American Hero: The Original Shield

Happy July 4th and welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place where everything nerdy that inspired me has a place to shine and be discussed! Who doesn’t love a holiday that is in celebration of our nation’s independence and is filled with cookouts and amazing firework displays? So for this update I decided to cover a patriotic super hero and had many to choose from such as Captain America or even DC’s Freedom Force with Uncle Sam, but I decided to cover The Shield, a hero who pre-dated them all and has a fun Americana feel. So grab a burger and a cold beverage, and sit back, relax and have some fun with me here at Rotten Ink as we celebrate July 4th!

Fireworks go boom

Growing up, I can remember that my Brassfield grandparents would have cookouts that would have that side of the family gathering to eat burgers, hot dogs and steaks and play some baseball, Nintendo or football with the cousins and have an overall fun time. Later in the evening, we would all go to Delco Park and watch the fireworks and celebrate our independence. But while for the most part those were fun times, I can also remember many of years drama breaking out over someone having too many beers, and fights and arguments would break out for no reason.  Maybe my friend Henrique Couto should make a follow up to his film Awkward Thanksgiving and call it Awkward July 4th cause I have some fun and silly stories to share with him on that subject! The older I got, the less the family meet up and the more I would go out with friends to watch the fireworks or attend BBQs with them.  Some of the best times I have ever had on this day had to be sitting in a football field with my friend Andrea Seay and watching fireworks, just chatting with her as we watched the sky explode with bright colors, showing me just how important she was and still is to me.  Sadly we have drifted apart due to a dumb decision I made when it came to her. I also remember having great times on this day with David & Katie Wean cooking out and eating hamburgers and hotdogs chatting about movies and music. I also remember having a good time over at Patrick Neeley’s house cooking out, chatting, listening to music and playing video games. I also always had an amazing time hanging out on this day with my brother Bryan and his family along with friends like Andy Copp, Henrique Couto, Mike Ritchie and Nick Williams grilling out and watching Couto set off tiny fireworks or blow up apples and such with firecrackers. Nowadays I spend July 4th with my girl Juliet, and we find some sort of wacky thing to do to celebrate the day. I am going to pack lots into this update, not only about The Shield but other things to do with the holiday as well as a few things that don’t! But one thing is for sure, if you’re reading this on July 4th I am sure you are enjoying some grilled out meat while being around your loved ones waiting for the fireworks to go boom!

grilled out burgers

In 2015 on July 4th for some reason I had to work for a few hours and then went to WYSO and got Alpha Rhythms done.  When I got home, Juliet and I decided to try some chicken wing sauce we bought at Jungle Jim’s that was called “Oh My Garlic.”  This was originally bought to have during one of my Horror Movie Marathons as the bottle had a pretty cool vampire drawing on it, but that idea changed as the last marathon I had was pretty large and we ended up ordering wings from Fricker’s instead. We got some fresh farm grazed chicken wings and drumsticks from Dorothy Lane Market, and when placing them in the glass pan, I put some spices on the wings and then put a little butter on them as well to help make them turn crispy and brown and placed them in the oven at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes. When taking them out I covered them with the Oh My Garlic sauce and man the smell was great.  Juliet and I knew that dinner was going to be really good and we could sleep easy as the heavy garlic smell would scare off any vampire. After about 30-40 minutes the wings were done and our feast began. The Oh My Garlic sauce was fantastic and had a strong garlic taste and the flavor mixed well with the chicken, spices and butter drawing out the garlic taste even more and really soaking into the meat. This is one sauce I will eat again and look forward to the next trip to Jungle Jim’s so that I can raid the chicken wing sauce aisle and get another bottle and see what other wonders I can uncover! The first picture is of the Oh My Garlic Sauce.  The second is the finished meal, and the third is the wings when the sauce was first placed on.

Oh My Garlic SauceOh My Garlic Done WingsRaw Wings With Oh My Garlic sauce

What would July 4th be without talking about something creepy! In 2009, a strange video was uploaded to Youtube by a user named Creepyblog that shows a very creepy female android singing a song called “I Feel Fantastic” while it moves its hands about.  It sent shivers down viewers’ spins, and the web was creeped out with many people asking what is this?! Tara The Android is the thing’s name.  No one is 100% sure of its origins and it’s true intention of being made, but like anything odd on the internet, there are a ton of theories that I would like to share them with you. Before you read on, you should watch the original video by typing in “I Feel Fantastic” into Youtube or just click the title from this page. Many people believe that Tara was made by a man named John Bergeron who made her to be a novelty concert attraction that he planned to book at clubs and art shows to show off her singing ability as well as his android work, but after not getting the attention he thought she would via her website as well as some issue with her not being that portable, the idea was scrapped. This theory is the most logical one and takes any creepy element away from Tara and her creator.  It was said that for a short time on the website that is now almost shut down, you could buy the songs as well as the “music videos” from Tara…is this fact or was the website made up to help build the legend of Tara? The next, more science fiction, theory is that Tara was made by a man who was killed by her and now the female android is on the loose looking to sing to and kill anyone who gets in her way…this one is silly and over the top and seems like it could have been an episode of The X-Files. The best, and also very believable, theory is that a serial killer made Tara and dresses her in his victims’ clothes and has her sing positive things to him as if murdering them was the right thing.  At one point Tara says “You Are Fantastic” but also says such odd things as “Run, Run, Run” and “Please Leave” adding to the killer using phrases he wanted to hear as well as what he did hear from his victims. Many videos were made and most are laced with strange lyrics and odd costume changes for Tara. Another odd thing is during the music videos random shots of a backyard are shown zooming into the ground ,and this is said to be the location of the body or bodies of victims. The background music that accompanies her lyrics sounds like weird low budget horror film score music adding fuel to the creator being a killer. No record has ever been uncovered if this is the work of a killer, and many people think this theory is just told to scare people looking for a good Creepypasta. So I am sure your wondering what I think the story of Tara is, well let me tell you that I am not sure! So what do you think, was she a would be android pop star made to make its creator some extra money? Is it a killer android on the loose who killed its creator looking for blood? Or is it the work of a killer who uses the robot to relive his crimes and feel good about his deeds? Only Tara and her creator know for sure, and they aren’t saying anything! On a side note weird stuff like this is why I do love the World Wide Web, cause it’s open to debate what is real and what’s only fiction to make a Creepypasta.

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On this update the CD I listened to as I wrote was picked by my friend and co-worker Dan Harkless, who is a Vietnam Vet and served his country in the war.  I always enjoy sitting around and listening to his war stories, and it’s given me a perspective into battle.  He is an all around fun person to chat with who loves Russ Meyer films and Playboy Magazine.  He’s a great swimmer who won awards, a gardener, was a fan of Sub Mariner when growing up and is a music lover. Dan picked Harry Chapin’s 1977 release Dance Band On The Titanic as his favorite, and this is interesting as I know very little about Harry Chapin besides the song “Cat’s In The Cradle” that almost every music listener knows.  So this is a very big unknown for me as I do not recognize any of the songs on this CD! The first thing I noticed is the 70’s pop folk sound of the tracks.  This was not what I was expecting at all as I felt going into it that it would be 100% folk rock, so this was a pleasant surprise! The first track that caught my ear was “Why Should People Stay The Same,” a nice song about change in relationships with a touch of religion.  It’s a good song with a catchy beat. Many other well produced and well played tracks followed including the soft folk ballad mixed with a dash of big band song called “Dark Valley (An Imitation Spiritual)”, a song that also caught my attention. While this CD was nothing I would normally listen to, I did find some great songs to write to on it and want to thank Dan for recommending it to me to go outside the borders of what I normally listen to.

