Batman vs. The Abominable Snowman: Dawn Of Winter

Forget “Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” this update is the real battle for Batman that you comic book readers have been chatting about at your local comic shops for years and wondering when a rematch will happen, or better yet when the movie based on this epic fight will ever make it to the big screen! I am not talking about Batman’s epic fights with such characters as The Predator, Count Dracula, Xenomorphs or even with his regular baddies like The Joker, Bane, Two Face or Catwoman.  No, this battle puts them all to shame as I am talking about his fight with the king of the mountain, the monster of Tibet, the one and only Snowman aka The Abominable Snowman! Wait what? Some of you readers seem not to remember The Snowman, a character who was a thorn in Batman’s side for two issues of his ongoing DC titles in the 70’s. For this update we will not only learn a little about The Snowman but also about the legend of the Yeti and maybe I will try to play and beat a cool custom Batman NES Batman game put out to PacnsacDave! I know it’s the middle of summer and late July, but get your warmest jacket on as we are climbing Mount Everest to become one with The Snowman as we take a look at his two Batman appearances.  So grab some hot cocoa, and let’s start our fun and dangerous hike.

Mount Everest The Home Of The Yeti

The men and woman of Tibet and the surrounding area have had stories for centuries about a half man and half primate creature that roams the mountains around them that they call Yeti, Meh-Teh and other names like The Abominable Snowman. It’s been recorded that the Lepcha People of the Sikkim region worshipped a being from the Himalayan Mountains they called the Glacier Being and was the god of the hunt. In the 19th century, stories of a wild man who was ape-like carrying a stone as a weapon were told by people of the Bon religion. Throughout the 19th Century, many strange footprints were found in the snow on the Himalayan Mountains, and tracker B.H. Hodgson claimed that his guides had seen a giant hairy creature while climbing that scared them half to death.  He would later say he thought it was just an orangutan. The mystery of this unknown snow creature grew in the 20th Century when more and more sightings and footprints turned up in the mountains and of course more rich explorers and scientists rushed to be the first to capture, kill or get proof of the creature’s existence. Many more sightings and popped up through the decades, and the term Cryptozoology became a mainstay in believers’ vocabulary. In the 21st Century the Yeti has lost some steam and most of the time when it pops up in the news it is done by pranksters and hoaxers who are looking for attention and their 15 minutes of fame. Many TV shows, scientists and hunters have given their thoughts on what the Yeti truly is: an unknown ape species, all the way to just a plain old bear. So what do you readers think, is The Abominable Snowman real or is it a hoax? Check out the picture below that is said to be a true photo of the Yeti in the mountains and make up your own mind if he is really out there.

The Yeti caught on photo

Back in 1954, a scalp that was said to belong to the Yeti was found at a Pangboche Monastery along with a hand that was also claimed to have belonged to the creature. The monks were very protective of these items and kept them safe from outsiders and thrill-seekers who were on the hunt for The Abominable Snowman, wanting to make a name for themselves in the press. These items were just the kind of thing the Daily Mail, the newspaper who fronted the expedition, was looking for, and after pleading and ultimately tricking the monks, they were allowed to examine and extract some hair and skin tissue from the items. The media buzz around this was huge, and people thought that these samples held the truth of the Yeti’s existence, making the famed footprints look like thrift store leftover evidence. The first test on the hairs proved that they were not human nor ape, but scientists could not truly identify their species of origin, which of course sparked even more of a fever for those who wanted to find out if the Yeti was fact or fiction. The hand was also tested, and at first they claimed that it had Neanderthal qualities sending more people into the Yeti loving frenzy. Years later the hand and scalp were talked about on the hit TV show Unsolved Mysteries.  They tested a sample of the hand and found it to only have “near human” properties, but this episode sparked the hand to be stolen from the Pangboche Monks.  It would turn up in a private collection via the illegal black antiquities market and would pop back up in 2011 when new tests on it found that it had the DNA of a human. So are the scalp and the hand the real deal, or are they some from some poor human and animal? I should also note that besides these two items and the footprints, many other evidence has been found to prove the Yeti real from blurry photos to poop that is said to have belonged to the famed creature of the mountains. I am not sure what to think but would not rule out the existence of The Abominable Snowman as many unknowns lurk in this world we all share.

Yeti scalp and hand

Anyone who owned a computer in the early 90’s played a free game called SkiFree that was created by Chris Pirih and released as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack. The game was originally made by Pirih for his own use, but when his boss at Microsoft saw him playing it, an agreement was made for it to be released as part of their software pack in 1991. The gameplay has you take control of a skier who’s on the side of a mountain and must avoid obstacles like stumps, trees and worst of all, the a man eating creature called The Abominable Snow Monster who will chase you.  If he catches you, he’ll eat you like a chicken wing! I can remember playing this game on my brother’s old PC that he bought with his own money and finding it a cheesy way to waste time. I can remember screaming as the Yeti would give chase to my skier and how annoyed I would get when I could not out run him and had to watch as he gobbled my player up. But as you can see, even with this silly cheap game the Yeti has wormed his way into pulp culture. Check out below for some cool images of SkiFree.

SkiFree YetiSkiFree Title ScreenSkiFree Running Yeti

I should also note that the Yeti aka The Abominable Snowman has starred in his fair share of horror and science fiction films over the years with many of them being cheesy classics and some of them being very entertaining! Some are the 1957 Hammer Horror film “The Abominable Snowman” starring Peter Cushing and “Werewolf vs. The Yeti” starring the one and only Paul Naschy. Some of the cheesy ones include “Yeti: Giant Of The 20th Century” that was released in 1977 and the 1954 goofy classic “The Snow Creature.” Some of the not so good include “Yeti: A Love Story” that was released in 2006 and “Shriek Of The Mutilated” from 1974, a film so bad that I for some reason find myself loving it. Some video game appearances include “Plants vs. Zombies”, “Far Cry 4” and “Tomb Raider II” to name a few. And let’s not get started on all the comic books and novels that he has appeared in, let alone cartoons and toys! So one thing is for sure, The Abominable Snowman is in our culture, and he’s here to stay.

