Land Of The Monster Bash Convention (2018)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink. I hope you have your bag packed already as it’s that time of the year once again when you all take a trip with me and Juliet as we head to Monster Bash in Mars, PA for a fun time of celebrating classic monsters and 200 years of Frankenstein’s Monster! I have been looking forward to taking time away from work, filming movies and working on comics for some time now, and what better way to do so than to hang out with fellow classic monster lovers as well as my gal pal Juliet in an area that is starting to feel like my home away from home, Cranberry Township. I cannot wait to see what classic monster car is parked up front and what statues await us inside the convention. I do have a feeling that they will be of The Monster through the ages as that seems to make the most sense. Not to mention, I am looking forward to eating at places like Moe’s and Eat’n Park plus visiting Evans City Cemetery to soak in all the horror movie magic that was shot there. So lets hop into the Mazda 3 and find some music and podcasts to listen to and make our way to Monster Bash! Oh and for this update, I am sure you guessed it, that we will be taking a look at Land Of The Dead, the fourth film in the Romero Dead series and the IDW comic adaption of it! Let’s head out to the highway and have fun along the way.

Juliet and I hit the road on June 21, 2018 and spent most of the drive chatting about comics, music and wrestling and even had to make our way through random rainstorms. As always, we stopped at the Ruby Tuesdays on the border of Ohio and West Virginia where Juliet ate a grilled chicken salad, and I had blackened salmon with rice and a loaded baked potato. It was super tasty! Once back on the road we continued chatting and time seemed to go by fast…that was until we entered Cranberry, and traffic was backed up due to a car on fire! Passing the car that was being surrounded by the fire department, we both hoped the person driving made it out of the car okay. This year we also had to stay at a new hotel as our beloved Comfort Inn was filled, and so we stayed at the fancy Hyatt and man was the room big! After relaxing and watching some TV, we decided to have Eat ‘N Park for dinner where I had a hot turkey sandwich with mash potatoes & gravy as well as fried pickles! And of course, I had to have a smile cookie as what is a trip to Eat ‘N Park without one? After dinner we watched more TV and planned our next day as it was the first day of Monster Bash!

Waking up in the morning, we got ready for our day as Monster Bash did not open until 3pm so we headed to New Dimension Comics to look around for a few minuets. While there, I found a few comics to read and add to my collection like Web Of Spider-Man # 25 & 35, Hercules # 1,7 & 9 from DC, Where Creatures Roam # 8 and Southern Blood # 0. After comic shopping we headed to lunch at Max & Erma’s where I scarfed down a turkey burger with fries, and all the while Juliet and I chatted about our plans for the day. We then went to Barns and Nobles, and I found a really cool Funko Pop Figure of The Mummy based on the 2017 film from Universal. Then we returned to the room and waited for Monster Bash to start! Check out the pics below to see the fun stuff from the morning.

At 3:00pm Juliet and I headed to Monster Bash 2018, and the car outside was not around yet. We got into the line in order to get tickets, and man did it move fast! Once inside, the wonders of all types of classic monsters surrounded us as the amazing statues this year featured Frankenstein’s Monster from the ages as full body versions of The Monster were all around, from the classic 1931 Karloff version all the way to the one in Monster Squad and others had busts like the 1910 Edison version…so amazing and all well done! But my favorite one this year was not Frankenstein’s Monster at all, but John Carradine as Dracula in House Of Frankenstein! Once inside the dealer room, we saw all types of great stuff like toys, movies, comics, books, soundtracks, posters and art and much of it was really, really cool! We were also happy to see Horror Hosts Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri, who are amazing and wonderful people and are super nice. Also on hand was Son Of Ghoul, a true icon of Horror Hosting. While looking around, we saw some amazing Halloween Masks and even took a walk around a room filled with classic posters and lobby cards. Once we walked around for a while, we bought some amazing stuff and headed back to the hotel to unwind and get ready for our first dinner and a movie night. Check out the pics below to see some of the amazing sights of this first day.

So I am sure you’re all wondering what goodies I got on this first day’s haul…and man, did I find some cool stuff! For movies I got Attack Of The 50ft. Woman, Phantom Of Hollywood on DVD for $20.00 each and Creature With The Atom Brain for $10.00! Comic wise, I found The Young Witches # 1 for only $2.00! I found an Imperial King Kong for $20.00 and a King Kong windup for $5.00! And for paperback books I got Ben and Freddy vs. Jason for $5.00 each, and for only $1.00 each I got Tales From The Crypt Demon Knight and Dick Tracy: Secret Files. So as you can see, we did really well this first day and I was very pleased with what I was able to get for good prices. Check out the pic down below to see l my haul in all its glory!

We decided that the first night of Monster Bash would be our night to eat Wing Kings and watch a movie on the laptop with the night’s feature being Attack Of The 50ft. Woman as it’s been one I have wanted to revisit for some time now. So I ordered some Garlic Wings and some fried pickles and a coke to drink! When we are in Cranberry, both Juliet and I look forward to eating at Wing Kings as they have really great wings and we have yet to have a bad meal from them. So huddled by the laptop with our food, we watched a classic science fiction horror film about a massive and mean woman causing mayhem in a city gripped by fear. And after dinner and the movie, we spent the night gearing up for Day 2 and watching New Japan Pro Wrestling and LFA MMA on TV, and I read a some comic book.

Day two started with Juliet and I eating breakfast and then us heading to the Monster Bash! The weather outside was looking like bad storms coming and would make Doctor Frankenstein very happy. To me, this was very fitting weather for this classic monster convention. Once walking in again, a rush of good vibes surrounded me as I saw familiar faces and classic monster movies and memorabilia all around. That’s what sets Monster Bash apart from all other Horror Cons, the vibe is so chill and it’s all about the movies and monsters and not the parties. After walking around for a bit, we bought some amazing stuff and looked at some cool things and headed out to do some more fun stuff in Cranberry!

I am sure you’re also wondering what cool things I ended up getting on Day 2 of Monster Bash. Just like before, I think I found some pretty cool items. I got two wood plaques to hang in my house of King Kong and Gorgo for $25.00 each, a VHS copy of Konga for only $3.00 and a DVD of a documentary called Beast Of Whitehall for $15.00. Plus I got a lot of six Monster In My Pocket figures including werewolf and Lochness for $5.00! Over all another great haul and some very cool items I am looking forward to adding to my collection.

We hit the roads of Cranberry and ended up back at New Dimension Comics where I found 40 dollars books that were sold to me at half price making the whole pile $20.00 plus tax! I found lots of great indie titles as well as a few Avengers comics that I will be reading while here. We then went to Moe’s Southwest Grill for lunch, and I had a tasty chicken burrito. After that we had TCBY and chatted about creative ideas. That’s the thing about Juliet and I, we talk a lot to each other and mostly about life and creative things…it’s nice to have a partner you gel with really well. After spending some time out in the city, we headed back to the hotel to relax and plan our second night of Dinner and a Movie.

For our second dinner and a movie, we chose something more simple and ate Bob Evans takeout where I had roasted chicken with sides, and we watched the 1955 Science Fiction Horror Movie “Creature With The Atom Brain”, a pretty cheesy motion picture that features brain-dead reanimated zombies who are being controlled by a crime boss to get revenge on his enemies. The food was pretty good, and the film was okay making for a start to a fun night. For the rest of the night, we read and watched TV and chatted more about creative ideas for future comics that could be in the works for Sparkle Comics.

June 24, 2018 was the final day of Monster Bash and we started our morning by getting breakfast at Pig Iron Public House where I once again had the Chorizo Hash. If you ever find yourself at a Pig Iron for brunch, I recommend it. And once done we made our way to Monster Bash to once more soak it all in and have one last day of shopping. The last day of Monster Bash is always a sad one as the fun weekend is coming to an end, and I know it will be another year before I can do the next convention. When walking in as well we watched for a moment as they broke down the Frankenstein Monster’s and took a glance at The Blob for the last time for the weekend. We walked around and had good conversations with Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri as well as with Ken and Pam of Cinema Wasteland. As we made our final rounds, I was on the look out for my pal David “The Rock” Nelson as I wanted to pick up some more of his amazing shot on video films and wanted to chat with him about life in general, and I sent him a message on Facebook the night before that he did not get to read and it looked like we were going to miss him until the monster Gods smiled down on us, and we ran into each other at the place I selected in the message! Once catching up with David and picking up some of his movies, Juliet and I headed out, and that was a wrap for Monster Bash 2018.

The last day’s haul were great and all stuff that I wanted and most at fair prices. I got another Imperial Dracula that was in fantastic shape for only $15.00! I also picked up six more Monster In My Pocket figures and paid once more $5.00 for the lot. I got Super Powers Which Way Book 2: Supergirl paperback book for only $2.00! I got issues 1-5 of Escape Of The Living Dead signed by John Russo and released by Avatar for $12.00. And for movies I got Kraa! The Sea Monster on DVD for $8.00, Red Sands DVD for only $1.00 and the best buys of the trip being the three David “The Rock” Nelson film I got for $20.00 each that are “Bigfoot Runs Amok!”, “Dinosaur Woman” and “The Giant Horny Toad Monster” all films I very much looking forward to watching. Not a bad year for finds at Monster Bash 2018.

After leaving Monster Bash, we headed to get more bottled water for our stay and while at the store, we also picked up the Universal and Blumhouse film Stephanie. We then made our way to The Snowman where we hung out near the horses and I drank a Yeti Milkshake. As always the shake was fantastic as was the atmosphere around the Snowman as it had just rained before we showed up. We then left and walked around the small cemetery that’s connected to the Portersville Bible Church, a very peaceful place with a great view of woods and farmland. Juliet and I walked for a while and looked at the land all around as well as paid our respects to the people buried in the cemetery. Once done we headed back to the Hotel and we read, chatted and watched a little TV until dinner and a movie round 3.

For our third dinner and movie, we chose to once more get take out from Eat ’N Park and the 4hr film “Dinosaur Woman” directed by David Nelson as we are both big fans of his independent shot on video monsta movies. While the food was good, the movie was the best part of the night as watching David’s films are an event all to themselves as they are epic and filled with lots of fun and over the top horror and characters. After Dinner and the movie, we ended up watching Kong: Skull Island on HBO and planning our next day of events!

Monday June 25th marked the first day after Monster Bash, and we started our morning by going to Cranberry Cinema and seeing “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” This is a fun one to see in the theater and as always Cranberry Cinema proved why they are better than most major chains as they gave Juliet and I each a free popcorn to munch on as we watched our movie. After the film we headed back to Moe’s for lunch, and we ate and talked about the film as well as the possibility of scientist cloning saber tooth tigers. After lunch we headed back to the hotel and Juliet and I read and played “Super Powers Which Way Book 2: Supergirl” as Juliet read it out loud I had to choose the path of Supergirl! And lucky for me I was able to have Supergirl save the day and make it out of the land of OZ, yep my adventure took me to OZ! After the book adventure I read some more comic books and worked on a few things for Sparkle Comics as well as updates for future Rotten Ink updates. We chose to have Wing Kings again for dinner and watched WWE Monday Night Raw on USA for the evening’s entertainment. After Raw I ended up reading a little more and watched a little TV before bed and geared up for Evan City.

We woke up early and checked out of our hotel and hit the road heading toward Mars in order to get a morning cup of coffee from Mars Brew House as they are also a must when we are in Pennsylvania, and as always the coffee was great! We then walked to the UFO in the middle of the small town and chatted for a moment about the second issue of Wolf Hunter that we hope will be released soon from Sparkle Comics, as well as chatted about the amazing small town feel of Mars. Once done chatting we jumped back into the Mazda 3 and headed for Evans City.

After leaving Mars we ended up in Evans City and were sad when we remembered that The Living Dead Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so we could not go in for a visit. But all was well again once we pulled into Evans City Cemetery, and we walked around once more in the shooting location of Night Of The Living Dead and the atmosphere once more recharged my creative batteries as ideas for comics, movies and blog updates filled my head. This time around we also took time and read tombstones and paid our respects to those buried there, and Juliet and I just talked and enjoyed the sunshine. We spent some time in the cemetery before we headed out and ending our wave 1 of our vacation.

Back home from Monster Bash and Cranberry, I still had a few days left of vacation and so on June 30, 2018 Juliet and I had ourselves a very cool Horror Movie Marathon that was filled with lots of great and independent horror’s from our to be watched stack of DVDs. We also loaded up one some great eats like chips and breakfast casserole and decided on buffalo chicken and baked potatoes for dinner. The first movie of the marathon was the 1931 version of “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” that is about a poor doctor who experiment turns him into a sinister foul person who calls himself Hyde. The next film was “The Man With Two Heads” that was cheesy cult director Andy Milligan’s version of Jekyll and Hyde that follows William Jekyll and his transformation into Danny Blood. The third chiller feature was the indie horror creature flick called “Cryptid” about a pint sized government made creature on a rampage! Next up we had “Manhater” about a woman whose anger at men becomes a living demon who gets revenge for her. Shot on video film “Cemetery Sisters” was next and was about sisters who married and killed men in order to get money to open a mortuary. We then watched “Phantom Of The Opera” a modern 2014 reimagining of the classic story. The seventh film of the marathon was the spooky found footage film “Hell House LLC”. We then viewed “Dark Shade Creek 2” that is an independent slasher film. The cheesy “Ghost Of Camp Blood” was next and has the evil spirit of the clown mask killer looking for revenge. That was followed up by “Monkey Farm” a chilling tale about a research monkey that could possible be more than that. The chilling horror anthology “10/31” was next and delivered some frights. And our final fright flick of the night was “Carnivore: Werewolf Of London” about a couple at a cabin fighting for their lives against a werewolf. What a fun filled day with lots of great Horror Movies and a cool way to relax with Juliet.

The day was filled with some great films and some that were just okay and one that was hands down the Golden Turkey winner for both Juliet and myself and that’s Cryptid as this film was terribly paced and had some of the most useless main hero characters I have seen in a film for quit some time. I will say that the creature of the film was cool and well done and shows that this movie could have been something better with a good script. For me picking the top three spots was kind of an easy one with my # 1.) being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) as this is a great classic monster film that was released the same time as Universal started making their Monster films and was Paramount’s way of cashing in, plus the acting is fantastic as is the look of Mr. Hyde. For me # 2.) was 10/31 an amazing modern horror anthology film that has every segment take place on Halloween, I found myself enjoying every segment and the score was top notch, this is one fright flick I think every one should view on Halloween. My # 3.) was a hard one to choose as I enjoyed so many but I had to go with Hell House LLC. as I found it to be one of the better found footage horror flicks I have seen in quite awhile, the mood and feel of the movie is fantastic! I must say that a runner up for 3rd for me was Manhater as I also found it well done and enjoyed the super sexy demon lady. Juliet’s top three of the marathon went like this # 1.) 10/31…#2.) Hell House LLC…#3.) Phantom Of The Opera (2014)! As always the Horror Movie Marathon is a great relaxing time and event I look forward to doing multiple times a year.

I am sure you’re all wondering what fiend for this Horror Movie Marathon won the Golden Chainsaw award, and I am here to tell you it was the weird small monster from Cryptid! This little guy racked up a body count of 16 people and possibly more…while the movie was not great and was the Golden Turkey for both of us, it still wracked up a body count. His best kill of the film is eating the skin off a woman’s face, a brutal and a cool indie effect. So here is to you, Cryptid monster for all your bloodshed.

George A. Romero made a perfect zombie Horror Movie trilogy starting with the 1968 film Night Of The Living Dead and ending with Day of The Dead that was released in 1985. For years afterward, the godfather of zombie films stayed away from the world ruled by the dead he created. But 20 years after his last film, he returned to that world when in 2005 he released Land Of The Dead to moviegoers. So if you’re ready to get aboard Dead Reckoning, and go on a supply run for the rich, I think it’s time we take a look at Land Of The Dead!

In 2004, Zack Snyder and James Gunn released a remake of Dawn Of The Dead for Universal Studios, and the film sparked interest back in fans and Universal for Horror Movies that featured zombies. While the remake of his film Dawn Of The Dead was in production, George A. Romero was trying to also get a fourth film of his Dead series into production and was dealing with 20th Century Foxfor the film he was calling Twilight Of The Dead as it’s working title. Fox wanted him to call the movie “Night Of The Living Dead” as they wanted to own the rights to a new franchise, and even when he said no and wanted to call it “Dead Reckoning,” they came back with the title “Night Of The Living Dead: Dead Reckoning” and this greedy nature of Fox made Romero seek a new studio to produce the new film.  Enter Universal once more to release a new zombie film for movie goers. The film’s script had elements of the original Day Of The Dead script, and the film’s title was changed to Land Of The Dead. Universal put lots of money into the film with the rumored budget being $15 million making it the highest budget in the Dead series! While Romero wrote and directed, he hired lots of talented actors in big roles like John Leguizamo, Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento and Tom Savini to name a few and even had such stars as Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Gregory Nicotero cameo as zombies. Filming went well, and it was released in theaters on June, 24 2005 and was meet with mostly positive reviews from both critics and fans and did pretty well at the box office bringing in $46,770,602.00 worldwide and was #112 for the year at the US Box Office. In 2005 these other Horror Movies were released Saw II, The Descent, Devil’s Rejects, Ring Two, Wolf Creek, House Of Wax, Cry Wolf, Hellraiser: Deader, The Skeleton Key and Boogeyman to name a few showing that the world of Horror was very much alive and bringing in movie goers and home video watchers. So as you can see, Land Of The Dead might have been lost in the shuffle slightly at the Box Office it still has made it mark on the world of horror and shows that no one knew zombies better than Romero.

As a youngster I was really into music and when moving from Waynesville to Kettering I was the odd Monster Metalhead Kid who had a chip on his shoulder and would spend his time after school listening to the likes of Billy Idol, Alice Cooper and Motley Crue on vinyl and cassette and would call the local radio station The Edge and request songs from the likes of Adam Ant and became friends with the DJ Scott Mallory who ended up years later giving me advanced tickets to see Land Of The Dead in the theater before its release date. I was able to bring many of my friends as going with me was my then girlfriend Misty as well as my brother Bryan and my pals Andy Copp and Josh Weinberg, and I can remember waiting in line and all of us being so excited to see it, and after the movie we all left with the fact we enjoyed it but it seemed a little too polished. And what we all liked is the message of the rich using the poor as at the time that feeling among the hardworking low income was dealing with that in George W. Bush’s America. I was also really happy that Asia Argento was in it as she was one of the best foreign genre actresses going at the time. Plus the film’s effects were good minus the use of CGI blood in spots as that always looks terrible. The things from the movie that I was not that big of a fan of was the focus of the film being the rolling armored vehicle Dead Reckoning as it was large and silly and seemed like something from a video game. The other thing I was not sold on was the lead zombie Big Daddy who is showing signs of intelligence naturally and felt pain as his fellow zombies were shot and killed. But with these things I didn’t like I over all really did enjoy this film and found it to be a great sequel to Night Of The Living Dead and proved that with a budget Romero could make something very special for fans. When the film was released to home media I bought the DVD and still own and watch it from time to time till this day. While this might not be the best in the Dead series it’s by no means the worst, as that honor goes to the 6th film in the series “Survival Of The Dead”. If you have not seen this film do yourself a favor and watch it late one stormy night and open the windows to allow a breeze to role in and enjoy this zombie filled romp.

Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek handled the score for Land Of The Dead and brought something fresh and new and yet still has a very classic feel to it. The mood of the music is dark when needed and filled with action when moments call for it. While I feel it’s not as iconic of a score as the work of Goblin or John Harrison from the past two sequels, I still find it very solid and is worth listening to and even have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO during October. This score can be found on CD and via Digital and was released by Varese Sarabande and is a great release for fans who collect Horror Movie scores.

Like the films in the series before it, Land Of The Dead has had its fair share of merchandise that delivered cool items for the fans. Items like posters, soundtrack, t-shirts, buttons and comics all came out. Action figures were made by Sorta Toys that were highly detailed and figures of almost the all the main zombies were made including Big Daddy and The Butcher. Also made was a Video Game that was exclusive to the original XBOX called “Land Of The Dead: Road To Fiddler’s Green” that was a first person shooter that had you trying to fight through hordes of the undead in order to get the promise land of Fiddler’s Green, the game was not well rated by fans and critics but still offered something cool for fans of the film. Over the years I have owned the comics, mini poster and soundtrack of this film. So if you love Land Of The Dead, there is lots of cool stuff for you to collect.

As I said one of the biggest pluses for Land Of The Dead for me has to be the fact the very lovely Asia Argento was cast as main character Slack. For those who don’t know who Asia is, shame on you as she is the daughter of director Dario Argento and has acted in such classic films as Demons 2, The Church, Phantom Of The Opera, Scarlet Diva, xXx, Mother Of Tears and Dracula 3D to name a few. She also has directed some films like The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things and Misunderstood. Sadly in modern news Asia was one of the victims of the scumbag movie producer Harvey Weinstein and sadly was victim-shamed in her own homeland of Italy causing her to have to move to Germany to escape the media’s hurtful words. I for one stand with Asia Argento and hope that Harvey gets what’s coming to him, and that Asia after this drama ends returns to making Horror Movies and Cult Films as I for one am looking forward to her future in films. Check out the pictures below to see Asia Argento as Slack from Land of The Dead.

So we are at the electric and guarded gates of Fiddler’s Green and that must mean we are at the point of taking a look at the comic adaption of our film of the hour Land Of The Dead that was released by IDW. And while we try and find our way in and get shelter from these terrible flesh-eating zombies I would like to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comic for having these issues in stock to make this update possible and I would also like to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So I can hear Big Daddy groaning off in the distance which means that the zombies are on their way so let’s get to reading these comics before we all become a snack for them!

Land Of The Dead # 1  ***
Released in 2005      Cover Price $3.99       IDW      # 1 of 5

Riley and his crew that include Charlie, Cholo and Pretty Boy (to name a few) control the combat truck called Dead Reckoning and are on a supply run in a small town that is overrun by zombies. Riley is noticing that the zombies seem to be getting smarter and are trying to mimic their old human lives and seem to be communicating with each other now. This is his last night in command of this group, and he wants it to go smoothly but when Cholo goes off track and leads to a rookies death, and one of their biker members is knocked from his motorcycle and eaten by the undead his mission turned sour. The zombies now have seemed to come together and are ready to take the fight to the living. When back safe Riley and Cholo get into it over the antics back in town, and as they separate Riley and Charlie go to find a man named Chihuahua who owns Riley a car at his bar that includes a zombie fight cage! While Cholo is turned away from getting an apartment in the upper class high rise building called Fiddlers Green by the Mr. Kaufman who runs the town. As Cholo is leaving he beats up the security officers who have been told to kill him.

The dead are getting smarter and the living are still fighting among themselves over greed plus power and money! Our story follows the crew of Dead Reckoning and their two men in charge and their lives in a world of corruption and he dead. Our main hero is Riley who is the man in charge of the crew and after their last mission is retiring and is wanting to get a car and leave the area behind him. But sadly for him looks like his money has been taken and his car is just a pipedream and the man he was buying it from is clearly a con man. Charlie is a simple man who has one side of his face burnt and is the closest friend to Riley and is like his right hand man. Cholo is reckless and self-serving but also has most of the crews respect as he gets results, not to mention he also does all the dirty work for Mr. Kaufman and once his rich boss turned on him it’s clear there will be hell to pay! Mr. Kaufman is clearly a smug rich man who enjoys his power over others and does not value those who get him his supplies or keep him safe. The world inside Fiddlers Green is posh and filled with shops and restaurants with armed guards while out side the town is kept safe by electric fences and soldiers with the people being poor and fight for the scraps. The zombies are all around the town and are getting smarter and are bounding together and seem to have had enough of the living! Big Daddy in this issue is really downplayed as he takes a back seat to the female athlete zombie who is the one that uses a tool to knock a biker off his bike for them to all snack on. This first issue holds pretty true to the film it was based on and yet holds a feel of its own making it a really good read. The cover for this issue is amazing and is very eye catching and reminds me of a zombie cover that you could have seen on an issue of The Dead or Dead Walkers. The interior art is also well done and is done by Gabriel Rodriguez who also did IDW’s “Lock & Key” and “Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland”. A very good zombie horror comic first issue that shows he respect to the film and also adds and takes away enough to make it feel like it’s own experience. Lets see what issue two has in store for us, shall we?

Land Of The Dead # 2   **1/2
Released in 2005      Cover Price $3.99       IDW     # 2 of 5

The zombies now being lead by the one called Big Daddy are making their way to the city and are taking the war to the living! Meanwhile Riley and Charlie while waiting on answers about the car watch as a young woman named Slack is thrown into the arena with two spray painted zombies with the crowd voting on what one will get her first. Riley and Charlie make the decision to save Slack and shoot the zombies and even have to kill the little man who was the key to Riley’s car and this leads to them all being arrested including Slack. Meanwhile Cholo and his crew steal Dead Reckoning just as the zombies have broken into the outer walls of the city! Cholo calls Mr. Kauffman and wants five million dollars or he will use the guns and missiles from Dead Reckoning to blow up Fiddlers Green. This worries Mr. Kauffman who refuses to pay the money and brings Riley up from jail and demands that he gets Dead Reckoning back and deal with Cholo once and for all.

