnog or your favorite choice of holiday drink, and let’s take a fly around the world of Superman as we enter DC At The Movies: Superman!

Superman The Movie Logo

Before Batman in the late 80’s and Marvel’s The Avengers were the top notch comic book movies in the world, Warner Brothers had Superman a series of films that made kids and the young at heart super hyped to visit their local cinema and watch the adventures of Superman on the silver screen. Superman was no stranger to being the world’s most popular comic book hero as before the 1978 film, he had already taken over the world of comics with Action Comics as well as had a very popular radio drama and TV show called The Adventures Of Superman along with many other forms of media like cartoons and movie serials. But in ’78, he took over the world of movies and held the top spot until 1989 when Tim Burton’s Batman took the mantel away. I sadly was not born when Superman: The Movie came to theaters and was only a tiny baby in 1981 when Superman II was released, but I do remember the hype for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace as my brother Bryan and I wanted to rush to a theater and watch it in 1987.  For some reason I want to say we did go and see it at Beaver Valley Cinemas and when asking my Mom, Dad and brother, they said that they think a family member took us to see it and our main guess was my Aunt and Uncle, Laverne and George. Christopher Reeve to me was the perfect Superman and Clark Kent, as he was able to balance the boy scout do-gooder aspect of Superman and the goofy, nerd aspect of Kent.  To this day, I feel no actors before or after him have 100% captured the character like he did. I was so sad when in 1995 Reeve had a terrible accident while riding his horse that left him paralyzed.  His condition later lead to his death at the age of 52 in 2004. I can remember watching these films many times when they aired on TV and buying them on VHS and enjoying every cheesy moment of them.  When Reeve passed away, it looked as if the Superman series was over with, that is until Bryan Singer, who made the X-Men movies, decided to make a sequel to the first two Superman films and cut out parts 3 and 4.  The film was Superman Returns and cast Brandon Routh as The Man of Steel.  It had charm but was not in the league of the originals. But before I ramble on and decide to give you a full rundown and review of each of these films, I should instead give you all a quick rundown of the films’ plots as well as who played Superman, the films’ main bad guy as well as the lead actress. I took these write ups from our good friends at IMDB as I would have been too long winded. So enjoy this quick rundown, and I hope this triggers good memories of watching these films.

Superman The Movie 1Superman The Movie PosterSuperman The Movie 2

Superman (1978)

Unable to convince the ruling council of Krypton that their world will destroy itself soon, scientist Jor-El takes drastic measures to preserve the Kryptonian race: He sends his infant son Kal-El to Earth. There, gaining great powers under Earth’s yellow sun, he will become a champion of truth and justice. Raised by the Kents, an elderly farm couple, Clark Kent learns that his abilities must be used for good. The adult Clark travels to Metropolis, where he becomes a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet…and a caped wonder whose amazing feats stun the city: Superman! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, the world’s greatest criminal mind, is plotting the greatest real estate swindle of all time. Can’t even the Man of Steel stop this nefarious scheme?

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

Superman II 1Superman II PosterSuperman II 2

Superman II (1981)

Picking up where “Superman: The Movie” left off, three criminals from the planet Krypton are released from the Phantom Zone by a nuclear explosion in space. They descend upon Earth where they could finally rule. Superman, meanwhile, is in love with Lois Lane, who finds out who he really is. Lex Luthor escapes from prison and is determined to destroy Superman by joining forces with the three criminals.

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

General Zod – Terence Stamp

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Superman III (1983)

Wealthy businessman Ross Webster discovers the hidden talents of Gus Gorman, a mischievous computer genius. Ross decides to abuse his talents, in a way to help Webster with his plans for economic control. When the man of steel interferes, something must be done about Supes. When Gus’ synthetic Kryptonite fails to kill Superman, it turns him in an evil incarnation of his former self. The tar-laced Kryptonite pits man against himself, setting up the Clark vs. Superman battle.

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Ross Webster – Robert Vaughn

Superman IV 1Superman IV PosterSuperman IV 2

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)

Superman does a lot in his newest adventure. Archvillain Lex Luthor, determined to make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man. The two super-powered foes clash in an explosive screen extranvaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, repulse a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna, rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China and perform many more spetactular feats.

Superman – Christopher Reeves

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

Nuclear Man – Mark Pillow

Superman Returns 1Superman Returns PosterSuperman Returns 2

Superman Returns (2006)

Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth in the epic action-adventure Superman Returns, a soaring new chapter in the saga of one of the world’s most beloved superheroes. While an old enemy plots to render him powerless once and for all, Superman faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Or has she? Superman’s bittersweet return challenges him to bridge the distance between them while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him. In an attempt to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction, Superman embarks on an epic journey of redemption that takes him from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space.

Superman – Brandon Routh

Lex Luther – Kevin Spacey

The first Superman film was directed by Richard Donner, who did a fantastic job of showing the character’s origin story as well as balanced between Clark Kent and Superman. The second film was directed by Richard Lester as well as in parts Richard Donner, who was replaced by Lester after Donner had some bad blood with the film’s producers, but the film did add General Zob and his followers who had the same power as Superman making the threat more real for the man of steel. The third film was directed by just Richard Lester and took a more comedic turn even casting Richard Pryor as a lead for comedic relief.  This was the first film not to have Lex Luther in it. Superman IV was directed by Sidney J. Furie and has Superman trying to get the world to get along. Superman was the # 2 movie in 1978 bringing in $134,218,018.00 and beat out such films as Animal House, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, Jaws 2, Revenge of the Pink Panther and Deer Hunter. Superman II in 1981 was # 3 and brought in a total of $108,185,706.00 and beat out such films as Stripes, Clash of the Titans, An American Werewolf In London, The Great Muppet Caper, Halloween II, The Howling, Friday The 13th Part II and Tarzan The Ape Man. In 1983 Superman III was # 12 and brought in $59,950,623.00 and bested films like Jaws 3-D, Scarface, Psycho II, Never Say Never Again, The Outsiders, Krull and Strange Brew. Superman IV in 1987 did not do well and brought in $15,681,020.00 and was # 69 but did beat out such films as Hellraiser, Creepshow 2, House II, Teen Wolf Too, Death Wish 4, Evil Dead 2 and Chipmunk Adventure. Superman Returns in 2006 was # 6 and brought in $200,081,192.00 and pulled ahead of such flicks as Casino Royale, Borat, Saw III, Rocky Balboa, Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning and Pans Labyrinth. So as you can see, the original Superman series had many ups and downs, but as I stated before, they were the original superhero films that made kids and the young at heart hyped to watch at their local theater. Now we should briefly talk about the ladies of Superman, and the lovely actresses who played them.  The most popular and the one who was in a total of 4 of the films is Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane and was not only a tough, smart and independent woman who was the Dailey Planet’s top reporter but was also a cute as a button! She is Superman’s love interest in two of the films, and he spends so much time saving her from dangers and battling his own judgement of telling her he is also Clark Kent. In Superman II, while Lois Lane was his main love interest, Sarah Douglas played Ursa, the goth looking tough woman who is part of General Zod’s trio of super villains.  While good looking, she does have a goddess complex as she looks down on normal man! In Superman III, Annette O’Toole plays Lana Lang, a small town girl who went to school with Clark Kent who he had a crush on.  She is a single mother, has a sweet heart and is amazingly good looking. Superman IV has Mariel Hemingway playing Lacy Warfield, the daughter of a mogul who buys the Daily Planet.  She is a nice woman who wants to do real journalism and has a crush on Clark. Kate Bosworth plays Lois Lane in Superman Returns, and the character is now a mom and is still strong minded and looks great but somehow got younger looking…odd. If I was Superman/Clark Kent and I had to date one of these women, I would choose Lana Lane hands down.  Not only is she beautiful, but she is also a kind and loving person. But all of these women are fine choices and all of them have their pluses to why they would be dateable.

margot kidder Superman The MovieUrsa_supermanannetteotoole2Lacy_Warfieldsuperman-returns-20060428000200918

The Superman films also sparked a tie-in film called Supergirl in 1984 and had Helen Slater play the title part, the cousin of Superman. The film’s plot is this (from IMDB): “After a power source for the community of Krypton survivors is accidentally whisked to earth, Kara-El, cousin to Superman and niece to Jor-El, chooses to go to earth to find it, and bring it back. Upon her arrival, she becomes just a powerful and Super as her cousin, but encounters dangerous battles and unexpected obstacles when a mean spirited woman who practices rituals of the occult takes the power source for herself, and uses it to cause destruction and attempt zenith human status..”  Although this was to be a new blockbuster franchise, it fizzled at the US Box Office, only bringing in $14,296,438.00, placing it at # 66 of the year. It did however beat out such films as Ice Pirates, The Evil That Men Do, Terror In The Aisles and Cloak And Dagger. 1997 saw the release of Steel, based around the character who was a major part of the aftermath of the Death of Superman storyline that was rocking the comic book world.  The main character Steel was played by NBA player Shaq and had this as its plot: “John Henry Irons designs weapons for the military. When his project to create weapons that harmlessly neutralize soldiers is sabotaged, he leaves in disgust. When he sees gangs are using his weapons on the street, he uses his brains and his Uncle Joe’s junkyard know-how to fight back, becoming a real man of “steel.”  The film was a total bomb at the box office, bringing in a total of $1,710,972.00 in the US making for the lowest money maker for the Superman series of films. Steel was # 178 for the year and beat out the likes of Kiss Or Kill, The Van and The Winter Guest. But I should also mention the first official Superman film was 1951’s Superman And The Mole-Men starring George Reeves as Superman who was also the man who played him on the hit TV Show The Adventures Of Superman. Say what you will, but even with two poorly received spin offs, Superman and his friends at least did what they could to entertain us at the movies.

