American Hero: Super Green Beret

July 4th is a very special day for America as way back in 1776 we as a nation declared that we were no longer under British rule and that we would be our own nation and the United States Of America became one of the world’s biggest and best. This day every year since has been filled with fireworks, friends & family time and of course grilled out food! This year for July 4th my lady Juliet and I decided to hang out and enjoy the day and good conversation about movies, comics and of course Horror Hosts and times like these are what make memories that will last. For this Independence Day American Hero update, I have chosen an obscure war hero named Super Green Beret who lasted only two issues and is a character that fits perfectly for Rotten Ink. So if you are ready to spend a little of your holiday time with me here at Rotten Ink and chat about Super Green Beret, then let’s grab a cold drink and get ready for the fireworks to celebrate our freedom.

The United States Army Special Forces, known as The Green Berets, were founded on June 19, 1952 and are the best of the best when it comes to Army soldiers. Growing up in a small village during the Gulf War really exposed me to the military as American Pride was very high. I mean sure, before that I knew a few people in the military like my Grandpa Salyers, but he would never really talk much about it. This was my first real look at military pride as in school for months we had to sing “Proud To Be An American” by Lee Greenwood and our music teacher acted like our Soldiers would know we were singing this for them. When I was older and in my early 20’s, the tragic events of 9/11 happened and once more pride in our military was high as they waged war on terrorism and nations who supported it. And of course this war still rages on to this day as many of our troops are still in areas of high fighting. Also here in our area is the famous Air Force Museum as well as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, making the area very big for military personal as well as those who are into the history of our fighting forces. So here is to all the brave men and women who have served in our military and have fought for our freedoms and in their own way helped make this blog and update possible.

I’m just going to very briefly touch on the origin of this amazing American Hero known as Super Green Beret! Thile working for Lightning Comics, the team of C.C. Beck and Otto Binder created a war character called Tod Holton Super Green Beret that first hit comic racks in 1967 and was a way for them to deal with the Vietnam War as well as the stress of the time of war that was rippling through America. Super Green Beret lasted a total of two issues before Lightning Comics went out of business, and this was the only comic series made from the company. The character Tod Holton is a high school student who, when he wears a magical Green Beret and salutes, turns into the ultimate hero solider Super Green Beret! When thinking of War Comic characters, names like Sgt. Nick Fury, Sgt. Rock, The Unknown Solider and Enemy Ace come to mind, and sadly Super Green Beret really is a Forgotten Hero who in the world of comics is an American Hero.

Before we get to the comic reviews and before the fireworks fill the sky, I would like to chat a little about a cool toy line that I remember from my childhood that was made by Mattel in 1986 and featured soldiers as well as ninjas! This toy series was called GUTS! and they were all the rage for a very short time among my friend group. I can remember these little guys being everywhere when I was a kid. From the playground all the way to my cousins’ house, it seemed these army toys were super popular. I even owned some of them and can remember playing with them outside in the yard. To be honest, I think that the kids of my generation really liked them as they were a cooler version of the classic Green Plastic Army Men that have been must-have toys for generations. The series would not only feature Army Soldiers and Ninjas but also Laser Fighters and Underwater Attack Forces and not to even mention it had two vehicles released in the series. And the crazy thing being, with about 58 figures made, they all came out in the same year and the toy line only lasted that one year. It was clear Mattel wanted these figures to be a big hit as each character in the series got its own name. The downside to the figures was they fact they were not pose-able and had zero moving parts; plus they were only about 3” tall, a size that did not make them fit in with G.I. Joe figures and was bigger than even the M.U.S.C.L.E. toys making them a very awkward size. It makes one wonder if Mattel will ever try and release a new series of GUTS! and if they will change they style in order to make them more modern. Below are some pictures of GUTS! that include the back of a package that showcases some of the soldiers, an ad for the figures on sale and a group of the figures that was at Game Swap Kettering a year back.