The corruption of the ones in power is clearly putting the poor and working class at risk as Mr. Kauffman and his power has put everyone in the small secure town at risk no only from the zombies but also the one man he crossed that has the means and anger to do something about it. Kauffman is such a smug and overly confidante man who lives a posh life style and rubs elbows with the rich but also has his fingers in the underbelly of the town’s illegal activities. Cholo meanwhile is also a very cold person who really only looks out for himself as he wants his money and walks away from a zombie attack leaving people to die so that he can steal Dead Reckoning, and then once had threatens to blow up the town in order to get money. Riley and Charlie clearly make a great team and while Riley acts tough and cold it’s clear he cares about peoples life and that’s why he risks it all to save the life of a woman he didn’t even know. Slack is that woman who is a skilled fighter, but due to her good looks was forced into being a streetwalker by Kauffman and his crime connections, and once they find she is talking to a group of rebels set on one day fighting the powers that be she is arrested and set to be killed in the zombie arena. This issue has some blood, gore and is building the mood to what is to come, the one thing you will notice is that while the zombies are around they seem to be only a background plot. This issue also shows that Big Daddy is the one who is leading the zombie revelation and he and his fellow undead are attacking smartly and have made their way to the cities outer border. The cover for this issue I have is ok and is just a photo still taken from the film and is nothing special, while the interior art once more was done by Gabriel Rodriguez and is once more great stuff. This second issue is solid and builds the story and brings us to the main meat of the story and that’s Riley and crew going out to get Dead Reckoning back. So let’s see what issue three has in store for us!

Land Of The Dead # 3  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 3 of 5

Riley agrees to get back Dead Reckoning on the condition that Charlie and Slack are set free and join him and for a car to leave the city to head north. As Riley and his crew gear up they are forced to also take three soldiers with them that’s Motown a tough as nails female, Manolete a prideful soldier who is named after a bullfighter and the massive Samoan Pillsbury who is a mountain of a man. Once out to get supplies needed they also find the aftermath of the last zombie attack and know that the city is in danger multiple ways! While getting ammo and finding a jeep stray zombies are around the leaves Manolete bitten and having to be shot by Slack, and once far away from the city Riley and Charlie pull guns on Motown and Pillsbury and let them know that they are aware that Kauffman has sent them to kill them after they get back Dead Reckoning and give them an option of going along with the plan of Riley taken the massive vehicle or getting out of the jeep and walking back to the city…they decide to go along for the ride. Cholo and his crew load the weapons and are ready to flow Fiddler’s Green away as Riley and his crew are trying to catch up with them to stop it. But while they are playing war games Big Daddy and his zombie friends have gotten across the river and are on track to attack the city!

Mr. Kauffman is upping the game against Cholo in this game of power and greed as he sends out his own task force to get his stolen war machine back. Riley clearly only takes the job of getting Dead Reckoning back in order to save the innocent people who will be killed in this little power struggle. Riley while a loner and tough as nails always does what’s right and does his best to protect the innocent. Charlie as well is a good guy, who will kill to protect his friends and those who need help he is also very skilled with a gun and always has Riley’s back. Slack who only grew up in the city has never seen the outside world and it’s clear she don’t like what she sees, but she as well is a skilled fighter and has bounded with Riley and Charlie. Motown and Pillsbury are skilled fighters who clearly work for Kauffman and would have killed Riley and his friends when he mission was over, but know that they have to play along or be left for the dead. Cholo really does just want’s what’s owed to him and does not mind killing to get it! Big Daddy and his zombie horde are causing death and destruction and make meals out of soldiers and any human they come across! This issue also brings the blood and gore and shows that while the world is under attack by greed they are the true threats to mankind. The cover for this issue is pretty great and is eye catching for Horror Comic readers, with the interior art once more being done by Gabriel Rodriguez being solid and great stuff! Over all this third issue is fantastic and is holding true to this George Romero film.

Land Of The Dead # 4  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99      IDW      # 4 of 5

Riley and his crew find Dead Reckoning and Pillsbury knocks out Motown who was planning on turning on the group and Riley and Charlie stand and meet Cholo and his crew who take the pair as hostages as Slack and Pillsbury hide in the shadows armed and ready to fire if things go south. When Riley uses a master control on Dead Reckoning to shut down its weapons Cholo and Riley get into a fight and this leads to the now woken up Motown to try and shoot them and one bullet hits Cholo and this also leads to her death as a zombie bites her and Slack putts a bullet in her brain. While at Fiddlers Green Mr. Kaufmann is stealing the cities money and is about to flee when he gets the call from Riley that Dead Reckoning has been recaptured, but when explosions in the city goes off they find out that the zombies lead by Big Daddy are in the city and want human flesh! Cholo and one of his friends decide to go and travel to Cleveland while Riley and the rest of them travel to the city and see if they can help as the city really is being taken over by the dead.

Things are really heating up as the zombies are in full force and have entered the city and are killing and eating anyone in their way. Riley and Charlie risk their own lives in order to get close to Dead Reckoning and Cholo and are able to pull off stopping the planned attack on the city. Riley once in control of the defense machine makes the decision to return to the city to help anyone he can from the zombies. Mr. Kauffman once more shows that he is a selfish person as when things get bad he tries to flee Fiddlers Green and is taking all the money of his residents! Kauffman really is a terrible person and one as a reader you really do want to see get his. Slack and Pillsbury are great back up for Riley as they watch his back during the stand off with Cholo. Speaking of Cholo that poor guy just can not win as in this issue he does not get his money, he does not get Dead Reckoning and worse gets shot and bite! This issue really has it all hit the fan as zombies are now working together and have gotten smarter and yet still want to eat and kill. The issue has lots of blood and zombie carnage and a pretty cool cover that features Slack who is played by Asia Argento predominately and again Gabriel Rodriguez did the interior art and is great stuff. So as you can see Dead Reckoning is in the hands of Riley who along with his crew are off to try and save the day. A great solid read and makes me look forward to see how the final issue plays out.

Land Of The Dead # 5  ***
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 5 of 5

Riley and the crew of Dead Reckoning are on their way to try and save the innocent people of the city and they have to get a drawbridge to drop first and once more Riley risks his life in order to do so, and even must come face to face with some zombies! Meanwhile the now bitten and dying Cholo is dropped off near Fiddlers Green as he wants revenge of Mr. Kauffman who is also on the run as Big Daddy and the zombies have entered the building and are eating the rich. After Riley gets the bridge down they rush to the gates and find that many of the people have been killed by the zombies as the now fully dead Cholo has found Mr. Kauffman after he hid in a limo to get away from Big Daddy who had poured gasoline all over the limo and ground. The zombie Cholo attacks Kauffman by the limo and as the two tussle Big Daddy throws a flaming barrel at the limo that is covered in gas blowing up Kauffman and Cholo ending their greed once and for all. Meanwhile Riley is able save many lives when he fires missiles into a horde of zombies, as the survivors figure out what they want to do Riley, Charlie, Slack, Pretty Boy and the rest of the crew of Dead Reckoning all head to Canada as Big Daddy and the zombies head off back to the town they came from as their work and message was sent.

Wow this really was a great Horror Comic that does a great job of adapting the George Romero film and giving fans something more to have based on it. This issue has Riley doing what’s right and stopping Cholo from attacking the city, is able to keep onto Dead Reckoning and save lots of innocent lives from a zombie attack. Riley all through this comic mini series has been a real loner but it’s also clear he values the friendships he has in a world gone dead, plus it’s great that we have a hero in this comic and in the world it created that’s a true caring person with a tough edge. Charlie and Slack are as well loners who are looking for their own place in the world and find good friendship with each other as well as with Riley. It’s clear that Charlie owes his life to Riley who saved him from a very bad fire that left half his face scared. Slack meanwhile was a good soldier who was forced to be a prostitute who wants something better in life and for trying to better herself is sent to be killed by zombies in a arena cage, before she is rescued by Riley. Cholo is a man who has turned cold due to the world around him going to hell, his goal is to live the good life and once that is taken away from him he will do whatever he can to get his revenge. Mr. Kauffman is a rich scumbag who really only cares about himself and I love how in this comic series they keep his face hidden in shadow making him come off even more evil. Big Daddy and the rest of the zombies are flesh eaters who are adapting and learning and with their new smarts come’s skills in killing and eating humans. Land of the Dead is a film that translated really well to comics and IDW did a great job of making it happen and with this and as well as Dawn Of The Dead makes me wish they would have covered more of the films of George Romero like Day Of The Dead and even Survival Of The Dead. I also wish IDW would have made an ongoing comic series of Land as I would like to know what Riley, Charlie, Slack and the rest of Dead Reckoning is up to and what they found in Canada. The cover I have for this issue is fantastic and very eye catching and holds a classic indie zombie comic look, and the interior art by Gabriel Rodriguez is fitting for this title. Over all this is a very solid and good Horror Comic title based on a Horror Movie and is a nice comic series for fans of the film and is worth checking out for fans. Check out the art below to see how it looks in this comic and see the style of Rodriguez.

So as always super sad that our Monster Bash vacation has come to an end as I really do enjoy that Horror Convention and really love Cranberry, Mars and Evan City as they feel like my home away from home! Also sad as this is the last of the adaptation comics of the George A. Romero films based on zombies…I mean there are some more Night Of The Living Dead comics from the likes of Fantaco, Dead Dog and Avatar so who knows what next year will have in store for me to review for my Monster Bash Vacation. But for my next update, I will be leaving the world of Romero’s dead behind and once more be entering the world of Atlas Comics as I take a look at masked hero The Destructor! So until next time read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Romero film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a bad guy bashing good time.

Look In The Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Hawkman!

DC Comics has been in the comic book game since 1934, and for the longest time was the top comic company in the world until Marvel Comics came onto the scene in 1939. Over the years, they have traded places off and on being the top company in the game. DC Comics has brought the world some amazing superheroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash who over the years have all been on many fans’ top Superhero lists as well as have done their share of bringing in money and readers to DC, but while those heroes are household names, many of DC’s heroes slip under the cracks like Red Tornado, who I covered last year. For this update I am going to cover another hero that I feel does not get the respect and attention he deserves. I am talking about the Justice League Of America and All-Star Squadron member Hawkman, who has always been one of my favorite DC heroes and who I feel has been underrated by comic readers for many years. So let’s travel to the DC Universe and enter that Shadow War as we talk about Hawkman and breakdown his 4 Issue Mini-Series from 1985! I hope you have packed a snack as this one might get a little long as Hawkman has been around for many decades and has lots of cool stuff to talk about.

The DC Universe is filled with many Earths, each with a different history for characters and even in some cases names are changed and even characters have died with new people stepping into the shoes of the fallen hero. But while Katar Hol and Fel Andar have been Hawkman, for me, the only guy to wear the bird mask is Carter Hall! Back in the days of ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu was kidnapped and killed by his arch nemesis Hath-Set, and in the 1940’s Khufu is reincarnated as Carter Hall, an archaeologist from America who soon gains the memories of his past life and is able to figure out that his life means more to the world and that his enemy of the past is also wandering the Earth as a scientist who has kidnapped a woman. This causes Hall to become a costumed hero named Hawkman! As Hawkman he wears a mask, wings and created a gravity belt out of Nth Metal. After saving the woman Shiera and falling in love with her, she later becomes Hawkwoman! Hawkman would go on to be a member of the super hero team Justice Society Of America and even joins the Air Force and fights in World War II. Along with the JSA during the 1950’s, he took on Congress when they wanted all the heroes to tell them their real identities causing the bulk of the team to retire for some time. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the JSA comes back and somehow meets with Earth-1’s Justice League Of America, who, for some reason over the years keeps the kids of the JSA members from joining the team and is thus responsible for the creation of the team Infinity Inc. Due to the massive age difference and after the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, they explain that Hawkman’s aging has slowed down thanks to a super villain who put a spell on the heroes and their spouses…yep now that’s an evil deed, am I right? Now during modern times both Carter Hall Hawkman and the original Hawkman Katar Hol were active in the same Earth, and over the years Hawkman has died, been brought back, joined teams like the Justice League of America, become a terrorist and so much more! This is just a very brief look at Hawkman as sadly the world of DC Comics is one mixed with lots of silly different Earths and reboots that sadly, for the most part, becomes a tangled mess of nonsense. But one thing I must stress is that Hawkman is one kick butt character, and if you like the brief bio I supplied you readers with, make sure to visit your local comic shop and buy a few comic issues that star this mace-carrying winged hero. Check out the images below to see Hawkman in all his glory!

In 1984, Kenner released the first series of their DC Super Powers toy collection, and in that first wave was Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and others that included Hawkman! When I was a youngster, my brother and I tried our best to get any and every Super Powers we could find at local stores with many of ours coming from Hills or Children’s Palace.  The first figures from this series I owned were Superman and The Joker that I got on the same day! Later on I would get Hawkman, who was one of my favorite figures from that toy line. It’s funny to think that as a kid, even though I read comics with Hawkman in them, I always made him super strong in battlers, like he has Superman level power! In 1991, Kenner, the maker of the Super Powers figures, reused many of the figure molds when they started making figures based on the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves and the body of Hawkman was used for the Dark Warrior as well as Little John. In 1990, Toy Biz made a figure that looked like a cheap knock off of the Kenner Super Powers Hawkman, and it stunk up toy shelves. These two figures are only a small amount of toys made based on Hawkman, and for me are the two I remember the most from my youth. Check out the pics below to see what they look like.

Back in 1967, Filmation created a cartoon called “The Superman/Aquaman Hour Of Adventure” that featured 6 minute cartoons featuring the likes of Hawkman sandwiched between longer Superman and Aquaman toons. Hawkman would also go on to star in many other cartoons through the ages like Challenge Of The Super Friends, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, Justice League Unlimited, The Batman, Batman: The Brave And The Bold and Young Justice, to name a few. It’s crazy to think that Hawkman has been a star in so many cartoons that spanned over many decades, and he is not nearly as remembered or loved by comic readers and those who grew up watching these toons. But again,, while he is not as popular as Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman the winged hero Hawkman still has made his mark on the world of cartoons.

Besides cartoons, Hawkman has also appeared in many live action shows and showed that while DC might not treat him with that much respect, young fans did indeed like Hawkman. In 1979, two episodes of a show called Legends Of The Superheroes were made that had Adam West and Burt Ward once more playing Batman and Robin. They were joined by many other heroes like Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, and yes, Hawkman who was played by Bill Nuckols and wore the classic outfit and hammed it up for both silly comedy kid friendly episodes that were called “The Challenge” and “The Roast”. Years later Hawkman would appear in several episodes of the hit show Smallville and was well liked by viewers, but sadly just like in the comics, they decided to kill the character off in Smallville. He was played by actor Michael Shanks. Hawkman, played by Falk Hentschel, would then go onto be in many other modern CW Shows based on DC Comic heroes like The Flash, Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow and while he has yet to be in any live action films, here is to hoping that sometime in the future he will appear in a Justice League film. My favorite live action version of Hawkman is hands down from Legends Of The Superheroes as it’s super cheesy and his over dubbed loud hawk yell is the stuff of legend when it comes to bad TV from the 70’s, complete with laugh track. Plus while the other actors did a great job in their roles, they did not have the muscles and build to pull off the character right. Below are images from all the actors who have played Hawkman on these TV Shows and each have made their mark on the legacy of the character.

I first discovered Hawkman thanks to old comics that came from garage sales, and I was drawn in as I found the comics weird and entertaining. Besides the comics, the Kenner Super Powers figure was also a very big introduction to the character for me. Much like many of the Superheroes from DC, the main issue is that they have silly costumes and names and always seem dated as they fear making major changes to them and this causes lots of modern comic readers to dismiss some of the characters as out of time. But for me, the outdated look and Boy Scout attitude is what makes DC characters so different from those of Marvel. Over the years of buying comics from all the local shops, I always find myself picking up copies of All Star Squadron or Justice Society from .25 and $1.00 bins if Hawkman is on the cover as I enjoy reading about him trying to save the day. So this update is for Hawkman and Hawkwoman and all the creators behind them from the past and present.  While he might not be an A-List hero, he is a great hero who this comic reader has always enjoyed and it’s because of their hard work that made him so awesome.

So we are at the point of this update where we will be reviewing some Hawkman in the world of DC Comics.  The series I chose was The Shadow War Of Hawkman because I remember reading it when I was a youngster and want to see how well it holds up now that I am in my 30’s. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having all the issues in stock and allowing me to be able to re-read them as it’s been too long. One thing I want to stress to all you comic collectors reading my blog is don’t be like me and sell off your collection at an early age to get money to help a girl you were dating at the time.  While I enjoyed my time with that girlfriend, I also have always regretted getting rid of 90% of my collection. With that, let me also once more remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So get your flight wings on, as we are going to war with Hawkman and Hawkwoman!

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

Mousy Mason is a down on his luck cat burglar who one stormy night is visited by a race of mean aliens who bully him into taking a heist for them to steal the anti gravity units from Hawkman and Hawkwoman and threaten him with harm if he refuses. Meanwhile in the city Hawkman and Hawkwoman stop a gang of crooks who have been targeting the elderly, and after making short work of them, they fly off and chat about their old home planet and whether it’s right to read the minds of humans if it is to help them. The pair change into their human identities of Carter Hall and Shiera and start to go to work as they need to set up an exhibit for Mavis Trent and her press agent Joe Tracy, but before they can start, an alarm goes off that someone has broken into their home.  Hawkman heads home to bust the intruder, and Shiera stays behind to work. As Hawkman gets home, he finds Mousy, and the pair are attacked by the aliens who murder Mousy with their vaporize gun and as quickly as they attack, they retreat. Hawkman figures out that this was just a distraction and rushes back to Hawkwoman’s side at the museum but finds that the aliens have been there and that they have used their terrible vaporize gun on Hawkwoman who is now nothing more than a shadow on a wall!

This first issue is as good as I remember it being and showcases why Hawkman is an amazing character that is underrated! The plot of this issue has Hawkman, who has just patched things up with Hawkwoman, at war with himself over the use of his alien powers to look into the minds of man. As he is dealing with that, a race of aliens with a powerful burning vaporizing gun have targeted our heroes as they want the technology that allows them to fly. Hawkman is a man deep in thought who knows that helping people is the right cause, but hates the fact that he can enter the mind of man and see what they are thinking. He is also very much homesick as he misses his home planet and it’s clear that all of this has been a strain on his relationship with Hawkwoman even though they are both very happy being with each other. While battling his own inner thoughts, when it comes to fighting Hawkman in this issue pulls no punches beating up thugs and aliens alike. Hawkwoman is such a cool character who clearly loves her mate as well as fighting crime.  She also has a sense of humor and sadly while fighting against aliens who attack her while at her day job, she is “killed” by their zap gun or so it seems. The aliens in this issue are true scumbags who use their weapons and powers to try and intimidate and kill those who they think are in their way.  They even kill two people just so they can steal a belt! Mousey Mason is just a crook who makes a living breaking into peoples homes, and he becomes the target of the aliens as they use him to distract Hawkman so they can attack Hawkwoman. This poor guy loses his life trying to help battle the aliens that have forced him to enter the home of Hawkman. Mavis Trent and Joe are great side characters with Mavis being a snob who has a crush on Hawkman and Joe Tracy is her smart mouth press agent who likes to tease her as it almost appears he has a crush on her. The cliffhanger of this issue, the “death” of Hawkwoman, is really well done and leaves the reader wanting to find out if she really is dead, and if so, how is Hawkman going to avenge her! The part that works really well for this comic is the fact that writer Tony Isabella mixes this superhero comic well with elements of drama, action, science fiction and even some comedy making for a solid read for fans of Hawkman. The cover for this first issue is fantastic and very eye catching and would surely draw in fans of the character as well as first time readers. The interior art is done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is great stuff and showcases the great 80’s DC art style. Over all this is a great comic and held up very well for this comic reader and now makes me very much look forward to reading issue 2 again after all these years.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 2  ***
Released in 1985    Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 2 of 4

Eddie Hamilton is a young man who dares to dream of one day being a superhero.  He has the power to grow wings and fly if he thinks hard enough about it and even has a name he wants to be known as, The Icarus Kid! While training to control his power of flight in the farmlands of Kansas, those pesky aliens show up and use a new gun to shoot Eddie from the sky, and the blast burns him alive…the aliens have killed yet again! Meanwhile Hawkman is alone in the Museum room looking at the brunt shadow on the wall that was once his wife.  As he leaves the room he asks police Captain Frazier if he could chat with him for a moment, and Hawkman even snaps at artist Mavis Trent as he does not want to speak to the woman who has a crush on his alter ego. Hawkman opens up to Frazier and tells him who he really is and allows him to witness as he disposes of alien tech that he fears is the cause of this alien attack. Hawkman asks the Frazier to keep his men at the museum as he goes off the fight the aliens alone. Hawkman talks to the birds around his house and finds a hint of radiation and is able to pick up the aliens trails that leads him to the side of a mountain that is the hideout for the aliens. As Hawkman enters and make short work of some of the aliens, he soon finds that these aliens are from his own home planet of Thanagar and are working on orders from their government that wants them to conquer the Earth first and then the rest of the universe!

This second issue has the plot thicken as we learn why the aliens are attacking and that they are attacking superheroes in order to get them out of the way before the invasion that’s planned happens! This issue has Hawkman gearing up to avenge his wife’s murder as the aliens are killing and gearing up to attack the planet Earth in order to take it over. The shocking part of this issue is that the aliens are from Thanagar, the same home planet of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and that their home world is now on a path to try and take over the universe! It also is shown that the alien who killed Hawkwoman was not supposed to, he was only told to capture her! Hawkman in this issue is heartbroken over the loss of his wife and wastes no time getting rid of the high powered tech he has hidden and sets out to bring the aliens to justice. Captain Frazier is a good cop who Hawkman respects, and our hero tells him his true identity as well as gets his help to keep the museum safe just in case the aliens come back. Mavis Trent is upset that the superheroes have caused her some delays and bad press for her art showing, but does seem to have something important that she would like to tell Hawkman, but he just blows her off. Joe Tracy in the issue really is a terrible human as he is more worried about bad press than he is that a brave hero just died before his very eyes. The aliens are super cold blooded and are cruel to mankind and even toward each other, and they clearly have lots of high tech weapons that could kill anyone who gets in their way. And poor Eddie Hamilton aka The Icarus Kid is killed before he can truly be a hero of the world. This issue is really great and had enough drama mixed into the action to build the mini series’ story up. The cover is great as is the interior art once more done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala, making this second issue just as good as the first. This issue holds up to my childhood memories, and I can’t wait to see if issue 3 does as well.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 3 of 4

The alien who killed Hawkwoman gets a punishment from his fellow kind as they make his mind and soul bound to a computer, making him a living instrument of information and mind reading. Meanwhile Hawkman is trying to get answer from the aliens he has just beat up and finds that his home world has lost all technology and that they are no longer advanced in the ways of weapons and that’s why they targeted him and his wife. As Hawkman gets his answers, he is attacked by a group of the aliens who beat him down and bind him and just as they are going to steal his anti gravity belt, the aliens are blasted by a stun blast fired by Hawkwoman!! The heroes escape the base and after they are safely away, they take a moment to catch up with each other and Hawkwoman explains that she was not killed in the museum, and it was Mavis Trent who was killed as the artist was the one in the costume, and after she was murdered, Hawkwoman quickly dressed as her in order not to be attacked and killed herself. The pair decided that they can not get any help from anyone as they cannot allow the enemy to find out about their hidden ship and tech and travel to JLA Headquarters in order to erase their history and to do so ,they must stun Aquaman and Elongated Man, but just as they are to erase their history from the computers the screen shows a message from the aliens who have found their old war ship and are on their way to attack and kill them!