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My brother and I used to rent a lot of horror films from K&L Video.  We would look up and down the New Release Wall looking for low budget titles that would catch our attention or direct to video sequels to films like Children of The Corn, but in 1996, a cover box caught my attention for a horror film called Uncle Sam that had a picture on the back of it that made me crack up and caused us to rent it! The picture on the back that had me laughing was a man dressed in an Uncle Sam mask peeking into a window and watching a woman in the bathroom…so cheesy, yet so 90’s direct to video horror! The film was directed by William Lustig, who was known for The Maniac Cop series as well as titles like Maniac, Relentless and Vigilante, and starred names like Bo Hopkins, PJ Soles, Isaac Hayes and David “Shark” Fralick and was released by A-Pix Entertainment. The film is about a young boy named Jody who idolizes his uncle Sam Harper, who is a master-sergeant in the army and is killed in a crash, but when the body is flown home, the small town soon finds out Sam is not dead.  He is a zombie killing machine and must be stopped by his nephew who once looked up to him. You see Sam was not a good man who enjoyed beating his wife as well as killing in wars.  While his nephew thought he was a true patriot, he in fact was a scumbag. While watching the movie, my brother and I spent time spotting the G.I. Joe action figures and enjoying the over all cheesy nature of the film. Sam Harper wears the Uncle Sam costume once he kills a peeping tom who was wearing it and has two looks, one with a mask and one with a zombie like burnt rotten face.  That’s right, sadly the picture on the back cover was not the killer, but just some teen tying to sneak a peek at a girl he likes. Uncle Sam leaves itself open for a comic sequel as it looks like a film one is not in the books. The story for the comic could have a grown up Jody, who is now in the military himself, being sent to a top secret base where he finds that the government has many experiments locked away including the still reanimated body of his Uncle Sam.  They want him to lead this rag tag group of “controlled” reanimated solders into battle against terrorist, and Jody soon learns that no one can lead Sam as he takes control of the zombie army and leads a war against not only terrorist but returns home to settle the score with the town that hides his ex-wife as he wants her dead! The comic would come to an epic end battle in the small town as Jody leads a group of elite soldiers against Sam and his army of the undead! The comic could be filled with lots of blood, bullets and boobs and the home coming for Sam of course would have to take place on July 4th so that during the final battle, fireworks could be going on in the background. While no major comic company would touch this to turn into a comic series I would say that out of my friends, the ones I would love to see make this would be Eric Shonborn or Justin Wasson, both of whom I think could make this idea pop and come alive the way it should. If you like low budget horror films that have a holiday themes to them, then make sure to check out Uncle Sam as I am sure it will give you at least an entertaining watch.

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The Shield was created in 1940 by Harry Shorten and Irv Novick for MLJ Comics for a series called “Pep Comics” and was one of the first true patriotic superheroes of comics. In 1959 Lancelot Strong became the new Shield for a comic called “The Double Life Of Private Strong”, but Archie Comics pulled the plug on the series after only two issues. In 1983, Lance once more as The Shield was given another run under “Lancelot Strong: The Shield” and had two name changes during its seven issue run. Think about that; the comic had three titles for seven issues! The Original Shield, who was back to the first one – Joe Higgins, came out for Red Circle Comics and lasted only four issues. 1991 saw DC Comics (under Impact Comics) giving him a try with a series called “The Legend Of The Shield” that had Joe Higgins as The Shield for thirteen issues, and later Lt. Michael Barnes took up the mantel, in a series that only lasted sixteen issues. In 2015, Archie Comics under their Dark Circle Comics banner, has released a new version of The Shield that has Victoria Adams stepping up to do America proud. So that’s the publishing history of The Shield; up next we will take a look at Joe Higgins, who is the Original Shield!

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Joe Higgins is a chemist, whose father Tom was working on a chemical formula that would act as a super solider serum, but the Germans want it and this leads to Tom’s death.  Joe continues his father’s work, and after using X-Rays and other chemicals, he does it! He gains invulnerability as well as the ability to leaps of great distance. He dresses in a outfit that sports the American colors, takes the codename Shield and takes a job for the F.B.I. to fight threats to America as well as try and clear his father’s name and expose his killers. His adventures are part superhero and part spy game as he also takes a young orphan named Dusty Simmons as his sidekick, and the pair stop many menaces and dangers. Later in life as he aged, he formed a group with teenagers he called “The New Crusaders”. Joe’s son Bill Higgins took over the role of The Shield when his dad was turned to stone by a bad guy named The Eraser, and in order to save him he also created a team called “The Mighty Crusaders! This is just a quick crash course of the history of The Shield as I don’t want to spoil too much and would like for all you readers to take some time and check out some of his comics.

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The Shield did get an action figure in 1984 as part of Remco’s toyline based around the superhero team The Mighty Crusaders that consisted of The Shield as well as 7 other figures. The Shield figure came with a gun belt, two guns and a shield that rocked the red, white and blue colors! The figures themselves are about the size of Mattel Secret Wars but more bulky in proportions, and their legs look like liverwurst logs stuffed inside spandex pants…to sum it up, they are weird looking. The Shield figure also has a goofy looking face, and sadly the whole figure line reeks of cheapness.  While my brother and I had a few of these figures growing up, hardly no other kid I knew did. The Shield was not one of the figures we owned growing up, but I can safely say if I did he would ended up just being a foot solider for my Secret Wars Captain America on rescue missions to save Princess Leia and Scarlett from the grip of Baron Zemo!

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So I think we are all in a patriotic mood right now thanks to The Shield and it being July 4th so I think we should grab a burger or dog along with a favorite drink sit back enjoy the weather and atmosphere of being our independence day and take a journey with The Shield as he battles those who want to disrupt our way of life here in America. I want to thank Bookery Fantasy and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and helping make this holiday update special. Like always, I want to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So light a sparkler and take a bite of that hotdog it’s time to go to war alongside The Shield!

Original Shield 1

The Original SHIELD # 1  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #1 of 4

A map has been stolen from the F.B.I., and The Shield wants to find out who stole it and why.  By donning his alter ego Joe Higgins, he tracks down a fellow agent who was the spy for a bad man named Boroff and was the key in stealing the map. At Boroff’s hideout he not only has the top secret map but also Professor Newton, the man who created the maps and knows the location of the item they seek,.The Shield comes in at the last second and beats up Boroff, who is working for a secret group called Delta 3 and saves Newton from being killed and finds out that what the map is hiding is no longer a threat as the radiation from bomb testing has ruined it. But things are not all good as Boroff escapes, and while one fight ends, the battle still rages on. When retuning back to work Joe Higgins finds out that the F.B.I. as part of budget cuts is closing one of their old storage warehouses and are giving away some old robots to the museum that was created by Boroff’s henchman Klotz.  He travels to Washington with Lisa Carvin, his boss, for a black tie affair and to check on the robot.  Upon arriving, he finds that they are already gone, and a man with a gun is waiting for him.

This is classic patriotic super hero action that shows a normal man in a special suit mixed with spy situations can be a great read and would be great for fans of Captain America! The plot of this issue has The Shield stopping a plan to kill a professor and steal a top secret weapon and along the way finding a mole within the F.B.I, beating up his arch nemesis Boroff, and trying to stop the transfer of old robots that he battled in the past. The Shield, aka Joe Higgins, is a great hero who uses his wits as well as his special powered suit (that reflects bullets, fire and blasts) in order to protect America from those who wish it harm. He is strong as a well-trained boxer and packs a punch that can break robots into pieces! He is firm and harsh when need be and doesn’t like to lose when it comes to the game of fighting crime.  He also enjoys being an F.B.I agent and ridding the streets of global threats. Over all I’m big fan of The Shield at this point and am very glad to be reading about him on the 4th of July! Lisa Carvin, who is Jim’s boss in the F.B.I., seems pretty cool at this point.  It’s clear she is not a fan of Joe but respects that he gets things done.  She is also clueless that Jim is The Shield. Boroff is a pointed tooth, black Mohawk haired beast of a man who clearly does not value human life.  We only get a small dose of him in this issue but I have a feeling he will be back in the future. This issue has likable characters, a fun dated yet classic story, good art and filled with pride from those who created this issue. Now the bad side is that the story picks up in the middle of the action as you had to read “Mighty Crusaders # 5” and “Pep Comics # 1” in order to really get the full backstory of what is going on.  I still am unclear as to what the map held the location of besides these numbers 42642. But even with that flaw, I really did enjoy this comic.  The cover is classic Archie Superhero stuff, and the art inside done by the likes of Dick Ayers and Tony DeZuniga and is fantastic stuff.  I really enjoyed the art as it reminded me of late 70’s Captain America work. Well let’s see what issue two has in store for us, and I am hoping it will be as good as issue one!

Original Shield 2

The Original SHIELD # 2  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #2 of 4

The man with the gun is no threat, but an old F.B.I agent named Dan Hurley who served with Jim way back when has now pieced it together that Jim is The Shield as he has not aged at all! The pair get talking about the past and how, for a short time thanks to a powerful ray gun from Boroff, The Shield lost his powers. After the talk, Jim asks Dan for help and makes it just in time to pick up Lisa for the party that is being thrown by Senator Casey.  At the party, Lisa meets an old flame named Ed Crisp, and Jim sees his old nemesis Klotz who tries to murder him with a poison gas capsule! Jim barely escapes and leaves the party with Lisa as he coughs and rambles on about a 80 year old spy. Jim passes out in front of Lisa’s hotel room, and she drags him inside where he has flashbacks to his past that include his wife, son Bill and old crime fighting partners and enemies. Once awake, he changes into his Shield outfit and finds Klotz who is out of his mind and is a working for Delta 3.  Klotz drops a grenade as our issue ends, hoping to blow them both up!