The Abominable Snowman DVDWerewolf Vs The Yeti DVD BootYeti Giant Of The 20th Centery DVDYeti A Love Story DVD

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and many hikers, explores, researchers and thrill seekers have tempted their fate and tried to make the climb to the top of the mountain that is super dangerous and is not recommended for armatures or even for that fact almost anyone! The first people to successfully climb Everest were Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.  The climb was dangerous but also inspired many people to want to tempt fate and become the second, third, fourth and so on to make it to the top.  Many craved the notoriety of being one of the select few to make it to the top and back down alive. But a sad truth about Everest is that the beautiful mountain is a graveyard for the remains of many hikers who never made it down the mountain.  It’s too dangerous to bring down the dead or injured so many bodies are left frozen in time. You see, many people are not prepared for the climb to the top, and fellow climbers are told that if you find someone in a danger zone, hurt or dying, to leave them behind as those who end up trying to help a injured person end up in danger themselves and 9 ½ out of 10 times more likely end up dead themselves from the elements and brisk cold unforgiving weather. So I would like to take a moment to mourn all those who have lost their lives climbing Everest –  may their souls find peace.  I also would like to show support for all those poor climbers who have had to leave a fellow person behind as I am sure that is a terrible feeling.

Mount Everest rip

We are halfway up to the top of this update so we should take a moment to sit by the fire, warm up, and sip a warm beverage and take a look at a comic that I ordered from Indy Planet some time back and have been itching to read and review.  I think that this update is the perfect time to unleash it on you the readers. The comic is called The Railroad Killer and is put out by a company called Jimmy Daze Comics.  It was one that caught my eye when I placed my last order of independent horror comics.  So let’s sit around and use this issue as our spooky story before we go back on the hunt for the Yeti.

The Railroad Killer 1

The Railroad Killer # 1  ***
Released in 2009     Cover Price $0.00   Jimmy Daze Comics   # 1 of 1

An old drunk near the train tracks is angered as the train speeds by, but his anger is short lived as someone brutally beats him to death. The next day the police show up and the urban legend talk of the Railroad Killer spreads among the youth who are near the crime scene. Miranda Jr. is one of the cops on the scene, and he has a flashback to when he was a kid in 1985 and he and his brother and friends watched as the local hot teenage girl was murdered by the train tracks by a strange unknown man with a sledge hammer! Miranda decides that tonight he is going to prove that the Railroad Killer is real and waits around the train tracks all night to capture this supernatural killer. Later that night he gets his wish and comes face to face with The Railroad Killer for the last time. After the fatal meeting, we flashback to the year 1881 when a young Chinese rail worker is accused of raping a white woman and vigilante justice is served as he is beaten and run over by a train…and so the revenge spirit of The Railroad Killer is born!

This is a fun quick horror comic read that was a nice mix of slasher and urban legend and was done with tasteful amounts of blood and violence. Our story is simple and effective as if follows a cop who wants to face the town’s local unknown killer and stop it once and for all. Miranda Jr. seems like a good cop who has guilt over watching a young woman get murdered in his youth and not doing anything to help her, but his need for redemption just leads him onto a path of his own destruction. The Railroad Killer is a supernatural killer who was wronged when he was alive and now takes his revenge on anyone near the tracks at night. He is brutal using a big sledgehammer as well as the moving trains themselves to kill and takes pleasure in the act of murder. The very cool part of this one shot comic is the fact they give backstories for both our hero and bad guy and brings the reader into the motives behind their good and evil actions. Besides the story, the art done by Arturo Delgado Molina is really good and brings these characters to life. The most brutal kill of the issue has to be the death of Miranda Jr. who is beaten and then placed under the trail and decapitated! If you’re a fan of horror comics like me, The Railroad Killer is one that you will want to check out as it’s a spooky urban legend about an effective and brutal killer. Below is some artwork from this issue to show you Molina’s style.

Railroad Killer Art 1

That was a fun break, but I can hear the howl of the Yeti in the distance. I am not ready to come face to face with him yet so let’s just sit around a little longer and play a video game! I am on a kick of getting NES carts of “homebrew” or unreleased games, and one of the guys I have been getting items from is named Pacnsacdave who just so happened to have a homebrew game called “Batman & Robin: Shadows Of Gotham” that acts as the third in the NES Batman series that already consisted of “Batman” and “Batman: Return Of The Joker” and hell I guess you can count “Batman Returns.” Each of those games were a challenge so I am sure this one will be no different. Batman: Shadows Of Gotham is a two-player game that lets you choose between Batman and Robin.  The back of the box reads, “Gotham city, a city plagued by crime, violence and villains. The citizens are crying out for help. To cleanse the streets of Gotham…two shadows appear. They are called Batman & Robin, Shadows of Gotham.” I played this game on a RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) with an original NES controller and asked my cousin Stephen Alexander if he wanted to join me on this epic game adventure, and of course he said yes.  We did not do an NES Challenge for this game; we just wanted to give it a good play and let you know that this video game is out in the world ready to be played.