Superman mole men PosterSUPERGIRL postersteel poster

Now before we go on, I know may of you readers are waiting to see if I mention the Superman film that was being worked on by Tim Burton and would have had Nicolas Cage playing Superman.  To answer your questions, of course I am going to cover it, but also some of the other Superman films that never came to light. “Superman V” or also called “Superman: The New Movie” was being developed by Cannon Films before Superman IV was even out in theaters and would have had Superman dying and coming back to life in a shrunken city called Kandor that was original on his home planet of Krypton.  The film was to be directed by Albert Pyun, who was the director of such films as Alien From L.A., Cyborg and Captain America and Christopher Reeve was slated to play Superman once more. But when Superman IV was not a super hit and Cannon Films went bankrupt, the plan for this film disappeared and was never meant to be, but as many people point out, this would have had the death and rebirth of Superman way before the comics did it. In early 1993 Warner Brothers wanted to cash in on the Death of Superman comic craze and came up with a film called “Superman Reborn,” a hip take on the character that would please the MTV Generation and would make great action figures for toy companies. The original idea was to have Superman die at the hands of Doomsday, but before Sups passed on he would have his life force go into Lois Lane and make her pregnant with a baby that would be the reborn him…yep….the second idea had Brainiac teaming up with Doomsday, Silver Banshee and Parasite to kill Superman who would later come back to be reborn. This film did not come about when Kevin Smith was hired to rewrite some of it, but he decided the film was too campy and he had ideas of his own. This lead to “Superman Lives,” a film that would have had Superman dying, a giant Spider and even Brainiac fighting polar bears! The film would have had Superman dying by the hands of Doomsday who was sent by Brainiac and Lex Luther, and Superman when coming back alive must find a way to over through his enemies. The film was offered to Robert Rodriguez, but he had to decline and the directing seat went to Tim Burton and the role of Superman went to Nicolas Cage, even though Smith wanted to hire his friend Ben Affleck. Burton, before filming, would bring in his own guys and would rewrite Smith’s script.  This was the beginning of the end as many actors were attached for roles and all of them came and went.  The film died when Burton left the film as well saying he wasted a year of his life working on it. Other would-be films came after like Batman vs. Superman, a movie that would have had Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent down on their luck and being set up to fight each other thanks to The Joker and Lex Luther as well as an origin film called Superman: Flyby! One things for sure, while none of these films made it to the big screen, I am sure some of the films that have been made in recent years have taken bits and pieces from these scrips. Below is Nicolas Cage in a version of the Superman suit, and I can 100% say that I wish this film would have been made as well as Superman V.

Nick Cage as Superman

Some of the best merchandise to come out of the Superman Movies has to be the doll action figures made by MEGO as well as MEGO’s 3 3/4” Pocket Hero figure line. Growing up, I sadly never had any of these figures as they were out of stores way before I was old enough to play with action figures, and when we found them at garage sales they were always way over priced for our Mom to buy us one. My brother Bryan, on the other hand, did have a Superman one that was his favorite toy for awhile.  He even swung it around a string once when he was a kid at my grandparents house and lost it on top of their roof! By the time he got the figure back, it was dirty and gross as it sat up there for awhile.  When they finally got it down, the figure was thrown away. Don’t be too sad for him, he got another many, many years later and it sits in his hallway in his house. When I was in my mid-twenties, I was able to track down and get a full set of the Pocket Hero Superman figuresm and I must say I really wished I had them when I was young as Zod would have made a perfect ally for Darth Vader in my Toy Wars!

Mego Superman Dolls

Collector drinking glasses were super popular for fast food joints and gas stations to give away or sell dirt cheap in the 60’s-80’s, and Taco Bell and Pepsi did just that with very cool Superman glasses in 1979! The series had six different glasses, and if you bought a medium soda and payed .69, you could get one with your meal, a very cool way to get customers into your restaurant to buy food as well as give them something to take home that they drink out of and will remind them of your food. While we never had one of these glasses, we did have a Pepsi Superman glass from the comic books that had him busting out of chains, and it was one of my favorite glasses to drink chocolate milk out of. Over the years I have seen these Taco Bell/Pepsi Superman glasses at Antique Stores and Flea markets, and they are on my list of glasses to get for my apartment. I wonder if Christopher Reeve ever drank tea or lemonade from a Superman glass?

Taco Bell Superman Glass 1Taco Bell Superman GlassTaco Bell Superman Glass 2

Another popular part of merchandising back in the day besides toys and glasses were trading cards.  Topps was the king company who not only made cards on sports but also movies and TV shows, and of course they made some for Superman 1-3! Besides the base card set, each series had a sticker set, and each pack came with a stick of bubble gum. Growing up, I did have lots of these trading cards for all these films as I was a trading card fiend and would buy all that I could new from places like UDF and would buy bags full from garage sales. One thing I should say also is that at Game Swap Kettering this year someone traded in a complete set of Superman: The Movie trading cards as well with the stickers and even a unopened pack.  It was lots of fun to flip through the base card set as each were so vintage and cool.  It makes me miss the days of classic Topps Trading cards as lots has changed in that world that includes not only the price per pack but also the quality of the cards themselves. But as always you can’t stop change, and those who collect cards I am sure have at least one of these films in their collection.

Topps Superman And Superman II Wax PacksTopps Superman III Wax Pack

I was going to cut this from my update as I didn’t have that much to say about it, but I think those who had one or wanted one would like to take a trip down memory lane so here it goes. Iron on T-shirts were super popular for some reason back in the day, and I can always remember hating them as the image on the shirt after a few washes would crack and peel away leaving the shirt looking like a mess, something even as a youngster I would not wear out in public. But for those who remember these, Superman II had an iron on transfer shirt that I am sure brought joy and happiness to those who had it.  I’m not sure if the terrible lack of quality these style shirts had makes any of my readers mad like it did me but for those things ruined my childhood by ruining my Skeletor and Star Wars shirts!

Superman II Iron On Transfer

While I was working on this update I was listening to the Superman: The Movie and Supergirl soundtracks and enjoying the epic nature of these themes as I remember my childhood of watching these films and reading Superman comics. The first film’s score was done by John Williams, and his theme is so iconic that whenever people think of Superman, that theme comes to mind.  Believe me, it was a great score to have playing in the background while I read the comics. Ken Thorne did the score for Superman II and is great just as the original and captures the vibe of the film and the mood of the John Williams score that came before it. Ken returned to score Part III and once more did a great job of capturing the action and comedy moments with his music. Superman IV’s score was done by Alexander Courage and is good, while not as iconic as the scores that came before it, this score still helped add to the film’s over all vibe. Superman Returns’ score was done by John Ottman and is a solid piece of work and was fitting for the film. For those wondering, Supergirl’s score was done by Jerry Goldsmith, Steel’s was done by Mervyn Warren and 2013’s Man of Steel’s was done by Hans Zimmer. While all have their own great tracks, I would say that if you’re a music score fan like me, I would suggest buying the John Williams score for Superman: The Movie on CD, cassette or vinyl and give it a listen some late evening, and yes, I play some of these scores on Alpha Rythems.

Superman The Movie SoundtrackSuperman II SoundtrackSuperman III Soundtrack

While no direct video game has been made around the Christopher Reeve Superman films, one was made for Superman Returns that was on Playstation 2 and Xbox 360. The one I remember is Superman for the Atari 2600, where you play Superman and must rebuild a bridge that Lex Luther blew up and all this is timed! Superman also had a game for Commodore 64 made by First Star and an arcade game made by Taito that I can remember playing at a video store that had the machine.  Years later, that same machine is now at Game Swap in Kettering ready to be played by shoppers! One game for Nintendo was released by Seika and was a game that not only made The Angry Video Game Nerd mad but me as well as the game was terrible and treated Superman like a bigheaded small weakling. Sega Genesis had Superman, a game released by Sunsoft, that was a side scrolling cheesy action game that was one of the first games I ever bought for our Genesis as I used by birthday money to buy it. This is just a drop in the hat on video games that are about or even star Superman.  A big rumor going around is that Rocksteady and WB Games, the same team who brought us the Batman Arkham games, are working on a new Superman game that will be out for PS4 and Xbox One.  So here is hoping that these rumors are true. If you’re a gamer and you can’t sleep this Christmas Eve night, maybe pick up a controller and play a Superman game while you wait for Santa.

Superman Atari 2600Superman C64Superman NESSuperman Genesis

So I think at this point in the update we are ready to take a look at the DC Comic adaptations of the Superman films.  For some reason DC Comics were late to the game and did not do adaptations for Superman: The Movie or Superman II, but they started at Superman III so that is where we will starts as well. Well maybe for fun I will throw in the Treasury Editions that breakdown the first two Superman movies! I want to thanks Game Swap Kettering, Lone Star Comics, Mavericks and Ebay for having these issues in stock and while you turn up the heater or throw another log on the fire, I want to remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I must say that just like last year’s Batman update I am really looking forward to reading these adaptations of Superman films and hope that like the Batman issues they do the films they are taken from justice.  So let’s look to the night sky and look for Santa..I mean Superman!

Superman The Movie Comic

Superman The Movie # 0  ***
Released in 1979    Cover Price $2.50    DC Comics    # 0 of 0

This book adds more to your Superman The Movie experience as it acts as a way to show the connections and differences between the movie and comics. It breaks down Krypton and Smallville, shows the layout of the Fortress of Solitude and speaks of the wonders of the Daily Planet and it’s workers. It also tells about Superman, Lex Luther and his fellow team of evil doers. One amazing thing is, it does a great job of showing the characters in the comic and how they look in the movies.  For some they did a fantastic job, while others they were close but not on the dot. It also gives you some history on much of the crew and makers of this film like the producer, director, costume and production designer and John Williams, the composer of the film’s soundtrack. It shares information on actors from the film from Christopher Reeve to Gene Hackman and in-between and shows some behind the scenes looks into how they made a scene. One cool thing is that they also show the two young kids who won DC Comics contest to get a cameo in the film and shows who they played. While most of this information could be looked up much quicker on the internet than fumbling through this over sized book, I still found this a fun read on a chilly night to spark the nostalgia of the film series in me.

Superman II Comic

Superman II # 0 **1/2
Released in 1981    Cover Price $2.95    DC Comics    # 0 of 0

This oversized Treasury Comic breaks down the film Superman II with a look at the actors, sets, characters and even filming elements like the films fight scenes! It covers lots of great stuff and even contains some amazing pictures of actress Sarah Douglas looking pretty hot in low cut shirts. It’s much like the first Superman: The Movie breakdown and really while entertaining, just makes you wish these were comic adaptations of the films instead of oversized magazines. So let’s move onto the real highlight of this update the DC Comics based on the rest of the Superman films.