The Shield does it again with this second issue as he captures the mood of a time when comics were simple and plots were cut and dry with bad guys and good guys, another solid issue for sure! This time around Jim Higgins meets an old friend, The Shield comes face to face with an old enemy and Lisa comes in contact with an old flame. Plus throw in a shady Senator, and you have a fun spy costume hero comic plot. This issue The Shield aka Jim is once more a man of honor as he chats with an old friend and comes clean to him that yes, he is the costumed hero everyone depended on in the past.  Plus thanks to the gas, we learn that he was married and had a son, and we get a little about his old crime fighting friends who went missing.  We also learn that he was frozen into a statue by a bad guy named The Eraser, and that’s why he is so young in modern times. The Shield is a class act hero who reminds me of a character that would have been a member of The Minute Men from The Watchmen from DC Comics. Lisa Carvin is also a little more fleshed out as it’s clear that while she is hard on Jim she still likes him as a person and she is not your typical one sided female character as she acts and gets things done. Dan Hurley is a old timer who lives and breathes the F.B.I and is a pretty cool little side character.  I wonder what mission Jim asked him to do; I am sure in the coming issues we will find out. Klotz is a crazy old man and with him being nuts comes the danger as it’s clear he is not sane and will do whatever it takes to kill The Shield and impress Delta 3. I don’t trust Senator Casey or Ed Crisp as both seem a little too shady for this comic reader.  Plus Ed has one of those 70’s porn mustaches mixed with Mr. Kotter’s from Welcome Back Kotter! While not a lot of fists flying, this issue still packs a mighty punch with its simple and classic plot and good characters. The cover is pretty good, and that art inside is once again fantastic and done by three this time: Dick Ayers, Tony DeZuniga and Rex Lindsey.  It’s sure to please old school comic readers. Sad to say, we are at the half way point and this series is almost at an end. l hope the next two keep up the quality of the first two as I’m really digging this series.

Original Shield 3

The Original SHIELD # 3  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #3 of 4

The blast kills Klotz, and stuns The Shield for a few moments.  During this time he remembers back to the day he was broken free from being a living statue thanks to his son Bill who was acting as The Shield. He also thinks how different his time in the 1940’s was from present time in the 80’s. While looking around the room he finds the final mission for the robots, to attack the White House and kill the president! The Shield rushes to the White House running as fast as The Flash and defeats them. Changing back to Jim Higgins, he, alongside Lisa, confronts the Senator who seemed to be working alongside the crazy Klotz, but after they find Ed Crisp dead in his office from a suicide with a note claiming allegiance to Delta 3 the heat is off the Senator…for now. Delta 3 however is very not pleased with their plans being foiled and put a hit out on Joe and Lisa that is taken by Mega, a strong tall stretching powerhouse and Bit, a small man with telepathic powers! As Jim and Lisa leave Ed’s funeral, they both have the feeling he didn’t kill himself but was murdered to cover up Delta 3 plans.  As Mega goes after Jim, he soon meets Shield who makes quick work of him as Lisa is attacked by Bit who is finally beat by Lisa and The Shield together.

This issue tones down the spy aspect and ups the fighting as Shield goes toe to toe with Mega and Bit who are mutants sent to do his boss and him harm.  It’s a pretty great plot and could be taken straight from a classic Spider-Man comic. In this issue, the Shield watches as one of his old nemesis dies, discovers corruption in government and fights two mutants to save his own life as well as his boss’! Lisa Carvin is also fighting corruption as her one time lover has been murdered and framed all to cover up for the evil Delta 3. Mega and Bit are mutants with special powers who use them wisely, but just are no match for The Shield who outsmarts them in battle. But to be fair, Lisa is the one who delivers the knock out blow to Bit with a vase to his head. Delta 3 shows two members named Number 1 and Number 3, and they are cheesy bad guys who are worried about being discovered and that’s why hits are placed on the F.B.I agents. The best part of this comic series so far is the fact that as we get deeper in it, the plot thickens! The cover is good and classic 80’s superhero stuff, with art this time around being done by Dick Ayers and Rex Lindsey only, and like before it’s fantastic! The sad part about this issue is that we only have one more in the series and then we are done, but I guess that’s a good thing as if you are reading this update on July 4th I am sure you have cooked out food and fireworks to get to. So let’s not waste any more time and see what the final issue has in store for us.

Original Shield 4

The Original SHIELD # 4  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #4 of 4

Jim Higgins comes to work at the F.B.I and has a special note from his old World War II friend and now Army Col. named Boyle that informs him that in New Mexico a shield that belonged to his nemesis The Hun is being placed at an army base museum and that danger is near. As Boyle gets to the base and sees the Nazi shield with his own eyes, they come under attack as the aging Hun is mad as hell and as powerful as ever! The Hun manhandles Boyle and the aging base commander. But lucky for them, The Shield makes it just in time to tangle with The Hun and is able to make short work of him thanks to his love for freedom and power. In the end the Nazi shield goes missing, The Shield captures The Hun and America is safe from a threat once more.

This fourth and final issue in the series only slips slightly as the story is good, but also seems a little rushed. The plot is simple and has a Nazi super bad guy from the past attacking a military base.  He’s taught a lesson in manners by The Shield who makes quick work of him. In the issue the Shield comes off a freedom loving hero but oddly enough lost a little charm as this issue felt like it were trying to hard to be a Captain America issue. The Hun’s is amazing as it shows him as a German boy who had murdered people his whole life getting powers from the ghost of Attila The Hun and after doing so joined the Nazi party to try for world domination. While he sounds like a bad ass, he is shown to be a good fighter but is outclassed by The Shield in every way…making him no real threat. We finally meet Col. Boyle, and he comes off as a old man who lives in the past who is a mix of Nick Fury and Thunderbolt Ross from the Marvel Universe. With this being the final issue some questions do go unanswered.  It was clearly not supposed to be the final issue as they advertise in the end for issue five. So as far as we all know, if you just read The Original Shield series, Delta 3 is still out in the world causing issues and The Shield along with the F.B.I are still battling them, and I like that. The issue also takes a jab at Marvel Comics as in the end characters named Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are asked to dump the trash where the Nazi Shield is placed among the garbage. The cover is epic and shows The Shield going into battle with The Hun as army soldiers are frozen in place. The art this time around was done only by Dick Ayers and has a 50’s style look to it.  While not bad, it’s also not the best the series has looked. I should also mention that The Coment from Mighty Crusaders makes a cameo in the issue as he is how The Shield gets to New Mexico so fast. While The Original Shield is dated by all accounts and most modern comic fans would be bored to tears with its slow pacing and World War II dated hero who’s out of time being resurrected in the 80’s, I found lots of joy in reading it, and it triggered even more patriotic spirit in me as I read it on this day that celebrates America and all it’s glory. While this series might not be for everyone, I think fans of early Captain America will love every cheesy page of it. Below is some artwork from the series with the first two showcasing The Shield and the last being The Hun.

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The Shield, a True American icon, is worth the read and receiving the honor of being the first Rotten Ink update for the 4th of July under the “American Hero” banner. But our next update will take us away from the Star Spangled Hero The Shield and into the world of the living dead and another trip to Monster Bash Convention in Mars, PA, as we take a look at the IDW adaptation of Dawn Of The Dead! So until next time enjoy the fireworks, eat a hot dog or two, read some comics and enjoy this holiday with friends and family.

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The Failed New-Verse Of Marvel: Spitfire

Marvel Comics has always been my favorite comic company as they had characters that captured my imagination as well as stories that were simple yet highly entertaining and also well placed real life drama into them from death of a loved one to drug addictions making the stories seem more real no matter how over the top the heroes and villains were. Characters like Spider-Man, The X-Men, Captain America and Iron Man all made impacts on the youth reading them and even held on to readers who were growing up with this kind of storytelling style.  What was nice was each character had history and each had baggage and drama that shaped them into the hero they became up to that point. In modern comics from Marvel, in my opinion, when it’s convent they just hit the restart button if they back themselves into a corner or build up too much history for the character or sometimes they just want to sell yet another # 1 issue of a character fans love. But Marvel in the 80’s still was holding on to the 60’s and the true history of each character created by the likes of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and even Stan Lee. So enter Jim Shooter and his idea of creating an all New Marvel Universe that would feature new heroes who didn’t have over the top powers and would be set in real time. For this update, I looked through the list of New Universe characters like Justice, Star Brand and Nightmask to name a few and decided to cover Spitfire, a giant red robot whose covers caught my eye many years back but I never read till this very update.  So I’m pretty hyped to finally see what the character is all about. So forget about all you know about the Marvel Universe and let’s dive deep into the New Universe.

On a side note Juliet’s look at Star Trek: The Next Generation was late being turned in and will be posted when done some time in the future, I want to say sorry to you readers who where looking forward to it.