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES CaseBatman Shadows Of Gotham NES CartBatman Shadows Of Gotham NES Game In RES

We played it on May 14 2016, and the weather outside was very chilly and perfect for playing a video game.  I should note that Stephen and I played one player and passed the controller back and fourth, and of course we picked Batman. The game is a side scrolling action game that has Batman fighting with his hands, batarangs and other gadgets from level to level.  At the end of each level, you of course face one of his major villains, in this order Scarecrow, Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and finally The Joker! The Scarecrow and his level offered no challenge as I mastered it in one try.  Steve took on The Penguin and after a couple of tries was able to smack around the umbrella-carrying madman who was hiding in a tank.  I made a quick fight out of The Riddler, and both of us tried and tried and screamed at Two-Face who was trying his best from keeping us from beating the game! It looked like Two-Face was going to be our stopping point, but once we figured out his patterning, Steve was able to smack that two sided coin out of his hand and we were at the last level. The last level is pretty tough and will take you a few tries, or at least it did for us to make it to The Joker who also took us a few tries.  But once again, when we had is pattern down, Steve hit the final blow, and a game that we were just testing became a game we beat! The nice part about this game is that it has unlimited continues and gives you no real reason to stop playing.  The challenge is there and can be frustrating but not enough to turn it off. Over all, it’s a nice addition to the NES Batman games and once more I want to thank Pacnsacdave for this amazing cart. So if you’re a classic NES fan and are looking for a new game to play, make sure to check this one out as well as many of Dave’s other games that include the likes of Gremlins, Big Trouble In Little China, The Lost Boys and Spider-Man 2! So I guess we should start our way back on the journey to find The Snowman, but while we climb maybe I should tell you a little about him.

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES Screen Grab

Klaus Kristin is the son of a Yeti and a human mother named Katrina, and he has the ability to shift between being a human and a Yeti. As the beast, he is called The Snowman and has the power to survive in very cold elements, has super strength, a ice cold touch and can kind of control his surroundings in a winter environment. As a human, he is an albino and has the ability to charm ladies, is an Olympic skier and comes off as a normal rich jock playboy who loves to brag. The Snowman has appeared in three comics for DC that include Batman # 337, Detective Comics # 533 and Justice League Adventures # 12 as he was a part of a group called Cold Warriors alongside Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold and Killer Frost among other cold style baddies. While The Snowman has not been officially in a game, there are two that might be loosely be based on him: the unlockable Yeti character in “Lego Batman: The Videogame” and in “Batman: Arkham City,” inmates are talking about it being cold saying “It’s colder than the Snowman’s heart.”  Rumor is, that was a nod to The Snowman, while others say they are talking about Mr. Freeze. So while not a major villain, The Snowman has made his small mark on the Batman universe, and I just wanted to share a few fun facts about him before we make it to the top of the update and arrive at the review.

The Snowman DC

As I have stated before, music has been a major part of my life growing up, and I have spent countless hours listening to many different songs from many different artists with them all acting as the soundtrack to my life. Who doesn’t have memories of driving around with friends late at night blaring music or sitting with the love of your life listening to music in your car talking about the future? I have artists that I call my must-buy-day-one-of-release favorites: Motley Crue, Billy Idol, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., Jewel, Cinderella, Guns N Roses and Danzig.  The last one this list brings me to a CD that I would like to briefly chat about as I feel the music from the band was a huge part of my teen years. Danzig was one of those bands I discovered on a Public Access music show called Metalmania (and I should also give props to MTV for making the song “Mother” a Buzz video) and became a fan of, as I felt singer Glenn Danzig has an almost Elvis Presley sound and being a fan of The King made this a no brainer that I would dig a harder rock version of that sound. In 1996 when “Danzig 5: Blackacidevil” was released, I can remember leaving school midday and walking to NRM Music at the Town And Country shopping center to get my hands on the cassette and listening to it on my Walkman during classes. Danzig was also a band my pal Jason Gilmore and I would always listen to and chat about our favorite songs and videos. I can also remember being at my friend Jeremy Foster’s house and hanging out while listening to a mix of Danzig and Pantera. These great memories bring me to Danzig’s 2015 release, the 10th album for the band, an album of cover songs called “Skeletons” that I got for Christmas of 2015 as I had to wait to buy it because of the holiday season. I was pretty hyped to listen to this CD, but lots of things kept me away from being able to pop in the disc and listen to what Danzig had to offer on this release…and I must say that when I got around to it I was pretty underwhelmed! Now I want to stress that this is not a bad album.  In fact, I found myself enjoying many of the tracks on the release like the Black Sabbath cover “N.I.B” and “Lord Of The Thighs,” a cover of the Aerosmith cheesy classic song from the album “Get Your Wings”. While tracks like those were good, there were some that just sounded off and un-mastered, almost like a recorder was placed in a room with a band next to some beer and they said just jam and record and who cares if it doesn’t sound polished or hell even in tune…just do it.  The song “Satan” from the biker film Satan’s Sadists is a prime example of the odd sound that many of this tracks on this CD offer in terms of sound quality.  Again, I want to stress that it’s not a bad song and Glenn’s take on this song is solid…it just sounds very off, as if his vocals was recorded in a living room. Over all Skeletons is a interesting listen but lacks the true sound that Danzig fans have came to expect…if I had to give it a Rotten Ink 1-4 star rating, I would say for me it would be a solid 2, middle of the road.  If the sound issues were fixed, I could see myself giving it a 2 ½ or 3. Danzig still remains a must-buy artist for me, and I can’t wait to see what his next release brings to the table. Well I can see the top of the mountain, and as Butthead would say, “ And it is good”.

Danzig - Skeletons CD

We have reached the top of the update, and it’s time to take a look at Batman vs. The Snowman.  I have been on a kick of reading classic Batman comics as of late and can remember reading both these issues in my youth.  When re-buying them, I knew they had to be something I reviewed here on Rotten Ink. I want to think both Game Swap Kettering and Mavericks Cards And Comics for having these in stock, and while the wind is blowing and the snow is coming down I can hear the howl of the Yeti saying “ Remember he grades these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and is looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.”  Now let’s snap this picture of the Yeti and get back down the mountain, and we should also get to the reviews of this classic and epic battle issues that pit Batman against The Snowman!