Superman III Comic 1

Superman III # 1  **1/2
Released in 1983    Cover Price $1.00    DC Comics    #1 of 1

August “Gus” Gorman is a man down on his luck who has been on unemployment for over 36 weeks and might have found his break on the back of a pack of matches that leads him to become a computer programer for Archibald Data Processing and he does things that even his instructor never knew a computer could do! At the Dailey Planet editor Perry White lets Lois Lane take a vacation to Bermuda, Clark Kent go back to Smallville for his high school reunion and Jimmy Olsen go along to snap photos, but during the trip back home Clark must turn into Superman as a chemical plant has caught on fire and it houses the most dangerous acid in the world that could kill many if it gets too heated up! As Superman saves the lives of workers, he also must save Jimmy Olsen who breaks his leg trying to snap pictures and uses a nearby lake to put out the fire and save the day. With Jimmy Olsen having to go back to Metropolis, Clark goes to his reunion and runs back into Lana Lang, his crush who is now divorced and has a young son Ricky.  Lana is trying to dodge Brad, a drunk one time jock who is the jerk of town who wants to win her heart. Ross Webster has lost $85,000.00 from his company Webco Industries as someone embezzled it, and he know its Gorman, who he ropes into helping him take control of a satellite that can control the weather so that he can ruin all of Columbia’s coffee beans and can be the king of coffee. Meanwhile Clark in Smallville is becoming close to Lana and her son Ricky and must turn into Superman and save Ricky’s life after an accident in a field almost leaves him plant food! Gorman gets the satellite to work as bad weather unleashes itself on Columbia but is stopped by Superman who know becomes the target of Ross and his sister Vera and his girlfriend Lorelei who want to build a piece of kryptonite to use against and kill Superman! But they make a mistake, and the kryptonite does not kill Superman but turns him bad.  As the Man of Steel does evil things, Ross and Gorman set their sights on building a super computer and taking over the oil industry. Lana and Ricky move to Metropolis and find the Evil Superman.  The boy’s kind words leads to an inner fight and turns Superman good again.  He fixes all his wrongs and goes after Russ and his goon squad who have built the super computer and use it to fight The Man Of Steel! Gorman realizes that the computer is evil and tries to save Superman, but the computer is now working for itself and even turns Vera into a robotic droid of destruction! In the end, Superman uses the acid from the chemical lab and destroys the computer and takes Gorman to safety and lets the cops deal with Ross, Vera and Lorelei.

This comic adaptation is pretty dang good, but the odd thing is it takes lots of the film’s comedy aspects away.  While it’s still very light hearted, it’s by no means as goofy as the film. The plot has Superman going back to his hometown of Smallville, falling in love with his crush and trying to find a way to get her to move to Metropolis, all the while a con man named Gus is working for a big business man who wants to rule the world.  Superman must find away to stop them and their scary giant computer. The first thing that I noticed is that the comic has lots of changes like Lana in the end does not get a job with the Daily Planet nor does the fling go anywhere, also Brad, the sleazy one time jock is down played and is not nearly chasing Lana like he is in the film. All of Gorman’s slapstick over the top comedy is gone, and he is played more like a normal guy who, while a con man looking for a quick buck, is really just a nice guy. The worst part that was cut and happens to be my favorite part of the film is when Superman goes to Lana’s house for something to drink and the fake kryptonite starts to turn him bad and he gets all sleazy on her. Superman is as noble as ever and saves many lives and stops lots of disasters all the while doing so with a smile as he takes joy in helping out mankind. Superman, in this comic adaptation, is strong but seems slightly weaker than the comic book version but who really is looking at that aspect? Ross Webster and his sister Vera are rich snobs who thinks the world owes them everything because they have more money than you, are really snooty and are willing to kill Superman so that they can get more money. Gus Gorman is a man who as well is looking for quick cash, but while he will steal your cash, he by no means wants to kill or hurt someone to do so. Gus is almost a puppet to the evil Ross who is the puppeteer and is pulling his strings by using his own greed to get him to obey. Lana Lane and her son Ricky are great characters as they are used to show a human side to Superman who has a bond with the pair.  I really like Lana as well because unlike other lead female roles in these style of films, she is in no need of saving and can take care of herself. The cover is okay, but it’s odd they chose to use a blurry still of the film instead of drawing something original.  The artwork inside is done by Curt Swan & Sal Amendola and looks like a normal issue of Superman but the characters only slightly look like the actors who play them in the film.  That’s kind of a let down as I would have loved to have seen it look like Christopher Reeve and Annette O’Toole. To sum it up, while good, it does lose some of the charm of the film and is an okay adaptation of a classic superhero film I grew up watching. Below is some artwork from the issue that shows the inner battle between Clark Kent and the Evil Superman.

Superman III Art 1

So from Superman III, it’s now time to take a look at DC Comics look at Superman IV: The Quest For Peace movie adaptation.  The question is, will it capture the cheesy magic of the film or will it fall a little behind like the Superman III did?

Superman IV Comic 1

Superman IV # 1  ***
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.00    DC Comics    # 1 of 1

In space, a Russian astronaut has an accident and is about to float away into space when Superman saves him.  Superman returns to earth and as Clark Kent has his family’s old farm house for sale in Smallville and finds a old message from his real father and a crystal that will act as a shot of power if he ever needs it. The next day on his way to work Superman saves a train full of passengers as the conductor suffers from a heart attack and when at work he gets news the Daily Planet has been bought out by tabloid tycoon David Warfield and his daughter Lacy who want to change the Planet into a trash paper. Lex Luther escapes from jail thanks to his nephew Lenny, and they steal a strand of Superman’s hair from the science museum and use radiation to create a dimwitted super guy who fights Superman in the street and is destroyed with ease by the man of steel. Jeremy is a young boy who is flown to Metropolis in order to talk to Superman as the child wants him to destroy all the nuclear weapons in the world, and Superman does just that as he flings the weapons into the sun. Lex Luther, with the help of some top war monger government army brass, sends a chemical human stew into the sun hidden into one of the missiles and so is born Nuclear Man, who feeds off the sun rays and is now out to destroy Superman on Lex Luther’s orders. The pair fight all around the world, and Nuclear Man lands a powerful blow that leaves Superman injured and oddly makes him start to age faster! While Superman/Clark Kent tries to nurse himself back to health, Nuclear Man decides he is in charge and turns on Luther and Lenny and also comes to the decision that Lacy Warfield will be his Queen, but before things get too bad Superman uses the crystal of power.  After a tough fight Superman beats Nuclear Man with the help of an eclipse and Lacy and puts the super baddy into a nuclear core where he will be drained of power and die! In the end Superman and youngster Jeremy teach all the people of the world we are all the same, and Perry White with the help of the banks buys the majority shares to become the owner of the Daily Planet.

The first thing that I must say is that all the flaws and moments of the film that make no sense are fixed and explained in this comic adaptation as no film editor took their scissors to the print to make a runtime. The plot is very simple: Lex Luther escapes jail as the world is in a nuclear weapon panic, Superman saves the day by ridding the world of all those nasty warheads and by doing so creates his own worst enemy in the Nuclear Man, all the while the Daily Planet is being taken over by a creepazoid smut news publisher. Throw in some love story with Lacy and Clark as well as Superman aging, and you have this cheesy comic storyline. While the film is a mess, I did find this comic adaptation to be lots of fun and better than part III. Superman in this comic is very noble and after fighting with his mind, listens to his heart and tries his best to rid the world of evil nuclear war weapons and truly embraces Earth as his home. Lois Lane is sassy, Jimmy Olsen is a background player, David Warfield is a scum bag, and Perry White is a man on a mission and saves his paper from being a tabloid magazine. Lacy Warfield is a rich woman who at least has some kindness in her heart as she wants to do the right thing and wants to win the heart of Clark Kent. Lex Luther once more is filled with pure revenge as world peace is not enough for him; he would rather risk that all for money and the death of Superman. Lenny is a goofball, as is the first Super clone, and Nuclear Man is a powerful narcissistic hothead who uses all his power for evil. The big things that are different from comic to film is that this comic shows the first attempt of the super clone as well as explains him getting sick when injured and turning old.  These scenes in the comic help make the whole thing make sense as some of these elements are left in the movie with no backstory. The art is really well done and is done by a handful of artists, and while they don’t look anything like the actors who play the characters in the film, it does hold the DC Comic charm and looks as if it could have been just a normal issue in the Action Comic series. So over all, this is a good comic adaptation done right by DC and really makes me wish they did ones based on the first film and Superman II, but we can’t change the past so before we move onto Superman: Returns, check out some art from Superman IV.

Superman IV Art 1

So from Nuclear Man to, you guessed it, more Lex Luther.  Let’s see how this more modern comic adaptation holds up, shall we? I should also note that while I don’t hate this film, I did find it to be just mediocre at best so it will be cool to see how this adaptation holds up to the film.

Superman Returns Comic 1

Superman Returns # 1  **
Released in 2006    Cover Price $6.99    DC Comics    #1 of 1

Superman has left Earth for over five years on a quest to find his home world in space and comes up empty handed.  He returns home to find his mother dating another man and wanting to sell the family farm to move away from Smallville. Lex Luther is out of jail and has dated an old sick rich woman who has just died and is now a millionaire and uses his new wealth to track down Superman’s Fortress of Solitude along with his girlfriend Kitty and his hired hand goons.  They learn all of the Man of Steel’s secrets. Clark Kent returns to work at the Daily Planet, and Superman returns in saving people as he saves a plane full of reporters that includes Lois Lane who is now a mom and engaged to Richard White, the nephew of Perry White. Lex Luther has found the the secret of Krypton is that the crystals can build land, and he has a plan to just do that as well sink America in the process, and along the way he kidnaps Lois Lane and her son Jason as they head out to sea. Lois is able to fax her location to the Daily Planet.  Richard takes the sea plan and Clark turns to Superman, and they both rush to the rescue. Luther has began creating land that is laced with Kryptonite, and this makes Superman weak as he is beat up by the likes of Luther and stabbed with a kryptonite dagger and thrown into the cold water. Lois and Jason was saved by Richard and in turn Lois saves Superman who lifts the newly made crystal land mass and leaves it into space, but this takes a lot out of Superman who falls to Earth and looks as if he could die! In the end Lex escapes, and Superman lives and makes peace with Lois even when he finds out Jason is his son.

First thing I have to say is I hate when DC Comics did the prestige binding for their adaptations of their films.  It just doesn’t feel like reading a comic as much as it feels like I am reading a book or a graphic novel, and sadly this was the only way you can get this issue. This adaptation is pretty good, but does suffer from what I felt dragged the film down and that’s a snail’s pace plot with not a lot of action. The plot of this comic is Superman returns to Earth after time away and must battle Lex Luther who wants to control land and also battle his feelings for Lois Lane who is now a mom. The story is not terrible, just a little weak and best of all Superman is a deadbeat dad as it’s shown Jason is his son and he has not taken care of him for over five years, and decides to not to do so even after he finds out! Superman in this issue is still noble for the most part but is not given much to do besides stop a plan crash, stop some robbers and lift a crystal land mass that really makes no sense as the Kryptonite should have left him weak as a baby. Clark Kent is not given much to do as Sup’s secret identity is more of a background player in this adaptation. Lois Lane is as snarky and strong willed as ever and while happy with her life, does still have feelings for the Man of Steel. Richard and Jason White are background players and serve a bigger purpose than Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. Lex Luther is such a so-so bad guy in this comic as I am sorry his main goal is to make new land to sell to nations as well as kill Superman…out of the the six Superman films Luther has been the bad guy in four and in this one he should have been given a rest.  It would have been nice to see Parasite or Doomsday. This comic follows the film pretty well and only has some changes like Jason killing one of Luther’s men with a piano is gone as is Kitty and Luther being stuck on a tiny island.  Not to mention that many parts also seem sped up and lose impact like Lois saving Superman goes by with a blink of an eye. The art in this adaptation is okay but is slightly sloppy and is done by Matt Haley.  This just adds to the boring nature of this adaptation. Over all while it was fun to read this adaptation, it is one that I am sure I would never read again. I would say that it was bland and boring! Check out the art below done by Haley for this adaptation.

