How I Spent My Summer At Camp Candy

Summertime is upon us.  That means lots of sun, swimming pools and vacations for many of us Americans and fine people from around the world, and after the snow filled winter we had this year I am sure many of you like me are ready for some sun time. When I was in school, summer break was also the thing that got me from grade to grade, knowing that at some point I would have a few months off to do what I wanted to do and not be stuck in a classroom. So in this blog update we are going to take a look at some of the fun stuff I used to do in the summer as well as places I have been including camp during school! The comic series we will be looking at is based on the Saturday morning cartoon called Camp Candy that featured the comedian John Candy as the lead counselor and owner of the camp. But first I would like to talk about my first time going to Kings Island with my Uncle Johnnie and Aunt Debbie when I was just a young lad. Most summers my family would not go on a vacation and a lot of time was spent at our house running the streets with friends or just visiting our grandparents. Sometimes my Dad would shock us and take us to Fantasy Farm or Americana Amusement Park in Middletown and those were always fun times, but mostly it was stay at home kind of time. I will admit it was pretty embarrassing when I would return to school and the teacher would have us stand up and tell the others what we did over the summer and I would hear others talk about trips to Florida, Disney World and Kings Island and all I got to do is play Nintendo and toys at my house…pretty sad indeed. One summer however my Dad got some tickets to Kings Island from his work at Cub Foods and gave them to my brother Bryan and I, and instead of him and my mom taking us they gave the other two pairs to my Uncle Johnny and my Aunt Debbie who acted as our guide to the theme park. Before we went to the top amusement park in Ohio, we talked to our cousins Dino and Norman and they filled us in on the must experience rides that included The Vortex, King Cobra, The Racer, The Beast and one of the newest coasters at the time The Adventure Express. I can remember the night before going to the amusement park sitting in my bed restless with my mind racing with all the excitement of what was to come the next day, images of ridding a roller coaster with Yogi Bear and stories of all the large hills and fast speed told to me by Norman echoed in my brain, for this summer of 1992 I was going to Kings Island!  

Kings Island Logo

The next morning my brother Bryan and I were up early and ate up our cereal super fast and waited for our Aunt and Uncle to come pick us up, they arrived right on time and I can remember rushing to get into the car with them so that my adventure of the summer could start happening. On the ride to the park I can remember my Uncle playing Ozzy Osborne’s Dairy Of A Madman from a cassette tape and he and my aunt asking us what we were looking forward to the most. For me I really was looking forward to The Adventure Express and Hanna-Barbera Land because I was a fan of Scooby-Doo and Yogi and looked forward to the rides based around them. I can remember my brother looking forward to The Beast and The Racer as the idea of the backward coaster peaked his interest. As we pulled into the huge parking lot my excitement sky rocketed as I could see the entrance to the park and knew that so much fun rides awaited me inside. As we gave the attendant our tickets and walked in I was amazed as I seen the Eiffel Tower and fountains and knew that I had finally made it to Kings Island! That day was a blast we started the day off by riding The Racer and while I rode the one that went forward by brother rode the one that went backwards, we also rode The Beast and for the first time I became breathless as the speed and the excitement literally took my breath away! The Adventure Express was epic and fun and while not a fast coaster it still was a great gimmick of riding inside of caves with talking stone statues and parts that sprayed you with mist. We rode The Smurf Enchanted Voyage Boat ride that our Mom had ridden before and hyped up and it was a pretty fun experience as was White Water Canyon a boat ride that makes you feel as if your traveling on what its named after. We rode many rides that day and I even got to see the likes of Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound wondering around and taking pictures with kids and adults. I did not get to ride The Vortex as the line was to long that day and we skipped the King Cobra cause we heard it racked ya if you were a male, I know now that it was false but as a kid you believe those type of rumors. We stayed until the park closed and watched fireworks and then headed back home, I must say my Aunt and Uncle were a blast and allowed us to be kids and have the fun we wanted…and while we went to the park a number of times after mostly with Dino and Norman and for me as I grew older with my girlfriend at the time Jennifer this first time will forever remain the most special. I have to admit that the next day after going my legs felt like rubber from all the walking and running we did that day but boy was it worth it! Oh I guess I should pick my favorite ride that first time going and it would have to be hands down The Beast as it was the one that not only took my breath away but also is the one that always stuck in my mind. 

Vortex LogoThe Beast LogoKing Cobra Logo

While during the summer I did get to go to Amusement Parks the one thing I never did get to do was go to Summer Camp and for some reason I always kind of wanted to thanks to the Friday The 13th films. But I did get to go to camp during school when I was in the 6th grade to a place called Camp Joy and let me tell ya all about the wonders of this place. Before I was set to go to Camp one of my pet mice named White Man was sick with a giant tumor that had grown on the side of her tiny body, I hated to leave her in such bad shape but I knew she was in great hands as my Brother, Mom and Dad were all going to look after her. The day of camp I had my bags packed and was ready for some fun in the woods as I was dropped off at the school and got onto the bus that was driving us there. When getting to the camp I was pretty hyped as I loved the idea of having fun in the woods with fellow classmates and boy did we do just that! We did all types of fun stuff and even pulled small animals from the near by stream to be studied and thats when the full outdoor fun ended for me as while carrying a bucket of water I tripped going down some stairs and spilled the water and sprang my ankle bad! By hurting my ankle not only did I hurt my pride but it also kept me from doing the wire walk an activity that had you rope walking high above the ground as well as a few other activities. By our last day I was limping around enough to do an activity that had us acting as slaves and escaping via the underground railroad. For me being hurt the main fun came in the cabin were at night we told horror stories, made up what ifs using Jason Voorhees, talked about girls from our grade we liked and we even went into the bathroom and played Bloody Mary in the mirror…you know the legend of Bloody Mary right? Well if not its a legend about a witch who is trapped in the mirror world or in some cases Hell that when you say her name 5 times in a mirror in a dark room she will appear in the mirror infront of you with blood pouring down her face and in some cases is said to pull you into the mirror. I can remember doing this and all us guys trying to spook the others. While I was hurt at camp I still had a blast, but sadly when I returned home White Man lost her battle to the tumor…But I would say if you have kids I would say send them to camp at least once cause I am sure they will have a fun time.  