Batman 337

Batman # 337  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .50   DC Comics   # 337 of 713

It’s a cold night in Gotham City, and a sporting good store has a robber inside who is shooting at Commissioner Gordon and the cops.  Batman shows up, gets inside and finds that the robber is scared out of his mind and his partner has been frozen solid! When the robber is under arrest and his nerves calm down, he tells them a story of how he and his friend started to rob the place and were attacked by a snow creature he called The Snowman who stole the cash from the store and left the scene as well made him go mad with fear. Batman changes back to Bruce Wayne and heads home as he is holding a huge party.  His guest of honor is playboy Klaus Kristin who is winning the hearts of many of the woman with his tales of skiing, but Bruce notices that Klaus’s shoes have slush on them and the morning’s snow has been gone for hours. The next night The Snowman strikes again, robbing a jewelry store and killing the night watchman! While Batman is in Klaus’ room looking through his stuff, he finds a diary written by Klaus’s mom and his aunt, and it tells of how Klaus is the son of a normal woman and a Yeti, which explains why and who Klaus really is.  After his last crime, Klaus skips town and heads for Austria’s ski resort, and Batman follows and has a showdown with The Snowman on top of a mountain.  While Snowman is stronger, Batman is smarter and with the help of a flare in the eyes of his opponent, the Bat wins the fight when The Snowman falls from a high cliff and to his death.

What an epic battle, right? I mean Batman and The Snowman trade a total of one kick that Batman lands to the back of The Snowman….yep, that’s the fist to fist action you get in this issue! But even though it’s not super action packed and does not deliver an all out drag down Batman fight, it does have a fun entertaining superhero horror story with some entertaining characters. The plot is this: world class Olympic skier Klaus Kristin is a shape shifter who can change into a Yeti and is stealing money from stores around Gotham as he needs cold weather to live and must move around in order to stay cold weather.  His crime spree that leaves two people dead makes Batman spring into action and crack the case. Batman/Bruce Wayne is shocked when he finds the first body of a crook that was frozen stiff, and this makes Batman’s mind work over time as he wants to solve the crime and get this killer off the streets.  This just shows you that no matter how rich Bruce Wayne is and no matter what else is going on around him, solving crime is the most important thing in his life. Batman is truly a master detective as he pieces together who The Snowman is and where he has run to really fast.  Let alone, he make quick and easy work of this man creature in a fight that is in his opponent’s favor. Klaus Kristin is a snooty sort of bragger who thinks that because he won three medals in the Olympics and travels the world to high end ski resorts, he is better than most normal people.  He also has a weird charm that makes woman flock to him as he tells his stories of being a playboy. As The Snowman, he seems to not care about killing to get the money that he needs in order to stay where the cold weather goes, but it makes one wonder if his ego is so big that he would rather kill than to live say in Alaska or the North Pole where it stays cold year round. As always, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth (Bruce Waynes Butler) have cameos in this issue, and both are always great to see. Batman thinks that The Snowman might have thrown the fight as he wanted to be stopped and this was his way of ending his cursed life, but I am not so sure as it’s clear he has an ego.  I think he lost the fight because Batman out smarted him. The issue has two deaths of people who are frozen to death and has the possible death of The Snowman. The cover is super eye catching and has Batman on skis looking shocked as The Snowman, who looks like a giant, is popping out of snow ready for the attack. The story in this issue was written by Gerry Conway, and the art was done by Jose Garcia-Lopez with inks by Steve Mitchell.  All is well done, and that art has stuck with me since I was a kid as has the whole issue. I am sure many comic readers would look at this issue as just a fill in, but to me it has and will always be a key issue. I should also say this issue has a back up story about Robin! Check out some artwork from this issue to see just how massive and abominable The Snowman is, or is that was?

Batman # 337 art 1Batman # 337 art 2Batman # 337 art 3

So the first meeting is down, but there’s one more to go.  The first meeting lead Batman to believe that The Snowman was dead, as did all of us readers, so let’s see what happens in round two!

Detective Comics 522

Detective Comics  # 522  ***
Released in 1983     Cover Price .60     DC Comics   # 522 of 881

Batman and a guide named Chi are climbing the Himalayan Mountains looking for the famed creature Yeti as Batman thinks that it might just be his foe The Snowman returning from his supposed death. While climbing Batman and Chi are almost killed by an avalanche, Batman witnesses a tall and strong looking shadow above them, and after this near death experience they decide to spend the night in a near by cave for shelter. In the cave Batman, remembers back to being in Vicki Vale’s office and waiting for her to go on a date.  He flipped through a magazine and spotted Klaus Kristin in a photo, and this is what lead him to this hunt in the mountains. In a small village, Batman spots Klaus, and the two struggle falling into the cold water.  Batman strikes his head on a rock and Klaus pulls him from the water, but when they are back on land Klaus is shot by a villager and stumbles into the cold and disappears up the mountain.  Batman now needs to check on his one time foe who saved his life and follows the blood trail. Batman climbs the mountain and is attacked by the Yeti along the way and finds Klaus in a Buddhist temple as he is bleeding to death.  We soon find out that his dad, the Yeti, was the one who has been attacking Batman while in the mountains, and he takes his dying son into the cold as Batman watches as a father mourns his fallen son.