Wow, this issue is a roller coaster of emotions as we go from thinking Hawkwoman is dead to finding out she is alive and well! This issue’s plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman attacking and retreating the aliens and having to sneak around and attack fellow Justice League Of America in order to keep the war they are fighting in the shadows and protect the Earth and all the people on it including those with super powers. The aliens meanwhile have figured out a way to read minds and all the world’s computer information and have highjacked the hidden spaceship of the Hawks and are on a path to use the ship to kill them! Hawkman in this issue is filled with rage and wants to not only get information from the aliens but also wants to beat them to death! His mood changes when he finds that his wife is alive, and he is filled with joy but also has the will to save the world from an unknown terror that they do not know is coming. Hawkwoman is alive and is sad that Mavis Trent died in her place, but also knows that she must pull it together and with her husband stop this Shadow War. One cool thing also in this issue is having Aquaman and Elongated Man in cameos, and it’s sad as both Hawkman and Hawkwoman feel bad that they had to stun their friends with guns in order to achieve their goal. This third issue also does a great job of building the story of the Shadow War and makes the readers wonder how Hawkman is going to stand up to a space ship that is hellbent on killing him! The cover for this issue is as well great and has Hawkman fighting with both Elongated Man and Aquaman, and the interior art once more rocks and is done by the team of Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is such great 80’s DC style. With the alien ship heading toward our heroes and this issue as well holding up to this long time comic reader, I think it’s time to read the final issue in this mini series.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 4  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 4 of 4

The aliens of Thanagar have started their war with earth in secret as they have used their mind reading computer to get the dirty little secrets of people in power and will use it against them unless they go along with what they say. Meanwhile Hawkman and Hawkwoman leave the JLA Headquarters with Aquaman and Elongated Man still knocked out and beam themselves aboard their old ship and are met with aliens who want them dead! Our heroes fight off the waves of gun firing aliens and make their way to the ships second control room in order to override its controls as they find out the ship is going to crash land in Detroit on purpose starting the war and making a statement for all mankind. While Hawkwoman works to overwrite the controls, Hawkman battles an alien and gets stabbed as they also cut off the air supply to the ship. Hawkman wounded takes over the controls and does what he thinks is best to save lives and that is he blows up his own ship just as he and Hawkwoman beam down to Earth and the explosion kills all but one of the aliens as the leader of this task force also beams down, but he meets his fate at the hands of the mega mind reading computer who uses all its last energy to blast it’s one time captain. The bleeding and wounded Hawkman and his wife Hawkwoman have saved the world from a war they did not even know was happing. In the end the new artist hired at the museum is shown to be a spy from Thanagar and the Shadow War has really just began!

The Shadow War comes to an end thanks to the heroic efforts of Hawkman and Hawkwoman who had to put their own lives, friendships and even ever returning to their home planet on the line, and the sad part is no one besides the aliens they beat and themselves will ever really know what they did to save the Earth. This final issue in the mini series plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman beaming aboard their highjacked war ship and beating up some aliens and then blowing up their own ship that has been set to blow up Detroit by the aliens! Hawkman in this issue once more shows that he is a skilled fighter, but also is super smart and can use his brain to also defeat his enemies. Hawkwoman as well shows that she is smart and super skilled in combat and proves why she is not a sidekick but a full fledge equal in the superhero partnership. The Aliens from Thanagar so wanted to kill our heroes as well as start the war full force showing that they were cold blooded and murder and mayhem was what they enjoyed. While they might now have been super powered super villains they still were a major threat to the world as we all know and love it. The thing that works so well about this comic mini series is that at all times the odds seem against Hawkman and Hawkwoman and they seem to be trying so hard not to alert Earth to the battle and war that is gearing up to crash down on them, and all this dread and heroic moments makes this feel really more epic than it should feel. And this is why as a kid I really liked this comic series and even now as an adult I find myself still very much enjoying it. The cover of the fourth and final issue is well done and has our heroes beating up the aliens and the interior art once more is crafted by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and show that they are a pair of artist that work so well together. Over all this is a great read for fans of the character Hawkman as well as those who enjoy 80’s era of DC Comics as this is a cool mini series that showcases why Hawkman is still around to this day in comics, no matter how neglected I feel he is by DC. Below is some cool artwork from this cool comic series, so check it out!

So now that we have witnessed Hawkman win the Shadow War, I think it’s time we walk away from the world of DC Comics and their underrated heroes and into a world with giant monsters that come from the deep where our only hope is giant two person controlled robots….that’s right, we will be entering the world of Pacific Rim! Thanks for spending some time with me here at Rotten Ink, and I really do hope you friends and readers enjoy my updates as much as I do writing them. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update as we talk about war ready robots!

Spend Christmas Eve With The Gremlins!

Merry Christmas Eve, and welcome back to Rotten Ink, my cozy little slice here on the web. This day is always filled with big smiles and heartwarming moments, another thing it brings is Christmas movies and TV specials! How many of you remember watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or even “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” on your local station? Or even watching classic holiday films like “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “Ernest Saves Christmas”, “Prancer” or the ever so classic “A Christmas Story” on a cold December night? But for monster kids like myself, this time of the year also brings horror Christmas films that warm the heart as well as chill the blood. I mean who can not want to watch films this time of year like “Silent Night Deadly Night 1-5”, “Santa Claws”, “Silent Night Bloody Night”, “Jack Frost”, “Christmas Evil”, “Elves” or even the film that’s todays update and of course I am talking “Gremlins”! I mean every kid I knew growing up loved this film and everyone I knew talked about it with affection and wonderment, as it was a film we could all bound over. So I want to think you for spending a small part of your Christmas Eve with me and am very proud to bring you this update based on the beloved classic film Gremlins, so join me on this zany update that I hope will fill your mind and soul with a little joy. And I need to remind you of the rules of Gremlins for our own sanity and safety! 1.) No Bright Light, the light will hurt them and could kill them. 2.) Don’t Get Him Wet, as that makes them multiply! 3.) Never Feed Them After Midnight, as this will cause them to spawn from cute little Mogwai to a cacoon that hatches and now you have a sinister Gremlin on your hands! So with those rules in mind lets move onto this Joyess update.

Christmas Gifts red

So as always we should start our look at Gremlins with taking a look at the 1984 movie, I can remember watching this movie around Christmas every year when I was a youngster on Beta Tape and later VHS and it really did become a staple of my Holiday viewing. Even when I got older and worked for Blockbuster Video for the Holidays my Store Manager use to let us play G and PG films that fit the season and I always selected Gremlins, and not much has changed on that front as now at Game Swap if Gremlins is in stock it goes in to entertain shoppers and employees alike! So as always the films write up is coming from IMDB to keep me from being long winded and I’ll also break down its Box Office numbers here in America.

Gremlins Movie Still 1Gremlins PosterGremlins Movie Still 2

Gremlins (1984)

Miniature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. ‘Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.”

Gremlins is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time as it mixes the magic and wonder of the Holiday season and tosses in a dash of Horror. I can as I have said remember watching this film on VHS/Beta when I was a kid and almost wearing out the tapes, as I could not get enough of Gizmo and his war with Stripe and the evil Gremlins. The film was directed by Joe Dante who directed such films as The Howling, Piranha, Explorers and Innerspace to name a few. The stars of the movie are Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller, Hoyt Axton, Judge Reinhold and Corey Feldman to name a few as well and had Howie Mandel doing the voice of Gizmo and Megatron himself Frank Welker lending his pipes to Stripe as well as other Gremlins. The film was Scored by Jerry Goldsmith and distributed by Warner Brothers and executive produced by Steven Spielberg with it being released on June 8, 1984 with an $11 million dollar budget. The year it was released Gremlins made $148,168,459.00 at the US Box Office and was # 4 for the year beating out such other classic films like The Karate Kid, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Purple Rain, The Terminator, Friday The 13th IV: Final Chapter, Conan The Destroyer, The Last Starfighter, Dune, A Nightmare On Elm Street and so many more classic and cult films! In fact 1984 was one epic year for movies as it was filled with many classics as well as cult classics! The film is packed with so many moments that have stuck in my mind over the years from the baby Mogwai’s eaten cold fried chicken after midnight to them playing a miniature Donkey Kong arcade machine, clips of classic Horror movies and TV shows playing on the televisions, Robbie The Robot (Forbidden Planet) walks by in a scene and the stacks of Comic books in Billy’s room all stuff that is fun, silly and great moments of the film.

Gremlins Movie Still 3

The films main star is a cute little guy called Gizmo who is a species known as a Mogwai. Unlike others in his species he is kind and gentile and refuses to be evil like his brothers and sisters who want to morph and become Gremlins. Gizmo is named that after Billy and his father talk about how he likes and can figure out how to use the gadgets the father makes. Gizmo was originally owned by Mr. Wing and later belonged to Billy and then back to Mr. Wing until the old mans death and then he returned to live with Billy and Kate in New York. Almost every fan of this movie growing up I can remember them owning a Gizmo doll and almost every woman I have ever meet who loves this film series LOVES Gizmo. Super smart, super cute and much like Rambo when pushed he will fight back…in other words Gizmo rules!

Gizmo 1Gizmo from Gremlins.Gizmo 3

So we talked the hero of the film so we might as well chat a little about the leader of the bad guys the sinister and evil Stripe! Stripe was born from Gizmo after water is spilled on him and from his birth on he had a sinister streak and also seemed to be a leader to the other Mogwai. Stripe is named this as he has a white Mohawk that looks like a stripe on the top of his head. Stripe also hates Gizmo as he not only as a Mogwai but also a Gremlin will do what ever he can to hurt or kill him. Once a Gremlin the more murderous side of Stripe comes out as he uses guns, saws and arrows to try and kill anyone who gets in his way namely Billy. Super smart and having a real mean streak makes Stripe a very mean foe, but by the end he meets his end and we will get into that a little later in this update. While gone some say he was reborn in the second movie as Mohawk who spends the movie trying to kill Gizmo and Billy and even turns himself into a Spider Gremlin. Love him or hate him Stripe was one of the 80’s coolest bad guys of kid movie cinema.

Stripe 1Stripe 2Stripe 3

The original Gremlins had many stand out creatures from the ski mask wearing robber Gremlin to Stripe the white Mohawk leader of the pack of mischief makers, but for me one of my all time favorites has to be the popcorn bag eared Gremlin who was watching Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the local movie theater! Something about this strange Gremlin who decided that wearing popcorn bags on his ears was the right choice always made me laugh as a kid and has always stuck with me even as a adult. I think someone should make a Gremlins comic book series and have issues that follow some of the Gremlins during the first break out and do one on old popcorn bag ears! I think IDW would be the perfect home for comics based on Gremlins and while at it they should also do a series about The Goonies another film my generation and beyond holds near and dear. While he only had seconds of screen time Popcorn Bag Eared Gremlin will always be one of my favorites in this film just behind Stripe.

Popcorn Bag Gremlin

One thing I should touch up on is the fact many youngsters of the 80’s had a huge crush on Phoebe Cates who played Kate Beringer in Gremlins 1 & 2 as well as had roles in other classics like “Drop Dead Fed”, “Date With An Angel” and of course “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” where she has the famous pool scene were she pops her top! And I was one of those youngsters who thought actresses like Phoebe Cates, Mia Sara, Helen Slater and Kerri Green were the be all of beauty. Phoebe is pretty much retired from acting with her last role being in the 2001 film “The Anniversary Party” and she is married to actor Kevin Kline who is known for his roles in classics like “A Fish Called Wanda”, “Dave” and “Wild Wild West” to name a very select few. Phoebe Cates at the time of this update is 53 years old and as lovely as ever, thanks Mrs. Cates for making the 80’s and early 90’s awesome with your beauty and your acting skill and film choices. Check out below for some pictures showing the beauty of Phoebe Cates.

phoebe cates 1phoebe cates 2phoebe cates 3

While this update is based on the adaptation of the original Gremlins movie, I feel that it’s my duty to cover the second film as well! So once again the film’s plot is taken from IMDB and for me was another fun must-watch as it now added horror hosting, Christopher Lee and over the top silly comedy to the mix.

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Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

An army of malevolent little monsters take over a high-tech corporate skyscraper when a cute and intelligent exotic pet is exposed to water. The “Mogwai’s” owner joins forces with the Trump-like head of the corporation to regain control.”

You cant keep good Gremlins down and in 1990 a sequel called “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” was released in theaters to add another crazy and silly adventure for Gizmo, Billy and Kate to get through. Many things made this movie stick out to me and I might as well share them real quick with you on this Holiday update. I loved the New Gremlins who were cross breed with other things to create such gremlins as Electric Gremlin, Brain Gremlin, Vegetable Gremlin and Bat Gremlin to name a very few. It’s great to see Christopher Lee as Doctor Catheter in the film as well as having Dick Miller return as his character Murray Futterman from the first film. I also really like the fact that they have a Horror Host character named Grandpa Fred who is a vampire that’s hosts terrible movies. You have to think that parts of this movie is spoofing Ted Turner and Al Lewis aka Grampa from Super Scary Saturday. Also a Pro Wrestler has a cameo in the film but we will get to that a little later. The film didn’t do to well for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office bringing in $41,482,207.00 on a budget of $50 million, but made up for it on Home Video. The film ranked # 31 for the year of 1990 and beat such classic and cult films as Rocky V, Darkman, Predator 2, Child’s Play 2, The Exorcist III, Ernest Goes To Jail, Quigley Down Under, Tremors, Duck Tales: The Movie, Death Warrant and Tales From The Darkside: The Movie to name a select few. While not a Box Office hit every kid I knew growing up loved this silly, goofy film! Oh and the picture below is the Phantom Of The Opera Gremlin…yeah he was one of my favorites! I should also note that the sequel was directed by Joe Dante again and starred returning cast Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Dick Miller and has actors like Christopher Lee, Robert Prosky and John Glover added to the lineup.

Phantom Gremlin

When I was a youngster as all you long time readers and friends know I was and still am a huge Pro Wrestling fan and I can remember going crazy when Hulk Hogan showed up in a cameo in Gremlins 2! During the movie The Gremlins stop the film being mischief making little monsters and the theater usher goes into the theater and asks Hulk Hogan if he can help to get the film back on track and after cutting a great promo about soda and popcorn the Gremlins in fear start the movie up again! Hulk Hogan was such a big icon amongst kids I can remember kids on the playground after seeing Gremlins 2 talking about his scene in the movie among the excitement of all the different Gremlin styles. As always The Hulkster added to the enjoyment of the youth with his over the top cameo in Gremlins 2.

Hulk Hogan in Gremlins 2

Like all good kids movies of the 80’s Gremlins sparked a rush of merchandise based around its characters! Such amazing things like toys, novels, kids books, posters, Halloween costumes, trading cards, Shrinky Dinks, Colorforms, shirts, breakfast cereal, candy, Plush Dolls and a slew of other cheap products and junk foods. Growing up I can remember eating Gremlins cereal in the morning as well as had many of the trading cards and ate the candy that we would get from UDF as it came in a plastic head of Stripe or Gizmo and they seemed like something I had to have in my youth. I also owned the Novel adaptations of both Gremlins 1 and 2 as well as many of the kids books based on it. As an adult I own theatrical posters for both Gremlins and Gremlins 2 that are hanging on the wall inside of Game Swap in Kettering and as well have the Colorforms I got from the store Twin Evil. So much merchandise was released for this film showing you that Warner Brothers knew they had something special with this film. So growing up what kind of Gremlin stuff do you guys own?

Gremlins Shrinky DinksGremlins Kids BookGremlins Trading CardsDon Post Gremlins Halloween Costume

Some of the best merchandise has to be the action figures and dolls that was made when the film was released and are still being made even to this day. Growing up I had many PVC figures from Gizmo to Stripe that latter who I also owned a bendable of. I can also remember my Uncle had one of the larger Stripe action figures and my brother and me were so obsessed with it. With in the last few years I started to collect some of the NECA figures based on Gremlins and Gremlins 2 as they are very well made figures and look great on a shelf. Last year Funko as part of the ReAction figure series of retro style 3 ¾” action figures released ones based on Gremlins that showcased not only Gizmo and the Gremlins but also Billy! Growing up I wish they had these Star Wars size Gremlins figures as they would have been a welcome addition to the Toy Wars, imagine Stripe and his fellow Gremlins trying to murder the Ewoks at the Ewok Village playset! So if you’re a toy collector many great actions figures have and are being made based on this iconic holiday classic movie and it’s sequel!

Stripe Toy In BoxNECA Gremlins FiguresReAction Gremlins Figures

Jerry Goldsmith is a legend of making score music and has done so for many iconic films like “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “Alien”, “First Blood”, “Psycho II”, “Congo”, “Mulan” and so many more and of course on this list was both Gremlins and Gremlins 2! The films main theme called “The Gremlin Rag” is such an iconic piece of music and a tune that I find myself humming pretty often, and to be honest I have also caught my girlfriend Juliet as well humming it! The soundtracks are something we play on Alpha Rhythms from time to time as well as on Game Swap’s Radio that plays overhead. While I would say that the original Gremlins soundtrack is a must own for fans of score music, I would say Gremlins 2 while very good and solid is more for diehard fans of the film. But if your love score music like me make sure to give these a listen as they will help add to your Holiday Mood if you’re a Monster Kid.

Gremlins SoundtrackJerry GoldsmithGremlins 2 Soundtrack

Gizmo would also make a leap into the world of Video Games and started out in 1984 when two games based on the movie for Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 was released to gamers, and while the game was nothing special it seemed like a must have for my friends who had Atari’s growing up. The Nintendo not to be left out in 1990 thanks to SunSoft released a video game based on Gremlins 2, this was a game I can remember renting from the video store and latter ending up just buying it used. But while those two are the video games that stand out to me many other more modern games have been made as well based on this film series for such systems as Wii and Game Boy Advance. I should also note that Commodore 64 as well had games based on Gremlins come out it can be said for PC as well. I would love to see a company like Telltale Games make a modern game based on Gremlins for the PS4, but sadly I don’t see this happening.

Gremlins Atari 2600 BoxGremlins 2 NES BoxGremlins Wii Box

So with it being Christmas Eve and all I think it’s time to take a quick break and plug in the old RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) to play a Pacnsacdave game based on the original Gremlins! Yes this is a homebrew NES Games based around the 1984 film and has you take control of Gizmo as you make your way through a building that’s been over run with Gremlins all looking to kill you! I got this game on a NES Cart as well in a great clamshell style package with cover art and must say I was very happy with the presentation of this product and must say that Pacnsacdave does fantastic work with his reproduction products. Christmas time always makes me think of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) as way back in my youth my parents got me and my brother one as a shared gift on this holiday, and I can remember the pure hype we had when playing our very own system and trying as a family to beat Super Mario Brothers and all having a blast playing Duck Hunt. So many great old school memories of the NES with friends, family and co-workers and here tonight I want to share another NES memory and that’s me playing and maybe trying to beat Gremlins!

Gremlins for the NES

I decided to play this game on May 31, 2016 as I had the day off from work and it was right after Memorial Day spent with Juliet and her Parents. I was focused and ready to try my best to see just how far I could get in this game as well as see just how fun and challenging it was. When the game first came in my Cousin Stephen Alexander and myself played it and found that it was super hard, but we were not fully trying like I am today so let me tell you about my time playing this game. As Gizmo I started my mission on top of building and was only armed with baseballs that had to throw at some dogs we want to throw me off the building! Once inside one of the buildings you must dodge not only Gremlins but also security cameras that hurt you when you’re spotted. The game is very challenging and I spent lots of time trying to get into the building as the two crates that I was suppose to stack and climb did not want to cooperate with me on this day. And Once inside I did pretty well dodging the cameras and Gremlins and played for about an hour or so when something really annoying happened…the controller just stopped working! I tried unplugging it and putting it back in but sadly nothing helped and this cut my game playing a little short, but damn what I was able to play was lots of fun and well worth the buy and I really do look forward to playing all the way through soon! So if you like classic 8-Bit games and enjoy Gremlins make sure to check out Pacnsacdaves Etsy shop and get your self a copy of this fun and challenging game.

Gremlins for the NES in a RESGremlins NES Screen ShotGremlins for the NES Case

It’s time for the review part of this update and with the chill in the air I think we should all take a moment and grab a mug of hot chocolate or even eggnog and while at it a few Christmas cookies, as I feel it’s the right time to do so! But remember if your reading this after Midnight do not give any cookies to your pet Mogwai! I want to thank Amazon for having this comic in stock and Gizmo is telling me 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, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to also share with you that when I was a kid I had this Golden Book comic adaptation of Gremlins and at some point over time it was gotten ride of and I thought I imagined that a comic of Gremlins was made when I was 36 and later this year after digging around the internet I found that it was not just in my mind and my memories of art from it was real! So I am really looking forward to re-reading this again and sharing it with you my Friends and Readers this on this special Holiday update. So I hope you have your drink of choice in hand and have Gremlin insurance as its time to unleash Stripe and his band of mean spirited Gremlins!

Gremlins 1 Golden Book

Gremlins # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price $2.95   Golden Book   # 1 of 1

Rand Peltzer is a inventor who is one business trying to sell his new invention called the Bathroom Buddy when he stumbles onto a shop while looking for a gift for his son, the shop is filled with strange items and is run by an old Asian man and his grandson that owns a little creature called a Mogwai that Rand tries to buy but is shot down by the old man. After leaving the grandson tracks down Rand and sells him the Mogwai and tells him the three rules of the creature. The rules are simple no sun light, no water and do not feed it after midnight. Meanwhile in Kingston Falls Billy Peltzer’s car will not start so he and his trusty dog Barney have to walk to work and while doing so saves a cat from being hit by a car that belongs to the town’s snotty old lady named Mrs. Deagle who after Billy leaves she discovers her snowman destroyed and she comes to his work and lets him have it in front of everyone. Billy after work visits Kate a co-worker from the bank he works at, who is also working for a small bar and returns home just in time as his father Rand is coming back and gets his gift the Mogwai he names Gizmo. While visiting to drop of a Christmas Tree Billy’s young friend Pete by accident spills water on Gizmo that causes him to spawn more Mogwai’s who are more mean spirited than Gizmo who they pick on as well as Barney! The next day Rand takes Barney to the Grandparents house and Billy takes a Mogwai to Mr. Hanson who is going to study the creature. But things quickly get worse when the Mogwai’s all eat after midnight and turn into eggs that hatch and unleash mean little creatures known as Gremlins! One with a Mohawk named Stripe kills Mr. Henson and Billy’s Mom is even attacked and must fight for her life against a house full of the Gremlins. After Billy saves his mom he and Gizmo go on a hunt to try and kill all the remaining Gremlins but by accident in the local YMCA thanks to Gizmo armed with a flashlight Stripe falls into the pool and spawns a heck of a lot more Gremlins! Now the town is under attack and this leaves many of the citizens of Kingston Falls dead including Billy’s boss at the bank, his neighbors the Futtermans and Mrs. Deagle! Billy saves Kate who is being swarmed by Gremlins at the bar and along with Gizmo they set up and kill all the Gremlins at the local movie theater by blowing it up! But what they thought was the end of this crisis soon turns into a war as Stripe is still alive and hiding out at the department store and while Kate and Gizmo hide in the main office Billy goes in armed with a baseball bat to defeat Stripe who is using buzz saw blades and bow & arrows to take down Billy, but thanks to his dad Rand and dog Barney his life is spared just in time. In the end as Kate turns on all the store lights Stripe heads to the home and garden area and jumps into the water fountain to spawn more of his kind, but thanks to Gizmo he takes down the tarps covering the window and allows sunlight in and this kills Stripe. That night at the Peltzer house Billy, his parents, Kate, Barney and Gizmo are all together, as the old shop keeper shows up and takes Gizmo back and walks away into the night with his Mogwai, as Billy misses his friend but knows he had to leave.

This adaptation is very kid friendly and tones down the violence and adds bigger panels with large text to allow an easier read for youngsters. The story is intact for the most part but is a little rushed but the plot is still young Billy gets a new pet called a Mogwai and by not following the rules it spawns and his clones turn into evil Gremlins that torment the small town and Billy must man up and along with his true love and his pet Mogwai must stop the invasion. Billy Peltzer is a good young man who is trying his best in the small town he lives in, he loves a girl whom he as crushed on for years, he works a bank job that he don’t fit in at and has his bosses always run him down the road for minor things like the fact he wears clip on ties! But Billy really is a good guy and when the town starts to go to hell he is the one who stands up and takes the fight to the Gremlins and rids the town of their evil ways. Rand and Lynn Peltzer are good parents who love their son and are trying to just get by, while Rand means well with is invention they just don’t work and they are not paying the bills as their home is about to be foreclosed on. But like their son when things go bad they fight back against the Gremlins and try to do their part in ridding the town of them. Kate Beringer is a sweet, attractive and big hearted young lady who does what’s right and clearly is the girl next door who every guy crushes on. Gizmo is also a very nice Mogwai who is well behaved and knows the rules himself of his species and quickly turns from a pet to a member of the Peltzer family, plus in the end to win the final fight he puts his own life on the line to save Billy’s and the towns. The Gremlins are mean spirited and get joy in hurting and killing and in a short time causes so mush problems in the small town that it’s like a bomb was dropped. Stripe is the leader of the Gremlins and is the most evil one of them as he really enjoys killing and wants nothing more than to be cruel and destroy all that’s around him. Side characters like the Futtermans, Mrs. Deagle and Pete all serve their purposes and add some great background characters and in some cases victims. Some major changes from the film to comic is these things No depressing story from Kate about her father dying, the deaths of characters are toned down and less impactful and many of the funny Gremlin characters are missing and besides Stripe they all look the same. The cover for this comic is ok but not really that eye catching as its just a movie still of Kate, Billy and Gizmo placed below a cream colored box that has the Gremlins logo as well as the Golden Book one and the price. The art in side is pretty well done with none of the characters looking like the actors from the film, but the Gremlins and Mogwai look really good. The art is done by Adrian Gonzales who is know for his work on comics like Arak Son Of Thunder and World’s Finest Comics for DC. The best part about reading this comic is the fact that while doing so many of the art panels came back to my memory from when I owned this as a kid and a real sense of nostalgia swept over me. Over all this is not amazing as it does feel rushed and watered down, but it is good and well worth reading for fans of the film and I would say that I am glad to have it in my collection. Check out some art work from this comic below to see the style of Gonzales.