Well at this point I hope you have a grilled cheeseburger or hot dog in hand and your favorite beverage by your side as it’s time for use to take a look at the comic series Super Green Beret from Lightning Comics. I need to first thank YouTube show Comic Tropes for bringing this American Hero character to my attention, and I also would like to thank sellers on Amazon and Ebay for having these comics in stock making this 4th of July update possible. I want to remind all you readers that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star system and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, their entertainment value and their art and story. So let’s see what Super Green Beret brings to the world of war hero comics!

Super Green Beret # 1  **1/2
Released in 1967     Cover Price .25       Lightning     # 1 of 2

“Super Green Beret” Captain Roger Wilson is on leave from the Vietnam for two weeks and visits his nephew Tod Holton and gives him a gift that is a glowing green beret that was given magical powers by a Monk that Roger saved from a wild boar. And when Tod puts the beret on, he becomes an adult that is in complete Green Beret Gear, and he and his uncle find out the magic is real and that Tod has now become Super Green Beret! After his uncle leaves, Tod finds out his magical beret also can pick up war transmissions, and he rushes to Vietnam to save American soldiers that are pinned down inside a cave using his magic to get them out and back to base safely all the while bringing down the enemy. “Rebel Rat-Hole” the President of a Latin American country is under attack by rebels who want to end his life as he wants freedom for his country, and when Tod hears about the attack he puts on the beret and saves the life of the President but also loses his beret to a rebel who steals it and runs away. With the magical beret gone, he turns back into Tod and gets captured and taken to the rebels camp where he is to be shot and killed and asks to die with honor of wearing the green beret and turns into Super Green Beret and beats up the rebels and turns them over to the government. “White Magic In The Black Forest” Tod is at home and working on his history homework about World War II when he gets a message from the past and decides to time travel to the Black Forest of Berlin to aid some American Soldiers against a band of Nazis, and the ultimate payout for this mission is to stop Hitler from getting on a plane the day before he kills himself! The final story is “Sorcery Against Saboteurs!” Tod nexts picks up an evil plot by the Vietcong that has them wanting to blow up a bridge that American trucks are driving on, and when he gets there to stop it his beret falls off and into the water and he is once more taken prisoner but not before he stops the explosion! They then throw Tod into the river where the beret is and with the help of an alligator he is able to get the beret back on and stops a suicide boat that next tries to crash into the bridge. In the end Super Green Beret is able to save the Army Truck filled with soldiers, repair the bridge with magic and then lead the US Soldiers to the enemy base and once more Super Green Beret saves the day!

This first issue is King Sized and featured 4 action packed Super Green Beret adventures and one just normal war story and gives the readers a full dose of a war comic hero that Lightning was hoping would have been a major hit with comic fans and would have been their top character and could have launched them into a major player in the comic industry. Each of these stories featuring Super Green Beret are different and yet still the same as it follows a very simple formula of Tod getting a message from the beret, he puts the beret on and uses magic in order to help American soldiers and from time to time he loses the beret during the battle and turns into normal teenage Tod who most of the time easily gets it back. And while by modern comic standards this would be considered a very boring issue, I enjoyed the fact that it was clearly a product of its time and tried its best to deliver a message of USA is the best and anything is possible in a world so seriously strange…wait isn’t that the catch phrase of YouTube star Rob Gavagan? Tod Holton is a teenager who wants to grow up and be like his uncle and become a war hero, and when he gets a magical green beret he becomes a supernatural soldier hero that always saves the day. Tod is a smart kid who knows his history and can think quick in order to problem solve and have a plan to defeat the enemies of freedom. Super Green Beret is really just an adult version of Tod that is protected by magic and can use this magic in order to protect American Soldiers and use against the foreign armies. Over all Super Green Beret appears during the battle or event, uses his powers and like a phantom in the night is gone and returns back being Tod. The bad guys are the Vietcong and even the Nazis and the ones they show are bloodthirsty, terrorist freedom hating goons who are dangerous and dumb. The cover is pretty great and is eye catching at is show Super Green Beret kicking some butt and the bright yellow background makes it stand out. The interior art is done by Carl Pfeufer, and while very classically simple and not ground breaking, I like it for the most part besides some of the over exaggerated features of the comics bad guys, I could do without that. Over all Super Green Beret # 1 is a fun read, and while not amazing, it’s a great American Hero style comic that’s perfect for your July 4th holiday.