So the second epic battle between Batman and The Snowman is not really a fight between the two but instead has the Bat tangling with the Yeti, the father of The Snowman. This issue has Batman traveling to the Himalayan Mountains in order to look for his foe The Snowman, who is wanted for not just robbery but also murder, and soon finds that his old foe is not a threat and just wanted to find peace alongside his father! Batman has lots on his mind from drama with the ladies in his life Vicki Vale and Selena Kyle, as well as just being a crime fighter and focusing his sights on The Snowman, but he soon learns that people (or is that things?) can change. Batman also shows compassion as he could have taken down the Yeti, who has tormented villagers for years but instead lets him be with his son in his dying moments. Klaus Kristin never changes into The Snowman in this issue and after faking his own death really just wanted to be left alone.  He also shows that he has grown as a character as he saves Batman from drowning. Chi is a villager guide and acts as a good side character, loyal to Batman and trying all he could to guide him on his quest. The Yeti is in a fury and wants his son’s pursuers dealt with and tries to do all he can to stop them, but sadly he as well has a weakness and that’s bright lights from the likes of a flare. Once more, this issue is not wall-to-wall action.  It feels more like an adventure that pits our superhero not only against his foes but also nature and his surroundings. This issue as well held up all these years, and as I read it, moments came back to me in memories that proved for some reason that the Batman vs. Snowman issues had a impact on this young comic reader’s mind. The cover is fantastic and has Batman on the side of a mountain as The Snowman is lurking into battle. The story was written by Gerry Conway again with art duties this time around going to Iry Novick and Pablo Marcos, and they do a great job of making The Yeti look different from The Snowman. The back up story in this issue is a Green Arrow adventure and is worth checking out if you like that emerald archer. Check out the art below that will showcase the mighty Yeti as well as other art from this fun and entertaining issue.

Detective Comics 522 art 1Detective Comics 522 art 2

Was this a better fight than Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice? Depends on your opinion…but I will say these comics made more of a impression on me than the film. While The Snowman might not be a big name villain like The Joker, Killer Croc or The Riddler, he was one I always remembered as a kid, and for some reason I really did think he was a huge deal in my youth. I can remember talking to kids on the playground in Waynesville about how Batman took on The Abominable Snow, and many of them looking puzzled or claiming they remembered with blank unsure look in their eyes. But now that we are off the hunt for The Snowman and made it back down unharmed, I think it’s time that we take a break from comics and once more step into the world of Horror Hosting as our next update will be about an icon who like Commander USA and Dr. Creep helped shape me into the person I am today.  I am talking about Grampa who hosted Super Scary Saturday on TBS! So until next time, read a comic or three, enjoy your summer days and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a Super Scary good time.

Super Scary Saturday Preview Logo

The Horror In Amityville, New York!

Do you believe in haunted houses? Do you believe in ghosts? How about urban legends? Well one of the most well known haunted houses in America is a home with the address 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, the location of a brutal family murder and later the site of a terrifying haunting.  This update on Rotten Ink is about Amityville and the horror of that house in honor of the upcoming film in cinemas from Dimension Films called “Amityville: The Awaking”, that will be released  in 2017.  So get your ghost hunting nerves in check and bust out your proton pack as we are traveling to Amityville to see if this haunting is fact or fiction.  We take a look at the murders, the haunting, the films and the comic based on this nerve shattering spooky experience.

112 Ocean Avenue House

On November 13, 1974, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. armed with a Marlin 336C rifle shot and murdered his parents and his four siblings at around 3am. After he killed them, he rushed to the local bar and asked for help pretending he found his parents shot. When the police arrived, they noticed that all of the family members were in bed on their stomachs with each of the kids killed by a single gun shot, while the parents were shot twice. Ronald claimed to the police that he thought the murders were done by a mafia hitman and even supplied them with a name.  This lead turned out to be bogus as the hitman was out of town when the murders took place. The next day Ronald confessed to the killings and said that once he started he could not stop, and took them to where he hid the rifle and his blood stained cloths. Ronald, who was 23 years old at the time of the murders, was a drug addict who had many fights with his father Ronald Sr. and during trial claimed that he heard the voices of his family plotting against him and that’s why he killed them all. The judge convicted Ronald on six counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced 25-life six times. Ronald is still in jail at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, New York and all attempts at parole have been shot down.

defeo family 1DeFeo FatherButch DeFeo Mugshot

What was an open and close case for Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. also has its fair share of theories and conspiracies thanks to amateur detectives and Ronald himself.  In 1986, Ronald claimed that his 18 year old sister Dawn was the one who killed their father and that his mother, in a fit of revenge, killed her children and in self defense he killed his mom and claimed he took the blame as he was afraid his grandfather who had mob ties would kill him for speaking ill of his daughter. 1990 saw yet another story from Ronald who claimed that his sister Dawn and a unknown male killed the whole family and that he only killed her in self defense while trying to get the rifle away from her.  The judge dismissed this, but it did not stop Ronald from spreading more of his stories. In 2000, during a interview with author Ric Osuna, Ronald claimed that his sister Dawn, two friends and himself killed his parents, and he killed Dawn after he found out that she killed their siblings. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the stories about happened that November night as stories of evil spirits, an Indian burial ground, a very unnatural relationship between Ronald and Dawn, insurance money fraud and so many others are talked about and shared. While we may never really know what happened that night, one thing is for sure, six people lost their lives in a senseless act of violence, and may the DeFeo family rest in peace.

Butch being arrested

After the murders, the house on Ocean Avenue was put up for sale, and for 13 months it sat empty until December 1975 when George and Kathy Lutz bought it for only $80,000.00 and moved their newly formed family in. You see, Kathy had two sons, Daniel and Christopher, as well as a 5-year-old daughter named Missy from a previous marriage, and they had a family dog named Harry. While moving in, a friend of the Lutz family encouraged them to have the house blessed as it was the scene of the grizzly murders a little over a year before they bought it.  They did so and the priest who blessed it heard a voice tell him to “GET OUT” in one of the second story bedrooms, and after leaving the home he developed a high fever as well as blisters. When trying to call the Lutz family to warn them not to go into that room, his call was interrupted by static. For 28 days the Lutz family lived in the house and each of them reported strange and creepy things like doors & windows slamming, green ooze pouring from walls and keyholes, a demon face was seen in the fireplace. Missy became friends with a imaginary friend called Jodie who had the body of a pig.  Hoof prints were found around the yard of a giant pig.  Glowing red eyes were seen outside, items moved, family members shape shifted, foul orders filled the air, large amount of flies would gather in the house and George even found a room he called the red room that freaked out the family dog! And this is just the drop in the hat of what the Lutz family claimed happened to them during their time living in the house. George claimed that he would even wake up every night at 3:15am and have the urge to check out the boathouse.  The time was that of the DeFeo murders! During this time The Lutz family themselves tried to bless the house on their own, and one time a chorus of voices said “will you stop?” The final straw happened on January 16th 1976, when the Lutz said something so horrific and terrifying happened that they left the house for good leaving behind all their belongings, never to return.