Superman Returns Art 1

That marks the end of comic adaptations of Superman movies as none was made for Man of Steel, the film that came after Superman Returns.  So I figured why not take a look at Supergirl and Steel films that were spin offs of Superman! So up first is the Woman of Steel Supergirl!

Supergirl Comic 1

Supergirl # 1  **1/2
Released in 1985    Cover Price $1.25    DC Comics    #1 of 1

Argo City is in space and is the last of Krypton where Kara, the cousin of Superman lives.  An accident caused by artist Zaltar makes them lose the powerful and magical Omegahedron sphere as it’s sucked into space. Kara feels that she is also to blame and climbs aboard a tiny ship and follows it to Earth, during her travel she ages from a youngster to seventeen years of age and takes on the secret identity of Linda Lee and joins Midvale School. Meanwhile the Omegahedron has fallen into the hands of a witch named Selena who along with her roommate Beanca want to take over the world, all the while her one time mentor Nigel watches on trying to get his own hands on the powerful sphere. Linda has a roommate in school that is Lucy Lane, the sister of Lois, and who is dating Jimmy Olsen! Selena spots a lawn worker named Ethan and uses a love potion on him that backfires when he spots Linda Lee and he falls head over heels in love with her.  This leads to Selena trying to kill the pair on a carnival ride as well as sends an invisible monster to kill Linda Lee at school.  Both fail, and this sets the hatred up for Selena and Supergirl/Linda Lee. Later in rage, Selena kidnaps Ethan as well as Lucy Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Nigel and threatens to kill them as Supergirl comes to their rescue, but she is tricked and sent to the Phantom Zone and must use the help of Zaltar, who has been sent there for stealing the Omegahedron in the first place, to escape. When back on Earth Supergirl defeats Selena, frees her friends and heads back home to Argo City with the Omegahedron a new self confident woman.

This was a fun adaptation for a film that I grew up enjoying and owning on VHS and watched many times. I must say that growing up Helen Slater, who played Supergirl, was an actress I had a crush on and I am shocked that I did not own this comic as a kid. The comic does a good job on capturing the overall fun and silly nature of the film and while it makes some changes and rushes some others, it does not take away from the enjoyability of the comic.The plot is that Supergirl comes to earth to get back a powerful sphere that was lost from her home planet and must do battle with a sorceress who has the sphere. Throw in a love story and some friend characters who are connected to the Superman movies, and you have the story of this adaptation comic. Supergirl/Kara/Linda Lee is a gentle and sweet young woman who is not only strong on Earth like her cousin Superman but also has a very strong will and a sharp mind.  The way she rushes to her friends in need and stands up to any of the challenges thrown at her proves she truly is a hero. Lucy Lane is a nice side character as she is the sister of Lois Lane who she takes a lot of her personality from, and to top it all off she is dating Jimmy Olsen! Ethan is just a generic boyfriend character who falls for Supergirl thanks to a love potion, but his love breaks that magical spell as he truly just loves the seventeen year old Supergirl…wait he is out of school and works for lawn care…yeah, he’s a creeper! Selena is a wicked and selfish woman who is into black magic and treats her “friends” like trash as she clearly views them as lower than her. Not to mention she wants to murder a teenage girl over a man! The cover is pretty cool and shows Supergirl flying over the city, and the art inside is done by Gray Morrow.  While not my favorite style of art, it works well for this adaptation as the characters look enough like the actors who play them in the film. One nice addition to this comic are all the pinups of Helen Slater in her Supergirl outfit..very nice indeed! If you enjoyed this movie, put on the Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack for the film and give this adaptation a read.  Also check out the artwork below to see Morrow’s work.

Supergirl Movie Art 1

So Supergirl was not the only spin-off film to the Superman movies as in 1997 Warner Brothers hired Shaq to play Steel…let’s see if the comic is better than the movie, shall we?

Steel Comic 1

STEEL # 1  *1/2
Released in 1997    Cover Price $4.95    DC Comics    #1 of 1

John Henry Irons is part of a military group that tests and design new weapons that also includes Sparky, a cute and highly smart female solider, and Burke, a know it all hothead glory hog. During a presentation for a senator, an accident happens caused by Burke that leaves Sparky paralyzed and the senator dead, and Irons has to testify against his one time partner in military court. Irons quits the military when they allow Burke to walk away from the accident and he returns home to the streets of L.A. where is young brother and grandma try and avoid gang violence. After gangs on the streets have the high powered secret weapons of the military and Iron’s cop friend is hurt, he gets the help of Sparky as well as his Uncle Joe who runs a junkyard.  They make a metal suit, and so Irons become Steel and takes the fight to the gangs. Meanwhile Burke is the man behind the guns in the gang’s hand, and he is also using a video arcade store as his front and has Iron’s younger brother on his payroll! Burke sets up Steel with a bank robbery and outguns him and makes him look like a fool, and then sets him up with the cops and has Irons arrested on suspicion of being a gang member with illegal guns. Joe and Sparky trick the cops and get Irons free and he tracks down Burke and as Steel has a showdown with all the weapons and all Burkes men.  In the end Steel wins and saves the day by blowing up Burke in his super cannon powered truck.

This box office bomb made for one comic bomb as well as this was a dumb cheesy read that clearly was the worst of not only the Superman films, but also comic adaptations! The story is John Irons is a military weapons maker who quits after an accident and turns into a metal suited superhero when his home town streets are infected with gangs with high power weapons. John Henry Irons/Steel is a cool character who is super smart and very noble and risks his own life to try and get the weapons he help create off the streets. Uncle Joe and Sparky are great side characters who are very important in Steel’s quest as they do just as much as he does in order to rid the streets of the gang punks. Burke is a scumbag who wants to sell weapons to terrorists all over the world and doesn’t care how many people die in his quest for money.The thing that doesn’t work for this adaptation is that Steel has no connection to Superman.  In fact he is just a tall guy who is supposed to be this genius that’s bad at basketball, oh yeah they have to point out several times that he is smart and that he could never make it in the NBA…you get it… because Steel is played by Shaq…yeah, terrible. The art is okay and is done by the team of Jon Bogdanove & Dick Giordano.  This at least helps the comic to be a little better as at least characters look a little like the actors who played them. The reason this comic is so bad is because the source material was bad, and I feel like I have spent more time talking about this adaptation than the writers took to write the script so I think it’s time to end it. Check out a sample of the art below.

Steel Movie Art 1

Superman is not only a icon of comic books & the box office but he also rocked the world of comic adaptations.  While he might not have the impact he did on any of these the way he did when I was a kid, he still remains one of the most recognizable superheroes in the world. I really enjoyed taking a look back at the Superman movies and hope you had at least a small amount of good time reading this Christmas Eve update. I also hope you are having a great Christmas Eve that is filled with good times with loved ones and some great food. Our next update will be my best films of 2015 so that should be a great way to kick 2016 off! So if you’re reading this late in the evening, you should get yourself a warm glass of milk and head to bed as Santa Claus is on his way with his bag full of goodies! So have a great a safe Christmas and enjoy your time with friends and family, and I look forward to sharing 2016 with you all.

FILMS OF 2015 LOGO

DC At The Movies: Batman (The Christmas Eve Special)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Eve.  While this has been a year filled with lots of ups and downs for me, I have also had a great time loving life and am happy for all my friends and family in my life who have helped make me the person that I am today! While last year we covered Thundercats, this year we are going to cover something a little different as we will be looking at the movie series Batman that started with the Tim Burton directed film in 1989.  When that movie came to theaters on June 23rd the following Christmas every male kid I knew wanted Batman stuff for presents, and boy was their a lot to choose from! On this update we are going to cover the DC Comic Movie Adaptations of the Batman films so let’s sit back with some eggnog and wait for Santa to come down the chimney and talk DC At The Movies: Batman!

Batman 1989 Symbol

When I was a kid, the most popular superhero films were the Superman films starring Christopher Reeves as Superman/Clark Kent.  The only other DC heroes I could think of that had their own movies were Swamp Thing in 1982 and Batman had a film based off the 60’s TV show in 1966.  They did also have some great TV shows like previously mentioned Batman as well as Shazam, Wonder Woman, Legend of Isis and of course Adventures of Superman. Marvel at the time was mostly just focusing on TV with shows and made for TV Movies based on Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America and Doctor Strange and did have the bomb Howard The Duck in 1986 a cheesy film directed by George Lucas, but I must say as a kid I really liked the film Howard the Duck.  I guess very loosely you could say that the Conan films as well as Red Sonja were a sliver connected to Marvel who made comics based on those characters at the time. But when 1989 came around, and Tim Burton, director of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, made Batman, the youth at the time exploded and Batmania was born! You couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing something about this film, and most kids at school had Batman t-shirts, folders, backpacks and toys. If your grew up when the 1989 film and its sequels came out, then you know what I am talking about when I say Batman ruled the world for those months leading up to the releases and the months that followed. So before we get too much into the insane popularity and merchandise of Batman I should give you a crash course on the films, and of course I will be getting the help of IMDB for these write ups as I would be far too long winded to tell you the readers the plots. So let’s set the bat signal off and see what these films were all about! Oh I will also put on here who played Batman as well as who played the main villain in each of these films.

Batman (Keaton)Batman 1989 PosterThe Joker (Jack)

BATMAN (1989)

Gotham City: dark, dangerous, ‘protected’ only by a mostly corrupt police department. Despite the best efforts of D.A. Harvey Dent and police commissioner Jim Gordon, the city becomes increasingly unsafe…until a Dark Knight arises. We all know criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot…so his disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. He becomes a bat. Enter Vicky Vale, a prize-winning photo journalist who wants to uncover the secret of the mysterious “bat-man”. And enter Jack Napier, one-time enforcer for Boss Grissom, horribly disfigured after a firefight in a chemical factory…who, devoid of the last vestiges of sanity, seizes control of Gotham’s underworld as the psychotic, unpredictable Clown Prince of Crime…the Joker. Gotham’s only hope, it seems, lies in this dark, brooding vigilante. And just how does billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne fit into all of this?

Batman – Michael Keaton

Joker – Jack Nicholson

Bob The Goon – Tracey Walter

Batman (Keaton 2)Batman Returns PosterThe Penguin (Danny)Catwoman (Michelle)

Batman Returns (1992)

Having defeated the Joker, Batman now faces the Penguin – a warped and deformed individual who is intent on being accepted into Gotham society. Crooked businessman Max Schreck is coerced into helping him become Mayor of Gotham and they both attempt to expose Batman in a different light. Earlier however, Selina Kyle, Max’s secretary, is thrown from the top of a building and is transformed into Catwoman – a mysterious figure who has the same personality disorder as Batman. Batman must attempt to clear his name, all the time deciding just what must be done with the Catwoman.