Camp Joy 1Camp Joy LogoBloody Mary

On Halloween 1950 comedian John Candy was born in NewMarket, Ontario Canada and with this a comedy legend was delivered to the world. Candy began is acting career in 1973 by starring in a tiny uncredited role in the film“Class Of ’44” and throughout the 70’s took roles in film and TV like “The Silent Partner”, “90 Minutes Live” and his most popular role on TV “SCTV” (Second City Television) Canada’s version of Saturday Night Live. But it was not till the 80’s when Candy became the big star with roles in “1941”,“National Lampoons Vacation”, “Stripes”,“Splash”, “Little Shop Of Horrors”, “Plans Trains and Automobiles”, “Great Outdoors”, “Space Balls” and “Uncle Buck”to name a few all these films made Candy a top name in comedies and an A-List actor. Even in 1989 Candy became a cartoon star with the Saturday morning toon “Camp Candy”. But sadly the 90’s were not as nice to him and while roles in “Home Alone” and “Cool Runnings”kept his star shining he also had a string of flops at the box office like “Nothing But Trouble” and “Once Upon A Crime”making the actors roles coming fewer inbetween he changed it up and took more dramatic roles in films like “Only The Lonely”and “JFK”. His big comeback to comedy film was called “Wagons East!”were he co-starred with Richard Lewis that was released in 1994, but sadly while doing this picture Candy died of a heart attack at the age of 43. Some cool things you might not have known about the comedian are the following Candy won Emmy’s for his writing on SCTV in 1981 &1982, Candy hosted SNL on a 1983 episode, Candy was asked to play Louis in the film Ghostbusters but could not meet eye to eye on how the character should be played so the role went to Rick Moranis, he did however make a cameo in Ray Parker Jr’s Music Video for the hit song from the film. Candy alongside Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky and racehorse owner Bruce McNall owned a Canadian Football team called the Argonauts, his crypt is bellow fellow actor Fred MacMurray best know for his role in the TV Show My Three Sons in California. I can remember growing up and loving John Candy in movies and I cant tell you how many times I have watched The Great Outdoors and Uncle Buck! While he may be gone his body of work lives on thanks to DVD, VHS and TV.

Great Outdoors PosterJohn CandyUncle buck Poster

Back in the 1980’s Saturday Morning Cartoons was a huge deal and almost every major station tried to out due the others to get kids to watch their station over the others. NBC in 1989 started to air a cartoon called Camp Candy that followed comedian John Candy as he was the head councilor and owner of a Summer Camp that was always in danger of being closed down by a rich business man named Rex DeForest III who wanted to use the land to develop condos and malls. Candy was joined my Nurse Molly and a handful of boys and girls and they would get into all types of silly adventures. The series ran for a year on NBC and lasted a total of Twenty Seven episodes before going into syndication were thirteen more episodes were made. The series last major TV airings was with reruns on Fox Family in 1998, and with the syndication episodes sometimes live action John Candy skits were attached. I watched Camp Candy when it aired originally and in fact I never missed an episode if I could help it and was a pretty bug fan of it’s simple and fun storyline. Even when Marvel Comics released the short 6 issue run based on this cartoon I got myself a copy of issue # 1 at Big Bear! The series never did get a DVD release and only a few episodes ever came out on VHS making this cartoon series one that you would have to find on the Grey Market in order to enjoy again, it’s a shame that this series never did get the fandom it deserves and even in school I remember very few kids talking about it, but the ones that did were big fans like myself I can remember my friend Jeremy Patton really liked it allot. And I can’t stress enough to the big broadcast stations when I say bring back Saturday Morning Cartoons to the glory it once was and stop just showing terrible Disney Network reruns and terrible Pokemon clone cartoons and bring back the verity and life to that magical time of the week when kids should be putting down their Iphones and Tablets and watching quality cartoons and shows. 

Camp Candy Toon 1Camp_Candy Toon 2Camp Candy Toon 3

So before we move on to the comic series brought to us by Marvel, I should introduce the characters to those of you readers who never got to watch this fun cartoon when it aired. The adults at the camp are John Candy, the lead counselor and owner of the camp. John has a good soul and will do whatever he can to entertain and protect the kids even if he is a coward and not that bright. Nurse Molly is the camp’s nurse and mother figure to the kids; one could even get the slight hint that while she is annoyed with John at times, she also seems to almost have a crush on him. These two are the only adults shown in the cartoon and makes one wonder just how the two of them run the whole camp!

John CandyNurse Molly

The boys of the camp are as follows: Rick is the blonde haired cool kid who is the popular one, Iggy is the tall nerdy type with glasses and is super smart but is also a hypochondriac and last but not least is his little brother Binky who, while short in size, is always ready for adventure. Those are the boys who are attending Camp Candy.

RickIggyBinky

As for the girls attending Camp Candy, it goes as follows: Vanessa is the rich spoiled brat who is into fashion and looking good. Alex is the tomboy who has red hair and loves sports, and last is Robin who is all into nature and saving the animals of the forest. The girls and the boys get along well besides Vanessa, who is the one who gives everyone grief.

VANESSAALEXROBIN

The bad guy of this cartoon was Rex DeForest III, a short man with lots of money and ideas that always have Camp Candy out of business and the land his to develop into condos. His assistant is Chester, a dim witted goofball who goes along with whatever his boss tells him to do. While they always have plans, they of course never win.