The Lutz Family

After the Lutz family fled the house on Ocean Avenue, it became a hot bed for ghost chasers and thrill seekers as the story spread quickly of the evil spirits within its walls. On March 6 1976, the house was investigated by demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren as well as reporter Michael Linder for Channel 5 News to find if the house was indeed haunted.  What they found that night via time lapse photos was a image of a demonic glowing eyed little boy who was captured at the foot of the staircase. The Warrens went on to claim that the house indeed was home to many malevolent spirits and was indeed haunted. For those who don’t know who the Warrens are, they are the basis for the Conjuring horror film series and have been said to have captured and stopped many hauntings and are even said to have cured a man who was a werewolf! Below is a picture of the Warrens as well as a picture of the demon boy captured by their camera.

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In 1977 The Lutz Family told their story to Tam Mossman, an editor for a publishing house who introduced them to writer Jay Anson, who, alongside 45 hours of footage about the terrible events at the house on Ocean Avenue, wrote a book called “The Amityville Horror” that became an overnight success as people were drawn to read about this real life haunting. The book’s name was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s book The Dunwich Horror and would go on to sell over 10 million copies but also spark lots of talk if the haunting was fact or hoax! Many things have risen the eyebrows of people who want to debunk this haunting as no other residents of the house have ever reported any strange occurrences.  The book came out after The Exorcist hit theaters, and many think that it was a way to cheaply cash in by using it as a marketing tool to sell the book, not to mention the priest who is said to have blessed the house has changed his story a number of times and even made a appearance on the Leonard Nimoy hosted show In Search Of…, claiming to have heard the voice tell him to get out. The Lutz family made lots of money off the book as well as selling this story to newspapers, magazines, TV and film, and George would later go on to say that most of what’s in the book is true. George and Kathy would get a divorce in the 80’s, but both claimed the haunting was real all the way up to their deaths. Kathy passed away in 2004 from emphysema, and George died in 2006 from heart disease. Do you think 112 Ocean Avenue is haunted? Or do you think it was a hoax and a way for the Lutz family to get fame and money from a terrifying story? I’m not 100% sure what to believe, but one thing is for sure, it’s one hell of a good yarn and is the stuff campfire tales are made of. But here are some fun and creepy facts about the house: actress Christine Belford who is known for her roles in such TV shows as Chips, Incredible Hulk and Silver Spoons lived in the house for years, and her parents are the ones who sold it to the DeFeo’s! Peter O’Neill lived in the house for 10 years, and he sadly lost his life in the September 11th attacks. The address to the home has been changed, and renovations have been made to keep tourists and sightseers off the property, as the residents get very annoyed by all the attention the home gets. But if you find you have some extra time this year and want a good read around the fall and wintertime, give The Amityville Horror book a read and see what you think is real and what’s fake.

The Amityville Horror Book

So of course, the book being a best seller sparked Hollywood’s attention, and in 1979 they made a film based on the events. So below we are going to talk about the films and all the sequels that spawned off the original film,.  I got the write ups from our friends at IMDB, and after each write up I give a little information about the films. So be prepared to get a quick crash course on the Amityville Horror flicks!

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The Amityville Horror (1979)

Based on a true story that was claimed by writer Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror is about a large house on the coast of Long Island where newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz and their three children move into the house that they hope will be their dream house which ends up in terror. Despite full disclosure by the real estate agent of the house’s history, George and Kathy buy the house. George says, “Houses don’t have memories,” but they turn to their family priest Father Delaney who believes the house is haunted and performs an exorcism on the house. But the evil spirit in the house causes him to become blind and makes him very sick. With the help of another priest Father Bolen and a police detective, George and Kathy face the fears of the house, but not knowing the spirit is planning to possess George and then the children…

The film was a major hit at the box office, bringing in a total of $86.4 million and was the # 2 film of the year! It beat out such films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Moonraker, The Muppet Movie, Meatballs and Alien! Stuart Rosenberg directed, and it stars James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Murray Hamilton and was released by American International Pictures.

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Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

An Italian-American family move into a house built on an ancient Indian burial ground. The oldest son is possessed by an evil spirit, and is forced to murder his family. The family’s priest feels responsible, and tries to save the possessed boy’s soul.

This second film mixed possession and slasher and did okay for Orion Pictures, bringing in a total of $12,534,817.00.  It was # 61 for the year, beating such films as Silent Rage, Savannah Smiles, Trail Of The Pink Panther, The Beast Within, Cat People and The Last Unicorn. This film was directed by Damiano Damiani and starred Burt Young, James Olson, Moses Gunn and a very lovely Diane Franklin, and remains a cult classic.

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Amityville 3-D (1983)

A man who is separated from his wife moves into the infamous Amityville House. Their daughter dies in a boating accident (after being told that she is not allowed to go to the house) and now the mother sees her deceased daughter “alive” in the house. Mr. Baxtor calls a paranormal investigator in to help and the investigator finds out the source of the household problems.