Batman – Michael Keaton

Penguin – Danny DeVito

Catwoman – Michelle Pfeiffer

Batman and Robin (Val & Chris)Batman Forever PosterThe Riddler (Jim)Two Face (Jones)

Batman Forever (1995)

The Dark Knight of Gotham City confronts a dastardly duo: Two-Face and the Riddler. Formerly District Attorney Harvey Dent, Two-Face incorrectly believes Batman caused the courtroom accident which left him disfigured on one side; he has unleashed a reign of terror on the good people of Gotham. Edward Nygma, computer-genius and former employee of millionaire Bruce Wayne, is out to get the philanthropist; as The Riddler he perfects a device for draining information from all the brains in Gotham, including Bruce Wayne’s knowledge of his other identity. Batman/Wayne is/are the love focus of Dr. Chase Meridan. Former circus acrobat Dick Grayson, his family killed by Two-Face, becomes Wayne’s ward and Batman’s new partner Robin the Boy Wonder.

Batman – Val Kilmer

Robin – Chris O’ Donnell

The Riddler – Jim Carrey

Two Face – Tommy Lee Jones

Batman Robin Batgirl (movie cast)Batman & Robin PosterFreeze Ivy Bane (movie cast)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman and Robin are back working side-by-side to stop the villains of Gotham City, but is there tension appearing between them, especially when one villainess who calls herself Poison Ivy can make anyone fall in love with her…literally. Along with Poison Ivy, the icy Mr. Freeze is freezing anything which gets in his way from achieving his goal.

Batman – George Clooney

Robin – Chris O’ Donnell

Batgirl – Alicia Silverstone

Mr. Freeze – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Poison Ivy – Uma Thurman

Bane – Jeep Swenson

The first two films were directed by Tim Burton and have a brooding dark feel to them while the latter two were directed by Joel Schumacher and take a more neon and goofy approach. Say what you will about any of them, you cannot deny the impact they had on the youth at the time as well as the box office. If you look at 1989, Batman was the # 1 film of the year bringing in $251,188,924.00 beating out the likes of Lethal Weapon 2, Back To The Future Part II, Ghostbusters II, The Little Mermaid, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Born on the Fourth of July, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Karate Kid Part III, 007: License To Kill, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween 5, All Dogs Go To Heaven, No Holds Barred, Cyborg, Kickboxer, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, The Burbs, Major League, Tango & Cash as well as Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade! So as you can see it had very stiff competition and ended up beating them all. Batman Returns took the # 3 spot in 1992 beating out Wayne’s World, Lethal Weapon 3, Hellraiser III, A Few Good Men and Alien 3 to name a few! While in 1995, Batman Forever took # 2 and beat out such films as Pocahontas, 007: Goldeneye, Seven, Braveheart, Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers and Billy Madison. Batman & Robin took # 12 in 1997 and beat Scream 2, Austin Powers, Cop Land, Jackie Brown, Wishmaster, An American Werewolf in Paris, Lost Highway, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and Alien Resurrection. But one thing I want to point out, is does anyone else notice that in every Batman movie in this series Bruce Wayne has a new love interest and almost always shows them that he is Batman! I think if I was Bruce Wayne, and while all the ladies are very lovely, I would try to stay with Chase Meridian played by Nicole Kidman as she is smart and very good looking! But no mater how you slice it, Wayne knows how to pick the ladies!

Kim BasingerBatmans RŸckkehrNicole Kidmanelle macpherson

The first batch of action figures based on the Batman movie was made by Toy Biz and showcased not only Batman but also The Joker and Bob The Goon. While many kids like myself rushed to get these figures to have our own Batman Movie style adventures, the figures themselves looked terrible and nothing like the actors from the film. I can remember many kids bringing these figures to the playground, and while we were happy to have them, we still all knew that the figures just looked cheap and were shells of what they should be. I had Batman and The Joker and skipped Bob The Goon, The Joker’s action was a squirting flower that acted like a squirt gun while Batman’s was his belt could be used as a hook. While Toy Biz tried, they really did fail, and the license was quickly taken away and given to Kenner.

Toy Biz Batman ToyToy Biz The Joker ToyToy Biz Bob The Goon Toy

When toy company Kenner got the license to make Batman movie toys, they went for the kill and made figures that looked like the actors as well as accessories like the Batmobile, The Batcopter and the Batcave. They also stayed with the film series and made figures for Batman Returns, Forever and Robin! Each series focused on many different versions of Batman and did all the core bad guys from the movie. On some of the molds they reused ones from their old Super Powers line as The Penguin is the same figure just his suit is painted a different color. When Kenner put these out I had to get my hands on one of the Batman’s as well as Catwoman, and they quickly replaced the Toy Biz ones when it came to Toy Wars. One thing that always cracked me up is the Poison Ivy figure done for the Batman & Robin line looks nothing like Uma Thurman who would not give them permission to use her likeness and looks like a man in drag instead! Don’t believe me, just take a look below, as well as take a look at some more of the Kenner Batman figures!

Kenner Batman ToysKenner ivy & Freeze

Back in 1989 Taco Bell released collector cups featuring Batman, and these were something that I felt I had to have when I was a kid and begged my parents to take me to Taco Bell to get one! When I did get one I can remember drinking everything from Mountain Dew to Chocolate Milk out of it, and it lasted away! After so many washings, the image on the cup began to disappear and sadly the Batman cup was retired and sold in a garage sale. I also remember them doing the cups for Batman & Robin, and I also collected those and got the whole set. McDonald’s did cups for Batman Returns, but I never did get any of those.

Taco Bell Batman Cups

McDonald’s had some Happy Meal toys as well as other merchandise for Batman Returns when the film was released, and many kids I knew had the cars that came in the meal. I can remember having Batman but none of the others. My cousins Dino and Norman had them all and so did Nathan. During this time, they also had pen necklaces that had Batman, Catwoman, Batmobile and The Penguin as topper caps on a very cheap pen. McDonald’s took some heat for putting out these toys in their kids meals by parent groups who thought the film was too violent and should not be geared towards the youth.  Parents groups sure can be silly sometimes.

McDonalds Batman Returns Happy Meal BagMcdonalds Batman Returns ToysBatman Returns Neck Pens

Trading cards have been made for all the films, but none were as popular as those based on the 1989 film put out by Topps. I used to get packs of the cards at United Dairy Farmers as well as at Big Bear and would trade my extra cards and stickers to my neighbor Carmen Fields who was making a whole set. The cards were well done, and they did two sets based just on the first film! I used to love buying old wax packs of cards and chewing on the stale gum as I flipped through to see what cards I had gotten. Oh the good old days!  But while the cards were cool, the whole set doesn’t sell for much as on Ebay.  They go for about $14.00 for both 1 and 2.

Topps Batman CardsTopps Batman Cards 2Batman Returns Cards

Batman t-shirts was also all the rage when I was younger, and while I didn’t have any for the first film I did have some for Batman Returns and as of the last few years I do have a Mr. Freeze one from Batman & Robin thanks to my brother Bryan who found it at a thrift store. I can remember that when I got my Batman Returns shirt for school I felt really cool with my all over print shirt Batman design and wore that shirt for many years after, mostly for gym or to sleep in. Sadly the shirt got holes in it and went to the big washing machine in the sky. But I am sure many of you reading this remember just how important it was for you to have the right cool shirts or shoes to fit in, I however was always just me and would wear movie and band shirts way past there popularity like my old blue Alice Cooper shirt or even Flattop from Dick Tracy. But while my old Batman shirts are gone or way too small at this point, I still have great memories of wearing them and being me.

Batman Returns T Shirt 1Batman Returns T Shirt 2Joker T-Shirt

Do you remember when companies like Post and Quaker Oats made cereals based on all types of cartoons and movies like The Addams Family and Gremlins? Well of course Batman cereal had to be made and company Ralston was the one to deliver it to the masses. Every morning when I was a kid my Mom made sure we ate some breakfast, and while some times it would be eggs & toast or oatmeal, it was mostly cereal and Batman was one that we tried and kind of liked. I can remember the main reason I choose it from the shelves of Big Bear is because it came with a free bank shrink-wrapped to the box. While the original Batman cereal was pretty good, the Batman Returns one made as well by Ralston was not so much! I can also remember eating Batman cereal watching Saturday Morning Cartoons.  Man I really do hate that in October 2014 Saturday Morning Cartoons ended on all major stations, ending an era.

batman cerealBatman Returns cereal

What would a movie be without a video game tie in back in the 80’s and 90’s and of course Batman had a number of game come out based on the blockbuster flicks. First Batman: The Video Game for NES came out in 1990 by SunSoft, and this game was super popular with the Brassfield cousins as we would all try and beat it while at our Grandparents house or even at each others. This game was followed up by Batman: Return Of The Joker, a follow up to a movie game that has no ties to any Batman movies by SunSoft for the NES and Sega Genesis in 1991 and 1992. When Batman Returns was released, a video game was made for many home consoles like NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD and even Sega Master System. Batman Forever, a very cheesy beat em up game, came out for Sega Genesis and SNES while Batman Forever The Arcade Game was made for Arcades, Playstation and Sega Saturn. Batman & Robin also got the video game treatment as a game was released for Playstation, and I can remember getting this game from Blockbuster Video and trying my hardest to beat it…I never did and I blame it on the poor controls. While they all have a charm in their own way Batman: The Video Game for NES remains the best video game based on this series.

Batman NesBatman Returns GenesisBatman Forever GenesisBatman & Robin PSX

When Batman and Batman Returns came out in theaters I did not get to see them as we had to wait for the VHS tapes for hit the library and local video rental store.  My Dad was not a fan of the 1989 film when he watched it and didn’t want to spend money on the second one. But I can remember me and my brother trying to get them to take us but it didn’t work. Well for my 15th birthday, my parents and brother took me to the Belmont Drive-In to watch Batman Forever and I can remember the night we went it was kind of rainy out but while I was not a fan of the movie it was fun watching the flick in the old family car with everyone. I can remember that they also made snack food for us to munch on. Sadly the old Drive-In went out of business thanks the those wonderful land hogs at Reynolds and Reynolds who bought them out and let the land sit empty for years till they built another soulless building in its spot. I saw Batman & Robin in the theater inside The Dayton Mall with my Brother and younger cousin Nick when our aunt asked us to babysit him and offered to pay for our tickets and snack food, how could you go wrong. After the movie we played on the arcade machines that were in front of the theater. In closing, I miss the Belmont Drive-In and wish it was still around today.