Gremlins Golden Book Art 1Gremlins Golden Book Art 2Gremlins Golden Book Art 3

Ok now that the comic review is over and you know the twists and turns of the story if your new to the world of Gremlins I can talk about a scene from the movie that was super brutal and reminded me of Dracula’s death by the sun in the Hammer Horror film “Horror Of Dracula” and of course I am talking the death of Stripe in the water fountain via the sun! I mean when first watching that movie as a youngster my jaw dropped when Gizmo opens the blinds in the home and garden area and the suns rays hit the body of Stripe causing him to jerk around and melt into a puddle of slime and ooze! At one point Stripe turns into a skeleton and even his bones bubble and melt away, I am sure if you seen this movie as a kid you remember just how brutal this death scene is in a kids film! While Stripe was the most evil of all the Gremlins he in fact meets his end the worst of anyone or thing in the film. But I don’t want to give you to much nightmare fuel this Christmas Eve so all I will say is the death of Stripe I am sure has scarred many of you readers and below is some pictures from his gross death!

Gremlins Death of Stripe 1gremlins22Gremlins Death of Stripe 2

Wow this was lots of fun talking about Gremlins as it really is one of many of my favorite films of the 80’s and is something that for sure has it’s place here at Rotten Ink thanks to Golden Books who made this fun adaptation in 1984. So with Santa coming soon and the Christmas Tree lights glowing I want to say I hope you all have a great Christmas that is spent with loved ones, great food and gifts as that is what mine will be like as I plan on spending the day with my parents and girlfriend Juliet. Our next update will be my top films of 2016, something that we do every year…and wow it’s almost 2017 a year that is packed with many great films including a new Halloween film! So until then have a safe and fun Holiday season, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you next year.

Films of 2016 Preview Logo

Flash Gordon Savior Of The Comic Universe!

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

1980 Flash Gordon 1

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

1980 Flash Gordon 21980 Flash Gordon poster1980 Flash Gordon 3

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

1980 Flash Gordon Queen SoundtrackQueen (Band)1980 Flash Gordon Score soundtrack

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

1980 Flash Gordon toy 11980 Flash Gordon toy 21980 Flash Gordon toy 3

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

1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 Cover1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 screen1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 back cover

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

1980 Flash Gordon comic 1

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

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

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

1980 Flash Gordon comic 2

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

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

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

1980 Flash Gordon comic 3

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

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

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

Flash Gordon 1980 Comic Art 1

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

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Stone Protectors: Trolls Who Wanted That TMNT Money!

Can you believe that it’s already December and we are just weeks away from Christmas? This time of the year always gets me sentimental for the past and when Santa Claus coming down the chimney to bring me toys, comics, movies, music and video games was all that was on my mind and made for many sleepless nights leading up to the big day. I am sure many of you as youngsters used to toss and turn all night with your brain working overtime thinking about what wonders awaited you in your stocking as well as the presents that were just in the living room under the family Christmas Tree, but that dang pesky night time was keeping you away from your holiday wonder. Another thing that comes to mind is Christmas lights on houses.  My mom used to love to look at houses with lights on them, and my Dad would drive us around to look at them when I was a kid, mostly in our town of Waynesville and in Kettering. When I was dating Jennifer Perkins many years back, I can also remember driving around Waynesville and surrounding towns looking at lights as that was something she enjoyed. With it being so close to Christmas, I figured we would take a look at a comic series based on a toy and cartoon line that many people have forgotten about from the early 90’s – The Stone Protectors those cool Trolls with stones for power! So grab a glass of eggnog and you might as well grab a few cookies as we take a quick and fun journey into the world of Trolls!

Crazy Christmas Lights

Troll Dolls were a popular toy back in the 1960’s and 70’s.  They were created by Thomas Dam back in 1959 in Denmark.  After he made one for his daughter for Christmas, the other kids saw and wanted one, and a toy franchise was born. The naked and some time dressed up wild bright colored haired plastic dolls were popular all over Europe and America but mostly with young girls who spent time dressing them up and collecting them on shelves. The toy fad of trolls in the US was very popular from 1963-65, making them a must have toy for Christmas and birthdays. But while the Dam Trolls were high quality, a copyright screw up in the United States lead to other companies flooding the market with cheaper made products that filled toy stores and local 5 and dimes. In the late 80’s, Troll dolls started to make a comeback in America as a new batch of youngsters discovered them at garage sales and thrift stores. They came back out with the tagline “Adopt A Norfin Troll” and were official licensee products put out by E.F.S. Marking Associates. By the 90s, Trolls were being marketed to boys with such action figure lines like Stone Protectors, Hairy Heads a series of Mighty Max toys and Battle Trolls, and this sparked video games, comics, videos and a massive amounts of Trolls dressed in all type of outfits. Lots happened with the rights, from Dam getting his copyright restored in 1994 to DreamWorks releasing a musical animated movie about the Trolls this year. But I am sure you’re wondering what my connection to Trolls is.  I grew up owning them and my Grandma Salyers had many of them as did my neighbor Joanna. I can always remember laughing about their bare butts and trying my best to play with them alongside other action figure, but they never did quite fit in. In my late teen years I worked for Krogers as a bagger and I can remember that we used to sell them for a while in the floral department, but once they sold them out at a discount they were gone for good. One day my good friend Jason Gilmore and I found one in the back stock room very high up almost to the rafters and using a broom that we threw as a spear we knocked it down! Once in my hands I used a sharpie and white out and created a voodoo priest Troll doll complete with a skull face and tribal tattoos! One bagger loved it so much he bought it from Jason and I for $20.  We turned around and used the money to buy used VHS horror films and music CDs. Years later while working at Game Swap in Kettering, Max Ervin took an old Troll Doll and made it look like Kiss Guitarist Ace Frehley! Love them or hate them, Troll Dolls made an impact in the world of toys and at some point in time I would guess most of you readers at least owned one of them in your household.

Original Troll Dolls

In 1993, Ace Novelty decided that they were going to take a stab at making Trolls hip and cool for boys too and decided that they could do so by making them in scale with Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures as well as make them dress like ninjas and pro wrestlers and give them evil and nasty looking baddies to beat up on. In 1993, I was about 13 years old and all the kids I knew were very much into collecting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I only remember one kid every having a Stone Protector at school and it was just a toy line that never caught on with me and my friends. The series had a total of seven figures made with all five of the Stone Protectors being made: Chester, Angus, Clifford, Cornelius and Maxwell as well as two of the bad guys Zok and Zink, with each figures coming with weapons and accessories. They would later also do a line of figures called “Stone Protectors: Sports Heroes” and would have our heroes dressed in sports gear like basketball and baseball outfits. Over the years of going to flea markets and thrift stores, I have seen these little guys all over the place selling as low as .09 a figure! I have also seen them used at Game Swap in Kettering and in the cheap toy bin at Mavericks Cards and Comics. I must truly admit that I have zero connection to the Stone Protectors, and by 1993, the toys I was buying were the likes of Toy Biz X-Men, Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and was buy tons of comic books and was well into trying to impress girls in my own awkward monster kid kind of way. So how about you friends and readers, did you collect and play with Stone Protector action figures?

Stone Protectors toys 1Stone Protectors toys 2Stone Protectors toys 3

Like any good toy line, a cartoon was made to help and push them into the minds of the youth, and Stone Protectors tried to capture the viewers who were already watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Toxic Crusaders or even Swamp Thing but just like the toy line, it failed in its goal as only 13 episodes were made and not all of those 13 aired on TV. Each episode was 30 minutes long and was a syndicated toon that could be aired on the station who bought the package. The toon’s plot followed The Stone Protectors as they tried to protect the Mythrandir Kingdom and its princess Opal from the evil Zonk! The cartoon would also be released on VHS for home video watching, and I must say I have never watched an episode of this cartoon nor do I ever remember any of my friends talking about this show. So yeah, like the toys this cartoon was not a shining star in the time of my youth.

Stone Protectors Toon 1Stone Protectors Toon vhsStone Protectors Toon 2

SNES players were treated with a game based on Stone Protectors for their system of choice.  The Super Nintendo game came out in 1994 and is your standard beat’em up side scrolling game that has you trying to stop Zok from changing the fate of a world. The game was also planned for release for the Sega Genesis but was never released likely due to poor sales of the SNES version and the fact the Stone Protectors failed to capture the toy, comic and cartoon market. I for one have never played the Stone Protectors game and in fact never even remember seeing it on the shelf at the local video rental stores…man, it must have been hard to be the Stone Protectors game as all you wanted to do is entertain and instead all you really got to do is collect dust. Below are some screen shots of the SNES version of the game as well as its cover box.

Stone Protectors video game 1Stone Protectors video game SNESStone Protectors video game 2

Troll Dolls have always kind of been creepy, and they have the cold dead eyes just like the Hugga Bunch dolls.  When surfing the net, this picture popped up and acts as proof that these little naked, dead eyed, creepy smiling little dirt bags are up to no good! I saw this picture years back and laughed my butt off, as it was a clever way to show just how odd these little dolls really are in appearance. The look of terror in this woman’s eyes says it all as the Trolls have her tied up and for sure have wicked things on their plastic little brains. Not much is known on the fate of this woman and the Trolls in the picture are being seeked out for questioning by both the Cowboys of Moomasa and C.O.P.S, so if you have a gang of Trolls living in your house make sure that at night they are locked up as you don’t want to go missing like she did! But for real this picture is funny, and I had to add it in as I think you my readers might also get a laugh from it.

Hot Woman Slave of the Trolls

Before we move onto Harvey Comics 4 issues in the Stone Protectors series, I think I should deliver some nightmare fuel for you tonight, just by simply letting you know that out in this wonderful world we all share are some costumes that will chill your bones worse than any horror film and will forever scar your very soul as some company thought that the world needed full body Troll costumes! Imagine coming home late one night from work and your street is empty as you shut you car door you notice a shadow with hair that is wild and pulled straight up to the heavens and as you start to walk to your door you notice another and then another and as you fumble for your keys you feel something behind you only to come face to face with this costume….its dead eyes meet yours and for the first time in your life you feel total terror! Look below and feast your eyes on these terrifying costumes.

Trolls Costume 1Trolls Costume 2Trolls Costume 3

So there you have it, Troll Dolls can be fun and collectable as well as can be creepy and things of nightmares and mental torture! But we are now at the point in this Christmas Countdown update where we must take a look at the Harvey Comic series based on the Stone Protectors toy and cartoon line, and I want to thank both Game Swap in Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock. While you dye your hair and spike it just to get into the spirit of this update, I need 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 if your hair is ready, let’s go on an adventure with Cornelius and the rest of the Stone Protectors and see just what these guys are made of.

Stone Protectors 0

Stone Protectors  # 0  1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $0.00     Harvey Comics   # 0 of 3

On the planet Mythrandir an eruption causes havoc and frees the evil Zok and his henchman Zink to attack the Crystal Castle, and just in time Princess Opal is able to split the magic crystal into gemstones that come to earth and find a terrible rock band to become a powerful group of Trolls calling themselves now the Stone Protectors! While Princess Opal becomes the prisoner of Zok, the Stone Protectors get onto their tour bus called The Rolling Stone and are sucked into space where they arrive at the Crystal Kingdom and are attacked by a giant lava monster that traps them inside the bus ship and due to magic from Zok, they are frozen in place as his the monster. But the Stone Protectors are not going to be beat that easily.  They play some good old rock n roll music causing them to break free, save Princess Opal and escape. Zok is ticked off and wants the stones that are stuck in the bodies of these troll looking rock stars, as Princess Opal tells them that they are stuck with the gems and that they must be the champions of the Crystal Kingdom! In the end, The Stone Protectors are hyped that they are now not only a rock band but heroes.

This was hands down the worst comic I read this year, and I am not just saying comics I have read for Rotten Ink updates but over all, even ones I have read without writing about…in other words, this is terrible! The plot has a numbskull band being chosen by powerful gems from space to be their protectors and by choosing them, it also gives them powers and draws them into space where an evil goblin looking troll named Zok is taking over a kingdom that was once beautiful. They save the pretty princess and now are targeted and at war with Zok and his evil henchmen. The Stone Protectors are all the same, and none really have any personality besides they all talk like dumb surfer dudes and care about their hair. They fall ass backwards into saving the day and even with super powers thanks to the gems, they still come off as numbskulls. The Stone Protectors also look like Troll Dolls but dressed in over the top hip cloths, and they never reference the fact they look like trolls once the gems attach themselves. Princess Opal looks like a normal blonde who could have been lifted from She-Ra The Princess Of Power, but not nearly as cool. She also really has no personality besides the fact she cares about her kingdom and doesn’t like being called “Babe” as the annoying Stone Protectors call her almost the whole time the meet her. Zok and Zink are evil but not really shown how evil they are as all they really due is turn the castle ugly, and Zok creates a Lava Monster. One thing funny is that by the end, Zok all but flat out says that he will murder The Stone Protectors and rip the gems from their dead bodies…now that’s evil! The cover is not really good and not eye catching.  As for the interior art, it’s done by Bill Valley and looks as sloppy and amateurish as it comes! I have seen high school artists make better-looking comics. Over all this was a poor way to kick off a comic series and really is not making me looking forward to reading and writing about the rest of the issues in this short-lived comic series.

Stone Protectors 1

Stone Protectors  # 1  *
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 1 of 3

The Stone Protectors are attacking a Zok stronghold in the Kingdom, and the battle is pretty one sides until Zink shows up.  The bad guys are able to kidnap Maxx and force the other Stone Protectors to retreat, leaving their bandmate and friend behind. And worse, they soon find out that a spy is filling in the bad guys on plans of attacks, and it’s Haret, the teenage daughter of a top rebel warrior named Lantar.  She is helping the good side lose in this gem war. But soon Haret learns that Zok has been lying to her, and she takes Cornelius to rescue Maxx and the friends fight for their life to escape the bad guys’ base. Once free, Haret confesses to Princess Opal, and she is forgiven and goes on the rescue mission that allows them to save her dad Lantar and all make it back safely where The Stone Protectors have a rock concert to entertain the troops.

This issue is only slightly better than issue 0, and I must say that the downside to this series so far, besides the terrible art, is the fact The Stone Protectors are just bland typical party dudes who are not likable. The plot of this issue is super simple and has a spy leaking information to Zok that leads to the capture of two key fighters for the good guys. Once the spy figures out that she is wrong, she helps the good guys rescue the prisoners and all ends well. The Stone Protectors are as annoying as ever with Cornelius being the most annoying, always talking about how good looking he is and going on and on about his hair. The Stone Protectors are such a poor man’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and have no real individuality to make them cool or likable for this comic reader. Princess Opal, who also for some reason is called Empress Opal, takes a back seat for the most part and only shows that she cares once more for her people and kingdom and is willing to fight herself to try and win it all back. Zok and Zink are around but really offer not to much in the way of action and for the most part, the bad guys of the issues are just henchmen who are easily beat. The cover is better this time around and has Cornelius jumping into action with his swords…and wait a minute, Cornelius is the leader of the Stone Protectors and Leonardo is the leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and they both use swords…man, the Stone Protectors are true rip off artists. The art inside once more is done by Billy Valley and is as sloppy as before and not to my liking at all. Over all this is another poorly plotted and drawn issue that is something I think I just want to wrap up, so let’s move on to the next issue.

Stone Protectors 2

Stone Protectors #  2  *1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 2 of 3

The Stone Protectors are in the middle of battle once more with Zink and the evildoers, but during the fight Princess Opal is shot and is taken to safety were she is diagnosed to have a stage 5 coma, an injury that doctors say she will not recover from. Haret tells The Stone Protectors of a wise lizard man named Mystan who lives in a cave and might be able to help the Princess.  He tells them of a magic healing cloak on the dangerous planet of Turbulantia…and without a second thought The Stone Protectors head out on their quest to save the Princess. Our heroes crash land on the planet and are attacked by weird creatures that are wanting to fight just cause that’s all they know, and after the fight the Stone Protectors meet Giddy who tell them the cloak they seek is being worn by the planets evil king named Gollun who they track down beat up and take the cloak and bring not only Princess Opal back but also peace and beauty to the planet that was ruled by evil for thousands of years.

I am noticing something – this issue is slightly better than the last issue showing that the series, much like wine, was getting better with age. The plot of this issue is as simple as the issues that came before it and has Princess Opal in a coma and the Stone Protectors must take on an evil King to get his magic cloak in order to save their friend’s life. The Stone Protectors are less annoying in this issue and shockingly enough, act like heroes.  While they have cheesy things to say, it’s clear that when given a mission they focus and get it done. Princess Opal is a major part of the story even if 99% off the comic she is as stiff as a board and near death, while other heroes Lantar and his daughter Haret take backseats and only put in cameos. The series’ main bad guys Zok and Zink as well do very little in this issue besides the fact Zink is the one who shot Princess Opal and almost killed her. King Gollun is a pushover, and they take his cloak pretty easily and by doing so the evil King dies! That’s one thing I should point out: in this kids’ comic lots of henchmen and bad guys are killed most with grenades! The cover is pretty cool and reminds me of issue 7 of DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths that has Superman holding the body of Supergirl with tears in his eyes. The art once more is done by Bill Valley, and while still very sloppy, it’s a tad better than it was in the past issues. Over all, this is another bland issue, and with this one out of the way it makes me happy that I only have one more to go!

Stone Protectors 3

Stone Protectors  # 3  *
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 3 of 3

The Stone Protectors and Princess Opal are in a battle are pushing back Zok’s men, and this makes the evil ruler very upset.  He sets a new plan into action that consists of kidnapping the daughter of Yatzir, a powerful spiritual man who can bring to life monsters to fight for the safety of his people, and forces him to join his evil side to defeat the Stone Protectors once and for all. But good always beats evil, and The Stone Protectors save Yatzir’s daughter.  The wizard turns his power on the evil Zonk and once more the good guys get a victory, as Zonk suffers another defeat.

The final issue is super basic and has a paper thin plot showing that this series was in trouble as it was clear they had nothing to really add to the adventures of The Stone Protectors. The plot is simple and bland and has Zonk kidnapping a wizard’s daughter making him join his side in the war for the Crystal Kingdom, but the Stone Protectors save her and the wizard is able to turn his powers now to fight on the side of good. The Stone Protectors are just around, and by this point, as a reader I was just bored with them as in a total of four issues they never did really get personalities that made them likable or even made me care about them. Princes Opal is brave but pretty much has zero personality too, besides she hates being called babe and as I have stated before will fight for her people. Zok and Zink are evil but offer no major threat and both seem like normal henchmen, not the major evildoers they are supposed to be. Yatzir and his daughter have magic powers but like all characters in this series, they have no personality making them feel like throw away characters. It’s clear as day that this comic series was not a priority for Harvey Comics as no time or effort was made to make this cartoon and toy tie-in series good. And like most toy tie in comic series, this has no clear ending and for all we know, this battle for the Crystal Kingdom and the Gem Stones is still going on to this day. The cover for this final issue is back to being really bad and looks sloppy and half assed. The art inside is done by Bill Valley again and looks the same as it was last issue, so bad. Over all if I was a youngster reading these comic adventures of the Stone Protectors, a toy line I was buying, I would be very disappointed and this would not have brought any new fans to the toys as the comics were just really poorly done. Over all, I am really glad to be done with this comic series and check out below for an art sample of this series done by Bill Valley, and keep in mind this is the better panel I could find.

Stone Protectors art 1

After reading these comics this cold December night, I can really go for some Christmas cookies and eggnog as well as a stack of Spider-Man comics to wash the taste of these poorly told adventures of The Stone Protectors. I am also really glad that as a youngster I didn’t have a connection of the cartoon and toys as I would be very angry about the way the characters were treated by Harvey Comics for this small run series. But for those who grew up loving The Stone Protectors, I would love to know what you thought after reading these comics, did you enjoy them? But it’s almost Christmas time and for our next update I want to chat about a comic adaptation based on the classic 1980 science fiction film Flash Gordon by Whitman. So until then, stay warm, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a adventure in space!

Flash Gordon Movie Logo 0

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.

tara the android 1Tara The Android Backyardtara the android 2

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.

Dan Harklessharry chapin dance band on the titanic cdHarry Chapin

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.

unclesam751BQEVJB3JLunclesam

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!

Steven_Barnes the shieldShield 00VictoriaAdamsShield

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.

shield1shield1Shield_2714

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.

The Original Shield Art 1The Original Shield Art 2The Original Shield Art 3

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.

Dawn The The Dead Logo

Gross For One….Gross For All….Madballs!

Growing up most kids I knew had a baseball to play with, but some of us kids of the 80’s had something better to toss around with friends; we had Madballs!! And that’s the topic of today’s update, those monster and gross balls that swept the nation of must-have toys on the playground for a short time. Growing up, I can remember seeing kids on the playground tossing around the Madball of Screaming Meemie.  My friends and I even tried to play baseball with it, but it was a very poor ball to use in a game as hitting it never seemed to equal a home run. I can remember being at my cousins Dino and Norman’s house playing in the pool and throwing Madballs at each other, and as they would hit they would make a splat sound.  We also used Touchdown Terror at their house to play football on Thanksgiving one year. For my birthday one year I can remember getting a Madball birthday card from my parents that also included a metal button of Slobulus if memory serves me. It’s weird, in my youth I never owned an original Madball, but my brother and I did each have a Head-Popping Madball that our dad got for us from Hills Department Store one winter night as a way to keep us entertained when my parents took us to one of my dad’s work friend’s houses. My brother got Wolf Breath, and I got Lock Lips.  They were very cool, and I can remember our Mom yelling at us to stop shooting the heads at each other! We both had these figures for years, but sadly, like some of the other toys of my youth, they were given away or sold at a garage sale. Weirdly enough, in my 30’s I now own two Madballs, with Mavericks Cards and Comics selling me Slobulus and Horn Head for cheap prices about 3 years ago as well as my friend Max Ervin who gave me Screaming Meemie around the same time. It’s odd to think that while I never owned any of the original Madballs in my youth, they remain one of the most iconic toy lines in my mind.  Below is a picture of the original Madballs I own now as I hope you enjoy this update as much as I enjoyed writing it!

  • Note From Matt – In April 2016 Roar Comics started up a new Madballs comic series!

My Madballs

American Greetings is the company who created and produced Madballs.  They were started in 1906 by Jacob Sapirstein and are the 2nd largest greeting card company in the world, and to this day they are still run by the Sapirstein family! Over the years they continued to make greeting cards and also became sponsors for TV shows like Entertainment Tonight and Dragon Tales and ventured out into toys and cartoons. American Greetings has created iconic toy characters like Madballs, My Pet Monster, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Lady Lovely Locks and Popples, and after owning many of them for so many years, they sold Strawberry Shortcake in 2015 to Iconix Brand Group for $105 million. I should also point out that American Greetings is an Ohio founded company showing that we Ohioans really are creative people. I wanted to share a brief look at the company that created Madballs and show them some respect before we move onto the fast pitch of this update.  So here is to you, American Greetings, for making some amazing characters who helped shape many kids’ childhoods!

American Greetings Logo

Madballs hit toy shelves in 1985 and were aimed at capturing the attention of young boys who loved horror films, horror hosts and monster comics. The gross balls were made of rubber and foam and were supposed to be used to scare your friends as well as play sports with them. The commercials for these toys flooded Saturday Morning Cartoons and started a wave of kids begging their parents to get them one.  I will admit that my brother Bryan and I were those kids that they marketed them to, and sadly and strangely, as I noted above, my parents never got us any! Series One consisted of 8 characters that included “Screamin Meemie” a baseball with a face and a large Rolling Stone’s logo tongue, “Slobulus” a green creature who’s got one hanging eye and slobbers, “Aargh” was a blue skinned Frankenstein Monster also with one eye, “Horn Head” is a purple skinned Cyclops with a nose ring, “Skull Face” is a skull, “Crack Head” a cracked head with his brain exposed, “Oculus Orbus” is a giant eyeball and “Dust Brain” a green skinned Mummy! The original Madballs were a huge hit with the kids in Waynesville and were a major talking point between my brother and me for a short time. Parents flipped out over the toys, saying they were too gross and had terrible names, and this changed Crack Head’s name to Bash Brain due to the slang use of the term crack head being used for drug addicts. The worst part about Madballs was that they cracked and parts of the paint would fall off and expose the foam underneath, very annoying and one of the flaws of this toy line for sure.