The film was not a hit for Orion Pictures, bringing in a very low $6,333,135.00 and was # 88 for the year. It did beat such films as The Hunger, Chained Heat, Smokey & The Bandit Part III, Curse of the Pink Panther, The Evil Dead and Pieces. The film was directed by Richard Fleischer and featured Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Robert Joy and Meg Ryan in the cast.  While a misfire, it still remains a cheesy classic for fans.

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Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989)

The demonic force lurking in Amityville for over 300 years escapes to a remote California mansion. It encounters a struggling family living together by uncertain means. The beast manipulates a little girl by manifesting itself in the form of her dead father. Soon it will be able to possess her completely… is it too late for a young priest to defeat the demon and end the curse?

This film was made for TV for the fine folks at NBC and never made it to the big screen of theaters! The film was directed by Sandor Stern and starred the likes of Patty Duke, Jane Wyatt and Fredric Lehne.

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The Amityville Curse (1990)

Five people spend the night in an abandoned house, the Amityville haunted house, and soon find themselves terrorized by assorted ghosts, venomous insects and ghostly apparitions.

This was the first in the film series to go direct to video, released by Vidmark and was directed by Tom Berry and starred Kim Coates, Dawna Wightman and Cassandra Gava.

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Amityville: It’s About Time (1992)

When an old clock arrives at home as a gift, strange things begin to happen. The family that proudly assigned a privileged place to the clock in the living room, is unaware that this thing is a link to an old and evil house…

Another direct to video sequel that was directed by Tony Randel and starred Stephen Macht and Shawn Weatherly and was released by Republic Pictures.

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Amityville: A New Generation (1993)

Photographer Keyes is given an old mirror from an homeless person he photographs on the street, takes it home and gives it a friend. He doesn’t know yet that people see horrible things happen to themselves in the mirror and later these things come true. Are these really suicides or is there a demonic force behind the mirror?

Another direct to video release that was directed by John Murlowski and stars the likes of Ross Partridge, Julia Nickson and Lala Sloatman.

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Amityville: Dollhouse (1996)

A dollhouse that is a replica of the infamous Amityville haunted house is given to a little girl. Soon after, all sorts of horrible unexplained accidents start to happen. The family must work together to fight off the terrifying evil that has inhabited their lives.

You guessed it, this went direct to video and is directed by Steve White and stars Robin Thomas, Starr Andreeff and Allen Cutler.

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The Amityville Horror (2005)

Newlyweds are terrorized by demonic forces after moving into a large house that was the site of a grisly mass murder a year before.

This was a remake of the 1979 film produced by those goons at Platinum Dunes and brought in $65,233,369.00 and was # 38 for the year.  It beat out such films as Red Eye, White Noise, Corpse Bride, The Skeleton Key, Boogeyman, Legend of Zorro and House of Wax. The film is directed by Andrew Douglas and stars Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George and Chloe Grace Moretz.

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Amityville: The Awaking (2017)

Belle, her little sister, and her comatose twin brother move into a new house with their single mother Joan in order to save money to help pay for her brother’s expensive healthcare. But when strange phenomena begin to occur in the house including the miraculous recovery of her brother, Belle begins to suspect her Mother isn’t telling her everything and soon realizes they just moved into the infamous Amityville house.

This movie is up against some other great horror films next year and is making me really hyped to see not only which one will take the highest spot at the box office but what will rank highest in my year-end review for 2017. 

Amityville Horror House

While those above are the more “official” sequels, many independent and no budget companies have made films to cash in on the Amityville name. Amityville Death House, Amityville Asylum, Amityville Theater, Amityville Haunting as well as many documentaries and even short films like High Hopes, a school project flick from my friend Dusty Austen from Wooster made that breaks down the DeFeo murders, all have flooded video shelves as well as streaming sites. The cool thing about these films are that while Hollywood would backburner the “official” series, these films kept the story fresh and added new twists to the terrifying haunting tale. Baron Von Porkchop even hosted High Hopes by Dusty on one of his Halloween special adventures, and he was able to share that film with viewers who may have never gotten the chance to see it. So if you’re a fan of Amityville Horror, make sure to give some of these independent films a watch.  Who knows, they might scare you more than the official films!

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My close friend and filmmaker Henrique Couto has also released a Amityville film this year called “Amityville No Escape” that is a found footage style film.  One of the coolest thing about this film is that my cousin Stephen Alexander II and myself have cameos in it. That’s right, I am in an Amityville Horror-inspired film! I play a worker at a shop in Amityville that is being asked questions by the film’s lead, and I am not ashamed to say I ham it up on the screen telling him that he doesn’t want to go around that house. The set we used was Game Swap in Kettering and being asked to star in this film came at the right time as I was all ready doing research for this update. So make sure to check out this film when it’s out DVD and also support your local hometown filmmakers as they are the new breed of creators that will bring films to the big and small screens across the world. I am proud of my friend Henrique as well as my other filmmaking friends Dusty A, Chris Seaver, Chris LaMartina, Fred Vogel, Matt Hoffman, Eamon Hardiman, Eric Widing, David “The Rock” Nelson and so many others all who are talented and skilled masters of what they do.

Amityville No Escape Teaser Poster

I would also love to take a moment to talk about the 1979 score soundtrack for The Amityville Horror done by Lalo Schifrin. The score is something that I bought on CD many years back when I started to collect horror film scores.  The main theme is something I have played for many years on WYSO’s Alpha Rhythms Halloween Special, and it always gets high remarks and “thank you” for playing messages. The main title is pretty iconic and most old school horror fans can name that tune only a few bars into the song, but the rest of the score as well is really well done and fits the mood of the film and is great background music when working on a blog update like this or any other horror themed update. If you enjoy creepy mood music that is the perfect background to not only your halloween party but also your relaxing comic book reading time, I would say check out Schifrin’s score as it is well done and is sure to please any score music fan.