REX DEFOREST IIICHESTER

Camp Candy inspired very little merchandise and had no toys or video games made based on it.  Besides the Marvel/Star Comics series, the only other stuff I can think of is a plastic lunch box, VHS tapes of selected episodes and later t-shirts made by fans. It makes you wonder why some company didn’t turn out some cool things for fans of the show.  I mean it would have made a perfect NES game where you played as John and had to rescue the kids from Rex. This poor underrated show has gotten no DVD release and had very little push for other merchandise even in its prime! So if you’re looking for Camp Candy goodies, they are few and hard to find. 

Camp Candy Bear LogoCamp Candy LunchboxCamp Candy VHS

So are you readers ready for Camp? I have my backpack packed with all the stuff I need including some comics and Tiger Electronic Handheld Games, and I have my Incredible Hulk sleeping bag rolled and tied so I think we are ready to enter the cabin and see what Camp Candy has to offer! I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. I should thank Lone Star Comics and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock, and I really look forward to reading issue one again as I can remember buying it when it first came out at Hearts and really liked it! So no further delay, let’s dive in shall we.. 

Camp Candy 1

Camp Candy # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #1 of 6

John Candy is tricked by that no good Rex DeForrest III into believing that he owes 5 thousand dollars to keep the camp safe, and Candy who had proof the camp was paid up lost the papers…well his campers did. Candy doesn’t have the money to pay for the “balance” owed and is bummed out as the camp is set to close the following day, but during the last night around the campfire, Candy tells a spooky story about Headless Harry, a man who found a giant gold nugget in a cave and then left it behind to play basketball with some Native Americans.  When the basketball rolled out of the cave, a witness thought it was his head. Rick gets the idea that in the morning they should go and check the cave for the gold to use to save the camp. Rex and Chester decide to follow Candy and the Campers to make sure they don’t find money to pay for the fake bill, and Chester hides in the cave and scares them away once they find the giant gold nugget, but Candy catches on and uses his own trick to spook Chester away and he calls in an expert to look at his gold. Sadly the gold nugget is fools gold, and just when it looks like the camp is doomed, a tabloid news reporter pays Candy that amount for his story of Headless Harry and his “meeting” with the legend! 

This issue throws in the spooky camp legend around a plot that is very similar to the film “Ernest Goes To Camp,” about a rich butthead wanting to build on the land of the camp. John Candy is a total goof in this issue and seems not to be bothered that his own campers are the ones who lost the papers when they came into his cabin to find paper to use to make a fake skunk and to draw on, but to be honest the fact that he does not mind is what makes me really connect with this cartoon. Candy is very likeable, and I have a feeling he will be done right through out the series. The campers don’t fully get to shine in this issue and while bits of their personalities do, I have a feeling that as we go along each camper might get spotlight. Rex and Chester are those kind of bad guys with one smart one and one goofy one who play off each other and come up with schemes to try to get what they want. The issue is broke into two stories with the first being the longer main story and the second is a quick story thrown in to fill pages. The art in this issue is done by Howard Post, and his style is great for this type of comic based on a cartoon.  The cover is also well done and eye catching. Over all, while this is not ground breaking, it’s still and average fun comic.  Plus it was nice re-reading this issue after all these years! So let’s move on to issue 2 and have more fun at Camp Candy.

Camp Candy 2

Camp Candy # 2   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #2 of 6

John Candy is preparing Camp Candy for the safety inspector who is on her way the next day. Rex and Chester hear this and know that if the camp gets so many marks for being unsafe, it will be closed down and leave the land open for him to buy. Rex and Chester dress up and join the camp as a father counselor and his daughter and cause issues so the camp will fail, and fail it does when the flag poll falls on the inspector, the tree house falls apart with her inside and a grizzly bear in one of the cabins chases her from the camp. Before she closes the camp, she allows Camp Candy to join in on the big canoe race among all the surrounding camps and during this Rex and Chester, who are forced as their fake characters, take the wrong path and are about to drown but Candy comes to their aid and this impresses the inspector who allows the camp to stay open. 

Yet another issue that holds the charm of the cartoon and still holds some of that “Ernest Goes To Camp” spirit making this a fun read and perfect for these warm summer nights. Candy in this issue is still a loveable goon who takes pride in his camp and really seems to care that his campers are having a good time.  The one thing that you have to question about the safety of the camp is the fact Candy allowed two fake people who were really his arch enemies to work for him without even checking backgrounds, makes you wonder if Jason Voorhees wearing hockey mask and all wanted a job, would he hire him on the spot? The campers once more take a back seat to the comic comedy and are very much background players. Rex and Chester have the same chemistry they had the last issue with greed being their driving force. The second story in this one deals with a moose and is pretty standard filler stuff. Howard Post once more did the art and once more it looks good.  I should also say Post is doing the main story art and not the back up story. Pretty good standard issue that makes me want to read the third in the series.

Camp Candy 3

Camp Candy # 3   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #3 of 6

Rick’s cousin Trooper is at a nearby camp called Camp Kickboot, and he is feeling like Campy Candy is for nerds as they don’t do half the militant stuff the other camp does. John Candy takes all his campers to visit the camp and finds that its run like a boot camp and its counselor Nayles is like a drill sergeant. During the visit it’s set up that the two camps the next day will play a game of capture the flag to show which team is better.  The Kickboot Campers are hyped as Candy Campers want nothing to do with it! If any camper or counselor gets hit with whipped cream that means they are taken prisoner and must sit out. The next day Binky runs off with the Camp Candy flag to try and win the game as Kickboot makes short work of John, Iggy and Vanessa, and just as they are about to put their flag on Camp Candy’s poll, Rick has climbed the poll and whip creams the whole Kickboot team! Binky makes it to Camp Kickboot and wins the game for his team. Oh yeah, Rex and Chester try to get involved with a real tank shooting fireworks at Camp Kickbutt.  This ends badly as always.