Belmont Drive In

Well my fellow Bat-Fans, we are at the point of looking at the comic adaptations and I for one can’t wait to relive many of them. You see in my youth I had read the comics based on Batman and Batman Returns and want to see if they hold up! And want to thank you for spending this Christmas Eve here at Rotten Ink. So before we Biff and Pow our way into action, I should remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. I want to also thank Mavericks and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock.  So put another log on the fire and get your self another glass of Eggnog we are going to be having a good Bat Time.

Batman 1989 1

Batman  # 1  ***
Released in 1989   Cover Price $2.50   DC Comics   #1 of 1

A family is robbed and left in an ally.  As the crooks make off with the loot, they get a visit from Batman who teaches them that he is the night! Crime Lord Carl Grissom is being targeted by Gotham Police Department but up to this point they have nothing on him as he has a rat in the department who fills him in and helps cover things up. Reporter Alexander Knox along with photographer Vicki Vale are on the case of who and what Batman is, as crime on the streets is lowering as criminals are in fear. Billionaire Bruce Wayne is in fact Batman, but no one besides his butler Alfred knows his secret. Grissom’s girlfriend Alicia is cheating on him with his right hand man Jack Napier who he sets up at a chemical plant that leads to Batman knocking him into a vat of chemicals, and his face is turned white and his hair green and Jack becomes The Joker! Bruce Wayne however finds himself falling in love with Vicki Vale.  As they go on a date The Joker shoots and kills Grissom and now is in charge of his operation. Vicki is following Bruce Wayne and while out The Joker attacks and his men fire guns into crowd.  When the attack is over, they interview Vicki on TV and The Joker likes what he sees. Weird deaths are happening all over Gotham as people are dying of laughter and it’s shown that The Joker is using chemicals in every day products to spread his death. The citizens found out thanks to Batman who saves Vicki Vale from a Joker attacks at a restaurant and gives her the secret.  The next day Bruce Wayne on his date with Vicki is about to tell her that he is Batman when The Joker once more attacks and with this attack Bruce Wayne figures out that Jack Napier (now The Joker) is the thug who shoot and killed his parents! The Joker throws a parade in downtown Gotham and not only giving out free “money” but also poisoning people via balloons. Batman spoils his fun as The Joker takes Vicki prisoner on top of a bell tower.  Batman comes to her aid, and the fight leaves The Joker falling to his death as Batman becomes the savior of Vicki and Gotham.

This is 100% a comic movie adaptation done right, as the look and vibe of the comic captures the magic of the film. The story of this comic is Batman is new to Gotham, and the cops nor the civilians know what to think of him as he takes down crooks with his vigilante justice, and during one of his crime stopping nights he takes a crazy crook and by accident turns him into an even more crazy crook, The Joker, who is tormenting the city! Throw in the fact that Batman is Bruce Wayne, a rich respected man who is torn between doing what he thinks is right and love as he falls for a beautiful photographer who has also captured the eye of the crazed Joker! Batman comes off as a focused hero to the helpless who takes his crime fighting very serious, while Bruce Wayne is an odd rich man who is complex and is torn between fighting and love. Vicki Vale is a likable female lead who has just the right amount of damsel in distress to make you as the reader want to see her get saved. The Joker is crazy and seems like his whole goal in the issue is to cause chaos and to murder the helpless, very great bad guy character and changed just enough from the normal comic series that was also going at the time of this comic adaptation’s release. The Joker’s death is impactful as he falls from high above and dies still with a laugh as a laugh box in his pocket goes off after the impact. The cover is very eye catching, and fans of the movie would for sure nab this one up.  The art inside done by Jerry Ordway is fantastic, and all the characters look like the actors that played them in the movie. I can remember that I read this comic when it first came out as our friend Mike Cessna had it, and I loved it back then, but then again I did have Batman fever! In closing if you like the 1989 film and like comics then check this one out as it was made for you.

Batman 89 Art 1Batman 89 Art 2Batman 89 Art 3

So The Joker is dead, and Batman is now a full savior of the city.  So what baddies awaits him in this second comic movie adaption?  Let’s read on and find out!

Batman Returns 1

Batman Returns  # 1  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

It’s in the past as a family drops a baby in a basket off the side of the bridge, and as the basket floats down the river and into the sewer, a family of penguins are there to rescue it. Max Shreck is a very powerful businessman in Gotham and is a man with a vision of a more powerful city.  He has the Mayor in his back pocket and he even runs his poor assistant Selina Kyle day and night. While giving a speech about Christmas, Max and company are attacked by a band of scary circus performers know as The Red Triangle Gang.  As Batman comes to save the day, Max himself comes face to face with a strange deformed man called The Penguin who lives in the sewer and knows all Max’s dirty little secrets.  So the two team up to allow Penguin to come above ground and be loved by the people of Gotham. Max has an idea to have a power planet that does not give off energy but takes energy to store, and when Selina gets too close in looking into the plant, she is shoved out a window by Max and is saved by cats who she now has a bond with.  This also makes her an anti hero as she dons a leather cat suit and calls herself Catwoman. Bruce Wayne and Max have a meeting over the power planet but don’t see eye to eye, as Selina shows back up to work to Max’s surprise as he thought she was dead. This bad meeting makes Max turn to Penguin who he now wants to make Mayor, and they hatch a plan of mayhem as they set the Red Triangle Gang free on the city.  As Batman takes out the trash he comes to find that Penguin is not a good role model as Max wants them all to believe and also meets Catwoman who is targeting business owned by Max. Catwoman and Penguin team up to frame Batman and to get the people of Gotham to turn against him by killing The Ice Princess and making it appear as if he did it.  While he is trying to save her ,they will turn the Batmobile into an out of control death machine! With the Ice Princess dead and Batman able to get back control of his car after a nasty joy ride, he is able to use messages he tapped of Penguin to have the people of Gotham turn on him and as he goes back to the sewers he tells his gang the plan of stealing all the first born children of the city and how he wants them all to die in a watery grave! Also by this point Catwoman and Penguin have turned on each other and to make things worse Bruce Wayne has to go to a costume party put on by Max, and that’s when Selina and Bruce find out each others secret identities. Penguin crashes the party and kidnaps Max who he has now turned on, as Bruce turns into Batman and stops the kids from being killed.  With one plan stopped, Penguin now sends his animal penguin brothers above ground complete with bombs and rockets strapped to them to cause death and destruction! Batman stops this attack as well and knocks Penguin out a window and he falls into the sewer bellow. Meanwhile Catwoman kills Max and herself as Batman is powerless to stop her and looses his love.  As Penguin once more appears and is at death’s door complaining of the heat and dies in the sewer water as his animal friends take his body away. Bruce Wayne won’t forget Selina Kyle as Catwoman’s shadow is seen in a ally.

Good comic adaptation follow up to the original but slightly looses the magic of the film, as many plot moments seemed a little rushed. Bruce Wayne/Batman in this comic are almost one and the same as he allows emotions to interfere with his personal life as well as his crime fighting mission. I also am puzzled as too how quickly Vicki Vale is thrown to the side and in a matter of seconds, he is head over heels in love with Selina Kyle who he briefly meets as Bruce during a meeting at Max’s and once for seconds as Batman during the first Red Triangle Gang attack. Bruce is really like a love struck teenager who is longing to be loved and chooses the most complicated women to fall for. Max Shreck is your typical rich big business man who acts as if he cares about the people, when really he cares about his own personal gain. Max is a total scumbag who kills and manipulates whoever he can to become more powerful in Gotham. Penguin is also a very violent and conniving man who kills and takes advantage of whoever can get him ahead in his plan to take over the city. The fact that he runs a gang of circus rejects and has a plan to kill children shows you just how gross of a person he is. Penguin’s death is a little to close too The Jokers with it coming via a fall, but it still works as he makes one last attempt to kill Batman grabs the wrong umbrella, and then falls just short of making it into the cold water before he dies. Penguin is nothing like the comic version and is not classy in any way and is more of a freak, but he still does use umbrellas of all types to fight with. Catwoman/Selina Kyle is an interesting character as she is not good nor bad and while she loves Bruce Wayne, she dislikes Batman and does take the life of his boss Max in the end. This really is a cool adaptation and is a nice follow up to the first with an equally cool cover, but I will say the artwork by Steve Erwin, while good, does lack the charm of making the characters look like the actors of them film, while some do, many don’t. I can remember buying this comic as a kid from The Bookie Parlor and thinking how cool I was cause I had it.  Also while reading this comic, I listened to the score for the film done by Danny Elfman. If you like the film and liked the original film adaptation, this is a good one to have in your collection!

Batman Returns Art 1Batman Returns Art 2Batman Returns Art 3

Penguin is dead and Catwoman is missing, who will be the next to step up and get beat down by Batman? Well let’s see in this next issue based on my least favorite Batman film of all time or should I say forever?

Batman Forever 1

Batman Forever  # 1  ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

Two Face has escape Arkham Asylum and is robbing a bank and has a live hostage, as Batman approaches Commissioner Gordon.  Batman also meets Chase Meridian, a doctor in abnormal psychology.  He goes in to save the day, but while he does save the guard Two Face gets away. Edward Nygma works for Bruce Wayne and is a little crazy.  When Bruce shoots down his idea of a TV that broadcast into your brain he decides to kill the manager and seek revenge on Bruce whom he leaves a riddle for. Bruce takes the riddle to Chase, and after they crack it, they go to a charity circus event and when The Flying Graysons are on, Two Face enters complete with a bomb.  As son Dick Grayson gets the bomb to safety, his parents are murdered by Two Face and Bruce can do nothing to save them. Dick stays at Wayne Manor as once more Two Face tries to kill Batman and fails.  While at his hideout he gets a visit from Nygma who is know calling himself The Riddler, and they two form a team to kill Batman that involves Nygma’s TV Mind Box! Dick sneaks and follows Alfred to the Bat Cave and takes the Batmobile for a drive and saves a woman from some street punks and gets a taste and wants to join Batman as a team who of course rejects the idea. At a party for Nygma’s new invention that is making his company out do Wayne Enterprises two to one, Two Face crashes and Batman this time around is hurt in the fight but is saved by Dick who is wearing his circus outfit and a tiny mask. Alfred tries to push a bruised up Bruce that he should train Dick and allow him to help in crime fighting.  As Bruce thinks it over he becomes Batman and meets Chase at her house as it’s clear she has feelings for Batman as well as Bruce Wayne, but she in the end chooses Wayne! The Riddler finds out thanks to his TV machine that Wayne is Batman, and the evil pair decide to make a statement. Bruce invites her over to tell her he is Batman, and Two Face and The Riddler come in and shoot Wayne, kidnap Chase and blow up the Batcave. After the attack, Batman along with his new sidekick Robin (Dick Grayson) head to Nygma’s factory and battle it out with the baddies. The end fight leaves The Riddler’s brain boiled by his own machine, and Two Face falls to his death into spiked rocks and ocean water. With The Riddler crazy and in Arkham Asylum, Chase knows now she loves the man behind that bat.