Madballs Series 1

The popularity of the toyline sparked a second series that showcased “Wolf Breath” as Werewolf, “Swine Sucker” a mutated looking boar, “Bruise Brother” a messed up looking biker, “Freaky Fullback” a freak football player, “Snake Bait” a Gorgon, “Lock Lips” a monster with locks over one eye and mouth, “Fist Face” a hand holding a eyeball and “Splitting Headache” a half peeled face monster! The second series was popular but also was at the point where I noticed the kids at school had shifted towards other toy lines.  Madballs were cool but no longer the must have toy. This second set has many great characters that I would love to have had back in the day as well as even to this day: Wolf Breath, Swine Sucker and Lock Lips! Below are some pics from the second series that will show you also how the designs of the characters got better and how they dipped into the pool of classic monsters (Werewolf & Gorgon) as well as real life goons that scared people (the jock & biker). Also, in the 2000’s Madballs made a small comeback and were brought back to toy shelves as squishy toys.  They made a small impact before once more being sent off to toy heaven.

snakebaitwolfbreathswinesucker

Super Madballs were bigger and were not in the shape of a baseballs but the sport they were named after.  They were “Goal Eater” a soccer ball with teeth, “Touchdown Terror” a football missile monster and “Foul Shot” a basketball with a face and worms in his eye! These were big and bulky, and my cousins were the only kids I knew who had one of them. By the point Super Madballs were released, the steam was out of the line and over time Madballs faded into the world of forgotten toys.  I was not a fan of the Super Madballs back then and still don’t really have a soft spot for them. So let’s move on past, them shall we?

Super Madballs

Head-Popping Madballs featured the popular characters from the toy line, this time with bodies and the ability to launch their heads off as well as swap with other characters. The bodies were made of hard plastic with movable arms and legs, while the heads were rubber and detailed. The line had Screamin Meemie, Horn Head, Oculus Orbus, Slobulus, Dust Brain, Skull Face, Wolf Breath, Bruise Brother and Lock Lips who I had as a youngster like I said earlier. While the original Madballs were really cool, these figures were the ones I really liked, and I can remember playing with Lock Lips alongside my Masters Of The Universe figures. You see the Head-Popping Madballs were action figures, while the Madballs were, well, just balls! For a long time at GameSwap, the body of Skull Face was floating around, and many of us dug through a bin of old toy parts hoping to find its head that we sadly never did. Below are some examples of this series of Madballs, enjoy!

Head Popping Lock LipsHead Popping OrbusHead Popping Wolfbreath

Besides these toylines, over the years many other cool merchandise has been released based on The Madballs like greeting and Valentine Cards, stickers, wind-up toys, t-shirts, VHS tapes, comics and video games! That’s right, Madballs had a video game in 1988 that was made by Ocean for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum that had you playing a Madball rolling around a maze and collecting your fellow Madballs. The game got very poor reviews and never made it to the NES. In 2009, a game for the X-BOX Live Arcade called Babo: Invasion featured two Madballs as characters, Horn Head and Oculus Orbus! So while a modern generation of kids might not know what a Madball is, for us kids of the 80’s there was lots of great merchandise to choose from back then and even a little now!

Madballs Wind UpMadballs Video Game (C64)Madballs TShirt

In 1986, Madballs got the cartoon treatment, and oddly enough, the toons were not made for TV viewing but only for the home video market by Nelvana on VHS. The first cartoon was called “Escape From Orb” and has the Madballs living on Orb, a place that music is banned.  They want to escape to Earth so they can tour as a band, but Commander Wolfbreath and the Badballs want to stop them. The second tape was called “Madballs: Gross Jokes” and had our stars acting out silly skits. I can remember renting the Escape From Orb cartoon from Mary L. Cook Public Library and being super hyped to watch it and rushing to pop it into the old VCR.  After the cartoon I was so disappointed at the back story given to these characters and hated the fact that they were aspiring rock stars…so lame and to me it came off as trying to cash in on the popularity of The California Raisins who were singing their way into hearts around the same time as well as cashing in on the success of bands like Bon Jovi and Poison who were as well very popular at the time with youngsters. Plus I was not a huge fan of the personalities they gave some of the Madballs as they should have been a little more gross and a little more mean. But while I may not have liked the story of the characters, I did find that animation to be pretty cool and it made me wonder why they went the home video route and not the Saturday Morning Cartoon one that could have given the series a shot in the arm and made them last a little longer on the must-have toy list. And before you ask, no I never did own the VHS tapes as a kid and only did get them when I got older and found them dirt cheap at a thrift store.

Madballs VHS 1Madballs CartoonMadballs VHS 2

While Madballs became popular, they also sparked knock-off toys like Bonkers The Ugly Ball, a grey skull face with a grin, and even Odd Balls, a series that had a Devil and even a Mummy as part of its line. Now I must admit that I did have two Odd Balls growing up as I can remember that they were very generic rubber balls that stung when being hit with one during a came of ball tag. The ones I had were Dirty Devil, a goofy very generic devil complete with evil twisted mustache goatee combo as well as buck teeth, and the other was Evil Knievel, a Mummy with purple skin and blood stains on his wrapping. Evil Knievel is the one I played with most, and I can remember tossing him around the backyard, rolling him off the roof of the house and shed and even tossed him over in the neighbor’s yard when my school crush was visiting her just so I could come over and say hi to her…yeah, I was such a monster kid dork back then that I used a Odd Ball to talk to a crush. Below is Ugly Ball as well as the two Odd Balls that I used to have when I was a kid.

Ugly BallOdd Balls - Dirty DevilOdd Balls - Evil Knievel

So we are at the core of this update, the Star Comic reviews! My brother and I had the first three issues of Madballs growing up, and I can remember that we both thought that our issue # 1 was going to be worth a fortune when we grew up.  To no one’s shock, it’s only worth a few dollars and is really common to find in local comic store’s dollar bins. Star Comics was so cool in the 80’s and made so many amazing comics based on toys and cartoons of the time, and Madballs was one of the lucky few that were chosen to be a three issue mini series and went on to be a total of 10 issues! I am pretty hyped to see if the final issue is a true final issue or if it will just end like so many other Star Comics at the time, quickly and dirty with no respect for the readers. Before we go bouncing around with The Madballs, I need 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. I also want to thank Mavericks, Bell Book And Comic, Lone Star Comics and 2nd And Charles for having these issues in stock for this review. So let’s get ready to get totally gross with Star Comic and The Madballs!

Madballs 1

Madballs # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 1 of 10

“The Evil Dr. Frankenbeans” A delivery truck loses 8 rubber balls from the cargo it’s carrying.  They bounce down the road and land in a pond of chemicals at the R.U.I.N. laboratories and turn into Madballs that include Screamin’ Meemie, Horn Head, Dust Brain, Crack Head, AARGH, Skull Face, Slobulus and Oculus Orbus.  They find a nearby park and meet some youths led by Tommy playing baseball, and the two groups quickly become friends. Meanwhile R.U.I.N. head scientist Viktor Frankenbeans and his dim-witted assistant Snivelitch spot the Madballs and want to capture them as Frankenbeans thinks they will lead to him winning a Nobel Prize! When Snivelitch fails to capture them, Frankenbeans plays dirty and uses free drinks to give Skull Face everlasting hiccups and tries to kidnap the Madball but is stopped thanks to Slobulus who uses his slime to trip up Frankenbeans making him fall into his own chemical pond and swearing revenge on our round heroes. In the end, Skull Face is cured of his hiccups with a look in a mirror that causes him to scare himself. The second story is called “Corn-Ered!” The Madballs are playing hide and seek with Tommy and the kids when the corn comes alive and takes the kids captive to an old barn where the Madballs come face to face with Colonel Corn who was once a normal piece of corn until he fell into the chemical pond of R.U.I.N. and now wants to take over the world! Colonel Corn uses puns and a floating ball of kernels he calls Cornball to defeat The Madballs, but they are not down for long as Screamin’ Meemie gets so mad the heat from his anger turns Colonel Corn and Cornball into popcorn!

This first issue was just as cheesy and fun as I remember it to be way back in 1986 when I first read it! This issue shows how the Madballs came to be and uses the chemical pond as a way to turn normal rubber balls into talking scary and gross living creatures who have hearts of gold and befriend the local youth as they just want to have fun. None of the Madballs stand out as the leader and each are just filled with bad puns and really silly bad habits like drooling and screaming. It’s pretty amazing seeing a kids comic use the name Crack Head as the character is used in many spots and gets his time to shine. Dr. Viktor Frankenbeans is a mad scientist who is working for R.U.I.N. and is making terrible chemicals that not only smell bad but also are causing harm to nature and people.  He seems not to care as he is only seeking fame in this issue. He reminds me of a cheaper version of Gargamel from The Smurfs as his look and attitude are kind of matching. Snivelitch is a goon who is shown to not be very bright and is the whipping boy for Frankenbeans who jumps at any chance to put his goof assistant down. I am sure Snivelitch will act as the comic relief as I can see him screwing things up in the coming issues. Colonel Corn is the master of puns and with his play on words is able to beat down The Madballs, but when he is defeated and his head kernels are popped and turned into popcorn, he is just a husk head of a man watching as the kids and The Madballs eat what was once his face…. I want you to think about that….it’s like being weak and defeated and watching as zombies ate your face flesh meat while watching the Care Bears…sick twisted stuff. The cover is top notch and fantastic and I am sure caught the eye of many kids on the newsstands.  The art inside is also well done for this style of kids comic and was done by Howie Post (Howard Post) who is known for his comic strip The Dropouts as well as his work for Harvey Comics. He also did the artwork for some issues of Wally The Wizard for Star as well as the Centipede promo comic from DC, both of which I’ve covered here on Rotten Ink. An A-list artist for kids comics was on board for this one! Over all I can say I enjoyed this comic back when I was a kid and still did when I read it again.  So let’s see how issue two holds up.

Madballs 2

Madballs # 2  **
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 2 of 10

“Dr. Frankenbeans Returns” The Madballs are having fun with the kids when Oculus Orbus decides to go bird watching and goes on an adventure of his own. Meanwhile Dr. Frankenbean has come out of the chemical pond and comes up with a plan with Snivelitch to get The Madballs under his control.  It includes getting the help of Miss Tic The Mystic who hypnotizes The Madballs to be under Frankenbeans’ control so he can have them turn on the kids! In the end Oculus Orbus returns and reverses the spell and has Frankenbeans, Miss Tic and Snivelitch thinking they are ducks and swimming in the pond. “Meet Weirdbeard The Pirate” Tommy and the kids are fishing with The Madballs.  They enter a fog bank that takes them back in time where they are kidnapped and forced into slavery by Weirdbeard and The Madballs are tossed into the sea. Weirdbeard needs this crew as he wants to find the hidden treasure of Peg Leg Peg.  On the Island The Madballs with the help of a octopus save the kids and find the fog to get back to their time.  As for Weirdbeard, he gets himself gets captured by Peg Leg Peg who makes him her slave!

This second issue is good but did slip a little as it’s not as fun as the first issue.  In fact, the stories in this issue seemed a little rushed and both would be better as backup stories in an issue with better plotted stories. The return of Dr. Frankenbean is a letdown as his plan to get revenge is taken apart in moments by Oculus Orbus who turns the table on him and once more places him in the chemical stew pond. Miss Tic is a goth woman who has the power of hypnotizing the weak of mind and can also read minds, funny thing about that is Snivelitch has dirty ideas in his mind when it comes to Tic! The atmosphere for the first story’s castle of Miss Tic is well played as it reminded me of a set used on a Horror Host show from the 70’s. The second story of Peg Leg Peg and Weirdbeard was not my thing and for the most part I was bored reading it as it had a very generic feel. Here is to hoping we won’t see Weridbeard or Peg again but that we will see Miss Tic again as I could see her joining the fight against The Madballs more often. Oculus Orbus is the only Madball who stands out this issue as he uses his power of being a big eye to reverse the hypnotic spell and save his friends from being mindless slaves. The rest of The Madballs all kind of do what they do and that’s deliver puns and have fun doing things with their friends Tommy and his crew. The cover is well done and once more eye catching with the first story’s art by Howie Post and the second one by Roberta Edelman.  Both do a great job with the art even if the stories are a little lackluster. I’m going to move on from this issue to the third one and hope that it has better stories.

Madballs 3

Madballs # 3  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 3 of 10

“Attack Of The Bad Balls” Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch hide and listen to The Madballs and the kids talking about how the chemical pond turned 8 regular balls into their gross friends they call The Madballs. Frankenbean returns to R.U.I.N and tries to make his own version of talking gross balls.  Only after nearly giving up and using bowling balls does it work and out come The Badballs who are Smasher, Crasher and Trasher.  They have a rumble with The Madballs that leaves our heroes having to make a run for it! But once more Crack Head comes up with a plan that leaves the Badballs falling back into the chemical pond and turning back into boomerang balls that knock out Frankenbean and Snivelitch as the Madballs spin some more puns. The second story is “Now Museum, Now You Don’t” that has The Madballs running loose in a museum and the security guards are trying to stop them as hijinks run wild that leaves them all crashing into a big gross mess and being mistaken for art! The third story is “ Spaced Out” The Madballs bring down a U.F.O as they fear it might attack Tommy and the gang.  Inside is Rojad who came in peace but feels The Madballs are attacking him so he uses his shrink gun and turns them to the size of peas! As he grabs them, they muster all their power and take Rojad for a quick ride.  The alien and The Madballs patch things up, and they soon find out that his ship is out of fuel and the fuel he needs is the drool slime of Slobulus who he tries to kidnap. The Madballs must tangle with Rojad again, but after the fight they become friends as Slobulus fills his tank up and even gets a gold tooth as payment!

This third issue is a fun goofy ride and, like issue one, captures the gross nature of The Madballs and adds in some trouble for them to face that seem like actual threats. This issue also has three stories instead of two, giving you more silly adventures for the 75-cent price tag. The best story of the three has to be “Spaced Out” as I like the idea of The Madballs fighting an alien who wears yellow and has a robot like face.  The idea that drool slime fuels his ship is also classic 80’s toy and comic stuff. The Madballs in the issue are shown to be fighters and thinkers as they outsmart not only The Badballs but also Rojad and do so with smarts and might. They are also very protective of their human friends.  If they think they are in danger, they will attack and defend with all their round might. Oh yeah, Crack Head once more shows that he is smart as he comes up with a plan to defeat the Badballs that works! Like in all of the issues up to this point, the Madballs spend lots of time spewing out cheesy puns that young kids would laugh at. The Badballs are three tough as nails bowling balls who are bullies, but soon find out that their heavy nature helped them in the fight but also was their downfall. Rojad was not really a bad guy but did have The Madballs on the ropes with his shrink gun.  For an alien that came in peace he sure did turn evil when it came to kidnapping poor Slobulus! Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch once more come up with a plan to get revenge and as always fail at that mission. The cover is great and would catch the eye not just of Madball fans but also Monster Kids as it has a very Frankenstein feel to it, or at least I think so. The art is once more done by kids comic legend Howie Post and shows why he was a go to guy for these type of comics. I’m glad to see the series back on track with this issue, and I hope the fourth keeps it up! Plus, this is a Star Comic that went on after its 3-issue mini series, now let’s take bets if it has a true final issue.

Madballs 4

Madballs # 4  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 4 of 10

“The Madballs Meet The New Madballs” Dr. Frankenbean is depressed about not being able to get his revenge on The Madballs, and this has taken over his life until he and Snivelitch come up with a plan that has them throwing eight more rubber balls into the chemical pond.  Out comes eight new Madballs that are Wolf Breath, Swine Sucker, Snake Bait, Lock Lips, Fistface, Freaky Fullback, Splitting Headache and Bruise Brother! Frankenbeans tricks his New Madballs into going to the park and rumbling with the old ones, and boy do they, as each team has members fall.  It comes down to Horn Head and Bruise Brother clashing head on that causes the ground to crack, and Tommy falls in! When all The Madballs and New Madballs awaken, they figure out they are all brothers and they save Tommy and chase off Frankenbean and Snivelitch and all sixteen Madballs make their home in an abandoned dance hall. “Anchors Away” Tommy and the gang along with Madballs Screamin’ Meemie, Slobulus, Dust Brain, Wolf Breath, Snake Bait and Fist Face are rush home to watch the news, but before it comes on Wolf Breath along with Snake Bait and Slobulus all go for the kitchen for a snack and don’t see that news anchor Ben Defax has hypnotized his viewers into giving him all their wealth.  He’s also begun wearing a mask in the shape of a boat anchor and calling himself Anchor-Man! His power comes from his microphone, and the three Madballs figure out a way to defeat him and break his hold on the viewers when Wolf Breath’s bad breath breaks the hold on the fellow Madballs and Snake Bait uses his snakes to crush the microphone.

This issue is the first for The Madballs to break the mini series banner and become a full series as Star Comics listened to the readers and gave them more gross out adventures than what was planned. Plus this issues adds in the eight Madballs that were released in series two into the plot and has them joining the others as well as Tommy and his friends in having fun and foiling the plots of Frankenbeans. I must say that adding the New Madballs to the cast was really cool as seeing Wolf Breath and Swine Sucker in action is cool, but it also dilutes the cast as now some Madballs seem to take a backseat and others seem to be the focus as Snake Bait is showcased more in this issue than Oculus Orbus, AARGAH and Crack Head (who is now being called Bash Brain) combined! It’s nice to see Frankenbean and Snivelitch come back to the now on-going series, and they and the R.U.I.N. Lab are great as the major bad guys to the series. The main baddie is Ben Defax aka Anchor-Man, who wants to use his fame of being on TV and his hypnotizing microphone to steal from his fans.  He’s a real ego driven jerk who wears a dumb giant boat anchor mask to add fear to his life in crime. In this issue we also find out that The Madballs are make home in an abandoned old play theater and this run down setting is great for their gross home base. I enjoyed both stories equally, and it was nice to see The Madball rumble in the first story as it’s clear only a Madball can defeat a Madball. The art in this issue is done by Howie Post once more, and it’s fantastic and the cover is good.  Over all this is a solid kids comic based on a toy line, and so far I am enjoying it as much as I did when I was a kid and first read them.

Madballs 5

Madballs # 5   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 5 of 10

“Plus 3 Makes 19” Dr. Frankenbean is very upset over the 16 Madballs and how they have foiled his evil plans.  When Tommy and the gang go to get ice cream, he steals their soccer ball, football and basketball and tosses them into the chemical pond and out pops The Super Madballs named Touchdown Terror, Foul Shot and Goal Eater.  He sends them out to beat up The Madballs, and the rumble starts and ends soon as Freaky Fullback and Touchdown Terror find they have lots in common and they discover that they are all one big gross family! The Super Madballs chase down Frankenbeans and Snivelitch and toss them into the chemical pond, and all ends well for the ever growing Madball family. “Veg Out” has Dr. Frankenbean getting help from a hypnotist after his last defeat at the hands (or is that heads?) of The Madballs that has him now focusing on growing vegetables.  After a mistake made by Snivelitch, instead of water he sprays his garden with liquid from the chemical pond and out comes The Vegeterribles that include Rotten Tomato, Crushroom, Paul Onion, Spud-Nick, Pea Shooter and Iceberg Lettuce who he wants to send after The Madballs! The two groups rumble in the old Abandoned Theater, and Frankenbean and Iceberg Lettuce freezes Tommy and the kids in blocks of ice making The Madballs surrender. In the end Horn Head and Swine Sucker rush to the R.U.I.N Lab and save The Madballs, and Swine Sucker eats The Vegeterribles and they bury Frankenbean and Snivelitch as if they are vegetables!

This is another good issue but I must also point out that this comic series is also becoming very paint by numbers as many of the stories has The Madballs having a run in with some sort of bad guys who they beat is some cheesy pun filled way.  Frankenbean uses the chemical pond to create new versions of the Madballs who turn on him in no time and so on and so on. But with that out of the way, let’s take a look at this issue as both stories have select Madballs fighting against another group of mutated baddies with the first ending in friendship and the second with victory as their enemies are eaten alive! Dr. Frankenbean is becoming more and more mad with revenge as this series continues and he is even willing to put children in harm’s way in order to destroy The Maballs.  If he continues down this path, by the final issue it looks like he will have a collection of bodies buried in the basement of R.U.I.N Labs all the while thinking the clock on the wall is telling him when it’s “Revenge” time….In other words, he is going crazy! None of The Madballs really stand out as at this point, there are just too many of them and they are having to be split up just to try to work them into the plot.  Some are so loosely in the story that they don’t really add much. The Super Madballs are cool to see, but I really hope this issue is the only one they appear in though I have a bad feeling they will return and clog up the weakening stories even more. The Vegeterribles are cool but kind of a waste as they are killed, and I mean murdered, by the end of the second story. The cover is great but shows you just how clustered the characters are getting with the art from the first story being done by Howie Post and the second done by Michael Gallagher.  Both are good stuff. Over all I am being a little generous with this issue’s star rating as it’s more like a two, but I did have fun reading it.  However, if things don’t change up in the next issue I will not be as kind.

Madballs 6

Madballs # 6  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 6 of 10

“Mad Love” Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch find one last rubber ball near the lab and along with some make-up they toss it into the chemical pond and out comes MadBelle, a gross female who causes Horn Head, Foul Shot, Fist Face, Swine Sucker and Bash Brain to fight amongst themselves to win her heart when he tricks them to come to the lab for a party. Just as they are about to ram themselves into a tree to see who wins a date with her, Madbelle stops them and tells them she is in love with Snivelitch, and The Madballs figure out they have been set up and turn the tables once more on Dr. Frankenbeans. “Maiden Hong Kong Blues” Chin, one of Tommy’s friends, is shocked when he finds that his dad’s restaurant has been wrecked by Maiden Hong Kong and her bodyguards sumo wrestler Topknot and ninja Ninjun Joe who want bad fortune cookies given out! In the end The Madballs, come up with a plan to stop Maiden Hong Kong from getting her request and send her to jail.  After the victory they have a great Chinese food meal.

Once more Frankenbean tosses a ball into the Chemical Pond to create something to get his revenge on The Madballs.  By this point I am getting pretty sick of this format and starting to wonder why they are doing this plot over and over again. I mean, I get the comic is based on a toy and that they are trying to do a cartoon style format with it, but good God enough is enough! Madbelle is lame and her whole reason to help bring down The Madballs is thrown out the window as she is just used to deliver dumb puns and fall in love with Snivelitch. Speaking of Snivelitch, he and Frankenbeans once more are just around for blah revenge and in the end both get what’s coming to them. The second story is the better of the two by far and has select Madballs having to tangle with a sumo wrestler and ninja all in the name of fortune cookies! But still nothing new over all and in fact it’s as stale as the last issue.  While enjoyable, the been there, read that feeling creeps into your brain and makes it slightly less enjoyable. If not for the second story, this one would have been rated lower. The cover is okay, and the art is done by Howie Post and Michael Gallagher again marking at least good art quality making up for the lack of story in the first segment. Also I am pretty sure we have not seen the last of Maiden Hong Kong and her goons as I think they will be out for revenge soon, but I hope this is the end of Madbelle as she was kind of a waste. Let’s just move onto issue seven and hope it steps it up next issue.

Madballs 7

Madballs # 7   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 7 of 10

“Body Builders” Madballs Skull Face, Dust Brain, Slobulus, Snake Bait, Lock Lips and Wolf Breath are feeling down that they do not have bodies and come up with a plan to trick Frankenbean into making them bodies! After a trick that has them breaking down a old building, Frankenbean thinks they have turned evil and shares with them his new invention the FrankenTank that will be used to cause panic and help him take over the world! With the help of the chemical pond and the bodies of dolls, The Madballs now have bodies and rush off to test them out. Unbeknownst to Frankenbeans, they are really building vehicles to combat his and in the end they are able to destroy his tank and save the world from his evil plan. “Tourist Trap” has select Madballs like Screamin’ Meemie, AARGH, Goal Eater, Fistface and Bruise Brother all going on a vacation to an island where they meet the scum bag Bermuda Schwartz The Terrible Tourist, who uses his cheap cigar smoke, freezing camera and tacky shorts to rob people and places, but with the help of a cheap mirror and luck, Fistface is able to turn the tables on this terrible man and send him to jail while they enjoy the rest of their vacation.

Finally a slight change of pace that kept lots of the same feeling but added a little seasoning to spice it up. The first story has select Madballs getting bodies and tricking and defeating Frankenbeans as the second story has select Madballs stopping a terrible tourist from robbing banks, hotels and people! The second story is short and is a nice backup to the first, even if it lied and used the name Tourist Trap as I did not see Chuck Connors as Mr. Slausen from the film of the same name.  But really it’s a cool fun short story with a funny baddie set up for them to knock down as Bermuda Schwartz is the perfect example of a person who takes the fun out of being places with his only-me attitude. Frankenbeans in this issue goes from hating Madballs, to loving Madballs like they are his children to hating them again! He is who he is and while paint by numbers, I will say he is the perfect 80’s kid comic/cartoon bad guy! None of The Madballs stand out once more and share about the same panel time, but the stand out in this issue for me has to be Fistface, who is the one who beats Schwartz at his own annoying game. The art is done by Post again, and the cover on this one is pretty cool even if it misleads a little as Frankenbeans never rides a cycle and Horn Head is not in the issue at all. Over all, it’s good standard kid comic stuff that for the most part is doing these toys justice.