This is a fun issue that reminds me of the show “Hey Dude” when they played capture the flag against each other. Rick takes a front seat in this issue, and while a prankster at heart, he still tries to live up to the macho image of his cousin who he thinks is having more fun at his camp. Of course in the end Rick shows that his camp is the best and kids should be kids and have fun. John Candy is as goofy as ever and once more has pride in his camp and campers and even gets them involved in a “war game”, still a very likable character. Rex and Chester in this issue are a waste and to be honest should not have even been in this issue as they really added nothing to the story. Nayles and his campers are kind of mean and take pleasure in breaking stuff and have an almost bully aspect to them.  So it’s nice to see them lose by being outsmarted at their own game. Plus this is the first issue that had only one story, and to me that’s a good thing as this story was more fleshed out, well minus Rex’s part. The pencil art was done once more by Howard Post, and to me this guy is great at doing kids comics of this style! The cover is cheesy fun and also with this issue we mark the half way mark of this Marvel/Star series.  So far I will say it’s a solid and entertaining kids comic series so let’s get into issue # 4!

Camp Candy 4

Camp Candy # 4   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #4 of 6

It’s open house day at Camp Candy and all the campers’ parents are on their way to visit their kids, but this year instead of showing them boring stuff they made or collected they decide to build an amusement park for them to enjoy. Binky builds a toy horse ride, Iggy builds the worlds lowest roller coaster, Vanessa’s is a house of mirrors, Rick’s is a surfboard on wheels ride that spins around fast, Alex built a fitness ride were the kids are carried in wooden boxes by her dad and Robin has a ride a grizzly bear ride! While preparing for the parents, Binky wants his ride more scary and Rex and Chester dress as workers claiming that John hired them to help. The plan is to make the ride so scary and unsafe the parents won’t trust John and the park will close so Rex can buy it. When the parents arrive all is going well and as Binky is taking his mom to his ride, Chester jumps on it before his mom can ride it and Binky jumps on to stop him, but Chester being a moron, he forgot the track was not complete and that they are headed straight for a cliff! John sees they are in danger and jumps on the wheeled surfboard to try and stop them, and when Rex hears the tracks are incomplete, he rushes to try and help as well. In the end Binky checked his ride early in the morning and placed safety rafts at the end so Chester, John (who jumped on to try and stop it) and himself are all safe and to payback the damage they did. Rex and Chester have to also carry kids in the wood boxes at Alex’s ride. 

It’s cheesy rides and danger all around in this issue as families take turns riding grizzly bears and a toy horse roller coaster almost leads to deaths! Binky gets to shine in this issue, and he is your typical 5 year old kid who wants his ride scary, but who also in the hero by knowing safety comes first and places the rubber rafts down. John is also brave in this issue as he risks his life and safety to save Binky’s and Chester’s all while riding a surfboard with skateboard wheels. The rest of the campers are given little to do as are the parents but yet they all fit in like a glove, adding to the overall. Rex in this issue does not think out his plan very well, and his worse mistake is that he trusted Chester to be in charge on this project. Like the prior issue, this is one long story with the filler story cut out of the issue, and again I must stress I like one story better than two in this series. The best part about this series so far is that it’s stayed steady and has not lost any steam, tho it could also be said that by this point it should also be gaining steam so it’s kind of a catch-22. Howard Post once more does the art and once more does a fine job.  So with that let’s get to issue # 5.

Camp Candy 5

Camp Candy # 5   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #5 of 6

John Candy is taking his campers on a field trip to the camp he grew up going to and speaks highly of the head counselor named Hercules who was so strong and brave. Well when they get to the camp, it’s a ghost town and the cabins are run down and Hercules now is an old man with no campers to look after and worse he has Rex DeForrest II, the father to the III, coming to take his camp away and turn it into a land fill! Rex the II and Hercules make a bet that if he can get to the top of a nearby mountain and set camp that Hercules can have the camp site for as long as he lives. John and the Campers help Hercules who proves in the end all he needed was some joy as he makes it to the top and wins the honor of the camp.

This issue is a fun one.  While not as good as the past 4 issues, it still was entertaining and held the Camp Candy charm. Taking John and the Campers away from Camp Candy was a smart move and allows them to be shown out of their environment and in a new camp trying to help an old man. Hercules is a fun crazy old coot character who still has it even after all these years, and while he is strong willed and physically strong, it’s clear as day where John got a lot of his counseling skills. Adding the dad of the Rex we have all grown to dislike is cool, but really also just made me wish they would have added some sort of new butthead who wants to run a camp out of business. The issue goes back to having two stories, and the second one is about them camping and Binky being the man, more filler stuff really. Howard Post is still doing the art and it still looks good for this kind of comic book. I will also say that this is the first issue not to say “Star Comics Presents,” and I should also point out when the little box that says that was places in an issues it looked like a bad cut and paste job, think glue stick on paper kind of stuff. So let’s get to the final issue here at Camp Candy.

Camp Candy 6

Camp Candy # 6   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #6 of 6

A gorilla has escaped from the circus and is on a path to Camp Candy. John does not know this and takes his campers on a nature walk as Rex and Chester come up with a plan for Chester to dress like a gorilla and scare off the campers so you guessed it, he can buy Camp Candy to turn the land into condos. But of course the real gorilla shows up, and the high jinks kicks into high gear. In the end the Gorilla finds his way back the circus while driving a car with Rex who thinks it’s Chester in the outfit! There are three other smaller filler stories in this issue as well, and they are just your typical short subjects.