Marvel New Universe Banner Logo

Jim Shooter started reading comics at a young age but stopped when he was 8 years old.  His love for them started up again when he was 12 and was in the hospital for minor surgery began reading the comics the hospital provided and found that Marvel was better at telling stories than DC (who he had read more of in his past) and found himself more into the Marvel characters as well…at that moment he knew that DC “needed the most help” and spent a year reading as many comics from both companies he could get his hands on. At the age of 13, Shooter sent DC some drawn out stories featuring the Legion Of Superheroes.  They loved his stories and bought them hiring him to do a few more for Supergirl and Superman.  DC hired him to become a writer for them full time a little while later. Shooter took the job to help his low income family and began working on titles like Action Comics, Adventure Comics and Legion Of Superheroes to name a few and even created the characters Karate Kid and Superman bad guy The Parasite! He was also one of the main brains behind the first race between Superman and The Flash! By 1969 Shooter had graduated high school and applied for a job at Marvel Comics as he would be going to college at New York University.  While Marvel hired him as a editor and co-plotter, Shooter decided to not go to college and only lasted a short time at Marvel as he had no money and lived at a YMCA! Shooter moved back to his home town of Pittsburgh but got the bug to work in comics again and returned to DC for a short time writing Superman and Superboy And The Legion Of Superheroes. But after a feud with the editors of DC and a phone call from Marvel’s editor-in-chief Marv Wolfman, he returned to Marvel and this is were he became a legend! Shooter rose to power within the company pretty fast and by 1978, he became the 9th Editor-In Chief for Marvel that was growing and becoming the top comic company in the world.  With this Shooter started doing some great things for artist including royalties for great selling issues, the return of original artwork to artists and even help bring Star Comics to life in that showcased comics based on toys and cartoons like Thundercats and Star Wars: Ewoks! Shooter also did some amazing big crossover events for Marvel like Secret Wars, Secret Wars II and Contest of Champions. He cleaned up the Marvel Universe comics that hit shelves that were stale and had low sales.  He allowed Frank Miller to really bloom on his Daredevil line.  He allowed comics like Dazzler to be sold only at comic shops.  He wrote the second Spider-Man and Superman crossover comic and so much more that helped put Marvel truly as the king of comics! But for all the good Shooter did for Marvel, he also lead to lots of drama and turmoil in the Bullpen as he was a little over controlling and set rules that had to be followed.  Rumors also spread that he wanted to kill off many of the companies top heroes like Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor and start over with them so that they didn’t have all the old history to remember for the characters. This idea pissed off lots of the old workers at the office and this lead to what was known as New Universe that was launched for Marvel’s 25th Anniversary and was Shooter’s baby that had no ties to the ongoing Marvel Universe and would have no over the top superpowers, no hidden races, gods, mythological beings, super technology and magic in the books that included Star Brand, Spitfire, Kickers Inc. and many others. The New Universe was met with mixed reviews and many of the titles struggled, and after the Marvel workers and Shooter falling out of favor with each other he was fired in 1987. Shooter went on to do some cool things after Marvel like helped create Valiant Comics and Defiant Comics among lots of other great creative things. Say what you will about Jim Shooter, but I will say what he did for Marvel and comic readers in his time as Editor-In-Chief is top notch stuff. I would have loved to see what he would have came up with if he would have gotten to stay at Marvel past 1987. Before we move onto Spitfire, let’s chat a little about some other stuff shall we?

Jim Shooter 1Jim Shooter and Stan LeeJim Shooter 2

Did you know that in 1986 New World Pictures was the owner of Marvel Comics? This is something very fascinating to me and explains why Marvel did comic adaptations of such films as “House II”, “Elvira Mistress Of The Dark”, “Pinocchio: An The Emperor Of The Night” and even comics based on the TV Show “Sledge Hammer”. At the time of New World buying Marvel, they were an expanding movie company who were using profits not just to make more movies but to consume other companies and that’s where Marvel came in as they knew they could option the characters for films and TV as well as have comics made around their properties. But this also makes me wish they would have made comics based on many more of their films like C.H.U.D., Godzilla 1985, Children Of The Corn and Creepshow 2 to name a few. Man, the missed opportunities of cool horror Marvel titles is sad.  Could you imagine a three issue run based on the C.H.U.D.’s or even an adaptation of Creepshow 2! But by the early 90’s, the New World Pictures owning Marvel came to an end and none of these films that should have gotten the comic treatment did. I should also note that Pinhead and the film he’s from, Hellraiser, that was one of New World’s top Horror properties, got comics from Marvel’s sub branch Epic. What New World Pictures movie or TV Show would you have liked to have seen turned into a Marvel Comic?

Godzilla 1985 PosterNew World Pictures LogoCHUD Poster

Since I started Rotten Ink over three years ago, I have had one tiny little cat cheering me on as I not only read the comics or wrote the update but also as I watched the horror host shows and did the research.  That cat is Leslie my 10 year old calico cat that I have had since she was a tiny kitten. Leslie was a gift from my girlfriend at the time Jennifer as a way to help me deal with losing my job and not finding one right away, Leslie was at a pet store called Jack’s Aquarium and Pets, and as I was walking by, her tiny little paw came out of the cage and grabbed me.  She started talking and doing all she could to get my attention and after taking her out of the cage I knew she had to be mine…and for $60, she was! I named Leslie after the character Leslie Graham played by Lisa Orgolini from the 1986 horror film “Trick or Treat” and from the moment we bought her, she became my best friend as she would follow me around meowing (something she still does to this day) and would sit in my lap and watch horror films throughout the nights. Leslie is not a people kitty and for the most part will avoid all others besides Juliet and myself, but she does warm up fast to my cousin Stephen Alexander. She has a very strong dislike for our other cat Streets J, who we rescued from the streets of Dayton, and her birthday I say is July 4th as I tell her the fireworks are also in her honor! Juliet for some reason gave her the nickname Beans and calls her Leslie Beans. Leslie is such a great cat and one of my favorite pets I have ever owned.  I am writing all this because as I am working on this update, Leslie is right here cheering me on, or wait maybe she is screaming because she wants wet food with extra gravy….but whatever the reason she is meowing, thanks for always being a great sidekick, Leslie!

Leslie The Cat

So after my “Matt Goes To The Movies 2015” update in January I had lots of you readers and friends ask me why I cut the best survival horror games of the year ranking from it.  The reason I cut it was I felt that it slowed down the pace of that update….but for those who are wondering about that, I will chat a little about it on this one, better late than never right? This year I upgraded from a PS3 to a PS4 and throughout the year bought a few games and got a few games as gifts with titles like WWE 2K16, Mad Max and Batman Arkham Knight to name a few. And a total of three survival horror titles that will be my list here! So let’s get our controller in hand and see what horrors PS4 had in store for me! I should also note that I did buy Resident Evil: Revelations 2 for PS3 this year!

Best Horror Games 2015

# 3

Godzilla PS4

Godzilla lets you take control of the giant King of the Monsters as you smash your way through Japan fighting off the military as well as fellow Kaiju like Rodan and King Ghidorah and growing bigger and more powerful in size. The game also offers just monster battles as well as VS. mode that lets you and a friend fight it out. The game is simple and fun and is a total no brainer, but that’s also its downside as it’s not too challenging and can get boring after an hour of gameplay. While this might not be the best Godzilla game ever made, I will say Bandai really tried to make a game that felt as if you were indeed Godzilla stomping around town. Plus you can upgrade your Godzilla and get other skins, changing his appearance. It’s worth checking out if found cheap enough and you’re a fan of the Godzilla movie series.

# 2

Zombie Army Trilogy PS4

The Nazis are losing World War II and unleash their ultimate weapon, black magic and Zombies! Choose your fighter and make your way across Europe as you fight off the hordes of the undead. This game is lots of fun and for some reason made me super nervous when I was playing it.  I am sure it’s due to the sounds of and the hordes of zombies and weird voices chanting. The game is a spin-off of the Sniper Elite series and allows you to sniper off zombies as they approach with direct kill shots to the head showcasing the X-Ray effects of the hit! Zombies might be overdone in the world of movies, comics and video games, but this one was lots of fun and worth playing if you’re looking to kill some time and if you like sending Nazi zombies to hell!

# 1

Until Dawn PS4

A prank goes terribly wrong and leaves two sisters missing in the mountains. Sometime later their brother has a reunion with 7 of his closest friends, all of whom were there the night his sisters went missing, but something wicked is in the air as friends start to be attacked by a masked killer who seems like he is out for revenge! But all things are not as they seem as the game takes twists and turns and leaves you as the player in control of the fate of the playable characters as your choices have effects and you must choose wisely! What made this game really great was not only the atmosphere but also the characters who some are really likable while others are jerks and this makes you become attached to some of them and forces you to choose wisely. This is hands down the best horror game I played this year! For those wondering, my two favorite characters are Sam and Ashley, both of whom I was trying my best to keep alive.  One survived; the other sadly did not…and I am not sharing who was who.