Madballs 8

Madballs # 8  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 8 of 10

“Younger Than Springslime” Our story starts with Frankenbeans and Snivelitch running up a mountain from Touchdown Terror, Wolf Breath and Horn Head who caught the R.U.I.N Lab workers trying to blow up their home! But while hiding in a cave, Frankenbean finds the fountain of youth and comes up with a plan that leads to the three Madballs diving into a small pool of the water and turning them into Baby Madballs! But he soon finds that the toddler Madballs are driving him crazy with trying to win his attention, and after a dip in the Chemical Pond, they turn back into adults and decide to drop Frankenbeans and Snivelitch into the youth water giving them a taste of being young all over again! “Weather I’m Right” is the second story and has Skull Face, Goal Eater, Lock Lips, Snake Bait and Screamin’ Meemie heading to the TV Station to yell at weather lady Gail Warning who reported it would be sunny but in fact it’s a severe thunderstorm! They meet up with reformed former bad guy, Ben de Fax aka Anchor Man, who tries to warn them but it’s too late as Gail is indeed evil and she controls the weather! After freezing them and sending them to the North Poll, The Madballs find away to return to town and thanks to Snake Bait’s snakes they are able to get her weather wand and break it and safely deliver her to the cops as she is booked on crimes against nature.

The Madballs in this issue turn into babies and fight the weather, and readers are treated to these two silly stories that are pure kid comic gold.  This is a fun way to showcase The Madballs as they do good and in some odd way are teaching some sort of lessons like don’t mess with nature and be proud of your age. The Madballs that stick out in this issue are Goal Eater, who saves his fellow Madballs from freezing to death, and Snake Bait, who uses is snake like charm to rid the world of the weather wand. Frankenbeans and Snivelitch are pretty much the same as every issue as revenge is on their minds, and they know that their plan will end badly but they still take the chance. Nice to see Ben de Fax aka Anchor Man back in a cameo and that the TV Station didn’t fire him even after he robbed viewers. The new TV Station evil on air personality is Gail Warning, and she is a hot to trot blonde who for some reason gets joy in reporting the weather wrong…yeah, what an odd motivation. The best story of the two I would say is Weather I’m Right as I liked the flow a little better and the story moves at a wacky and fun pace. The art for the first story was done by Post and the second one was Gallagher, and like I broken record I will say it was fantastic and fitting.  The cover as well is pretty dang cool and showcases the Madball Babies! On a side note before we move onto the next issue, this marks the final issue under the Star brand name as the next two will sport the Marvel Comics logo.

Madballs 9

Madballs # 9  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 9 of 10

“The Return Of Everyone” The twisted mind of Dr. Frankenbeans comes up with an idea to free Miss Tic The Mystic from jail, and when he and Snivelitch do so, they also free some of the other Madball baddies like Anchor-Man, The Bad Balls, Weird Beard The Pirate, Maiden Hong Kong and Colonel Corn.  Their plan is to attack five locations unless money is paid to them! The city calls on The Madballs for help who break into five groups to try and stop the madness and return these bad guys to jail. The first group goes to the Midwest, and they are Goal Eater, Snake Bair, Oculus Orbus and Screamin’ Meemie as they take on Colonel Corn! While in China, Dust Brain, Lock Lips, Bash Brain and Swine Sucker tangle with the sinister Maiden Hong Kong! In L.A. Wolf Breath, Splitting Headache, AARGH and Horn Head find the wicked Anchor-Man up to his old tricks, while on the Atlantic Ocean Skull Head, Fist Face, Freak Fullback and Touchdown Terror battle on a ship with Weird Beard who has kidnapped Tommy and the gang of kids! While at R.U.I.N Lab, Foul Shot, Slobulus and Bruise Brother must come face to face with the team up of The Bad Balls, Dr. Frankenbeans, Snivelitch and Miss Tic! And with the readers help to solve puzzles like cross word, connect the dots and word find The Madballs defeat their enemies and make them all jump into the Chemical Pond.

This issue is hands down one of the best in the series and tells one story that brings back almost all the series’ main bad guys for one final battle! Plus it also showcases all The Madballs, New Madballs and Super Madballs making it feel like a one issue Madball version of Secret Wars. Miss Tic The Mystic is the brains behind the newly formed team of haters, and she is also one of the last to fall in battle.  It was great seeing her again as well as all the other baddies. While the fights are not fully shown as the puzzles act as your way to defeat them, it was nice for many of them to get that one last shot at being in the comic and trying to get revenge on those dang Madballs. Once more none of The Madballs stand out as they all play a part in trying to save the world from paying these goons to not do evil deeds. I like the idea of the puzzles being the way for The Madballs to win as it gave kids a challenge and made their minds work to solve them to further the story. My favorite bad guy who returns has to be Colonel Corn who uses his corny puns to defeat his enemies, and like before The Madballs pop his head into popcorn! Plus is clear that Snivelitch wants some Miss Tic booty and even dresses up to try and impress her. The cover is great and showcases some of The Madballs as well as some of the Bad Guys and is eye catching for fans of the series. As always Post does the art and rocks it! For the first issue being done under Marvel, this one is better than almost the whole Star Comic run and that’s because this one has action, fun games and a solid story.  Let’s see how the final issue holds up!

Madballs 10

Madballs # 10  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 10 of 10

“Fantastic Voyeurs”  While walking in the field near R.U.I.N Lab,Dr. Frankenbean finds the shrink gun of Rojad and wants to use it to shrink The Madballs into micro size terrors he can deal with but Touchdown Terror, Bash Brain and Fist Face come crashing in and cause Frankenbeans to have a breakdown and a virus called Unchained Melody is running rampant in his body! Snivelitch begs them to let him shrink them so they can save Frankenbean from death’s door and after thinking about it, they agree and enter Frankenbeans throat to save his life! But they only have 20 minutes to do so as the effects of the gun will run out and they will grow normal size stuck in his body! But in the end they beat the virus and escape his body and all things go back to normal. “Compose Yourself” this last adventure has Swine Sucker, Freaky Fullback, Oculus Orbus and Screamin’ Meemie going up against Grammar Moses, an old lady who uses a grammar stick to beat people who abuse the words! After being knocked around by her, thanks to giant question marks and quotations Screamin’ Meemie uses his loud words to bust her hearing aid and is able to defeat her, but they see she is a good person and it ends with her being a tutor to them so they can speak better.

The final issue is not a farewell issue, and the series does not get its ride off into the sunset instead it just ends like so many other Star Comics and Marvel titles before it. The first story is like the film Innerspace and has The Madballs entering a human body to save a life, dumb silly and a fun read for sure. The second story is a grammar lesson and has them fighting an old lady with her board that she has dubbed the board of education. The Madballs final battle with Frankenbeans and Snivelitch is really more of a rescue mission, and I am okay with that as in my head this could be the moment the feud ended between them. Grammar Moses is pretty silly but fitting when used to educate about the use of words and grammar. Touchdown Terror is the standout in the series as he seems to be calling the shots in the first story when some of The Madballs are shrunk. Would you like to know my top four Madballs that appeared in this series? While I liked them all in my own way, I would have to say my favorites in order are Horn Head, Swine Sucker, Wolf Breath and Crack Head (Bash Brain) with Dust Brain and Fist Face also coming in very close. The art is done by Howie Post again, and I will say that his work shines in these kind of kids comics, and he would be the artist I would have loved to have seen make a Commander USA comic for Star. The cover for the final issue is okay, nothing ground breaking but would for sure get the attention of fans of the series and toys. Again to sum up this series, it was pretty good and I would say it’s on the level with such other Star Comics we have looked at like Inhumanoids, Foofur, Hugga Bunch, AniMax and Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos but not as good as Thundercats, Wally The Wizard and Defenders Of The Earth. If you grew up with the toys and enjoy comics based on toys check it out, if you like Star Comics and kid comics in general check it out. Below is some artwork from the series that showcases select Madballs in action, enjoy!

madballs art 1

Madballs is a good average kid comic series based on a toy line but it’s also very limited as they are just flying balls who can only really fight with the power of being gross and headbutting…so He-Man or G.I. Joe they are not, but entertaining they were. For our next update, we are heading back to the old theater as we take our third look at Marvel At The Movies! So make sure to come back for that one as we will be covering some fantastic adaptations in it. Until then, read a comic or three, collect your childhood toys and support your local horror host! And make sure to bring enough popcorn to share with others for the next update.

marvel-at-the-movies-3

Starriors: The Robots Who Ruined Christmas

When I think of the month of December, lots of things come to mind like Christmas, cookies, hot chocolate, family, snow and of course toys! Kids of my generation and before know the wonder of all the cool toys that became the must-have gifts you wanted from Santa or your parents so you could go to school and show off all your new stuff. And in the 80’s robots were super hot, and toylines were very popular and on many wish lists. One line that many kids of my time wanted was Transformers, with a smaller group wanting the likes of GoBots or Robotix, and then there was a toy line that disappointed kids with their cheap appearances and loose arm joints.  Those toys were Starriors. So as you already know, these cheap robot toys made by Tomy as well as the mini-series made by Marvel are the topic of this update. But before we move onto that I want to share some Christmas memories with you about how Marvel and DC Comics were a part of my Christmas mornings as a youth. Do you remember when you were younger on Christmas Eve night, and you were in your bed trying to sleep but you were so hyped for all your gifts the next day?  You’d be ready for when your cousins came over to play Nintendo or ball tag, weather-permitting, and by the time you finally fell asleep it seemed like you slept for only a few minutes before you were up and ready to open your gifts! Most years we would start with our stockings that “Santa” would leave, and they would be filled with such things as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cookies, Cracked Magazines, magic grow sponge animals and lots of comic books! Most of the time, it would be issues of Spider-Man, Captain America, Batman or Incredible Hulk or some other weird kids comic based on a cartoon, like Little Dracula and Count Duckula. I can remember that it was like clock-work, once Christmas was over and all the family went back home, I would go to my room and sit in bed and read the comics I got so that I could tell my brother and mom about what crazy thing happened to Spider-Man or what new bad guy he was facing. Those early years of Christmas for me were something special and filled with so many good times spent with family who would all gather to spend time together and eat a good home cooked meal that my mom would make. I miss those days, as they seem to be a thing of the past as we all got older and holidays began becoming less of family gatherings.  It’s a shame, but things change. But I would like to say thank you to Marvel, DC and all the other comic companies who made my Christmas day more special and entertained me on a day filled with lots of great memories. Below is a picture of me from Christmas morning 1990 when I was 11 years old and just opened my stocking, and as you can see that year I got Spectacular Spider-Man # 171 among my stack of comics.  Also check out that sweet Beta player, my Joker t-shirt, the warm fire going, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cookies as well as the Sugar Bear ornament on the tree!

Me Christmas Morning 1990

Sometime in 2004, an idea was floating around Independent B Movie Studios to have a slasher film made that would be shot in the winter.  Mike Ritchie was just coming off making Farmer Joe and took the project on that was to be called “Long Dead Winter,” and he came up with evil jester mask serial killer called The Jester Killer who was brutal and sadistic and who was attacking people during a massive snow storm leaving a body count.  Mike was not only going to direct this feature but he was also going to write it. One day when hanging around at Mike’s, we began to bounce ideas back and fourth on this film that’s start date was creeping up super quickly, and that’s when we came up with having a second killer added to the film that would be the opposite of The Jester Killer and not enjoy the fact he kills, and we called him The Sadness. The film began production soon after, and Mike Ritchie cast himself to play The Jester Killer, Garrison Kane played The Sadness and the two heroes were played by Matt Hoffman and Josh Weinberg and the film had the budget to add blood, gore and boobs. I acted as the cameraman, and we shot during the winter during and after snow storms to add the right atmosphere to the grim storyline. So I am sure you’re wondering what the film’s storyline was going to be, well let me tell you:  it was set in a small town during a nasty winter filled with blizzard-like weather and a serial killer wearing a twisted court jester mask goes on a killing spree.  Not to be outdone, another masked killer gets mad that his name is no longer in the town paper so he decided to go on a rampage as well.  With each kill, the killers were trying to out do each other. The town’s only hope is a pair of cops who are hot on the trail of the killers, but while they are good cops, do they have what it takes to stop the madness? The film shot for many days and was going pretty well with lots of deaths being shot from stabbings to a hammer to the skull, each done with cheesy backyard effect goodness! Sometimes the creepy vibe of the film was off track as Mike added many lame inside jokes toward friends of ours, and like Farmer Joe 2, the film stopped filming as Mike began delaying production.  Finally the film was scrapped as films like Razor, Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa and Two Seconds Too Late started productions, and Mike never did get back on track getting the film done. The footage we shot sat on VHS for many years and at some point I put it on Mini-DV and even used some shots on a couple of Baron Von Porkchop episodes! The Sadness would go on to get his own film in 2006 written and directed by me, but that’s for another update. At some point I would love to take some of the old Independent B Movie scripts and turn them into comic books, and Long Dead Winter would be at the top of that list! Any takers my comic book-making friends…Jason Young? Bruce O Hughes? Justin Wasson? Eric Shonborn? Below are some screen grabs from the VHS master tapes complete with time code.

Long Dead Winter 1Long Dead Winter 2Long Dead Winter 3

Speaking of long winters, this time of the year also makes me think of one of my favorite bands Cinderella and their album Long Cold Winter! Growing up I listened to pop music like Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, Adam Ant and Janet Jackson, but I also listened to lots of rock due to my Dad, who is a music lover.  At a young age he introduced me to the likes of Alice Cooper, Warren Zevon and ZZ Top and from there wit the help of MTV and radio station 104.7 WTUE I started to find bands from my generation that I enjoyed like Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Billy Idol, W.A.S.P. and RATT and one of the tops on my list was Cinderella, a band that mixed hair metal and the blues so well with releases like Heartbreak Station. I can remember how hyped I was when I found the cassette of their first album Night Songs at Half Price Books. I took that tape home and almost wore it out from all the times I would crank it on my tiny little boom box radio. In 1988, they released Long Cold Winter, and I can remember seeing it in ads for places like K-Mart and wanting it so badly.  The singles off that album included Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone), Gypsy Road, The Last Mile and Coming Home, all that charted and all of them played on our local radio stations. I was lucky that my mom and dad listened to my wish list and got me it on cassette for Christmas that year and just like Night Songs, I can remember cranking it up. So after writing this, I think I am going to make myself some hot chocolate put on the vinyl of Long Cold Winter and reflect on a time when big hair ruled the music world, and to be honest if you have not heard this album, make sure to check it out!

Cinderella Band 1Cinderella Long Cold WinterCinderella Band 2

I want to also talk about something a little more creepy, something that might send shivers down your spine thinking that this thing might be real and wondering the world we all live in. In July of 2007 in Bahia, Brazil, a 15 year old girl was walking alone along a riverbed and woods when she was attacked by a horned monster who grabbed her and was trying to force mud into her face and hair for unknown reasons.  Luckily the young girl was able to escape by knocking this creature off balance making it so that she could flee and take this one single picture of the beast giving chase while in the water. The girl went home, and she and her dad released the photo, and since then another picture of it has been released from another person who saw it roaming around.  This thing is now called The Bahia Beast, and what it is is up for debate. The Beast is believed by Cryptozoology fanatics to be a mud demon, a foul creature who gets pleasure in degrading his victims before eating them. But many people think that it’s a hoax and is nothing more than a man in a cheap Halloween mask and costume roaming around to try and bring tourists to the area to see if they can spot the monster in the woods. I have also heard that some people think that the young girl’s story is fake and that she just snapped a picture of an actor in a costume while an independent horror film was being made. So as you can see The Bahia Beast is an unknown thing/person with an unknown origin, and this makes you wonder is this mudslinging demon out there waiting to make you taste mud?

Bahia beast 1Bahia beastBahia beast 2

While we are on the subject of spooky and horror I should take a brief moment to cover a comic book I got off the website Indy Planet that is about a zombie cop hunting a werewolf in the snow! I figured this update would be the best place to cover it as we are talking about the cold month of December, so let’s take a quick look at it.

Corpse Cop Arctic Wolf Front 1

Corpse Cop: Arctic Wolf # 1  **
Released in 2013   Cover Price $3.00   Black Box Comics   # 2 of 2

Corpse Cop is dropped off in Alaska as something has been killing hunters and the wildlife off and he has been hired to exterminate it. While wandering around in the snow, he finds the corpse of an animal and knows he is on the track to find the monster. Corpse Cop takes shelter in a cave for the night and while trying to warm up his undead body near the fire, he is attacked by a bear and must kill it. After the fight, a woman appears and sits with him near the fire and turns into a werewolf and attacks but is quickly killed as Corpse Cop cuts off it’s head and leaves her body to be eaten by animals.

This comic is too short for its own good with only 12 pages. I didn’t get to build a bond with Corpse Cop nor did I feel the werewolf was any threat to him. The story moves super fast and has the supernatural enforcer being dropped off in the snow doing very little investigating and killing his target, a werewolf, with ease. Corpse Cop seems to be an undead man with a sarcastic attitude and a real dislike for things of the supernatural. The werewolf is a female who seems to be in hiding in the cold caves as she knows that once she turns into the beast anything around her is as good as dead. But what stinks is that the werewolf is killed in seconds as Corpse Cop chops off its head, and the comic ends with it on a stake. While I was not to impressed with the story, I was impressed with the scratch board art of the comic done by Alan Bennett that helps add flare and style to this comic with it’s dark colors. Over all this has major potential for being a cool comic series as long as the next issues go longer than 12 pages and the characters are developed. The artist and creator Alan Bennett does not want you to share images from this comic or so I took it as via his website so out of respect I will not.  So instead I will show off some of my friend Rachel Lare’s sketch board artwork. I think she does fantastic work, and one day I hope that I can work alongside her and make a comic book just for Rotten Ink based on a cool horror film like Night of the Demon or Project Metal Beast! So check out her work below based on some icons for horror.

Rachael Lare Art 1Rachael Lare Art 2Rachael Lare Art 3

Does anyone remember those really cool comic catalogs that use to come out via Superhero Enterprises called “The Superhero Merchandise Catalog” that featured stuff like toys, posters, shirts, jewelry and all other manner of goodies that featured the likeness of your favorite hero like Spider-Man, Batman or Conan The Barbarian? It was place where you could order your Mego Toys and Spider-Man pajamas from the same order form. Nowadays, they just don’t do this kind of thing unless you count the giant Diamond ordering book used for customers to place what they want via their favorite local comic shop. I should also note that while writing this review I have been listening to two “Weird Al” Yankovic CD’s “In-3D” and “Polka Party!” and I must say it was a lot of fun going back and listening to his parodies of 80’s pop music classics like “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer and even “Beat It” by Michael Jackson and hearing him turn them into juvenile silly songs about food or some other off the wall thing. In 3-D came out in 1984 and to be honest was one of the first vinyl records I owned when I was a kid, and listening to this again after so many years was like listening to an old friend telling you stories that you heard so many times but the way they tell it keeps you happy and entertained. My favorite tracks off In 3-D have to be “Nature Trail To Hell,” a song that is about Friday The 13th and other slasher camp movies, “The Brady Bunch,” a fun take on The Men Without Hats song Safety Dance that deals with not wanting to watch the Brady Bunch on TV. “Eat It” of course is the take on Jacksons Beat It and is an all time classic Weird Al song, but to be honest this whole CD is packed with great songs and really took me back to being a kid sitting in the room with the NES playing a game and listening to this on vinyl.  Good memories, and this Weird Al album will always have a place in my heart for making me go back to the past. Polka Party! was released in 1986 and was one of those albums that I would see on cassette at K-Mart in the discount bin and for some reason my Dad would always say that we didn’t need that because it had no good songs on it! While I will agree that it’s not as great as In 3-D it does have it’s charm and some of my favorite songs from off the CD are “Addicted To Spuds” as I myself love eating potatoes and “Living With A Hernia” that’s a parody of James Brown’s Living In America is silly and fun but also makes me think of Rocky IV and the death of Apollo Creed! I should also note that this CD also has a Christmas song that adds to this time of the year, and it’s called “Christmas At Ground Zero” and is about a nuke being dropped on the jolly holiday, a grim song that’s done with a upbeat spirit makes for a fun listen. So yeah, I just wanted to share what I have been listening to these days.  I feel that music was also very important to me growing up and help shape me into the person I am today just as much as friends, family, comics, movies, horror hosts and video games did. So next year (2016), once a month I am going to let a friend of mine pick their favorite band or artist and have me listen to their favorite album by said artist. But at this point we should get back our look at The Starriors!

Weird Al Yankovic In 3-D CDThe Superhero Merchandise Catalog 1975Weird Al Yankovic Polka Party CD

In 1984, Tomy released a toy line with the help of Marvel that was a spin off of Zoids and gave the characters a storyline that involved humans going underground during solar flares and leaving robots up top to awaken them once the disaster was over. The toys were broken up into two lines, one being the good guys called the Protectors who were led by a laser chested bot named Hot Shot and the bad guys called the Destructors lead by Slaughter Steel Grave. The figures’ gimmick was that they would perform actions via windup, pullback or remote control making them more “alive” than Transformers. They also came with mini comics made by Marvel to help showcase the characters and their backstories. The series of figures would last for two waves and could be found at many department stores at the time of release. Growing up, I can only remember having one of these figures when I was super young and that was Hot Shot, but if memory serves me I am pretty sure its arms fell off and my mom ended up throwing it away.  Needless to say, this series of toys was not one that the Brassfield Brothers had to have. None of my school friends had any of these figures that I know of, and the only other people I personally knew who had any were my old Vietnamese neighbors when I first lived in Kettering and my Brassfield Grandparents because my grandma would buy toys all the time to keep at her house for my cousin Nathan from garage sales. Starriors was slated to get an animated mini series in 1985 but production on the series seems to be a mystery as it has never seen the light of day.  This is what makes this toy line so interesting, it had no back up from TV, movies or video games.  All it had was the Marvel Comics and the time put into the story shows that everyone involved believed in them and wanted Starriors to be the next big thing in action figures. I feel that Marvel and Tomy really loved the mythology of The Starriors much like Marvel and Remco loved what they came up with for The Saga of Crystar, and this helps make this toy line all the more fascinating for a person like me who grew up knowing very little about them. While I might not have been a fan or had many of the toys, I am sure some kids of the time loved them and looked forward to getting the figures to play out their own robot adventures. Below are some pictures of the figures as well as the checklist of figures so enjoy.

Starriors Hot Shot toyStarriors Character PosterSlaughter-Steelgrave toy

Before we get to the Marvel Comic mini series I would like for those readers who have had Starriors toys to reflect back to that time and remember all the adventures and battles you had with them during your youth…go on take a few moments, I don’t mind. So are you ready now to travel to a time when Earth is no longer man’s but that of machines that we left in charge? If so I need 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 let’s see if Hot Shot can bring back man and if he can stop Steel Grave once and for all. I want to also thank Lone Star Comics and Dark Star Comics for having this mini series in stock.

Starriors 1

Starriors # 1 **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel    #1 of 4

Hot Shot, Crank, Cut-Up, Tinker and Nipper are robots called Protectors, and they are helping rebuild a wall while robots called Destructors (Slaughter Steel Grave, Gouge, Sawtooth to name a few) shout orders and act as if they are slaves to them. Nipper finds a human skull and rushes to show her friends when Gouge jumps down and smashes her to pieces and tells them to get back to work. Hot Shot and Tinker take Nipper’s body to Think Tank hoping he can place her circuits into a new body, and they do. But this has caused a riff between the Protectors lead by Hot Shot and the Destructors lead by Slaughter Steel Grave that leaves Hot Shot using his laser against Gouge who was going to hurt one of his friends and Steel Grave unleashing the massive dinosaur robot named Deadeye to kill off many of the Protectors. In the end a small amount of the good robots are left alive after they flee to look for man, who they think can help them win the war.

This is a pretty cool first issue, but I did find it to be crammed with way too many characters and not enough character development for the main ones. The plot has two different types of robots fighting it out for the fate of their planet.  The Protectors are worker robots who are gentle in nature and are waiting for humans to come back, while the Destructors are mean spirited and bullies who get joy in mistreating and back stabbing. Hot Shot is wise and truly thinks that man can help them.  His main weapon is a laser, and his mentor is Think Tank who gives him advice. Slaughter Steel Grave is a robot who loves the power he holds and enjoys destroying the weaker robots using them as slaves.  He even hates humans and doesn’t want them back as he fears they will take his power away. The rest of the characters as well fit in this generic bad guy and good guy style with only a few being in the grey, who could go either way. I must also say that the names of many of the robots are just silly and not fitting for what they look like. I mean a blind all red robot who looks like a T-Rex is named Deadeye…you get it, because he’s blind. The art is well done and helps make the characters’ personalities pop a little more allowing them to be more deep than what’s been written for them.  It’s done by Michael Chen who it seems didn’t do much work for Marvel after this series and that’s a shame as I think he was a talented artist. So far this is starting off pretty good, and I am hoping that by the next issue they explain more about the characters and that it also packs in a little more fights as this issue was more drama than action. So let’s get to issue # 2 and see what Marvel has in store for us.