The final issue loses a little steam as the first of four…yes four stories is the best one and for some reason the whole time I was reading it I kept thinking about Yogi Bear and how this story would have been perfect in a Yogi Bear comic or cartoon. The gorilla on the loose who knows tricks and can drive a car is pure cartoon stuff and adds to the fun theme of the Nature Walk. Neither John nor the kids are the main focus of the issue as they all share about the same importance to the story. One thing I must say is that Rex and Chester being in every issue blabbing about owning the land Camp Candy sits on was wearing thin and new characters should have been added to make more challenges for them all to have to get past. I mean the only other bad guy in the series was Rex’s dad who has the same motives for another camp’s land. The other three stories once more are just filler and that’s a shame when the main story of the escaped Gorilla should have been more fleshed out and given more panels. Howard Post did the art and wrote the main story and did a fine job on both.  It’s also a shame that Marvel being who they were back then didn’t even give this series a final issue as this one just simply ends the series. This issue was alright and was a fun adventure with John and the Campers.

Camp Candy Art

It was nice to see that in 1990 a “Star” comic series was released with this 6 issue series based on the cartoon Camp Candy.  While I would like to think they were just shutting down Star for a re-launch that would have seen more originals and more IPs and this comic was just caught in the middle of that transition, when to be honest I am sure it all came down to when the license for this cartoon was signed over to Marvel it was under the Star branch so they just cut and pasted the logo on the first page of each issue to hold true to that original contract. I found this comic series to be silly and good solid reads that held very true to the source material making it a true treat for a person like me who grew up watching the cartoon. But while this update we had fun at camp, the next update we will be visiting Dracula’s Castle as we take a look at Eternity’s mini series “The Ghosts Of Dracula”! So make sure to join me then and bring some garlic just in case.  So until next time enjoy the great outdoors, go to camp and read a comic or two.

ghosts of dracula logo

Marvel At The Movies Part 1

It’s summer time, so let’s go to the movies! Marvel Comics and movie adaptations went hand and hand in the 1980’s and many Hollywood blockbusters found themselves as comic miniseries, giving fans of both films and of comic books something to collect and re-read at any time, reliving the adventure. So with this update I decided to take a look at three films that got the Marvel treatment: Krull, The Last Starfighter and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension.  I chose these three to start with because I feel all of them have a very rich cult status, not to mention each could have easily been a full series after the movie tie was done.  Lastly I grew up watching all three films! While movie tie in comics are still made today they are fewer and far between as Marvel no longer focuses on them unless they own the character in the film outright. But with this update I will tell you a little about the film and my thoughts on it as well as break down each issue in the Marvel comic adaptations.  So with no further ado let’s get to what I am calling “Marvel At The Movies,” and we are reading this at the imaginary Marvel Theater.

Marvel at the movies

I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material.  I will give these comics a little slack on not keeping 100% to the film because they have only so many pages to contain it all in, but it will be only a little slack. I also want to thank Dark Star Comics and Half Price Books for having these issues in stock.

Krull 1Krull PosterKrull 3

Released in 1983, Krull is about a young prince and his new bride whose offspring will be the ruler of the galaxy and whose world is under attack by a monster called The Beast and his evil warriors known as The Slayers. When The Beast has the princess kidnapped, it’s up to the prince to save his bride and the world alongside a rag tag motley crew of warriors. I grew up watching this film and have always been a fan of fantasy films.  While this is not my favorite, it’s a good solid film with likeable characters and a sinister bad guy. I can remember renting this film on VHS from the public library and before that watching the film on HBO. As you long time readers know, I also was the cyclops Rell for Halloween one year and my brother went as The Beast, showing that the film did have an impact on my life. While I know a board game and an Atari 2600 game were made based on this film, I never played them. The film has gained a cult status and my friend Thomas “Maurice” Smith, founder of Beard Team Ohio, is a big fan. So with that let’s take a look at Marvel’s two issue film adaptation of the film.

Krull issue 1

Krull # 1  ***
Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #1 of 2

The world of Krull is under attack as an evil monster known as The Beast and his warriors The Slayers are laying waste to all the kingdoms and turning the whole world into a bloodbath of pain and carnage, traveling around in their spaceship called The Black Fortress. Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa are getting married, and legend says that the two will be the ones to save Krull and that their child will grow up to rule the galaxy.  But the honeymoon is cut short when Slayers attack the castle, kill as many of the men inside they can and kidnap Lyssa who has also captured the loving eye of The Beast. Colwyn awakens to his friends and family dead and his wife missing as Ynyr The Old One comes to his side and speaks of a magical weapon that will be able to kill The Beast once and for all called the Glaive that is hidden in a mountain in running lava! After retrieving it, they start on a quest to find The Black Fortress and pick up characters like Ergo The Magnificent, a goofy magician and Torquil and his ten men all who are convicts that join to get their freedom. They find the blind prophet Emerald Seer and his young apprentice Titch who try and find the location of The Black Fortress but are stopped by the even more powerful magic of The Beast. The group set out for the swamp to get a better grip on the location, all the while a cyclops seems to be following them. Meanwhile Lyssa is trapped in The Beast’s fortress and is being primed to be his mate!

This first issue packs so much action, drama and adventure that it makes you want to turn the page and find out what is in store next for Colwyn, who is a likeable and nobel hero who wants his true love back safe and wants to save his world from the death that awaits it. The comic captures the fantasy of the film, and while the battle scenes are not as epic in the comic, when The Slayers attack it still is just as impactful as it was in the film. The Beast is a mean spirited monster who almost seems to get pure joy out of all the murder and death and gets glee from keeping Lyssa prisoner. Ergo acts as the comic relief in the comic just as he does in the film.  Look at him as a less over the top version of Orko from Masters of the Universe or Snarf of Thundercats as he trips and makes a fool of himself almost at every moment. Torquil and his men seem like second thoughts in this first issue and just seem like they are around for the ride. Ynyr is used like he should be, as the wise old man who wants to set everything right and pretty much is right on to his on screen counterpart. Over all this first issue is a well done movie adaptation with pretty good artwork and an amazing cover that uses the film’s poster. For fans of the film like myself, this is a good read and for those who have not seen the film, this comic could be used as a tool to get them to watch. The only flaw that I see is that the storyline is pretty epic and this makes for lots of dialogue moments to get the story out that could lose some younger readers. Let’s see if the fantasy magic holds up in issue 2. 