Super Green Beret # 2  *1/2
Released in 1967     Cover Price .25       Lightning     # 2 of 2

“The Lion God Of Mokuru” A pair of American Peace Corps members are about to be thrown into lava on the orders of Simba The Lion God as they want to bring electricity to a small village, and Simba is not having it. The Monk that has the beret power calls on Tod to become Super Green Beret who saves the two men and fights off the villagers, who now are begging him to protect them from Simba’s rage! Super Green Beret starts looking around the volcano and ends up getting poisoned and taken prisoner by Domo Yamata, who is the President using the legend of Simba to make his people fall in line. Domo then tries to murder Super Green Beret by placing him in an active volcano with dynamite that will explode and set off some rumbles that will scare the villagers to think Simba is mad at them. Super Green Beret escapes the trap, but the explosion sets free Domo’s pet lion who goes after the Presidents son with Super Green Beret arriving at the right time and saving the young man, stops the lava from hitting the village and these actions make Domo the leader of his people he should be and that includes allowing the electricity to come to the village. “Dawn Of American Freedom!” Tod is hanging out with his classmates at a soda shop and remembers he needs to write a paper on 1776 and rushes to the library only to find it closed! He then decides to do the next best thing and that’s put on the magical Green Beret and time travel to 1776 in order to learn about that years history and battles. And right off the bat saves some Americans against British Soldiers and meets Martha Page and takes her to a ball hosted by General Howe. Once there he is found out to be an American Spy and is set to die via firing squad and escapes just in time in order to help the American Soldiers defeat the British ones. “Ambush” a small village in Vietnam is supporting US troops, but the North Vietnamese keep stopping any and all food shipments making the American Soldiers and the villagers starve. Super Green Beret arrives in time to save the village’s leader who sadly turns out to be a spy and has been helping the enemy all along as he is getting food while his people go hungry. Super Green Beret figures this out, but is attacked by the Village Leader’s Wife and they drop him off to the General of the bad guys that wants to kill him after they stop the next food drop off attack. But thanks to a young kid, Super Green Beret escapes and sets up his own plan and along with American Soldiers they take down the Vietcong with their own ambush. Super Green Beret gets the soldiers and villagers food and then returns home and his life as teenager Tod.

Wow, this second issue of Super Green Beret is really bad, and for the most part, sad to say, is super boring with poor storytelling! Some of my biggest problems with this issue are the fact they cannot keep their own lore straight as in the story “Dawn Of American Freedom” Super Green Beret walks around with the magical beret off, when every time before this made the hero turn back into a teenager, not to even mention his magical powers seem to go away for the most part and are replaced with super strength, and the Monk who placed the magic in the beret seems to be the one now who contacts Tod via the messages coming from the magic hat…like they really needed to get their character folklore down. While in the first issue I found myself enjoying every adventure equally as they each had a fun nature to them, in this second issue I found that I really was not much into any of the stories and “Ambush” would be the only one I can say had a glimmer of hope at being a solid War Hero comic story. Tod in this issue seems to kind of just have a smirk on his face at all times and has no issues blowing off his school work to go play hero, and even at one point turns into his alter ego just so he can try and catch up on a history paper he was slacking off on. So in other words Tod has changed and is not the teen that we meet in the first issue. Super Green Beret also has gone through a change as he is no longer super magically charged and now has the power of a weight lifting steroid addict! He also for some reason delivers some really bad one-liners while he is fighting the baddies even at one point talking about how he is from the Pepsi Generation…just terrible. The bad guys in this issue as well come off as dummies that have the upper hand and are defeated quickly when they fumble around. The cover for issue two as well is pretty dang good and eye catching, not to even mention the interior art is once more done by Carl Pfeufer and is great simple classic style stuff. Over all while I have never been a major fan of War Comics, I did find the first issue to be an enjoyable read and Super Green Beret to be a noble and patriotic character that was worth a read, and found the second issue to be the opposite and very much a boring poorly comic adventure. So Super Green Beret is a comic American Hero, and while he is no Captain America, he did do his part to fight for Freedom! Check out the artwork below to see the style of artist Pfeufer.