Until Dawn Screen Shot 1

We have covered Jim Shooter, survival horror games of 2015 and my cat Leslie up to this point, and I think it’s time that we take a quick look at Spitfire, the hero of our selected New Universe comic series as I am sure many of you readers like myself are not too familiar. As I said above, I selected Spitfire to be my pick for many reasons that include the fact that it’s a robot comic from the 80’s (and I’ll say this till I am blue in the face like a Smurf: kids of the 80’s love robots).  The covers for the series looked interesting and eye catching too even though I knew nothing about Spitfire and The Troubleshooters.  Lastly and most importantly, it had a good run that did not last too short or too long. When looking up and reading the first issue of this series, the first thing that took me by surprise was that Spitfire is just a suit worn by a female professor. I had no clue that this series was about a female hero and that made it seem like an even better choice to start my travels into the Marvel New Universe. So really quick, these are the basics of what you need to know: Professor Jenny Swenson is well liked by her students and the school she teaches at.  When her father is set up and killed, she along with some rebel students that call themselves the Troubleshooters try and get to the bottom of the crime and unlock a whole world of secret societies and people pulling the strings! She is opposed to war and acts of violence and wants to only use her father’s technology for the betterment of mankind. Those are the basics of who Jenny aka Spitfire is and below is some art of what her suit looks like as well as what she looks like.

Spitfire Armor 1Spitfire Armor 2Jenny in Spitfire

So are you ready to dive into Marvel’s New Universe? Are you ready for comics based around non-gods or super beings? Are you ready for a world where the Amazing Spider-Man does not exist? Well I know I have some curiosity to see just what this comic universe is like, and I must admit I have owned some of these New Universe comics for years and never have read a one of them! I should thank my friend Eric Shonborn for lending me the audio book of “Marvel Comics The Untold Story” by Sean Howe that sparked me to want to do an update about the New Universe as well as a thanks goes out to Bookery Fantasy for having the whole run of Spitfire in stock for only a dollar each issue! I also like always want to remind you that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star system and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s get to these reviews and see how Spitfire stacks up to the main Marvel Universe comics.

Spitfire 1

Spitfire # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 1 of 13

The Massachusetts Institute Of Technology is the place of learning for a group of students called The Troubleshooters who are super smart but also pranksters! Their young red headed teacher is Professor Jenny “Spitfire” Swensen whose father has just been killed in what was ruled an accident while working at his lab. At the funeral, Jenny meets Mr. Fritz Krotze who was her father’s boss who informs her she must come and get her father’s stuff from the lab in 24 hours! When at the lab, Jenny is being watched by security as she quickly checks her dad’s computer and finds a hidden message that informs her who killed him and why! But before she can finish reading, she is asked to leave as her time is up.  She returns to school and gets the help of The Troubleshooters to break in and read the rest of the message. Mr. Krotze, meanwhile, is showing off a mech-suit called M.A.X. 1, and it’s clear that Krotze killed her father who created a better suit called M.A.X II nicknamed Spitfire! Jenny and Troubleshooters succeed in breaking into the lab and finds the message that tells them Krotze was indeed his killer.  Jenny wears the Spitfire armor, and together they move the lab that can transform into trailers! In the end Spitfire beats M.A.X. I and lets Krotze know that once she has 100% proof he will be going down for her father’s murder.

Going into this comic, I had to throw out all the thoughts of classic Marvel and go in with a fresh mind and a realization that Spitfire was not going to be a larger than life hero like Iron Man and would be more rooted in technology that would and could be more possible.  So with that said, I must say that issue # 1 of Spitfire is an average comic adventure set around a C list comic hero. The plot is generic and has a young and cute professor having her father murdered by his boss over technology that later falls in her hands.  Throw in some youths as her sidekicks and some small time action, and you have this issue. Jenny Swensen is a hip cool Professor who is not only a good teacher but also is well respected by her students as she is fun and fair with them.  She is cute and a red head, and she comes from a family of very smart people as her dad was a inventor.  Her father is also the one who gave her the nickname of Spitfire. The downside, besides the fact she wants revenge, is that she don’t have much of a personality that shows through.  I’m so looking forward to seeing her grow as a character. The Troubleshooters are a bunch of smart kids who as well are okay but have no personalities besides that they like to pull pranks and are loyal to their teacher. Mr. Krotze comes off as a generic rich bad guy who wants to take research projects and turn them into a military weapon and will kill and screw over whoever he can to make money and get power. M.A.X. II or called Spitfire is a cool suit that is bright red and is supposed to be used for construction, and while not equipped with guns or lasers, it does have some killer buzz saws and super strength. As I stated, this issue is just average yet fun, and I am looking forward to seeing what the next issue’s has in store for me. I should also note that Herb Trimpe did the art for this issue, and he is one of my favorite old school artist who worked on Incredible Hulk issues in the 70’s! His classic style art helps bring this story to life for sure. I also must say I really like the cover for this issue as it showcases all the main characters.

Spitfire 2

Spitfire # 2  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 2 of 13

Jenny and Troubleshooter member Andy are in the woods testing the limits of the Spitfire suit when some hunters in a pick up truck lose control and almost fall off a cliff till Spitfire saves them causing a news story that leaks back to Fritz Krotze who wants the suit back bad and tells his assistant Richard Faylen to bring in a top secret government project called “Behemoth.”  It’s also clear, as Faylen leaves, that Krotze is not in charge as he is taking orders from a group that calls themselves The Club. Meanwhile The Troubleshooters lead by member Eddie Giotti with a pair of metal arms raid Krotze’s labs to try to find out what he knows about the whereabouts of Jenny, and when they find out, Faylen and lots of the guards are taking a train to Jenny’s location, Eddie jumps on the train to see if he can find out the plan as the other Troubleshooters follow. Eddie finds himself being taken into the train and beat up badly as Behemoth turns out to be a Super-Tank that goes head to head with Spitfire in a battle of metal and power. In the end The Troubleshooters save Eddie from the train and guards, but his ribs have been broken and Spitfire destroys Behemoth and decides that she is no longer hiding and is going to take the war to Krotze!

This second issue is as fun as issue # 1, and sadly also just as average in story and characters. The major downside is what I like to call the Shooter Trick that has plot elements that took place in another New Universe Comic series forcing the reader to have to buy other comics in the series to get the full story.  Jim Shooter sure did love this trick and used it not only with the New Universe but also the normal Marvel Comic series. The plot has Jenny and her Spitfire suit battling the idea of limiting how often she uses it as it’s by all accounts a stolen piece of equipment.  Krotze wants and needs to regain the suit for not only himself but the secret group knows as The Club. Most of this issue is drama as it has Jenny battling her own mind on right and wrong as well as Troubleshooters going on their own and trying to be heroes but really just adding more stress to the all ready bad situation Jenny is in. I love the odd addition of student Eddie Giotti wanting to make mad monkey love to his teacher Jenny, such an odd subplot. I do also like the idea of a secret society being the true bad guys and wanting the suit as they see the power it has and with some modifications how it could be a major weapon. Jenny as a character has changed slightly as it’s clear she wants to be a hero, but hates that she must hide away from the world as she is wanted for the suit that’s stolen technology. Krotze also shows how evil he is by stopping at nothing to get the suit back, but they do a nice job of showing fear in him as The Club clearly owns his soul and pulls his strings. Behemoth The Super-Tank is not really a threat once Spitfire figures out that its nothing but a tank controlled by a thin wire…yeah, the super tank is a remote control weapon…yeah, once the line is cut it stops….terrible. Eddie Giotti of The Troubleshooter’s stands out this issue as not only a man with a great mind who creates super strong metal arms for himself but also shows he really is hot for teacher and makes dumb mistakes to play hot shot. I really dig the Troubleshooters as they are great side characters who do add to the story and drama of this comic series. The cover is again well done, and the art is done by Herb Trimpe again as well and looks fantastic. I am hyped to see how Spitfire takes the war to the bad guys so I am going to wrap this one up and move onto issue # 3!

Spitfire 3

Spitfire # 3  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 3 of 13

Jenny is planning her attack and wants to find illegal dirt on Krotze to report him to the police, but she herself is under investigation for the taking of her father’s lab and the Spitfire suit! While Eddie Giotti heals up in the hospital after the terrible beating he suffered at the hands of Krotze’s guards, the rest of the Troubleshooters build cyber body parts that allows them to run 140mph and even use their mind to hack into computers and phone lines. Jenny also notices that Theresa, the only female Troubleshooter, seems to have a dislike for her as she clearly does not fully stand behind them breaking the law to prove Krotze guilty. Meanwhile Krotze is being blackmailed by Bronson, the goon who wore the M.A.C.K. I suit that was beaten by Spitfire as well as the one who killed Jenny’s father, is himself killed in cold blood by Krotze who knew he had to cover his tracks of all wrong doing after the government is mad about him destroying the Behemoth Super-Tank! Spitfire goes alone to Krotze’s lab and by accident shoots a solider.  This causes her to second guess the mission and leaves her open for an attack that almost leaves her dead, but with the help of the new and cyber improved Troubleshooters, she is able to escape the lab with her life. Krotze is upset that he was not able to kill Jenny and get the Spitfire suit but soon gets a visit from The Club member Steel Hawk who is there to help.