Krull issue 2

Krull # 2  ***
Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #2 of 2

Colywn and his group are deep in the swamp as Slayers attack, and the cyclops comes to help.  After the fighting he joins the group on the quest, and they find out his name is Rell. Emerald Seer is killed, and his apperance is taken by a shapeshifter who in turn tries to kill Colywn but is stopped by Rell who found the old man’s body in the swamp water. Now the group is lost without a guide to show them where the Dark Fortress is.  Ynyr sacrifices himself to find the answer when he cross paths with the spider lady and her giant spider! Colywn and his men get the answer they need but lose a dear friend in Ynyr, but they continue to the Black Fortress.  Upon entering Colywn and his true love Lyssa are reunited and must use their love to defeat the evil power and grip of The Beast!

The second issue just like the first is a solid film to comic transfer and adds all the action and drama of the film to inked pages. Colywn is a likeable hero who you find yourself cheering for and in my opinion looks less geeky than he does on film.  He has just the right amount of badass in him to make his against the odds quest more believable. Lyssa in the comic and even somewhat in the film is your very helpless princess who adds the classic fairy tale feel to this epic adventure.  While she does very little to help bring down the evil, she’s who the whole quest is truly about. Ynyr The Old One is a great guide to the hero and is truly the comics’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, even dying like a hero like the Jedi Master before him.  In fact, this whole film has many connections to Star Wars! Rell is a nice side character who adds the brute power to the team much like Chewbacca. Torquil is a convict who still has a good heart and is noble like Han Solo. Ergo The Magnificent is like C3PO and is a goofy sidekick who even takes on a friend with Titch, who in the comic adds nothing to the plot. Even The Slayers are very much like Storm Troopers in their mindless attacks and the way they all look the same. The Beast is a kick ass bad guy who should have gotten more panel time and seems as if he truly could take over a planet with his army and magic, and yes he reminds me of a blend of Darth Vader and The Emperor. The Glaive is a silly weapon that mixes knives with a boomrang, but I do give it credit as it’s at least original and gets the death blow started on The Beast. The end battle should have been a little more over the top and had way more tense moments but even the film in my opinion lacked that. The comics’ art work is solid, but this time around the cover is a little lacking and could have been spiced up a bit. Over all this comic did a great job of bringing the big screen to the panel and does justice to the film by not cutting too much of its charm. Over all I would say this is a good comic film adaptation.

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In 1984 a film hit theaters called The Last Starfighter about Alex Rogan, a young man with dreams to better himself through school or the military.  He works at a trailer park and spends his days with his girlfriend Maggie, fixing issues at the trailer park and playing an arcade game called The Last Starfighter. But his dreams come true when Centauri, an inventor from the galaxy comes to take him away after he gets the highest score in the game’s history and in his place on Earth an android named Beta who looks like him is left to work his everyday life. Alex is flung into a galactic war that leaves he and his alien co-pilot Grig as the last Starfighters and the only hope for mankind. As a kid I remember loving this film and wishing for toys, comics and video games to be made around it.  I did get the video game that came out on the NES, and I did get the comic thanks to Marvel’s 3 issue movie tie in run. But I never did get the action figures. I can remember watching this film on VHS and on cable while playing with Star Wars and G.I. Joe’s acting out my own intergalactic battles. So let’s see if the comic series can hold up to this fun 80’s sci-fi film.

Last Star Issue 1

The Last Starfighter # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #1 of 3

Alex Rogan is a young man with big dreams who can’t seem to get his life in order and get out of the trailer park his mom runs. He has a job working maintenance for the trailers and even has a loving girlfriend Maggie, but his life just seems so boring.  His only real escape is playing a video game called The Last Starfighter in which he has gotten the highest score possible! Late one night Alex meets Centauri, the man who created the game who takes him away to the planet Rylos to join in a war that threatens all worlds and wants him to become a true to life starfighter. Back on Earth, an android named Beta has taken the appearance and life of Alex so that his loved ones would not worry about him. After listening to a meeting for new recruits, Alex decides he wants to go home even after meeting his reptile like co-pilot Grig, but everything stops when a hologram of the sinister Xur leader of the Ko-Dan Armada appears.

This first issue is a great way to introduce you to Alex and his family and girlfriend as they live their everyday lives in the trailer park. It also makes you really root for Alex as all he really wants to do is better his life with a good college education. While the issue leaves him almost spineless as he wants to leave instead help fight the good fight, you can see a true hero in the making. Even in the comic Centauri comes off like a good guy but also has that sleazy used car salesman charm. Maggie comes off as a loving and supportive girlfriend and is the nice counter piece for Alex to really care about. Other than that these are the only three characters to truly stand out, and I look forward to seeing more of Xur and Grig.  The comic follows the movie pretty well and holds onto the kid friendly sci-fi action and adventure appeal that made it a cult classic to this day. The art work is a little weak and in spots looks unfinished, while the cover is pretty good and eye catching for the time. I can’t wait to read issue two and get more into this adventure.