So I hope that you enjoyed this look at Super Green Beret on this 2020 July 4th Holiday update! And I hope that during this virus crisis we are all going through together, you are getting to spend some safe/socially distanced time with your loved ones and eat some great grilled out food and that there are some fireworks in your area to fill the night sky. While this crisis is scary, I do also hope that it’s made us all appreciate our family, friends and co-workers even more than ever have before. For our next update, I am going to keep The American Hero theme going as I will be covering a DC Comic One Shot issue called Battle Classics that brings together many of their War Comic Heroes including Sgt. Rock! So until next time, enjoy your holiday and tell your family and friends that you care about them. See you next update for another round of War with comic book heroes.

 

American Hero: Rambo

Happy Independence Day 2019 to all you readers, family and friends. This is a very important holiday for Americans as this the day that we truly celebrate our Independence! On this holiday we all prepare for the fireworks and are gathered with friends and family grilling out burgers, steaks and hotdogs. Here at Rotten Ink I have been working hard to once more bring you an update about an America Hero in the world of comic book, and this year I have chosen to take a look at John J. Rambo, the iconic character of novels as well as a film series that later this year sees a fifth installment! And I feel 100% that Rambo goes alongside other American themed heroes we have covered in the past like Captain America, Fighting American and The Original Shield who all fight for freedom and deliver amazing comic adventures. So while the burgers are grilling and the gathering is going strong, let’s sit back, relax and celebrate the one and only Rambo!

Let’s talk about the book that started it all for Rambo. First Blood was a novel written by David Morrell in 1972 and was about a Vietnam Vet named John Rambo who is being harassed while hitchhiking through a small town in Kentucky and fights back when the police department treat him like scum and cause him to flashback to when he was a POW. He escapes and this causes a manhunt for him that leads to a terrible shoot out where in the end both Rambo and the sheriff meet their maker, as Rambo dies by a shotgun blast to the head at the hands of his one time commander Trautman. The novel is a dark sad twisted ride as one man who served his country is treated like a common scumbag by the hands of those he defended just because of his look and the length of his hair. The book is a great read and is worth checking out if you like war books and or like the films.

The novel was turned into a film in 1982 and starred Sylvester Stallone as Rambo and made some major changes to the story having Rambo and the Sheriff both living and Rambo going to jail in the end. The film still followed the manhunt through the woods and the stand off in the town making this open for a sequel that came in 1985 with “Rambo: First Blood Part II.” This time Rambo is asked to go back to Vietnam and take pictures of POWs but instead rescues them! “Rambo III” was released in 1988 and had him helping Afghanistan fight off Russia as they tried to invade them. This film also had Rambo fighting a tank with a bow and arrow while on horseback! 2008 saw the release of “Rambo,” the final film in the series thus far that had Rambo saving some missionaries in Burma, and proving that he is a man of honor as he also helps take down an evil general who is committing genocide on his own people. The Rambo films are all badass and rank as some of the best action/drama films ever made! I could go on and on about the films and will in a future review. I just wanted to touch up on the films for this write up. If you have not seen these films, do yourself a favor and go watch them. You can find them on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray.

2019 is filled with many great films like “Avengers: Endgame”, “Godzilla: King Of The Monsters” and “Star Wars IX,” but for me my most hyped film of the year is “Rambo V: Last Blood”! I have been a fan of not only actor Sylvester Stallone but also the Rambo films for as long as I can remember and to see what is reported as the final film in the series this year is something very special for me as the character has been a big part of my childhood and even adulthood. In fact many people are shocked when I tell them my favorite actor, writer and director is Sylvester Stallone as many people always think that I would say John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George Romero, Tod Browning or some other icon of Horror Cinema. But do me a favor, if you’re reading this and enjoy the Rambo films or even just action films in general, make sure to go to your local cinema on September 20th and see this film as I am sure its going to be one amazing ride as Rambo takes on a drug cartel!