Starriors 2

Starriors # 2  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel   #2 of 4

Hot Shot, along with the remaining Protectors, are in the desert to look for man and are climbing a mountain towards a volcano. Slaughter Steel Grave is leading his men to go after them and has given orders to destroy the Protectors and even turns on Sawtooth and buries him under rocks as they leave him and continue their hunt. Think Tank and Crank enter the volcano to try and mind meld to get locations when they are attacked by Deadeye who is in turn attacked by a giant mutant spider! As the Destructors enter the volcano, they as well attack the spider and during this rocks fall on Crank.  As the other Protectors, escape he becomes the prisoner of the evil robots who plan on wiping out his memory and ripping him apart. Hot Shot and his men can’t let this happen as Crank is their close friend and his body also hosts the mind of Think Tank because the mind link was interrupted and didn’t allow things to go back to normal. During the fight Steel Grave and his men capture some of the Protectors and plan on executing them.  This causes Hot Shot and crew to enter the bad guys’ camp save their friends by stealing a powerful transfer ring that gets Think Tank’s mind back in the right body.

This second issue showcases just how much Slaughter Steel Grave hates the Protectors and humans and how he will do whatever it takes to stop them both even if that means killing! The search for the truth and for a better life is all Hot Shot and his followers are looking for, and they have to travel to a forbidden land in order to find the answers as well as escape the evil bots who are after them. This issue is a solid giant robot story, but it is also pretty dull in spots. I think the story is dragging along to fill out the four issues in this mini series, and this issue is a clear filler as the coolest thing that happens is a fight between the good robots, the bad robots and lava spiders.  But while this sounds amazing in words, the battle is too quick and leads to nothing but Hot Shot and his men escaping again. It’s interesting what they are doing with Sawtooth who clearly is not sold on the evil ruling of Steel Grave and is more of a leader than Grave ever will be. Hot Shot is a cool leader of the good guys and while at times he should fight back harder, he still does what he feels is right. The art is done by Mike Chen again and is well done and has a great 70’s comic toy tie-in look. While this issue is not groundbreaking and for all accounts a very mediocre issue, I still can’t wait to see what happens in the third issue so we should not waste anymore time and check it out.

Starriors 3

Starriors # 3  **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .75   Marvel   #3 of 4

Sawtooth is warning his fellow robots about the lies of Slaughter Steel Grave about man, and this leads to Steel Grave ordering the death of Sawtooth who is torn apart, and ordering his followers to get the transfer ring back! Meanwhile Hot Shot and his friends are thinking about how they must find man and fight back if they are pushed. The Protectors send Runabout to scout ahead and find the hidden base of the humans as Slaughter Steel Grave sends Speedtrap after her.  The two robots fight and both are left hurt and dying. Meanwhile Slaughter Steel Grave leads a sneak attack on The Protectors that leaves all the good natured robots slaughtered! Meanwhile a robot named Stinger comes out of the base and kills Speedtrap and brings Runabout back to life and tells her that the base had been attacked many years back by Slaughter Steel Grave who wants to snuff out mankind! Stinger gives Runabout a transfer ring, and she rushes back to the Protector camp and finds all her friends slaughtered.  She uses the ring to heal those she can including Hot Shot who tells his friends it’s time to go to war and not only save themselves but also mankind!

This third issue is really cool and has a hint of Transformers to it and that makes the story feel more epic and builds the doom of Slaughter Steel Grave who doesn’t care about anything besides himself. The story in this issue is Hot Shot and his friends are shown to be weak as the Destructors fight them and leave them all destroyed, but thanks to one robot who is kind of a chicken, they are rebuilt because she faces the odds and comes to her friends aid. Slaughter Steel Grave is shown to be even worse than before as he kills his own if they cross him and has a plan to kill off humans because he thinks he should be the one ruling the world! Hot Shot, who is an honest good robot, also finds that he needs to go against his programing and fight for what’s right and comes to see Steel Grave is one evil bot. Motormouth, who is the Protector who is telling Slaughter Steel Grave secrets, is a terrible little robot and when Steel Grave has him ripped apart for being a rat I found myself cheering for him to bite the dust. Mike Chen once more does the artwork, and it’s really good.  As I said before, the story has really picked up, and I can’t wait to see what the fate of mankind is! So with that let’s move onto the fourth and final issue in this Marvel mini series based on a cheap toy line.

Starriors 4

Starriors # 4  **1/2
Released in 1985    Cover Price .75   Marvel   #4 of 4

Slaughter Steel Grave and the Destructors are heading toward the base to rid the world of man as Stinger watches on frozen with fear, but things are not going to plan as many of the Destructors turn against orders to attack the base as they don’t want to kill man and the base has some defenses of its own to slow down the attack on it. Hot Shot and the rest of the Protectors bring back Sawtooth who joins them in the fight against Steel Grave, who he looks at as a major threat to the world. The Protectors and The Destructors have all out war that leaves many of them dead as ThinkTank, Deadeye, Stinger and Crank fall in battle, but Hot Shot won’t back down and with the help of the base, they chase off Steel Grave and are able to bring back all the hurt Protectors to life! In the end Hot Shot finds man and brings them back to life where humans and robots make an alliance and decide to stand with each other in the war against The Destructors.

The final war in this issue is filled with so much death and destruction it was like watching a war movie like Saving Private Ryan or Glory! The wrap up story of this issue has Hot Shot getting the good robots ready for war and fighting for their lives as Steel Grave is shown to be a bully, but when clearly they start fighting back, he retreats so not to be defeated. Hot Shot grows as a character by the end of this mini series.  A first, while he is kind of a wimp, he still stands up for what’s right, and by this issue he is filled with revenge and rage and even leaves Motormouth out in the sun to rust showing he no longer is going to be pushed around and has no mercy on bad robots. The Protectors are all pretty cool characters, and all of the main cast had some sort of small storyline going on from a love triangle to friendships, making them all come off human like and not just robots. I also liked how Sawtooth as well as other The Destructors turned to the side of good when they saw that the orders they were getting were that of a madbot! Slaughter Steel Grave is a robot who is on a power trip and uses power to bully and force his fellow robots into doing what he says when he says.  He took so much joy in killing either by his own hands or having it ordered that he remained me of a evil prison warden in those old women in prison movies. The humans do nothing at all, even when they wake up they are dressed as if they are in some weird superhero cult with the lead bearded man looking like he is some new age Charles Manson. I just don’t trust them…all joking aside, they don’t do much and only come into play for the last two pages of the comic. In fact the whole story to me seemed like the creators of the comic and toyline sat at a table and took elements from The Transformers, The GoBots and Mad Max and scribbled them onto a notepad and out came The Starriors, and I am okay with what they came up with for the most part. This was a great way to give these generic toys a backstory and personalities and proved that while they might not have been as cool as The Transformers, they still could deliver an entertaining comic adventure. So if you grew up a fan of these figures or even collect them today, do yourself a favor and check out this Marvel series you’ll be glad you did. Check out a piece of Chen’s artwork below to see the quality of his work and the style that brought these characters to life.

Starriors art 1

Man this update took us all over the place, and we covered The Starriors, a unfinished Mike Ritchie no budget movie, Weird Al music CDs and so much more makes me really look at and love my blog! Well it’s getting cold in here so I am thinking I am going to crawl under some covers and pop in a DVD movie or watch the WWE Network and relax this night away. I wouldn’t want to get sick! And speaking of, sickness that is the topic of the next update as we take a look at Lifeform, a man who could infect the whole Marvel Universe with an infectious disease and it’s up to the likes of Daredevil, The Hulk, Punisher and Silver Surfer to stop him from doing just that. So until next time stay warm, stay healthy, read a comic or three and have a safe winter.

Lifeform Logo

Motorcycle Riding Rodents From The Red Planet

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! If you grew up in the early 1990’s then I am sure you knew just how tight of a grip Teenage Mutant Ninja had on the youth, but then you also know how many knock offs flooded the toy and cartoon market the years that followed.  Who could forget Street Sharks, The Toxic Crusaders, Cowboys Of Moo Mesa, Creepy Crawlers, Extreme Dinosaurs, SWAT Kats and of course The Biker Mice From Mars! While all these had their own charm, they still were very much inspired by the Turtles’ popularity, and the one we will be focusing on today is Biker Mice From Mars. Growing up through the 80’s and 90’s I was around for the huge boom of popularity of the Turtles, and Biker Mice From Mars was the butt of many jokes between me and my friends who just laughed about the silly name and the idea of alien mice on bikes saving the day. I can remember that you were made fun of if you said you watched the cartoon, and no one I knew admitted that they had any of the toys as they were afraid of being mocked. While I never owned any of the toys, I did watch the cartoon and thought how wonderfully cheesy it was.  At the time I was the proud owner of pet mice so of course I was going to check out a cartoon about ones that rode motorcycles! So you could say I was living a double life as at home I watched the cartoon but at school I made fun of it as if it was garbage left in the bottom of a Burger King trash can. So I admit it now; at a young age I watched Biker Mice From Mars.  Now at age 35, I am going to do an update about them here at Rotten Ink so let’s jump on our bikes and have some adventure, shall we?

The Biker Mice From Mars

In 1993, Biker Mice From Mars was released by Saban Entertainment to the syndicated cartoon market and had many companies behind its creation that include Galoob Toys, Marvel Productions and Worldwide Sports & Entertainment. The series followed three anthropomorphic mice that came to Earth from Mars after their planet was stricken by a harsh war and their race was wiped out.  They are Throttle, Modo and Vinnie, and they love to ride motorcycles.  They crash land in Chicago where they meet garage owner and mechanic Charlene “Charley” Davidson. Each of the mice have serve injuries that they got on their home planet and each have a different personality and color of fur. Throttle has tan fur and is the leader.  He is noble and driven to save Earth as well as his fellow mice men.  His injury is his eyesight that was damaged in an accident. Vinnie has white fur and is a smooth talker.  He has a crush on Charlene and had one side of his face burned off in the accident and must wear a metal mask to hide and protect it. Modo has grey fur and is the team’s powerhouse and lost one of his arms that is replaced with a metal one. Their friend and ally is Charley Davidson, the owner and mechanic for a small garage in Chicago called Last Chance Garage.  She is tough as nails and pretty to boot. But things are not all well as they find that the owner of one of Chi-Towns biggest industries is a Plutarkian named Lawrence Limburger, the same fish-headed smelly race that ruined their planet and worse, he has allies with him like dumb as a box of rocks henchman Grease Pit, evil scientist Dr. Benjamin Boris Zachary Karbunkle and weirdo Fred The Mutant to name a few. Now on Earth, the Biker Mice must try and stop Limburger from trashing their new home. The series lasted for 3 seasons and a total of 65 episodes. In 2006, The Biker Mice From Mars made a small comeback and had new episodes made for one season with a total of 28 episodes. So one thing’s for sure, while they might have been the butt of jokes at school, they still had an impact on the world of cartoons.

Biker Mice 1Biker Mice 2 logoBiker Mice 3

In 1993 to go along with the cartoon Galoob started to make action figures to push Biker Mice From Mars toward becoming a name in children’s entertainment.  The figures stood a little taller then Ninja Turtles and came with all types of weapons as well as vehicles and playsets that could be bought separately. All the main characters were made into the toy line that lasted till 1994, but before the toys were canceled, many different variations of the biker mice themselves were made and released. Besides the action figures there were also bendable figures, 12” figures as well as Micro Machine versions of the bikes. Growing up, I didn’t know any kids that had any of these figures, nor did I, but to be honest by 1993 I was older and not really buying a lot of toys as girls were more on my mind than buying an action figure. Over the years, I have seen lots of Biker Mice figures at local thrift stores and flea markets showing that somebody bought them back in the day.

Biker Mice Toy 1Biker Mice Toy 2Biker Mice Toy 3

Like all good cartoons of the time, it was turned into a video game for the Super Nintendo, and for the re-launch a game was made for PS2 and Nintendo DS. But let’s focus on the SNES version as it’s the classic of the bunch and was released during the height of Biker Mice Mania. In 1994, Konami released a racing game based on Biker Mice From Marsfor the Super Nintendo that would allow the player to choose a character and race around different tracks. The game was over all praised for its game play and is somewhat of a cult classic in the world of SNES games. I can remember seeing the game for rent at K&L Video years later and never renting it.  Maybe I’ll see if Game Swap in Kettering has it in stock.

Biker Mice SNES 1Biker Mice From Mars SNESbiker mice snes 2

So we took a look at the cartoon, toys and video game attached to Biker Mice, and we even talked a little about the uncool factor it had from my former classmates so now I think it’s time we take a look at the Marvel Comic mini series based on it. I want to thank Half Price Books and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and allowing me to read them for the first time here on Rotten Ink. So before we hop on a chopper and go for a ride, 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 let’s hit the road and see what adventure we can have with The Biker Mice From Mars and Marvel Comics.

Biker Mice From Mars 1

Biker Mice From Mars # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993      Cover Price $1.50     Marvel Comics    #1 of 3

In space aboard a ship the biker mice Throttle, Modo and Vinnie are relaxing and even a little bored when they are attacked and shot down by evil, smelly, fish faced Plutarkians and crash land in Chicago during a baseball game. The Biker Mice mount their bikes and avoid security.  While leaving the ball field, Vinnie even stops a robbery of a hot dog dealer, and they ride off and notice how the place they are at now looks as run down as their home on Mars. Meanwhile in a big skyscraper Lawrence Limburger, the town’s bigwig business man, is talking to his henchman Grease Pit about his plans to drain Chicago of all its natural resources in a week.  He needs a location to complete his task, the Last Chance Garage, and sends Grease Pit there to rough up its female owner Charley Davidson. As she tries to fight off Grease Pit, the Biker Mice arrive and save the day by making a fool out of Limburger’s henchman and send a message that they are here to uphold justice.

This comic series clearly would have been a Star Comic if Marvel would have let the company stay open long enough. This mini series is clearly just based on the first couple of episodes in the Biker Mice cartoon series, and this first issue shows how they crash land on Earth and how they become friends with Charley and get on the radar of Limburger. The Biker Mice come off as noble rodents who love to ride and relax and most of all love to stand up for good and justice. Vinnie is the one who comes off more reckless and focused on fighting than the other two.  It’s clear he in is the Raphael as he follows his own set of rules and is the first to jump in a fight. Throttle and Modo don’t get to shine as brightly in this issue and very little of their personalities shine through.  All we really get is the basics. Charley Davidson comes off as an independent woman who is not afraid to stand up to those trying to bully her and take what she has worked hard for. Grease Pit is a muscle bound goon who is dimwitted and covered with motor oil and uses his muscles to try and push around those he views as weaker. Limburger is scum and is a big business man all the way as he doesn’t care about people or environment when a quick buck can be made.  Plus it shows he has no guts as he sends others to do his dirty work. So far despite giving some of the lamest lines in kids comics history, the Biker Mice are likable characters and ones that I think translate very well to comic books. The art in this issue is done by Rurik Tyler, and he does a great job of making it look like the cartoon.  The cover is also fantastic and very eye catching. So let’s move on to issue # 2 and see how this mini series plays out, shall we?

Biker Mice From Mars 2

Biker Mice From Mars # 2  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50    Marvel Comics    #2 of 3

Charley Davidson is confused and amazed by her new friends and rescuers The Biker Mice who explain that they are from Mars and that they are the last of their kind because a race called the Plutarkians raided and stole all their natural resources and wiped them out.  Charley tells them she thinks the same thing is happening there in Chicago.  Limburger is mad at Grease Pit for not getting the garage and is even more upset when he hears that he was stopped by the Biker Mice who he knows all too well as they were his prisoners sometime back.  So he gets the crazy mad scientist Dr. Karbunkle to build an ultimate mouse trap, and they set out to capture the Mice. Charley works on the mice’s bikes and even adds new weapons.  This leaves her open to be kidnapped by Grease Pit and placed on the twisted mouse trap as bait, but once more Grease Pit is outsmarted and The Biker Mice send him back to Limburger, save Charley, and destroy the mouse trap. In the end The Biker Mice are on the way to Limburger’s to take the fight to him as Karbunkle is bringing in an enforcer from another planet!

This second issue is used as a quick back story of Mars and all the bad stuff that happened that forced the Mice to live a life on the run.  It also shows that Limburger is already at his boiling point, and he wants those pesky rodents dead. I also like how it shows that Limburger has many oddballs working for him and each is as crazy as the next. Once more The Biker Mice come off as major good guys, and finally Throttle comes off as a leader and is clearly smart in his “war” tactics. Vinnie comes off a little more goofy in this one, always talking about how good looking he is and how his body looks.  He’s a little silly and makes you wish he would have stayed more like the brooding kick butt type. Limburger is as sleazy as ever and bullies his own men and wants to make short work of this planet so he can move on and pillage the next city. Grease Pit is as dumb as ever, and Karbunkle is super crazy and seem to be getting his kicks in torturing some strange little man who’s getting off on the abuse…it’s kind of creepy. At one point they ask Charley if she wanted to be rescued by Turtles, showing that they were aware that many kids compared the two. This second issue is pretty entertaining, and I found it to be on par with issue # 1 making this a good read for fans of the cartoon and characters. The artwork is done by two artists this time with Rurik Tyler returning and Gary Fields helping out.  Tyler’s work is better, and you can tell when Fields is working the pencil. The cover on this one is kick butt and eye catching, and I am it was appealing to kids who spotted it on the newsstand. Well let’s get to the third and final issue in this Marvel series based on a cartoon.

Biker Mice From Mars 3

Biker Mice From Mars # 3  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50    Marvel Comics    #3 of 3

The Biker Mice are on the way to Limburger’s building and are greeted by armed guards and must fight their way to the top where they come face to face with Grease Pit and Limburger who cower to the Biker Mice. But when Limburger calls on Dr. Karbunkle who is the man responsible for the injuries to the Mice, they are filled with rage and are ready for a fight.  Instead they’re greeted by a killer robot called X-Terminator who knocks them out the window.  A chase on Motorcycles ensues that leaves Throttle knocking The X-Terminator into boiling metal and the Biker Mice win a big victory. In the end they meet up at the baseball field and decide that their base will be inside the scoreboard and out of the radar reach of Limburger and his goons.

This third and final issue is good but it’s clear that everyone who worked on it knew that this was the final issue.  Many pages are large art splashes with little to no dialogue.  That said, I still found it to be a very fun and silly good read. The story is that The Biker Mice get to the location of Limburger and come face to face with the evil doctor who has scarred them for life.  They tangle with a robot man who is programmed to kill them and in the end destroy their robotic stalker and find a new place to live at the baseball field. The part of the story I really liked is that Dr. Karbunkle is the one who did some horrible things to The Mice while they were prisoners and he gets joy when he sees his dirty work up close again – sick serial killer kind of stuff. This time around The Biker Mice are more fleshed out as we see Throttle really show leadership skills.  Vinnie is still ego driven but ready to kick some fish men butt, and Modo is a powerhouse who beats up anything that gets in his way. While Grease Pit takes a backseat in this final issue, Dr. Karbunkle moves to the front and shows he is a man with plans and cruel ideas. While X-Terminator has the weapons to kill the Biker Mice, he seems more into delivering one-liners taken straight from Terminator 2 then killing them off, not to mention he goes down like a chump at the hands of Throttle. Limburger, while loud-mouthed and very mean, sure is a coward when having to come face to face with the Mice. The comic was a nice treat for fans of the cartoon, and I can’t help but feel that if Star was open when this was released, the series would have lasted a little longer than three issues.  Much like Camp Candy, I feel Marvel just put little to no care into making this series work while the people working on the comics put time and care into making a quality kids comic for readers. The art for the final issue was Rurik Tyler and like the others, the cover is fantastic. To sum it up, if you enjoyed the cartoon when this was released, I am sure you had a great time collecting and reading these issues, but TMNT super fans might find the series to be a rip off of their favorite heroes in a half shell. Check out the artwork below to see how good it looks compared to the style of the cartoon.

Biker Mice Art 1

So The Biker Mice have just rode off on the forgotten highway into a sunset as our time with them has come to an end.  I will say that the comic series was pretty good and was a nice way to help promote them at comic stores and on newsstands. Our next update is a subject very special to me as well as I am sure many horror host fans from the Dayton, Ohio area and beyond/.  I will be taking a look at the one and only Dr. Creep in a new Horror Host Icon update! So until then, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a classic cartoon or two and as always support your local horror host.  See ya next update for a Shocking good time…

Dr. Creep Horror Host Icon Logo

The Strong Arm Of The Law Of Marshall Bravestarr

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place were we can talk about classic toys, cartoons, movies, horror hosts, video games and so much more.  For this update we are going to travel to space and meet a cowboy who is the law on the planet New Texas that goes by the name Marshall Bravestarr! That’s right, a planet called New Texas is where we will be traveling for this update, but I should warn you that while we are traveling on the BlackThorne Comic Express we will need some 3-D glasses for this adventure. Thinking about it, is New Texas on the Planet Texas that Kenny Rogers sang about in his super cheesy song called “Planet Texas”? Just ponder that for a while.  So I hope you’re ready for a Texas size good time! I must also say that growing up I was not a super fan of Bravestarr, but did watch the cartoon from time to time so this will be nice to go back and try to reconnect with a character I have not thought about in years. Oh yeah, and on the last picture below does it look like maybe Bravestarr ate the wrong kind of mushroom or he just witnessed something very, very bad that marked his very soul?

Bravestarr sprit animalsBravestarr open logoBravestarr 0

So before we move onto Bravestarr, I finally must touch up on WWE 2K15 for the PS3, and wow, I must say 2K Sports who took over the IP when THQ went sadly out of business REALLY dropped the ball this first year of them being solely in charge of the wrestling game. The roster is the weakest it’s been in years and the lack of push and updates to their website show just how little they care about the fans of this game series. The fact the major WWE Summer Slam roster reveal panel was incomplete and left out many of the superstars in the game just shows you how lazy 2K is about doing anything with this. I mean when they crammed out NBA 2K15, they really pushed it! This year the major focus of the game is legendary feuds in WWE History like such “major” beefs like Triple H vs. Shawn “HBK” Michaels, Christian vs. Randy Orton and who can forget John Cena vs. CM Punk…..yeah no Hogan vs. Piper or Austin vs. Bret Hart, this feature is super lame on most accounts. Some of these feuds come as DLC as well; they are making you pay to play Orton vs. Christian as well as get a terrible storyline pack for Mark Henry that only adds The Great Kahli to your roster besides some arena and outfits! The only really awesome feud pack that will be released is one that follows the career of The Ultimate Warrior that adds many great legends to roster like Hulk Hogan, Macho King Randy Savage, Sargent Slaughter, Honkey Tonk Man, Ravishing Rick Rude and Andre The Giant. They also will have a WCW roster pack that will add Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, Bam Bam Bigelow, Fit Finley and William Regal that will be a pretty good addition. They also have a story pack based around the rookies of NXT that helps bring the next generation into this generation and legends.

WWE 2K15 Hulk HoganWWE 2K15 HBKWWE 2K15 Goldust

But while 2K tries to make the theme of this year the terrible feuds, for me and others this game belongs to Sting! That’s right the icon of WCW, Sting, is in the game and not only do we get the Crow version but we also get the late 80’s/early 90’s blonde hair one as well! Who would have thought that in 2K15 fans would be treated to Sting in all his video game glory allowing you to have him wrestle the likes of The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels and rematch with Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin. Not to mention many other faces of his past are present like Ravishing Rick Rude who he had a great set of matches with in WCW, his friend and some times enemy Lex Luger and not to mention his old tag team partner The Ultimate Warrior.

WWE 2K15 StingWWE 2K15 PS3WWE 2K15 Sting (Crow)

So let’s take a look at 5 wrestlers that had great matches with Sting in WCW that should have been included in this game instead of being snubbed and left out in the cold.