The struggle of Jenny continues as she really wants to put an end to Krotze and his corrupt company, but once more her fears and doubts stand in the way as she wants to do so in a law abiding way. The plot is just as the others and has Jenny/Spitfire going toe to toe with Krotze and his men, but this time her own fears and doubts leave her open for a massive attack that almost leaves her a dead roasted chicken in her suit of armor. Jenny in this issue has way to many doubts and also is so filled with rage that its making her unstable and leaving her open for attacks and for looses to the hands of her enemies. But also it seems she talks a good talk as in the last issue when she found out Giotti was hurt she acted as if she was going to blow Krotze’s lab up and kick his teeth out in the process, but we find her in this issue wanting to sneak in again and just steal files from his computer. The Troubleshooters once more prove that they are needed as they build new helpful technology as well as save Jenny’s fat from the fire when she chokes during a fight. Krotze in this issue really does prove he will do what ever he can to save his own butt as he murders a man with no real remorse and worse uses a high power laser to do the deed. Over all this is a pretty good issue and while some things change with the plot and characters it still feels the same as the other two issues, the cover is pretty dang cool and the art this time is done by Ron Wagner who also worked on comics for Marvel like G.I. Joe, The Transformers and Morbius: The Living Vampire and it’s pretty solid work. Good issue that’s adds more drama to the story and makes me want to see just how Jenny is going to deal with the fact she shot a US Solider and she almost died, so lets head to issue 4.

Spitfire 4

Spitfire # 4  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 4 of 13

Fritz Krotze is missing, and his company is now under investigation into selling weapons to terrorist and the star witness is Jenny who explains how she wants to prove he killed her father and even exposes the fact he works for The Club on live TV! The Troubleshooters are nervous watching as they don’t want to be dragged into this political mess as Steel Hawk is enjoying it all as he has already killed Richard Faylen with a car bomb and had kidnapped Krotze and has tortured him and finally kills him with a metal bat and drops his body into a river hoping it will be uncovered.  It’s all part of a trap and set up for Jenny to take the fall. At a party hosted by the Senator, a bomb is found and Spitfire comes to the rescue but also finds Steel Hawk waiting for her.  The two fight and Hawk’s weapons are just too powerful for the suit to handle and just as all looks grim and Steel Hawk is about to put a bullet in Jenny’s head, she breaks his leg and the police show up and chase him off. In the end Jenny is looked at as a hero to some but finds herself under arrest for the murder of Krotze!!

Wow, this issue really rocks its packed with action, drama and murder and shows that setting this New Universe in a real world environment can work with the right writer. The plot of this issue has an assassin setting up Jenny with a murder he committed in order to get her off the trail of The Club, only to find that while it worked, it also brought his actions into the light. In this issue, Jenny seems to have her act together and is helping the government catch Krotze for his terrorist activities.  Plus she shows that she is really building a superhero attitude and wants to save innocent people when danger is near. The fact that she gets her butt handed to her in this issue by Steel Hawk and then gets arrested for a murder she did not commit makes me really hyped to read issue 5! Fritz Krotze, who was shaping up to be the series’ main bad guy, finds himself beaten and killed all for the amusement and punishment of The Club, and when he’s killed, I mean he is killed by a metal baseball bat! Poor Richard Faylen as well is killed by a hit from The Club that leaves him blown up thanks to a car bomb! Steel Hawk is one badass killer who takes joy in the kill as well as enjoys the set ups that go along with his evil deeds. I really can’t wait to see him return and go toe to toe with Spitfire again! The plot of this comic series is starting to really progress with this issue, and that’s cool as I did not see the murder of Faylen & Krotze coming at all! The art in this issue is done by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane who also did work for Marvel on Spider-Man, Hulk plus a few others, and I must say his style worked well for this issue! The cover as with all the others so far is well done and eye catching.  Over all, this is the best issue so far and shows that this series might have some life in it after all!

Spitfire 5

Spitfire # 5  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 5 of 13

Jenny Swensen is in jail for a murder she did not commit and her Spitfire suit is now in police custody and everything looks real grim as everyone is quick to find her guilty. The Troubleshooters are all wondering what their fate is as they want to help Jenny, but they also can’t tip the police off to their involvement in the theft of the suit and breaking into the labs. Giotti however can’t give up on his crush Jenny and along with a few others decide to break into the police station and spring Jenny from jail! Meanwhile Steel Hawk who is nursing his broken leg and gets a new assassination job from The Club as they want him to kill the Prime Minister of England who is visiting the USA in a few days.  He of course takes the hit. Jenny gets a visit from Star Brand, a super powerful man who has special powers and who had warned her in the past not to use the suit, as it would cause her issues, and as he points out..it has! Giotti steals the suit and is unaware that the core pack is about to blow up and act like a nuclear bomb killing many innocent people in the process.  Star Brand tries to talk some sense into him, but the two end up fighting that leaves Spitfire suit down and out and Star Brand able to get rid of the core pack. In the end, Jenny is happy to hear that the danger is past and finally is able to get a night’s sleep in jail.

This issue should be called “Jenny Goes To Jail” and at some point in the comic they should have shown Ernest P. Worrell dressed as his grandma…yeah! But to be serious, this issue’s plot has Jenny in jail waiting to be cleared of the crime of murder that she didn’t commit, but things don’t look good for her. For extra drama throw in Star Brand and The Troubleshooters trying to steal the Spitfire suit and you have a fun and entertaining issue. Jenny in this issue tries to put up a tough as stone attitude, but is clearly shown to be scared and emotional over what her life faces ahead. Very nice growth for the Jenny character, and I am starting to really like her as a comic character! Star Brand who had his own series running at the same time is a hero who likes to hide his power and not show it off.  This makes him come off as a little cocky as he judges other people who do use their abilities. The Troubleshooters are shown to care for Jenny and would even rob a police station for her but they are also really scared that they will be caught up in her crime of stealing the Spitfire suit that could also get them blamed for the murder. Really cool to see Giotti in the Spitfire suit try and fight Star Brand only to loose and almost blow up the city in the process, I mean I know Giotti wants some booty from Jenny but he also needs to listen and not be so reckless in his attempts to impress her. Another fun issue and once more makes me wonder how Jenny is going to clear her name of the crime and get out of jail to bring down The Club. Herb Trimpe did the art again as well as the cover that’s pretty eye catching, so with that lets move onto issue six.

Spitfire 6

Spitfire # 6  **
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 6 of 13

Jenny is set free from jail and the charges dropped when they could not come up with enough evidence to convict her of murder. Steel Hawk is back in town and ready to kill the U.K Prime Minister and is also now on the polices radar as they think he is the one who killed Krotze and want to find him for questioning. Meanwhile Terry cant take it anymore and goes off on Giotti about how he is drooling over Jenny, and how if he could get his head out of his butt he would see that she is in love with him, she is upset and embarrassed by her remarks and runs and hides in the courts restroom, were she over hears the cops talking that Jenny could be on trail again soon if they cant find Steel Hawk. The Troubleshooter decide to use their mock up smaller versions of the Spitfire suit and hack into the police computer files and track down the hideout of Steel Hawk and find Krotze’s blood and the metal ball bat that killed him! They also find the plan to kill the Prime Minister as she lights the Christmas Tree downtown, Steel Hawk has a bomb that will go off killing many…as the issue comes to an end The Troubleshooters are rushing downtown as the Prime Minister is pushing the light up switch.

She’s Free! This issue takes Jenny out of jail and back into the drama of The Club and it’s evil ways, well sort of as this issue she sits out on the sidelines as The Troubleshooters are the ones trying to track down Steel Hawk and stop the assassination of the Prime Minister of England. Terry shows that she is torn between wanting to help find the truth and hating Jenny who she is clearly jealous of. The Troubleshooters in this issue are the main focus and they act like a bunch of kids who are getting a thrill of breaking the law for good as well as having drama amongst themselves. In fact in this issue they more they were used the more I found myself not liking them as they all came off kind of annoying and bratty. Steel Hawk on the other hand is crazy and shows that while The Club might be the puppet master of evil, he has no strings to hold him down as his idea to kill the Prime Minister is to blow her up!!! So what I learned for this issue is that Jenny is the true star and The Troubleshooters are better as bit players and not the main focus as I found this issue kind of bad, with the only highlights being Steel Hawk. The art is good and done by Vince Giarrano, who worked on mostly DC Comics like Batgirl and Manhunter.  The cover on this issue is also pretty lame and reminds me of a independent 90’s comic that would be found in a quarter bin at the local comic shop. So I am ready to move past this issue and hope Jenny makes her comeback as Spitfire in the next issue, and I hope this is not the start of The Troubleshooters taking over the series.