Now let’s talk about the man John James Rambo, who is the son of R. Rambo and Marie Drago. He was born in Bowie, Arizona and in 1964 at the age of 17 he was drafted to fight in Vietnam straight out of high school, and after his tour at war, he returned to the U.S and joined Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg and was trained by Colonel Trautman. Rambo returns to the Vietnam War as part of the SOG brigade in 1969 and during this time he is traumatized by events he sees with one being the death of his close friend Joseph Danforth. He would later also become a POW. and he was repeatedly tortured and only he and one other member of his team were able to escape the camp. A short time later, Rambo asked to return to the war and even learned new skills like how to fly a helicopter. By 1974 he finally was discharged from the military holding a pretty high rank, mostly likely a Captain. Once back home in America he returns to find that people are very hateful towards the soldiers returning home and he himself is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rambo, now a drifter and homeless, goes to Hope, Washington to visit an old war friend only to find he is dead and that the local law enforcement don’t want him around as they are cruel and try and bully him to leave their small town. Rambo is pushed and he fights back and takes the war to the Sheriff’s office, and it’s only Colonel Trautman that is able to talk him down. After these events Rambo is sent to prison, but Colonel Trautman is able to get him out to do a secret mission for the government to find out if Vietnam still has prisoners of war…Rambo takes this mission and disobeys orders as instead of just taking pictures and reporting back, he saves them and brings them home. In 1988 Rambo is next sent to Afghanistan in order to help the people fight the Russians who have tried to invade their country. In 2008 Rambo is now living in Thailand and makes his living capturing snakes and selling them to locals for fighting as well as giving rides on his boat. Rambo is asked by a bunch of missionaries to take them to Burma that is a warzone in order to help its people with medical and spiritual aid. And after saying no at first, it’s because of a woman named Sarah he agrees to…and once he does his job and the Burmese army captures and kills some of the missionaries, it’s up to Rambo to go in and save them, and of course he does. At the end of this rescue Rambo decides to let it all go and returns home to America. And this is where we are at in the life of Rambo as the events of the fifth film will tell us more about his life and who knows maybe death. Rambo is very layered and deep character, and the film and novel versions have different paths for his life, but one thing is for sure, Rambo is an iconic character of American pop culture.

Rambo has also made it to the world of video games and has had games on systems like Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Arcade Machines and as of late a rail first person shooter for PS3 and X-Box 360. The one that most know about is the NES version that has you playing Rambo who is wearing red spandex pants and mostly uses a knife to fight Vietcong, spiders and other animals. This game was also on the receiving end of a review done by The Angry Video Game Nerd for his popular YouTube show. So for those who like Rambo, there are video games out there for you to play. I thought about doing a NES Challenge for the Rambo game but decided that maybe we will tackle that on a later update.

In 1986 Rudy- Spears Productions was at it again when they decided to turn the R rated Rambo films into a cartoon series called “Rambo: The Force of Freedom” in which Rambo was no longer a loner but instead helped lead a group called The Force of Freedom alongside his friend Colonel Trautman into doing battle with a terrorist group code named S.A.V.A.G.E. lead by the General Warhawk who was a trader in his home country in Europe. The series ran for one season and a total of 65 episodes before being canceled, and the episodes would have Rambo and gang stopping such plots as stopping takeovers of small countries, fighting cults, stopping missiles and everything else in between. While Rambo and Trautman were the main attractions, characters like White Dragon and Touchdown Jones were the support that helped make the cartoon series more fun. While it only lasted one season, it had a lot of episodes and helped fans of Rambo with the wait in between movies. Growing up I remember watching this show from time to time and found that all I wanted in the series was to watch Rambo kick some S.A.V.A.G.E. butt! Not a lot of kids I knew watched the series, and by this time a lot of them were watching more Nickelodeon shows or the more popular shows on ABC, NBC and USA. The series did get some VHS releases as well as later some episodes released on DVD.