I must say I liked this comic adaptation better then the film it’s based on! Gone is the terrible over acting of Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face; missing is Jim Carey’s version of The Riddler just being silly and Ace Ventura like.  Instead we get a fun kid friendly Batman adventures that is laced with some fun silly moments. The story has Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman once more falling for a woman who is torn between the two, not knowing till later that they are the same person.  Along the way Batman makes enemies with a crazy inventor and a baddy from his past comes out to play. He also adopts a circus performer who turns into his sidekick in fighting crime. Batman/Bruce Wayne in this issue is on the verge of walking away from crime fighting to settle down with a woman he once more just meet, but by some point comes to learn that both sides of his life are important, and they can come together. Dick Grayson/Robin for the most part takes a back seat and is used just right, not forcing him down your throat and allowing him to become important to the film’s end plot. Chase Meridian is smart and pretty but besides being a love interest does nothing to special to make her on the level of Vicki Vale or Selina Kyle. The Riddler/ Edward Nygma is crazy and wants to really show Bruce Wayne up and is obsessed with power.  His defeat coming by his own invention is well done, as is the fact his head becomes misshapen with the overload. Two Face loves to kill and is a good comic book villain in this comic. The lame thing is once more Two Face, much like The Joker and Penguin before him dies via a fall! The cover on this one is okay and not as eye catching as the other two.  The art done by Michel Dutkiewicz is really great and helps add to the over all appeal of the comic. To sum it up, a solid good adaptation that is better then the movie it’s based on!

Batman Forever Art 1Batman Forever Art 2Batman Forever Art 3

Two Face dead via a fall onto some pointy rocks and The Riddler looks like the Elephent Man and is in the loony bin.  So who’s next on Batman’s list to rid Gotham of?  Let’s read the last to find out!

Batman & Robin 1

Batman & Robin  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1997   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

Batman and Robin try to stop Mr. Freeze from stealing a giant diamond but fall short when Robin is turned into an icicle and Batman must save him from freezing to death as Mr. Freeze escapes. Meanwhile in South America, Dr. Pamela Isley is working on a chemical that will make plants stronger as her partner Dr. Jason Woodrue uses it to make super soldiers and creates Bane, a muscle bound brute who does what he’s told.  When Isley finds out, he attacks her and knocks her into chemicals that turns her into Poison Ivy who kills Woodrue with a kiss, and she and Bane heads to Gothan City. Meanwhile Mr. Freeze is only doing all these bad things so that he can get money for research to cure his sick wife.  While Alfred’s niece Barbra comes to visit and stays at Wayne Manor. Batman uses diamonds from his private collection to lure Mr. Freeze out of hiding but it also draws out Poison Ivy who turns Batman and Robin against each other to get her attention. But the trap works, and they are able to capture Mr. Freeze and send him to Arkham Asylum, but the heat between Batman and Robin grows deeper. Ivy and Bane break Freeze out, and Batman and Robin find them at Freeze’s old hideout and while they fight off Bane they also come face to face with Ivy again who uses her charm to make Robin and Batman fight which leaves Robin knocked out.  She also unplugs Mr. Freeze’s wife and blames it on Batman making him want to kill his enemy. During this time we also find out Alfred is sick with the same disease that was killing Freeze’s wife leaving Bruce, Barbra and Dick helpless to save their friend and loved one. Barbra finds out the secret and becomes Batgirl and teams with Batman and Robin to fight off Ivy, Bane and Mr. Freeze who plans to make the whole world freeze in another ice age. Batgirl takes out Ivy with Robin beating Bane and Batman knocks around Mr. Freeze and tells him that Ivy pulled the plug on his wife but he saved her just in time and talks sense into him and gets him to help cure Alfred’s diseases. In the end, Alfred is okay and Batman & Robin have a new partner in Batgirl as Ivy gets a new cellmate Mr. Freeze!

The first thing that I have to say about this adaptation is that I hate the fact it starts off showing a movie set setting up the first shot…this takes you 100% out of the comic and makes you say who cares it’s all just a movie.  Dumb move by DC for allowing this to be the opening panel of this comic. But take that terrible mistake out of the picture, and this is a fun average adaptation that showcases the silly nature of the film it’s based on. The plot is Alfred is sick and his loved ones want to save him, Batman has an issue trusting that Robin can handle himself, Ivy wants to save Mother Earth and Mr. Freeze wants to save his wife….this comic is all about saving. Batman is a little controlling in this one and seems to almost have a chip on his shoulder, but as Bruce Wayne he is more caring and worried about his sick friend Alfred. Robin is a ball of rage as he feels Batman just won’t let him be the hero he is. Batgirl is a waste in this comic and besides the very end when Barbra becomes Batgirl, she is given very little to do. Alfred is caring and sick so you find yourself hoping and knowing he will get better. Poison Ivy is an extreme environmentalist who puts nature over human lives, and for all accounts is like a pretty ex-girlfriend who is borderline psychotic. Bane is a mindless brute who says nothing at all through at the whole comic.  He is as far from his comic counter part and is nothing more than a glorified henchman. Mr. Freeze retains all his cheesy one liners that all tie in to cold, and is a bad guy that you feel sorry for as he is doing everything bad to try and save his wife, but man when he’s doing bad he goes for broke! Much like the movie that I don’t think is as terrible as people say it is, this is pretty average and cuts out many of the really silly things from the movie like the Bat Credit Card. The cover is average as well and for some reason more reminds me of the kid’s novel version that you would find at a book fair. The art is done by Rodolfo Damaggio and is pretty well done.  In some panels it seems rushed but is not terrible looking even then. Over all if you like the film check it out, otherwise I would avoid this one.

Batman & Robin Art 1

That was a good time for me, and we have read some pretty good comic adaptations that did the films they were based on justice. The art of making movie adaptations seems to be lost as now it’s not so much a comic of the movie as they are mini series that act as lead up to the films. Say what you will about them now, but The Batman films was a series that got the young and young at heart hyped to go to the movies and I for one grew up being a Batman kid thanks to not only the 60’s TV show but also the 89 Burton film.  So with this I should tell you the next update will be my top films of 2014 and I look forward to bringing you that. Well I hope you all have a great Christmas and Santa brings you all what ever you asked for.  Until then spend time with your loved ones, read a comic or two and have a safe holiday.

2014

The Dead Eyed Stare Of The Hugga Bunch

Who doesn’t love to get a hug from a loved one, the warm embrace and that feeling of being loved and safe is something special. Now think about getting a hug from a creepy troll faced doll with a cold dead stare that makes E.T. look normal and the Toxic Avenger look like Brad Pitt….you don’t like that image of hugging a troll faced doll, do you? Well the folks at Kenner and Hallmark Cards in 1985 thought that all kids would love to own a creepy faced doll to hug when they released the toy line called The Hugga Bunch. I am not sure why they designed them to look as weird and odd as they did, but I can remember these creepy little guys on the toy shelves at stores like Hills and Gold Circle, and the smaller ones were given at Taco Bell for a cheap price. The only Hugga Bunch I owned was one that I got from Taco Bell that my aunt got me when she worked there, and on the playground Hugga Bunch was ice cold.  To be honest, I don’t even remember one person talking about them and only think one girl I knew owned any. Below is a quick look at the creepy dolls, and you can be the judge on if you would want to hug one of them.

huggletHuggaBunch dollsHugga Bunch doll

1985 also saw a made for TV movie about the dolls by FilmFaor Communications that was made for over a million dollars and was the most expensive special at the time! The film was a live action family film about a young girl who travels to a magical land called Huggaland to find a way to slow down the aging of her grandmother, but while on this visit she also comes across an evil Queen who wants to spoil the fun and hugs. The special did fair with getting viewers, and it was later released on Beta and VHS, where it gained cult status for being so strange. And if you thought the dolls are creepy, get a look at the Hugga Bunch in this movie.

Hugga Bunch movie 1Hugga Bunch movie 2Hugga Bunch movie 3

Besides the dolls, more merchandise was released that included a board game, books, lunch box, stickers, View Master slides, Hallmark miniature figures and much more. This shows that Kenner and Hallmark really wanted these dolls to catch on and take the place of Cabbage Patch Kids that, at the time, were the premiere stuffed dolls. And they were smart for getting the smaller dolls into Taco Bell because in the 80’s and 90’s fast food toys were very popular and could help push a toy line, movie or kids’ book series up a few notches on the must have factor.

hugga bunch lunch boxHugga Bunch board gameHugga Bunch book

Now as I have stated, I only had one of these dolls and it was one of the Taco Bell ones so I have very little connection to these dolls.  So I looked high and low and found one of my female friends who grew up owning one of these dead eyed little creepers so I asked her to give us a look at what it was like to be a female and the target audience for these dolls. Her name is Jesy Anderson, and I have known her since high school.  She is an amazing person who is super sweet and super smart. She is co-owner of a local store called Sew Dayton that custom makes clothes and sells other sewing notions as well as teaches classes. She is married to a fellow geek guy like myself who loves horror and kung-fu films as well as comics named Jermie, who I also went to school with and as well is a great guy. So with that I am going to briefly turn Rotten Ink over to Jesy so that she can give you her opinions on The Hugga Bunch creepers.

Jesy Anderson

“Yes!”, is what 6 year old me said, when my dad handed me my Taco Bell kids meal. The awesomeness of what Taco Bell used to put in their kids meals in 1985, The Huglets! I had Hug-A-Bye. I thought it was so rad, Hallmark marketed it perfectly to my age bracket. Give Hugs! Hug everyone… Everyone… even that creepy neighbor. The Hug A Bunch Gang was flat out disturbing. From a cartoon on a Hallmark card, to plushie, and finally to movie! In 1985 “The Hugga Bunch”. It even won a Prime Time Emmy for Outstanding Visual Effects. Once you watch the movie, (you will because I know you are super curious now), you will leave with two realizations. 1. This movie is possibly the ONLY movie creepier than “The Strangers” and 2. WHAT THE *@&$ was the 6 yr old me thinking! I have great memories of being excited to get my own plush Huglet from inside my Taco Bell kids meal and watching the best made for tv movie of the summer. It’s strange how amazing awesome something is while you are a child; such an innocence. Aside from not understanding exactly how my parents pulled off saying the charaters names and still able to keep a straight face is beyond me! These Huglets are CLEARLY the result of too much “hugging” and inbreeding. All in all, the Hug A Bunch gang really worth a watch for those who haven’t and watch it again for those who haven’t seen it since the 80’s. Just remember to bring the popcorn and get ready for a disturbing movie~

Taco Bell Hugga

Thanks, Jesy, for filling me and my readers in on your Hugga Bunch thoughts. As you can see, she had a Taco Bell one as well and this makes me wonder who were the kids that went to a toy store and picked one of these dead eyed dolls out as a must have over all the other toys and dolls on the shelf.  I mean what was the draw of these things? One funny thing that I have to point out before we move on to the comic reviews, is that one of the Huglets’ name is Fluffer…for those of you who don’t know what that name means, it’s a person’s title who works in the adult film industry that keeps a male star “happy” in between takes.  So why in the holy hell would someone who named these creepy dolls name one after a person who has a job like that?! So below is the Huglet named Fluffer, and next to it is a picture of adult film star Tory Lane.  While she is no “fluffer” I want you to look at the two and tell me if you see any similarities between the two…cause I sure don’t….go on and look will ya.

flufferTory Lane

So after looking at the two, I am sure Tory will give you sweet dreams while good old Fluffer will be haunting your nightmares for weeks. So as you can see, at this point I have no connection to these dolls at all, and I am not sure what I am getting into as I am about to read these six issues based on these characters from the mighty Star Comics.  While a part of me wants these to be bad so I can really make fun of them, there is a side that is saying these might not be as bad as you think. So to ease my mind and to get this look at Hugga Bunch over, let’s move onto the wonderful comic reviews.  Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s stare these soulless happy little boogers in the eye and travel to Huggaland!