Last Star issue 2

The Last Starfighter # 2  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #2 of 3

Xur’s message is clear, and it’s that anyone who stands in his way of ruling the world is as good as dead.  Alex hears this warning and wants to go back home.  Disappointed, Centauri starts the journey to take him home. After Alex leaves Xdur and his Commander Kril unleash an attack on the starfighter base that kills them all.  While on Earth Centauri gives Alex a communicator if ever he changes his mind and wants to help fight the good fight. Alex returns home and gets the cold shoulder from Maggie and also finds Beta sleeping in his bed.  The two talk about what’s happened in Alex’s life on Earth while he was away.  When Beta is leaving an alien bounty hunter tries to kill Alex, and Centauri comes to the rescue but takes a shot in the process. Alex sees now that he must take a stand and returns with the wounded Centauri to Rylos where he not only sees his guide and now friend dying from his wound but also sees that the whole star fleet has been killed in an attack.  Grig has survived, and the two get aboard a starship to prepare for battle, and that’s just what they do as enemy fighters approach and Alex finds out that he truly is the last starfighter!

This second issue is filled with sneak attacks, death, assassination attempts and finding one’s inner strength. Alex, while still reluctant to be a hero, steps up when he sees that the whole universe needs him to be a hero and stop Xur and his goons from taking over.  While he still speaks of going home even, he knows he must do the right thing. Beta is a cool character who mimics Alex, and Centauri shows that while he might be a con man, he is a great friend and truly a believer in the cause to stop Xur once and for all.  In this issue it appears that he is dying from a gun shot that was meant for Alex. Grig is more fleshed out in this issue and acts not only as a partner but also as a coach as he boosts Alex’s ego and self worth. Xur is a spoiled brat and comes off not so much as an evil mastermind but more of a child who wants a new toy off the shelf when his mom told him no.  That said, he does have the means to take what he wants as he had his men blow up the starfighter base killing almost all of the world’s hope. I like the idea that hitmen are sent to kill Alex because he was at one starfighter meeting, showing that Xur is cold blooded and wants no one to oppose him. The issue’s art work, much like issue one, seems not done in spots and at times Alex looks laughable with the lack of human expression.The cover is pretty good and makes the issue look action packed.  I say this is a pretty good issue that kept me reading and even remembering the parts of the film so let’s get to issue 3!

Last Star Issue 3

The Last Starfighter # 3  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #3 of 3

Alex and Grig are at war in space while Beta is on a date with Maggie when he is attacked by another alien hit man who shoots the robot, and he now must tell Maggie that he is in fact a robot and that they must stop the alien from reporting back that the real Alex is alive.  They do so by crashing a truck into his spaceship. Meanwhile Alex and Grig are one ship against many, and Xur is overthrown by Commander Kril who now is in control and wants to destroy Alex and control the universe. Alex beats the odds and brings down the attacking army and becomes a hero to the whole galaxy.  He returns to Earth to visit his mom and brother and then takes Maggie to space with him so they can live happily ever after.  Oh yeah, Centauri is alive and proud of his friend!

This final issue is fully about the space battle that shows Alex as the hero we all know he can be. Alex is a great character who as the issues go on gains more and more self esteem and shapes up to be a hero much like Luke Skywalker of Star Wars and Prince Colwyn of Krull. Xur, who thinks he holds the power, is shown to be nothing more then a pawn for the war hungry aliens who put up with him until they felt like they had the upper hand. Xur is the perfect spoiled brat character who you’re happy to see betrayed. Grig is a good side character who acts as the character who helps push Alex to his potential though I wish in the comic they would have given him a little more panel time. Commander Kril for most of the 3 issue series is nothing more than a lapdog for Xur, but when he turns on his one time ruler he is also shown to be a madman. Maggie is a good girlfriend character who is loyal to her boyfriend even when he is acting odd. And last Centauri is a perfect wise old man character that is one part conman and one part nice guy. The comic series does a pretty damn good job at making the film come to ink and the only true downfall to the mini series is the fact that the art is below par and not as solid as most Marvel Comics at that time. While some things were changed slightly from film to comic, it still is a good film adaptation that only has its art as it’s negative marks.

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In 1984 moviegoers were treated to a fun over the top Sci-Fi adventure film thanks to 20th Century Fox that told the tale of Buckaroo Banzai, a scientist and rock star who along with his band must try and stop an invasion of inter-dimensional alien beings from another planet lead by Lord John Whorfin who has taken over the body of a fellow scientist Dr. Lizardo. The film was a strange and fun film that I remember watching as a kid and even remember parodying the end credits with my brother. We mostly saw this film thanks to HBO and a beta tape that we recorded it on.  While I liked the film, I was never a super fan like friends of mine are like artist Eric Shonborn. The cast was a big plus for me as I was a fan of Peter Weller who plays Buckaroo, John Lithgow who played Lizardo/Whorfin, Christopher Lloyd who played Bigboote and even Jeff Goldblum who played New Jersey at the time. Sadly the film, while a cult classic today, never had toys or board games based around it, but did have a text based game for Adam Computer/DOS and only had this two issue film adaptation as far as comic books go for the longest time. So let’s see how this over the top film transfers to comic ink, shall we?

Backaroo issue 1

Buckaroo Banzai # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #1 of 2

Buckaroo Banzai is performing surgery and rushes to a test site were he takes a super fast car and has it travel through a solid mountain and into the 8th Dimension.  This is a good and bad thing. While the experiment is a success, he also sees the inter-dimension and returns with a goo like substance attached to the car. Dr. Lizardo, who is possessed with the inter-dimensional sprit of Lord John Whorfin, escapes from the asylum when hearing about the test run and wants to open a portal to his world so that his people can take over Earth as we know it. That night Buckaroo Banzai along with his band The Hong Kong Calvalers (Rawhide,Reno,Perfect Tommy, New Jersey and Pinky) are playing at a club, and before they take the stage they find out that the goo is alive.  During the show Buckaroo meets Penny, a woman who captures his eye and his heart.  After she tries to kill herself Banzai befriends the young woman and she goes to the press conference set to speak about the goo and during this event The Black Lectroids, a good race from the 8th Dimension share knowledge about the Red Lectroids and Buckaroo finds that two of the evil are among the press at the event.