Spitfire 7

Spitfire # 7  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 7 of 13

The Troubleshooters have saved the Prime Minister of England but now have a hit on them placed by The Club and to be carried out by Steel Hawk! The Troubleshooters decide to retire from being heroes and visit Jenny to tell her the news. Jenny Swensen is dealing with all the pressure of her dismissed trail for murder as well as the fact her students are running around playing hero is technology her father created.  This leads to her wanting to talk to her one time boyfriend Bernie about the news she just got about being fired from the collage next semester. Steel Hawk, however, is on a path of murder as he uses a rocket launcher to blow up Tim and his steel legs that leaves him near death’s door and both of his legs needing to be amputated, and kills Andy with his own laser beams, and tells the others he will see them soon! On her way home, Jenny is kidnapped and pulled inside a van leaving us wondering what is happing next…

This is a good issue that mixes action and drama really well, and man I did not see Troubleshooters being killed off like this coming at all! The plot is really just that Steel Hawk is pissed about failing to killing the Prime Minister and takes out his rage on those who stopped him. Steel Hawk is super cold blooded and his murderous ways are highlighted in this issue as he kills a homeless man, Andy and cripples Tim all with a gleam in his eye. I can’t wait to see Jenny put on the Spitfire suit and go toe to toe with this assassin. The Troubleshooters are dropping like flies, and the worst part is they were trying to retire from the hero game but got out at the wrong time. Tim may live, and I am guessing if he does he will have metal legs.  Andy is sadly dead with no coming back after taking a full laser blast to the back and through the chest. Jenny Swensen is down and out, and she clearly is snapping under the pressure. I am sure when she finds out her students are being killed, her rage and fire will return, and I feel sorry for The Club and Steel Hawk as I think she will be gunning for them. This series took a really bold step by killing off two of the main Troubleshooters and as I stated before, I did not see that coming at all. I wonder if any more of them will die in the next issue, as well as who kidnapped Jenny? The art is done by Alan Kupperburg and Tony DeZuniga and is well done.  This time I think the cover is a little generic and so far is the weakest of the bunch. This is a great issue that shows this series does have life, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Spitfire 8

Spitfire # 8  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 8 of 13

What’s left of the Troubleshooters meet at the hospital. Tim has just gotten out of a surgery that took both his legs below the knees.  This makes Giotti very upset that one of his friends is now crippled and another is dead, and he swears revenge on Steel Hawk. Meanwhile Jenny Swensen wakes up in a dark room and finds that she has been kidnapped for what she knows about M.A.X. suits.  The kidnappers want her to build them one and use a fighter named Brick to rough her up into doing so.  They give her 12 hours to build a suit to defend herself from Brick, and she spends it building a stun gun that does not work as a counterattack against Brick. You soon find out that the people who kidnapped her are betting on if she will break and tell them what she knows of her father’s work or die before doing so. While Eric is done being a Troubleshooter, Giotti and Terry hack into the F.B.I computers and find out all they can about Steel Hawk as they want him to pay for his crimes. In the end Jenny was not in any real trouble as it seems that her tests and kidnapping were done by the government.  Giotti finds Steel Hawk and almost beats him to death until he is saved by a unknown ninja.

Giotti finally gets his metal arms on Steel Hawk and delivers a massive beat down that I cannot say for sure but sure looked like it broke Hawk’s back. This issue’s plot is about revenge and self control as Giotti gets his revenge for his friends and Jenny learns that she is strong willed and in control of her own life. Jenny Swensen this time around is mentally and physical abused throughout the issue all by some government tools who want to see if they can break her into telling them the secrets of the M.A.X. suits. I really wished when they came out and told her it was a test, she would have kicked one of them in the head. Steel Hawk is on cloud nine after taking out two of the Troubleshooters but soon learns that what he thought were easy targets have the guts to fight back! Terry and Giotti stick together and use their suits to track down and deal with Steel Hawk.  I think this might lead them to the path of wanting to be heroes again. I can’t say for sure, but I think Eric who was a Troubleshooter is done, and I would be shocked if we see him again. The Ninja who saves Steel Hawk from his beat down is a mystery, and I am not sure how they will play into the future of this series. And I am sure this is the only time we will see dumb old Brick who spends his time in the issue beating up a woman.  To be honest, there sure is a lot of woman beating in this issue! Still no Spitfire suit and at this point I am not sure when it will make its comeback, but I am hoping soon as I want to see it tangle with The Club! Alan Kupperburg and Tony DeZuniga once more did the artwork, and it looks great.  The cover this time around is back to being eye catching and solid, and to be honest has a Amazing Spider-Man feel to it just replace Jenny with Mary Jane, Steel Hawk with Kraven The Hunter and Giotti with Spider-Man…go on and look and tell me you don’t agree! Well let’s move onto issue # 9 and see where our journey takes us next. I should also note that the comics title starting in this issue changed from Spitfire And The Troubleshooters just to Spitfire.

Spitfire 9

Spitfire # 9  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 9 of 13

Terry and Giotti have decided to fully retire from being Troubleshooters, and they both destroy their suits and vow never to become crime fighters again! Meanwhile Steel Hawk is in a hospital with multiple broken bones and possible brain damage after the beating he took from Giotti.  His savior Varna is trying to nurse him back to health to get revenge. Meanwhile Jenny is set free by The Government run buy a man named Roth who sends her home on a private jet alongside and man named Jake Travest who is also being watched and forced to do things for Roth.  They both soon find out that they are not being sent home but to Afghanistan to see if Russia who is invading that county has M.A.X. suits, and they soon find that they do as our issue ends with one about to grab Jenny and Jake from a horse.

First thing I must say is that this issue is pretty slow moving and most of it takes place on a plane were Jenny and Jake get to know each other and talk slightly about the past and how they both dislike Roth who acts like a evil puppet master. What’s odd about all this is Jake seems to be a Manchurian Candidate and does what he is told once the name “Slash” is brought up.  Plus not sure if I trust Jake as he knows a little too much about Jenny and her past as well as the whole deal with The Club. Jenny in this issue seems just pissed off and fed up with how she is being treated and is growing to hate the fact her father made these metal suits. Terry and Giotti seem to really mean that they are out of the Troubleshooter game and would rather focus on school and not crime busting. Steel Hawk looks like a mummy as he is covered in bandages and has pure hate in his eyes.  I’m not sure who the woman Varna is, but I am sure we will find out sometime in this series. Roth is such an ass and uses his rank and power to make people do what he wants them to do.  He’s not a likable guy, and it’s shown he can make fake VHS recordings of people like Jenny’s father and make them say what he wants. Over all, this was a slow paced issue that seems more like it should be a James Bond issue and not a New Universe title, a good read just slightly boring. Alan Kupperburg does the art, and it looks good while the cover on this one is average and has nothing to special besides it could be mistaken for a John Carter Warlord of Mars or Doc Savage cover. Let’s see if issue 10 brings back the action or brings on more of the zzzzz’s.

Spitfire 10

Spitfire # 10  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 10 of 13

Jenny and Jake are stuck in Afghanistan helping the rebels fight off the invading Russians and their black market M.A.X. suits. Jake is losing his cool a lot and seems to not be bothered when having to kill and injure the Russians, and this is making Jenny uneasy about his mental stability. Jake is able to attack a Russian Solider in a M.A.X. suit and break his arm in three places and leaves him for dead while taking the suit back to the rebel’s home base.  There Jenny, unaware it’s Jake, shows them all how you can bring the suit down with a well timed bullet to a weak spot on the suit. When they find out it’s Jake in the suit, they have a plan that is much like the Trojan Horse that will allow the captured M.A.X. suit to enter the Russians’ hideout with a device Jenny made that will render the suits unusable, but the rebels have other ideas as they place a bomb in the suit and not only blow up all the M.A.X. suits but also all the Russians at the base. In the end Jenny is upset that men had to die, while Jake tells her that’s what war is and Roth comes to get them and informs them he wants them to join a elite group.