So besides the movies and cartoon on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and other home media and the novels and video games, many other very cool merchandise items have been made based on Rambo! Many action figures have been put out and have been done by companies like Coleco, NECA and Toy Island to name a few…my favorite is the Coleco Rambo figure that was based on the cartoon that I had as a kid. Also made were the films’ score soundtracks that have been released on Vinyl, Cassette and CD! These scores are amazing and the song “Home Coming” by Jerry Goldsmith from the First Blood album is powerful and iconic. There were also T-Shirts, Posters, Comics, Buttons, Chewing Gum, Trading Cards, Stickers, Magazines, Lunch Boxes, Halloween Costumes, Erasers, Toy Guns, Arcade Machines and so much more amazing products! So if you are a fan of Rambo, there are many amazing things in the world for you to collect…and I suggest not only the Coleco toy but also do yourself a favor and get the score soundtracks for the film as they are top notch.

So as you can see, Rambo and America go hand in hand and in fact all through the 80’s he was used as an icon to show the American Spirit and even the likes of President Ronald Reagan used him as an inspiration to hype up his run. And now that the burgers are probably almost done and the fireworks are about to fill the sky, we should get to the review of the Blackthrone Comic simply called Rambo! I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having this issue in stock and want to also remind you all that I grade this comic 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 red headband ready as we are going to war alongside the one and only John J. Rambo.

Rambo # 1 *1/2
Released in 1989     Cover Price $2.00     Blackthrone      #1 of 1

Major Valane was a bad apple and was dealing in the black market during his time in Nam and after being investigated by higher ups in the US Military, things turn bad and he is believed to be dead…until he is spotted on a nature documentary. The government sends for Rambo to make sure that he can spot Valane and make sure he is alive as Rambo was one of his solider who witnessed the Major set up his own people and even killed Rambo’s friend Wild Bill and forced a wounded Rambo to be in a prisoner of war camp! So ready for a rematch and revenge against Valane, he heads to Canada and battles the harsh weather until he can track Valane and his band of militant hoods. During his search Rambo is attacked by a mountain lion and is saved by one armed vet Brewster who befriends the war hero and helps him stand his ground when Valane’s men track them down and Rambo comes face to face with the man who helped murder his friends.

Sad to say this is really bad and does not capture the feel, mood or character of John J. Rambo at all and really just feels like a cheesy C-Grade army comic! The plot has Rambo traveling to Canada to find a beloved to be dead army Major who was a trader and a black market dealer that set up his own men leaving many of the dead and Rambo a prisoner. Rambo then fights for his life and finds that his old foe is indeed alive and surrounded by a new group of mercenaries. John Rambo in this comic is a man who loves America and loved his fellow solider who survived beside him in Vietnam, he also is a survivor and is willing to run into danger to get the Intel his country needs. But this does not feel like the Rambo from the films, as he is way to positive talkative, makes lots of mistakes and seems to be really aligned with the army in this comic….so in other words the comic Rambo seems very much off. Brewster is a pretty cool side character who is missing an arm that happened during the war being a hero and lives alone in a cabin in the woods of Canada, and the best part is he is still great with a gun! Major Valane is a scumbag who sold out his own team in order to gain money and now has faked his death and is still doing crime! He is cocky and surrounded by tons of militant soldiers who are willing to kill and be killed for him. He is a great bad guy for this style of army comic and sadly didn’t get to live up to his full potential…and the reason being is that the series was canceled after this issue and we never even get to know how Rambo escaped Major Valane and his goons grip! Yep Blackthrone pulled a Star Comics and canceled this series before it got a proper ending for readers. The cover for this comic is pretty eye catching if you’re a Rambo fan even if the art is only so-so. The interior art is very hit or miss as at times it looks like your standard late 80’s indie comic and other pages almost seem unfinished or rushed, and I am sure artist Aaron Lopresti knows that this is not his best work. Over all this Rambo comic is a big letdown as it does not tell all that great of a story, does not do justice to the character and is over all below average. Check out the art below to see the style used in this comic…and yeah Rambo looks nothing like Sylvester Stallone.

While the comic might have been a letdown, we still have all the movies we can watch to scrub this from our memories. I hope you are having (or had) a good fourth of July as this day is one we should truly take pride in our nation and celebrate our freedoms. For the next update we will be leaving Rambo behind and will be going on vacation to once more visit Monster Bash and talk about Night Of The Living Dead as we spend some time in Evan City Cemetery! So until next time, watch a Rambo film or four, see Rambo V in the theater and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as we spend more time with the undead.