This comic has to cram in so much story that it comes off really slow, and while entertaining still lacks the real excitement that one would expect based on the adventures of Buckaroo. Banzai is a man of many talents who is trying to live life to its fullest and is a doctor, scientist, rock star and saver of the masses all rolled into one cool dude. Buckaroo is a prime example of Sci-Fi hero of the 80’s, and by that I mean that he is over done and has that nerd mixed with cool guy attitude.  The Hong Kong Calvalers are given very little to do in this first issue and are mostly used to fill in plot and to be background filler. Lord John Whorfin is bat shit crazy and is a perfect wild eyed bad guy, and the race he rules over The Red Lectroid’s are perfect war hungry, world conquering baddies. Penny kind of gets the short end of the stick as her back story is rushed and not as impactful as it should be. Over all while this is an entertaining comic, the rushed feel of it takes the magic away and makes what could have been a solid movie adaptation into an okay one. The cover is well done and one of the better ones done for this whole review.  The art work is also well done and has that classic early 80’s Marvel look.  So let’s jump into issue 2.

Backaroo issue 2

Buckaroo Banzai # 2  **
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #2 of 2

Buckaroo and his band chase the Red Lectroid’s out of the press conference, and they become the target of a battle the leaves them finding a Black Lectroid sent to Earth to help in the fight to save Earth. Along the way Penny finds out she had a twin sister that was once Banzai’s girlfriend and is kidnapped and put into a coma, and a member of the band is killed! This all leads up to a showdown with Lord John Whorfin that has them flying spaceships, leaving the Red Lectroids blown up, Banzai saving the world and his new girlfriend Penny with a kiss.

This second issue is where all the action is at, and while again rushed, this issue is an improvement over the first and delivers more of the story not just the action. Buckaroo in this issue is more of what one would say is a hero and goes around kicking butt and saving lives, Banzai is a good comic book ready character. Lord John Whorfin, while again a good crazy bad guy, just does not seem as much of a threat as he should be  He could have gone back to Sci-Fi bad guy school and learned a little from other villains. The Hong Kong Calvalers again are background guys, but do add to the over all feel of the story and are the perfect background soldiers all with their own personalities. Penny is a good love intrest and when they show she had a sister who she never knew who looked just like her, it makes more sense why Banzai fell so fast for her. The cover on this issue is a little lame.  While eye catching, it’s not nearly as cool as issue one’s, and the art is the same good solid work it was before and seeing the comic version of Peter Weller (Buckaroo Banzai) is pretty cool. I would say fans of the film might feel a little cheated by these two issues, but I am sure they would get some enjoyment out of them as well.

So now I would like to take this time to have a fantasy warfare between all the films’ bad guys.  So it will be Krull’s The Beast going up against Last Star Fighter’s Xur and Buckaroo Banzai’s Lord John Whorfin.  They will be doing battle in Yellow Springs Ohio on a Sunday afternoon. So let’s get ready to watch a rumble of 80’s baddies who all want to take over our world!

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It’s a sunny day in Yellow Springs, and the street musicians are in full swing as Tom’s Market and Dark Star Comics are packed with customers as is Dino’s Coffee Shop where would-be ruler Xur sits sipping his Carmel Pumpkin Latte and mumbling to all who will listen about being so close to ruling the Galaxy and almost killing the last starfighter, when he is interrupted by a voice proclaiming that nobody cares about his failures.  This voice belongs to Lord John Whorfin who is gulping down his Frozen Hot Chocolate. Xur takes offense and walks over and slaps Whorfin across his face and challenges him to a duel outside the Whorfin gladly accepts. The two go outside spewing hateful remarks to each other, and as they set the rules for the duel the ground starts to shake and crack as the Black Fortress appears in the middle of town next to Ha Ha Pizza and The Beast comes walking out as everyone looks on with horror the two feuding baddies get upset that this volcano headed monster stole their spotlight and decide that they will start a fight with him and show the people who are the ones they should fear. The Beast makes his way toward Ha Ha Pizza, after choosing to eat there over Sub Way across the street, as Xur and Whorfin quickly stand in front of the door and try to intimidate him.  This don’t work as quickly The Beast grabs the head of Xur and crushes it with his bare hands and makes ground beef of it as Whorfin lands a left hook to The Beast’s jaw that don’t phase the monster who then in turn uppercuts Whorfin so hard he flies through the air and lands in John Bryon Park and the impact snaps his neck like a twig. The people of the town cheer as The Beast is handed his large sausage pizza and walks back to the Black Fortress which disappears to end yet another day in Yellow Springs.

Winner – The Beast

Hands down, this would be an easy win for The Beast who would truly make short work of Xur and Whorfin combined, while the latter would at least put up a better fight. So after reading all three films comic adaptations, it’s time for me to pick the one I think should have gotten a full comic series from Marvel that would have moved past just the film and into its own epic adventure much like they did with Star Wars and Star Trek. While I truly think all three would have made amazing comic series and all three have so much more adventures to be had for the hero, I was really torn between Krull and The Last Starfighter.  After days of thinking about it, I have chosen Krull because like Conan, Red Sonja and Kull, the film opens itself to be made into one hell of a good action series and many more bad guys could be made to try and take over the kingdom.

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So while the clean up crews here at the Marvel Theater clear the floors of dropped popcorn and spilled soda and the last Screening of Buckaroo Banzai is letting out, I am going to stay seated for awhile, soak in all the epic comics I just read and give you readers the low down on what the next update will be all about: getting back on track and taking a look at IDW’s IT! Terror From Beyond Space.  So until then, read a comic, watch a movie/TV or play a video game and stay nerdy.

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