Big Van Vader

Big Van Vader

One of the best big men in the business, Big Van Vader should have been in the game and could have had great matches not only with Sting but many others on 2K’s roster. Starting his career in 1985 in AWA under the name of Baby Bull and later changed to Bull Power, he took the scene by storm with his large size and powerful moves. In 1987 he went to New Japan Pro Wrestling and changed his name to Big Van Vader and dominated the competition becoming one of the biggest stars the company has ever had. He had great matches and feuds with the likes of Stan Hansen, El Canek, The Great Muta and Antonio Inoki and was feared by the Japanese audience. During this time New Japan was trading talent with WCW and would have Vader come in for pay per views and take on the likes of Tom Zenk and Stan Hansen, but by 1992 Big Van Vader had left New Japan and took full time work in WCW where he was managed by Harley Race and was the company’s new major heel! Vader dominated once more the competition with matches against the likes of Cactus Jack, Nikita Koloff, Dustin Rhodes, Britsih Bulldog Davey Boy Smith and Sting, and with Sting he defeated and became the World Champion. As years passed and new talent came in, Vader found himself still a draw but taking a back seat to the likes of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage who had jumped ship from WWF to WCW. By 1995 and before the first WCW Monday Night Nitro Vader had left the company. In 1996 he returned very briefly to New Japan Pro Wrestling to finish his feud with Antonio Inoki. WWF came calling in 1996 as well, and Vader made his in ring debut for them at the Royal Rumble.  Very soon after coming in he was managed by Jim Cornette and it looked like he would be pushed once more as a monster heel, but sadly this never was as he seemed to be lost in the shuffle thanks to the likes of Shawn Michaels and Diesel. But during this run he did have some great matches with The Undertaker, Yokozuna, The Patriot and Kane. Vader left WWF in 1998 and went on to wrestle for All Japan Pro Wrestling as well as other independent federations, and still makes appearances from time to time in WWF (WWE).

Key Match Against Sting: WCW Slamboree 94

Barry Windham

Barry Windham

Bad Boy Barry Windham is the son of legendary tag team wrestler BlackJack Mulligan and is a super talented and hard worker who was also a member of The Four Horsemen in NWA/WCW. Barry began is career in 1980 and worked for many NWA territories including Florida Championship Wrestling. He feuded with Kevin Sullivan and later went on to capture tag team gold alongside Mike Rotunda. By 1984, WWF came calling and Barry and Mike went to New York and became the tag team known as U.S. Express and had a short year run winning tag gold and losing it to teams like Iran Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff and The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg “The Hammer” Valentine), making the U.S. Express run out of gas by 1985. In 1986 Barry, as a singles wrestler, returned to NWA and took on the likes of Ric Flair and even formed a tag team with Ron Garvin as they had a good feud with The Midnight Express. Around this time Barry became allies with Lex Luger who would later turn on him and join Ric Flair’s stable known as The Four Horsemen. Barry floated around for a while having matches with Dr. Death Steve Williams, Black Bart and Rick Steiner. In 1988, Barry and Luger, who had left the Horsemen, had patched things up and took the tag titles away from Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard who were members of the Four Horsemen, but when defending them Barry turned on Luger and became the newest member of the Horsemen that consisted of Flair, Anderson, Blanchard and Windham. During this heel run, Barry would become NWA United States Champion and take on many top names in the wrestling world like Sting, Dusty Rhodes, Brad Armstrong and Bam Bam Bigelow.  He would later lose the title to Lex Luger, and in 1989 he left the NWA. Once more he went to WWF and took the name The Widowmaker and played an evil tough cowboy character who went undefeated for over 4 months, but this was very short lived and he once more left the company as quickly as he entered. In 1990 he returned to NWA now WCW and rejoined the Four Horsemen and even helped his fellow member Sid Vicious win the world title from Sting, as Windham dressed as Sting and allowed Sid to pin him! This run in WCW would see him turn from face to heel and make allies and enimies out of the likes of Dustin Rhodes, Brian Pillman, Stunning Steve Austin, Ricky Steamboat and The Great Muta, as well during this time he would win many titles and become a solid worker for the company. But once more he left the pastures of WCW and went back to WWE in 1996 to become a character called The Stalker a crazy outdoors hunter type who was a babyface.  Thank God that in 1997 they changed his character and teamed him up with Justin Hawk Bradshaw to become The New Blackjacks, but this as well didn’t last long as they had Windham turn on Bradshaw and join a faction of wrestlers who were pro NWA. And once more as quick as it started Windham left WWF and went back to WCW to be part of a team called The West Texas Rednecks alongside the likes of Curt Henning, Bobby Duncum Jr. and his younger brother Kendall Windham, and they all were a bunch of good old boys who hated rap music. Barry and Kendall would team up and become Tag Champions before they both were fired in 1999. Barry after this release would go on to wrestle for many small independents around the world where he still was able to make an impact. While all the Four Horsemen should be in this game, we do already have Ric Flair so it would have been nice to see the likes of Barry Windham to have feuds in 2K15 with Sting and even guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Rob Van Damn.

Key Match Against Sting: WCW Clash of The Champions # 22 – Barry Windham, Vader, Paul Orndorff vs. Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Cactus Jack.

British Bulldog

British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith

It’s a crime that Davey Boy is not in this game and more so that he is not in the WWE Hall Of Fame! Davey Boy began pro wrestling in 1982 in Stampede Wrestling and had a series of matches against his cousin, the Dynamite Kid. He later went to New Japan Pro Wrestling and had tournament style matches against Dynamite Kid and The Cobra, and after this he and Dynamite formed a tag team they called The British Bulldogs and shocked the world when they jumped to All Japan Pro Wrestling. But during this time they also caught the eye of WWF who signed them as a team to a contract in 1985 where they came in as a baby face power house team who had many great matches with teams like The Hart Foundation, The Dream Team, The Islanders, Rougeau Brothers and Demolition and won tag gold and became one of the biggest tag teams for WWF. But by 1988 they were released from their contracts due in part to Dynamite Kid’s reputation of being a bully backstage. In 1989 they returned to Stampede Wrestling and stuck around for a year, but issues between the cousins arose and Dynamite went to All Japan while Davey Boy went back to the WWF as a solo wrestler in 1990. Davey Boy returned and became a popular star having matches with the likes of The Warlord, Mr. Perfect Curt Henning, The Mountie among others. During this run at SummerSlam 1992, he defeated Bret “Hitman” Hart for the Intercontinental Title and became even bigger of a draw and a star! Davey Boy lost the belt to Shawn Michaels on Monday Night Raw and a little later on he and the Ultimate Warrior were released from WWF for using growth hormones. By 1993 Davey Boy signed to wrestle for WCW where he paired with Sting to feud with Big Van Vader and Sid Vicious, but once more trouble appeared and Davey Boy was fired from WCW over a brawl he had with a fan at a bar over his wife. Davey Boy floated around small independents in England for awhile before coming back to WWF in 1994 where he joined in the family feud between brothers Bret and Owen as he is in fact their real life brother in-law! After that died down, he formed a tag team with Lex Luger called The Allied Powers, but this didn’t last long as Davey Boy turned heel and joined Jim Cornette’s stable of wrestlers that included Owen Hart and Yokozuna. During this time Smith would have matches for Tag Titles as well as The World Title and even became the first ever WWF European Champion! Davey Boy would later join Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman to form The New Hart Foundation.  Davey Boy left WWF alongside Bret and Jim when at Survivor Series 1997 Vince McMahon screwed over Bret Hart during the world title match against Shawn Michaels by pulling real life underhanded dealings. Davey Boy joined Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart in WCW in 1998 where he floated around the midcard tag team division until he seriously hurt his back in the ring and was served his pink slip via FedEx while in the hospital. In 1999 Davey Boy returned to WWF with a new attitude and look as he simply wore blue jeans and boots and won the Hardcore title from Big Bossman.  He later turned heel and set his sights on the world title and had a few title matches against The Rock who was the champ, but Davey Boy never could get the gold away from the peoples champ. Davey Boy was pushed down the card and had matches against the likes of Crash Holly and Val Venis. Davey was let go in 2000 for having an addiction to pain pills among other drugs and sadly passed away in 2002. Besides teaming with Sting in 2K15, I would also love to have him in matches against the likes of Ryback, Mark Henry and Rusev.

Key Match Teaming With Sting: Beach Blast 1993 – Sting & Davey Boy vs. Big Van Vader & Sid Vicious

Black Scorpion

The  Black Scorpion

Okay I know what you’re all thinking, how could I pick such a cheesy wrestling gimmick as The Black Scorpion as my pick for being snubbed from the game, as others would say he wasn’t he just Ric Flair in a mask? And the answer is yes to both! While The Black Scorpion was discovered to be Ric Flair, many wrestlers played the part, and Ole Anderson who came up with the storyline said it was not supposed to be Flair but him! The Black Scorpion appeared in NWA cutting odd promos about then World Champion Sting claiming that he was from his past and making people believe it was one of his former tag team partners like The Ultimate Warrior or Angel Of Death. During his taunts to Sting, the black masked Black Scorpion would do simple magic and illusions to try and confusing Sting even during matches sometimes multiple versions of him would appear. Every time Sting would get close to unmasking The Black Scorpion during a match, the masked wrestler would be saved by a clone of himself or Sid Vicious who was also having a feud with Sting at the time, never letting him see the identity of his foe. This all came to a head at Starrcade when Sting beat The Black Scorpion in a steel cage and when unmasked, it turned out to be Ric Flair! The character was dropped after this even though rumor has it that he was supposed to go on. The Black Scorpion could have easily been in the game if 2K didn’t cheapen out on his “Feuds” campaign and gave Sting one as he could have been a alternate attire for Ric Flair even! If The Black Scorpion would have been in the game as his own character I would have not only feuded him with Sting but also The Ultimate Warrior and The Undertaker.

Key Match Against Sting: Starrcade 1990 – Sting vs. Black Scorpion in a Steel Cage

Vampiro

Vampiro

In 1984 at the age of 16 Vampiro wrestled his first match in Canada and from that moment on, he was hooked on being a Pro Wrestler. His career would lead him to Mexico where he would wrestle for many promotions and have great matches against luchadors like Konnan, Dr. Wagner Jr., Silver King, El Dandy, Dos Caras and El Canek to name a very few. During this timem he also worked a little in Japan but landed a job in WCW in 1998 where he made a splash in the midcard division and formed a stable alongside Rappers ICP and ECW Original Raven called The Dead Pool, and while very short lived, they had a great rivalry with Konnan, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Eddie Guerrero. His next major matches came when he brought in Punk Rock Band The Misfits and took on Dr. Death Steve Williams. Vampiro then formed a team with Sting that they called The Brothers In Paint, but Vampiro had other plans as he turned on Sting, and while most times Sting always got the upper hand, Vampiro won the “Human Torch” match and set Sting on fire causing the icon to disappear from wrestling for awhile. After beating Sting, he set his sights on The Demon, a wrestler who was based on the rock band Kiss, and after a Graveyard Match, Sting returned and set the wrongs right. Vampiro then went on to team up with The Great Muta and win the tag team titles from KroniK that they lost the next day to Rey Mysterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera, causing Vampiro to turn on Muta and later sparked a three way match with Sting. After this he went on to have a few matches against Mike Awesome and while injured WWE bought out WCW and his contract was not picked up. Vampiro returned to Mexico and even made a few appearances for companies like TNA, JCW and Wrestling Society X. Vampiro is currently working as an announcer for Lucha Underground, a show on El Ray Network featuring matches from wrestlers from AAA. If Vampiro was to be in this game besides Sting I would have him in feuds with The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio Jr., Alberto Del Rio and Goldust!

Key Match Against Sting: Great American Bash 2000 – Sting vs. Vampiro in a Human Torch Match. 

So those are a few names I would have loved to seen in WWE 2K15 for a Sting Rivalry/ Feud story line! I know that Sid Vicious is supposed to be in the game as a manager, but not a wrestler because that makes a lot of sense, 2K, and the fact that none of the Four Horsemen besides Ric Flair is in the game makes me really want to see them in next years. Plus I would love to see guys like The Great Muta in a WWE game, but sadly I see this never happening. While this could be the worse WWE game roster in a long time, here is to hoping they get their act together next year and give us long time fans something better.

WWE 2K15 Sting with Bat

For those of you wondering and don’t know who Marshall Bravestarr is, let me tell you a little about the character. Bravestarr is of Native American decent and is a very good man who wants to uphold the law and help those who can’t help themselves. Bravestarr can call on his spirit animals and gain superhuman powers for a short time.  For example, if he calls on the Bear, he gains its strength, and if he calls on a Hawk he gains super sight and so on and so on. His best friend is his trusty cyborg horse name Thirty/Thirty who not only walks on all fours but can also walk on two legs like a person and fire a gun to help. He also has a small deputy named Fuzz, a green powerhouse bartender named Handlebar, a female Judge named J.B. McBride and has many other strange and helpful allies in New Texas. So if you find yourself in space and in need of help just call for Marshall Bravestarr as he will be there to lend a hand.

Marshall Bravestarr 1Marshall BravestarrMarshall Bravestarr 2

Filmation,the same company who made “Masters Of The Universe”, “Ghostbusters” and so many more great cartoons in 1987, decided to make a cartoon about space and then they had the idea of mixing in the old west! Back in 1984 while they worked on Ghostbusters, they created an evil ghost cowboy named Tex Hex as one of the series baddies, but the character was pulled from the list as founding member of Filmation Lou Scheimer liked the character’s look and didn’t want him to be a second banana villain so Tex never made it to the cartoon. Tex Hex sat around for 3 years until 1987 when they began to develop the space western animated action cartoon Bravestarr. The series would run for 1 very long season with 65 episodes total as well as a film in 1988. When I was a young lad, I knew very few kids who watched Bravestarr and even fewer kids who owned any of the toys! If I remember right, I think Jeremy Patton had a few that he would bring to the playground in Waynesville, and Grandma Brassfield had Tex Hex and Bravestarr at her house. I can remember watching the cartoon from time to time and while it was fun, it just didn’t catch my attention like other toons released the same year did like Ducktales, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, not to mention other cartoons still running at the time like Muppet Babies, Dennis The Menace, The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Snorks and so many others were things I watched. Plus at this time I was watching horror hosts Commander USA and Grandpa Munster who started Super Scary Saturday on TBS in 1987, so sadly Bravestarr was just not a shinning star for a young Matt to be watching all the time. The show also just like many other Filmation cartoons always ended with a lesson to be learned and would teach not only the characters but of course us the viewers. While I was not a loyal watcher, I do have a fond likeness for Bravestarr, and even went out and bought all the seasons on DVD.

Bravestarr 1BraveStarr 2Tex Hex 2

In 1988 “Bravestarr: The Movie” was released to limited theaters and was a bomb at the box office as it mostly showed during the day on weekends for its short run. The film was trashed by critics and even fans of the show were not sold, and the film fell off the radar. The film was groundbreaking on some small levels as it was the first animated film to use computer graphics, and was the first animated film to come out after the original show was off the air. The film’s plot was an origin story and followed how Bravestarr and Tex Hex became bitter enemies and showed that the Bull Skull named Stampede is the true evil mastermind. I barely remember the film coming out and for some reason think that it might have had a showing at the movie theater that use to be inside the Dayton Mall. The film did come out on VHS and twice on DVD, one being on a single disc release and the other being part of a best of.  So if you want to watch the origin story of the law of New Texas then you have options.

The Legend of Bravestarr 1The Legend of Bravestarr Movie PosterThe Legend of Bravestarr 2

I must mention that one of my favorite bad guys from this series was a fish faced lizard man named Sandstorm! Sandstorm’s power is that he can breath out large amounts of sand and create sand clouds, sand creatures and even can put people to sleep with his sand much like the famed folklore legend Mr. Sandman. His race is called Sand Walruses, and his kind are native to New Texas. For some reason his look reminds me a lot of Mer-Man from Masters of the Universe. Ed Gilbert is the voice actor who played the part who also did voices for characters like Blitzwing (Transformers), General Hawk (G.I. Joe), Metlar (Inhumainoids), Mr. Smee (Peter Pan and the Pirates), Major Disaster (Toxic Crusaders), Baloo (Tailspin), El Seed (The Tick) as well as many other characters in many cartoons. My brother Bryan seems to think we had the Mattel figure of Sandstorm growing up, I however barely remember owning it. So just wanted to give Sandstorm his tiny time to shine before we move onto more history of Bravestarr.

Sandstorm 1SandstormSandstorm 2

I wanted to take a brief moment to cover this: many of the women I know have this weird thing where they think cowboys/country boys are the definition of a man’s man, and even in media, it’s pushed this way from John Wayne all the way to the Marlboro Man, they are considered tough rugged good looking guys. Well I am going to take this time and be on the opposite side and say that I find country and cowgirls sexy! And I am pretty sure I can pin point the moment I found the look of cowgirl sexy, and that’s Brad from Nickelodeon show Hey Dude played by Kelly Brown started it for me and Faith Hill the country singer sealed it. Something about a pretty girl with the looks of the Girl Next Door wearing a cowboy hat and chaps is something that a guy like myself can appreciate. Don’t want to waste too much time talking about this, but just wanted to give a shout out to all the cowgirls out there. Below are some cowgirls including former WWE Diva Maria dressed as one as well as singer Jewel.

Maria as CowgirlJewel CowgirlGirl Next Door CowgirlBlonde Cowgirl

Mattel Toys started to make figures based on Bravestarr almost immediately when the cartoon came out and made them different and more “grand” then many of the figures being released at the time as they stood 8” tall and many of them came with infra red backpacks that interacted with a laser gun you could buy and have your very own shoot outs with the figures! Besides all the main cast of characters like Marshall Bravestarr, Tex Hex, Sandstorm and Deputy Fuzz, they also made the town and jail play set, the wagon and the laser gun. The figures when released came in boxes with very cool art on them and a window to peer in and see the toy. But as I stated before, not many kids I knew had these toys but I do remember seeing the toys on the shelves of stores like Hills, Hearts and Gold Circle and remember seeing lots of them in stock. I can’t be for sure on this statement, but from what I could see at a young age these toys must not have sold very well in normal department stores and must have found some tracking via discount stores like Odd Lots. Being older now and looking at the figures now I must say while they are bulky, they are very well done, and I am sure really made kids of the time happy if they were fans of the cartoon.

Bravestarr figureTex Hex FigureBravestarr Sandstorm Figure

Funny enough as I was working on putting this blog together, my friend Brett Prescott who does video game reviews called “Bad or Rad” brought almost a full set of Bravestarr figures into my work to sell! While going through the collection, a sense of nostalgia rushed over me as I looked up the going prices for each figure and even the jail/town playset. And while I knew I wanted them, looking at the figures made me want to own them even more.  So what you are looking at below are the Bravestarr figures I bought from my work thanks to my pal Brett!

My Bravestarr FiguresMy Sandstorm Figure

Besides the Mattel Toys and Blackthrone Comic series, lots of other merchandise was made to try and make money off the cartoon that includes Halloween masks, lunchboxes, a video game for home computers, pillow cases and bed sheets, Colorforms, storybooks, stickers and even water guns! They tried really hard to try and make kids of the 80’s care about Bravestarr, and for those who did, they had plenty of things to choose from. I really think that both Mattel and Filmation thought that Bravestarr would have been their successor to Masters Of The Universe and put lots of eggs in that basket that sadly for them just didn’t bring the draw that He-Man did.

Bravestarr colorformsBravestarr lunchboxBravestarr Halloween CostumeBraveStarr video game for Spectrum

So are you ready to hit the old trail and stop outlaws with our good pal Marshall Bravestarr? Before he swears us in as deputies hoever, I do need to thank Lone Star Comics and Mile High Comics for having these issues in stock and must also remind everyone that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s saddle up and go kick some Tex Hex butt as we put on our 3-D Glasses and hit the trail.

Bravestarr 3d 1

Bravestarr 3-D  # 1   **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne    # 1 of 2

Shaman is the father of young Bravestarr who sends him away to become a Marshall at a young age, when he finds that his powers could no longer defeat his enemy Stampede. Years pass, and the planet of New Texas is a hole in the wall that’s main resource is Kerium crystals that is used as fuel sources for large ships. The planet is also filled with outlaws and that’s why law enforcement like Judge J.B. McBride, outpost owner Handlebar, Mayer Derringer and of course Marshall Bavestarr with his trusty cyborg horse 30/30 and pint size Deputey Fuzz look after the townspeople. The ghost bull skull known as Stampede sends his right hand man Tex Hex alongside Sand Storm, Skuzz and Vipra head to town and have a showdown with Bravestarr and his allies.  The fight doesn’t last long, and Barvestarr sends them high tailing it outta town. As Bravestarr is proud of his heroic deed, he gets a visit from Shaman who tells him a long fight is ahead of them all and to learn from each other. In the end to show the townspeople strength, Marshall Bravestarr, Fuzz, 30/30. Handlebar and J.B stand tall and ready for the tough fight ahead.

First thing I have to say is that I hate 3-D comics, and this is one where the “3-D” doesn’t work as well and just kind of looks blurry, so I had to order better 3-D glasses from Amazon to try and help see if I could actually read this comic and get the full effect! The new glasses did help, and I was able to enjoy the sci-fi Western with more enjoyment. The plot is really a crash course of an origin story as we are shown a young Bravestarr being sent to a Marshall station and then follow him as he makes quick work of his enemy Tex Hex to show just how noble and strong he is to the townspeople. Marshall Bravestarr is 100% pure cheesy old school western hero complete with white hat and a sense of pride and very high self-confidence. He is a great hero for this style comic, and I can see why Mattel and Filmation thought they had a hit on their hands. Judge J.B. McBride is a great female character who is pretty and also a fighter; it’s also clear that she has a crush on Bravestarr. Deputy Fuzz is your typical small annoying character that appears in most of Filmations IPs as well as many other 80’s cartoons so just think Snarf and Orko and you have Fuzz. Handlebar and 30/30 are not given much to do in this issue so I hope that in the second they are fleshed out more as they are both important in the cartoon this 3-D comic is based on. Tex Hex is kind of wasted in this issue as he is made of full of pretty quick and is knocked on his butt with a single punch from Bravestarr.  It does show however that he has powers as he turns into a giant. Other bad guys like Sand Storm, robot Thunder Stick, pint size terror Skuzz and female reptile woman Vipra are all wasted and are taken out super quick by the heroes. While the first issue is good, it also adds no real threat as we just see in matter of panels that all the bad guys can be beating with little to no effort making me wonder just who can beat Bravestarr? The art is done by Adrian Moro and is pretty dang good and looks like the cartoon.  The downside is the terrible 3-D effect put onto the art by Bob & Nancy Fritsch that worked only some of the time. Over all this is a pretty good comic that captures the cheesy feel of the cartoon it was based on. I really dig the cover of this issue, as for some reason it has a old western trading card look to it. Let’s move onto the second and final issue in this series and see just how Blackthorne Comics sent Bravestarr off into the big canceled newsstand in the sky.

Bravestarr 3d 2

Bravestarr 3-D  # 2   **1/2
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne    # 2 of 2

A group of kids are fighting and one time friends are really mad at each other as Bravestarr, 30/30 and J.B McBride come over to break it up. The kids are fighting over a item that one thinks the other stole, and J.B tell them a story of how Bravestarr meet 30/30! It begins with Shaman training Bravestarr and tells him that he must go to and find the ultimate weapon.  The young Marshall rushes off into the desert and finds a old temple and inside is a powerful gun as well as a cyborg horse named 30/30 who is mad and thinks Bravestarr is nothing more then a treasure hunting thief.  The two duke it out and cause the temple to collapse! Bravestarr saves 30/30 from the destruction and the two become friends with Bravestarr learning that friendship is the ultimate weapon. The kids learn the lesson and rush off to enjoy the day as do Bravestarr and his friends.

A heart warming issue that teaches us all that with a good friend at your side you don’t have to live in fear, that is unless you are both stuck in the path of King Kong…or you’re both cornered by a horde of zombies with no weapons…or if you’re on the bad side of Doctor Doom…or…wait you get the point. The plot of the issue is when Bravestarr met 30/30 and how they fist fought and then became best friends.  While Bravestarr comes off like his boy scout self, 30/30 comes off as a hotheaded bully who would rather fight then talk it out. Judge J.B acts as a storyteller as she is the one to speak to the kids of this epic meeting. This issue has zero bad guys and once more has no threats, making you as the reader know that nothing bad is going to happen to anyone. Art is well done by Adrian Moro once more as the 3-D effects were handled by Bob & Nancy Fritsch again.  This second cover is okay, but for some reason it looks like Bravestarr is having a stroke on it. This second issue is the same as the first a cheesy comic based on a cheesy sci-fi Western cartoon. Below is some of the 3-D artwork used in the two issues so enjoy!

Bravestarr Art 1Bravestarr Art 2Bravestarr Art 3

Well it looks like we took out old Tex Hex pretty quick, and it looks like Blackthorne didn’t truly believe in Bravestarr 3-D as a series as they pulled the plug only two issues in. While I was not a super fan of Bravestarr growing up, I found that these comic were pretty well done and the younger me would have enjoyed them and even maybe helped me care more about catching and watching the cartoon when it was airing. But as Marshal Bravestarr rides off into the sunset, I feel the need to tell you that our next update will be about the DC Comic based on the arcade video game Centipede! So until next time make sure to read a comic or two and support your local horror host.

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