This is clearly no longer a superhero comic and has made the leap to secret agent spy comic.  While its still good, it’s also a major letdown as I enjoyed the fact that Jenny was a woman who wore a metal suit and fought off attacks in her hometown. Spitfire is no longer the suit and her nickname, it is now her code name as a tech spy. This issue has the horrors of war as Jenny first hand sees all the terrible things that go on. She seems fed up with all the drama her father’s creations have caused her and really is pissed off at the Government and how they have tricked her into doing their dirty work. Jake is shown to be a man with split personalities as one moment he is fine joking and the next he is snapping people’s arms and being an ass to whoever is in his way. If I read this issue right, “Slash” is his other side…and Slash should not be confused with the Guns N Roses guitarist or the evil turtle from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Russians seem pretty dim and open themselves up for lots of attacks and are dumb enough to take in the M.A.X. suit after it had been missing for like two days. While only in it for a few moments. Roth is as pushy as ever and forces them into joining his little spy game group. The cover of this issue is a little weak, but the art inside, done by Alan Kupperburg, is pretty good. Over all I wish more would happen in the action department, and while the story is changing, I am not sure if it’s going in the right direction as I feel the secret agent route they are taking Jenny down just might not work. Also take a note that starting with this issue ,the comic is not just called Spitfire but is now Codename Spitfire…ugh! Well let’s see what issue 11 has to bring to this spy dance.

Spitfire 11

Spitfire # 11  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 11 of 13

Jenny starts this issue being pulled out of the ocean wearing a new Spitfire suit by Roth and some Navy workers.  She is rushed to surgery as she is badly hurt and her legs burnt. Meanwhile Jake is seen as a prisoner of a Russian general who is torturing him and enjoying doing so! We flashback and see how Jenny and Jake were on a mission that went wrong that lead to Jake’s capture and Jenny being roasted in her own M.A.X. suit. Back to current time and Jenny is weak and burnt and is told by Roth that the government wants them to leave and not go after Jake and that’s an order.  Jenny doesn’t listen and musters up all her strength and climbs into the now repaired Spitfire suit and beats the bad guys and saves Jake from a certain death. When returning to the Navy ship Jenny and Jake are taking to sickbay where they are told this new secret squad might already be facing retirement!

This issue has the effect and cause set up and shows how Jenny and Jake fail at their first secret mission as a team with the goal to save a hostage who is killed.  They each come close to death’s door making it a true failure. Roth seems annoyed and yet also proud of his new team who are a rag tag bunch of misfits. Roth has grown as a character from an unlikable government agent to a well rounded respectable kind of agent. Jenny has gotten her desire back and it’s clear now that she is going to use her father’s work for good as her new Spitfire suit is built for war.  Also she seems to have come to terms with the fact people die in war as she murders soldiers to save Jake. Speaking of Jake, this issue he starts is mission out being G.I. Joe but ends up being a whipping boy for the enemy.  The cheesiest thing about him is how he says one-liners even after being beat up! Once more this takes the spy route and only has a dash of superhero, and I am not sure how I am feeling about the change in feel and direction of the series. The cover for this issue is great and eye catching. I really like the aerial combat scene, and it also lets you get a good look at the new Spitfire costume. The art this time around is done by Grant Miehm who is known for his work on the Marvel series Namor: The Sub-Mariner, and its great stuff and is second best in line behind the work of Herb Trimpe so far in the series. To sum it up, this issue is okay but feels like a filler issue when looking back at it.

Spitfire 12

Spitfire # 12  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 12 of 13

Jenny is watching tape of a failed test she just ran in her new Spitfire suit, and while upset she drops a picture of her father and finds a computer hard disk that has a program that is the attitude and beliefs of her father! Meanwhile, something wicked is going down as an air force base is attacked by terrorist Evan Reinger who steals a top-secret jet and kills all witnesses.  The government call on Spitfire to take it back and to bring in Reinger dead or alive. As Spitfire engages the jet being flown by Reinger, the hard disk of her father’s beliefs takes over the suit and almost gets his own daughter killed as his anti war feelings get in the way of her being able to defend herself as he tries to shut down the suit! Lucky for her, Roth and crew are able to eject the disk, and this gives her enough time to blow up Reinger and the jet and save her own skin. In the end Jenny says her goodbyes to the disk as she deletes the program and embraces what she is now doing with her life.

This issue is close to the end and has Jenny having to come to terms that she is now using her father’s work as a means of war.  This causes her to also have to let go of the ghost of her father whose own beliefs have impacted all her decisions her whole life. For some reason in this issue Jenny looks like a character from the cartoon Jem or could have been a woman in a Hall and Oates music video, but with her odd appearance aside, she has made another step in growing as a character and is now a fully fledged agent who wants to do the right thing. It’s a shame that the character takes the next turn of growing and it’s one issue before the final. Jake and Roth take a backseat in this issue and act as supporters who play a key part in why Jenny turns the page on using the tech for war purposes. Evan Reinger is a killer who does not seem to mind killing and his main focus is getting that plan to use for bad purposes, and when he is blown up it comes to no real loss for the world. The action and drama mix well in this issue, and I am finally glad to see that Jenny’s father will be out of the picture in the next issue we can hope. The cover is okay and is just a more chaotic version of last issue.  The art inside this time around is done by Javier Saltares who is known for his Ghost Rider work for Marvel and is a style that I am not a super fan of, but I guess it works. Well, we are at the final issue of Spitfire, and I for one can’t wait to see how they are going to end this series! So let’s get to the 13th and final issue of Spitfire.

Spitfire 13

Spitfire # 13  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics # 13 of 13

Celia Cliff is an agent who goes missing during a mission in the middle of the jungle, and this leaves Jenny alone with a new tech whiz partner named Willy.  The pair, along with a new version of the Spitfire suit, head out to find the missing agent and try to bring down the evil St. John who is kidnapping the local children and turning them into half human and half robot slaves! Jenny gathers information from the locals and heads to the castle that holds St. John’s empire and along the way she defeats one of his robot henchmen and finds out that they all have very little control of their own minds! When at the castle Jenny and Willy find out that Celia is becoming one of his robot soldiers.  As two of his robots attack Spitfire and St. John is keeping Willy at bay it’s the last dying breath of Celia in her new robot state of mind that is able to bring down St. John as they both die. In the end Jenny and Willy head back home, an agent down but a world safer.

The final issue of Spitfire leaves lots of questions unanswered as well as many storylines unfinished, and that takes away from the over all appeal of this series as we as readers get no closure and it just ends with a story that has no real build up! Jenny in this issue becomes a James Bond type and travels to a hostel land to rescue a fellow agent and to take down an evil mad super intelligent doctor that is also building robot suits that will be used in wars against America and our allies. She has a kick butt attitude in this issue and wants to save the agent as well as help the small town that is being terrorized by this madman. The Spitfire suit is once more redone and this time is less bulky and is lightweight and ready for hand-to-hand combat. Willy is a tech nerd who wants to follow this mission through even though he’s only really good at building and redesigning metal suits.  Plus we only know him from this issue so it’s hard to build a real opinion of him. Roth is only in the issue for a few pages as he delivers Jenny to Willy and then disappears.  Jake does not appear at all, and this was a lame move as this is the final issue and he is her partner. The remaining Troubleshooters never make an appearance, and we have no clue if Steel Hawk healed up and murdered them as this is a plot that they just dropped. St. John, who works for the Club, becomes the main focus bad guy and he for some reason reminds me of a super villain that would have made an issue appearance in Captain America comics from the late 70’s that would have gotten beaten by the end, much like what happened to him here. I mean he wears a cape and has crazy hair…I thought they said the New Universe was breaking away from the cheese of the Marvel Universe. The thing about this series is that it had so much potential, and each issue for the most part was very entertaining and was a nice break from the normal comics I had been reading like Amazing Spider-Man and Conan The Barbarian, but as a series it was a total mess as the creative team clearly had no direction as the comic’s name changed three times in the 13 issue run and the storyline as well changed and had so many holes in it that Swiss Cheese would have been envies of all those holes! I can also safely say that I liked the character of Jenny “Spitfire” Swensen as I found her very likable and enjoyed that over the issues she did grow as a character and became more tough and worldly. The final issue’s art was done by David Hoover and is well done, and the cover is pretty cool but a little cheesy. This is my first major step into the New Universe, and I can say for the most part it was enjoyable and I will take a look at another character sometime in the future.  So if you like Marvel Comics from the 80’s or are curious about the New Universe than Spitfire is worth checking out for sure. Check out the art below that showcases Spitfire in all her glory.

Spitfire Art 1

That was a fun read yes, but one thing’s for sure, The New Universe is not even in the same league as the Marvel Universe as I feel the need to read some Incredible Hulks or Captain Americas from the 80’s after I am done writing this last part of the update! And one a side note, I do know that Spitfire does appear in other books in the New Universe line and maybe just maybe one of those issues has the answers to the plot holes and questions. Our next update will take us far away from Marvel and once more into the world of Dell Comics and more important will be another look at a classic Looney Tune character! We will be taking a look at the icon of swine, Baron Von Porkchop’s favorite cartoon character, the one and only Porky Pig so make sure to comeback for that as it will surely be a great time. Until then, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local horror host and enjoy this March weather.

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