Hugga Bunch 1

Hugga Bunch   **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #1 of 6

The Hugga Bunch go on an adventure down a path called “Road To Riches”, but Huggins and her Huglet Hug-A-Bye get left behind when they hear that someone needs help.  Homer is a boy who is alone and has moved to a new town because of his fathers work, and is very sad that he has moved away from his friends and is feeling lonely.  His wishes for a new friend comes true when Huggins pops out of his mirror and takes him to Huggaland where they both are captured by the Pirate Captain Snake and become his slaves on his mighty ship. While at sea, Captain Snake attacks another ship and on board is a Princess who he wants to kidnap, but Homer comes to her aid and to everyone’s shock the Princess can also defend herself and with the help of a whale they run off Captain Snake and The Hugga Bunch return Homer to his room, and he finds the inner power to make friends.

This is a comic that is 100% for young girls of the 80’s as the story is so cheesy and silly that most boys would have walked away from the adventure a few pages into it. With all that said, I still would like to say that for what it is, the message and story are very positive and I am sure roped in a few young female readers and a few male ones as well. The Hugga Bunch live in a perfect fun filled world that is laced with some negative places, and these places are what make it an interesting place.  Huggins seems to be the ring leader of the fun loving group and seems to be the one who oozes more positive energy. Captain Snake is the “bad” guy in the issue who uses the Hugga Bunch as kid slave labor on his ship, and they are so fun loving they don’t even pay attention to the fact they are being used. Homer is a kid that anyone who moved into a new town can identify with as he has no friends and doesn’t know how to make new ones. Of course in the end Homer finds he does have friends and even made some with the creepy little freaks that live beyond his mirror known as the Hugga Bunch. Warren Kremer is the artist on this issue and it’s pretty much your standard kids comic fluff and looks all right. The cover is okay, but not one I would have for a first issue as it should be more eye catching. Well let’s move onto issue 2. 

Hugga Bunch 2

Hugga Bunch # 2  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #2 of 6

Huggins once more gets the feeling that someone needs help and comes through a mirror in a school locker to meet Susan, who all her classmates don’t like and tease her for being too serious. Susan goes to Huggaland with Huggins, and while there they meet a young boy who is frozen in a block of ice by the Ice Queen who runs a frozen kingdom! The boy’s name is Chipper, and he is in love with the Ice Princess who is being held captive and is not allowed to see friends or boys! The Hugga Bunch, Susan and Chipper head to the ice castle and do battle with the Ice Queen to save the Princess.  After many ice block cubes and rescues, they save the Princess who when free from her ice prison grows up before their eyes and finds that she is in fact the true Queen of the ice land.  She uses her new power to melt the ice and boots the old Ice Queen from the land. Susan returns back to her school and finds time to have fun and goes to one popular girl’s party, showing she is no square.

Well another issue with a message, and this time it’s that while hard work and school are very important, you should also spend some time, have fun and live a little. Huggins once more is the main Hugga Bunch member who once more comes from the mirror to bring a young child to her world to teach some sort of underlying message.  Wait are the Hugga Bunch like Candyman?  Do they come out of mirrors to kill….wait they help…right? The Ice Queen is the main “bad” woman, and she is 100% a generic version of any Disney Princess’s evil Queen, who uses freeze and ice as her tools of evil deeds. This issue like the first is 100% geared at girls and even throws in a generic love story between a Princess and a common boy for good cheesy measure. The artwork this time is done by Anna-Maria Coleman and is slightly better than Kremer’s work in the first issue. Over all just another average issue in a comic series based on creepy eyed dolls. Let’s get onto issue 3 shall we. 

Hugga Bunch 3

Hugga Bunch # 3  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #3 of 6

Hugsy is bored in Huggaland and wants something new besides playing and being happy all day long.  So when he hears a young girl named Bonnie crying through the mirror he comes and takes her to Huggaland as she tells the sad tale of her dog running away, but it’s because the dog is sad because she makes no time to play with him. But while they all play and talk Mr. Grabby shows up with his net, and he takes away unwanted things.  He wants Huglets and takes Hugsy’s away!! The Hugga Bunch alongside Bonnie head out to get him back and find that Mr. Grabby himself is a lonely man and after he learns his sidekick that he mistreats thinks of him as a friend, he sets all the pets and huglets free and all the pets get to go home with their owners. When Bonnie comes back to the real world she finds her dog and learns that she must find time to pay attention to her animal because they have feelings too.

Treat your animals right! Is the message of this issue and make sure to make time for them and friends because by paying no attention to them, it just might make you lose them. Hugsy is the main Hugga in this issue, and he is kind of a turd who is spoiled.  Although he learns his lesson, I was not a fan of him. Mr. Grabby is one mean man who gets joy out of taking lost and unwanted pets in his weird nets.  While he turns good and has a change of heart at the end I still would not trust him. Over all this is another average issue that holds the same mood and formula of the other two, and I am starting to see that this series will all have the same idea of a Hugga member pulling a kid into their world where he or she will learn a lesson that they will take with them when the return to the real world.  If it’s all like this I think soon it will go into yawnville! Art once more was done by Anna-Maria Coleman and looks good.  So let’s move on shall we?

Hugga Bunch 4

Hugga Bunch # 4  **
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #4 of 6

Huggins comes from the mirror and takes a chubby kid named Jackie, who overeats and is tired of hearing his parents argue, to Huggaland.  While there they meet a young cloud named Howie who wants to tell off his creator for making clouds have to do rain and thunderstorms! The Hugga Bunch and Jackie go on the adventure, and in the end with the help of Mother Nature, Howie and the rest learn why it’s important that it rains! When Jackie gets back home, he gets his parents to stop fighting and finds he has the power to have self control.

Yep, yet another lesson issue this one is to have faith in yourself and to get things done, team work is important. Huggins is the star again and is the same Huggins for the past issues, as Jackie is your typical chubby kid who doubts himself and is ashamed of his weight. While he learns a lesson of not overeating, it’s still a bland issue. The other clouds are the bad guy, and Howie is just a character to add a little more to the already so-so story. John Costanza does the art, and it looks pretty good and has that classic Harvey Comic feel to it. Over all this is just an okay issue and is nothing special, I really wish they would spice up the formula because by issue 4, I am bored with it. Let’s move on. 

Hugga Bunch 5

Hugga Bunch # 5  **
Released in 1987  Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #5 of 6

Huggins and Hugsly go through the mirror and find Alan, a young man who is super negative and looks at the downside of everything even though he has a wonderful friendship with a young lady named Doris. While is Huggaland, Alan is still negative and after kicking a tree stump he wakes up a bird named Grouse who is as negative as he is.  This little bird changes the moods of everyone he is around and is a full on mood killer! Alan gets to see how he acts towards others, and this makes him want to change as Grouse changes when he gets a massive hug from the Hugga Bunch. When Alan get back in the real world, he goes out of his way to see the positive in things and this brings he and Doris closer.

Don’t be a negative mood killer, also known as a Mood Vampire, and try to look at the good things in life as well is the message in this issue. Alan is an annoying kid who shouldn’t have any friends for acting the way he does, but changes when he sees something else act the way he does. People like this don’t change most of the time, so this one is a little lame. Huggins and Hugsly team up to bring this negative turd to their world and both are as happy and cheerful as they have been in the past 4 issues. Grouse is much like Alan and is annoying with his negative bull stuff as well. Same old, same old stuff..different kid with a different issue but it’s all stale at this point. I am so ready to move onto the last issue.

Hugga Bunch 6

Hugga Bunch # 6  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #6 of 6

Hugsly and Hugs go through the mirror and meet Danny, a young man on a baseball team that has one of the biggest egos ever! He is taken to Huggaland to enjoy the landscape, but someone is stealing the land.  Panic sets in, and Danny thinks of ideas to try and find who is stealing the land. The thief is a gnome named Satchel who uses a magic bag to suck in whatever he wants. With team work, they beat the gnome and break his bag that frees Huggaland and returns it to normal! Danny learns that there is no I in team and returns to the real world a new man and a total team player.

I need to start by saying I am so glad to be done with the Hugga Bunch series.  While not terrible, these were not something I will ever read again. This one’s main focus is the entire Huga Bunch as they must team up to clean Huggaland and later save it.  They use the power of friendship and hugs to set all right, and they let everyone know that people make the places and not the opposite. Danny is like Lex Luger when he was in the WWF and known as The Narcissist, as he likes to look at himself in the mirror.  But after some good old fashion teamwork he finds that working with others gets stuff done. Satchel is a greedy gnome who seems to be stealing the land just to be an ass, and when he gets beat, he takes his broken bag and heads right out of town. So the lesson is don’t be an ego driven ass and work with others to reach your goal as a team. Artwork is done by John Costanza again, and it looks good. So yeah, we are done.  Below is some art from issue one to show you the style of art used in this series. 

Hugga Bunch art

One thing that I must question is how this series got a total of six issues while better comics like Defenders of Earth and Inhumanoids got less! I did notice though that Star once more did not even give this series a full fledged final issue.  Oh Star, why would you never give fans closure to the series they were reading…well most of the time we didn’t get it. As I have said before besides like one girl I knew and my Aunt, no one I knew had these dolls and no one besides them even spoke of them! The thing that made this series bland and average is the fact they really did follow the same formula and like clockwork you knew at what point the troubled kid would see the light and figure out what they needed to learn. But I am so done with the Hugga Bunch, and I am going to move onto telling you what our next update is.  It’s one I have been working on all last year, my look at the films of 2013! So come back and spend some time with me at the Rotten Ink Theater as we eat some popcorn and talk about films.  Until then enjoy a comic or two, and look under your bed to make sure a Hugga Bunch is not under there waiting for you!

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