The Amityville Horror 1979 Soundtrack CD

Before we move on, I want to talk a little about my connection to The Amityville Horror book and movies. Growing up, I can remember my Mom and Dad talking about The Amityville Horror when it was coming on TV, and my brother Bryan and I wanted to watch it. My Mom being her normal self told us that while the film claimed it was based in fact, it was indeed not and that she thought that the family made up the haunting in order to get rich. I can remember watching it in the dark sitting in the living room at our house in Waynesville and being a little creeped out by the glowing eyes looking in the home via the window, but also being slightly bored as I wanted to see the ghosts! Over time I can remember seeing the book at garage sales and second hand book stores and always asking to get it to read but my Mom always saying no.  When she finally gave in, I remember reading most of it and saying this is good but not nearly as scary as I was led to believe. As I grew up, the Amityville Horror films found their way into my VHS collection, and I found a new love for how cheesy and over the top the sequels were. When I met my friend Mike Ritchie, who was working at Blockbuster Video at the time, his love for The Amityville Horror helped spark our friendship and still to this day I look at him as one of my nearest and dearest friends. Plus I can remember being a young teen and thinking just how hot Margot Kidder, who played Kathy Lutz in the first film, and Diane Franklin, who played Patricia Montelli, were and marveled at their near nude scenes. Nowadays I own all the official Amityville Horror films on DVD and even have an import of Amityville: The Curse to complete my collection and have a soft spot in my heart for this series as growing up it always seemed more of a major franchise than it was. Check out the pics of Kidder and Franklin below to see why the younger me had horror film crushes on them.

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Okay, I think it’s time that we gear up to enter the house at 112 Ocean Avenue and see what Rosen Publishing has in store for us! I want to thank Amazon for having this in stock for me to review. Wait, did you hear that? It’s like a voice out of the darkness saying that I should also 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 with that message from beyond, we should step over the green ooze and see what horror awaits us in these comic pages.

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Ghosts In Amityville # 1  **
Released in 2006    Cover Price $7.95    Rosen Publishing    #1 of 1

In 1975, The Lutz family move to Amityville, New York in a big house on Ocean Avenue, but their dream house has a dark side as a year earlier a young man murdered his family and claimed voices in the house commanded him to do so. The Lutz Family start to hear noises late at night, see shadows and ghosts as well as a sinister pair of glowing eyes that watches them from the outside from the windows. The youngest Lutz child makes a friend with the spirit of a child and more odd things start happening around the house including George being sick many nights, him waking up at 3:15am in the morning with the urge to check the boathouse, loud doors slamming, moving shadows and furniture that arranges itself in the middle of the night. Things kept getting worse including finding giant hoof prints outside, and finally the family has had enough and leaves the house never to return. After the Lutz leave, a paranormal investigator group comes to look at the house and makes a judgment that something wicked does live there.

This felt like a stub on a Wikipedia page; it gave you some basic information but over all by the end you fell like you really didn’t learn anything new. The story of the comic is based on the tale of the Lutz family and has them moving into a house and being scared off by ghosts and evil spirits. None of the Lutz family is fleshed out, so you don’t build up to much of a bond with them.  The father, George Lutz, is the only one who kind of shines as he is shown to have gotten sick while living in the house and is the last of the family to see a ghost as they flee the house for good. The evil spirits on the other hand are pretty mean and seem to enjoy tormenting the family and even at one point try to kill the family dog! The comic is not scary and has zero blood show.  This is pretty normal as it is a kids horror comic meant to help kids to read and learn about a unknown phenomenon. The comic goes by fast and seems to be more pictures than dialogue and most scary moments are dulled down in the art as they didn’t go for many scares. At the end, the comics has Did You Know Facts, Glossary, Index and a link to websites taking up space that could have been used to flesh out more of the story. The art is done by Q2A and is pretty good stuff, basic but good as the story is written by Jack DeMolay and is summed up as good for the level of reader this comic was made for. Over all this is a cool little graphic novel comic for horror fans and was at least a tool for me to write a fun update. Check out some artwork below…sorry for the quality, I had to take it with my cellphone.

Ghosts of Amityville Art 1

So we made it out of Amityville, and it looks like the evil spirits might have been on vacation as this Jr. graphic novel failed to deliver a scare or even a chill. But with it being for kids, I knew that it would not be to over the top in scares or blood. It was really fun talking about Amityville and was something I wanted to do for a couple of years now, but our next update might be even scarier than the haunting in Amityville, and I am sure grossed out kids of the 80’s…that’s right, we will be taking a look at Madballs! So until then, go on a ghost hunting adventure with friends, read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host!

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The Plagued Journey Of The Dust Devil

Welcome to Rotten Ink.  Our topic today is about dust devils, you know those whirl winds of dust that happen in the desert; they swirl like a tornado while most of the time harmless they can sometimes grow more powerful and cause damage to people and property! Oh wait, we are not chatting about those dust devils so we must be talking about the vacuum cleaners named after those whirlwinds that took homes by storm with their technology of sucking up dirt action…right…oh that’s not the topic either. Well are we talking about the Dust Devil villains in the online multiplayer games World of Warcraft or RuneScape or are we chatting about the song Dust Devil by 80’s ska band Madness or even the DC Comic character Dust Devil who is a member of the Blasters team? But while all those things would make for an odd update, the Dust Devil we are covering is the 1992 film by Richard Stanley and the small promo comic that came with the DVD when released! So grab your sunblock and cover your eyes we are heading into the harsh sand to tail a killer who might be a little more than human.

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But before we travel into the weird world of Dust Devil, I got an order from Indy Planet not too long ago that had an interesting looking horror comic in the batch and I figured we could take a look at it here real quick to help add to the horror theme of this update. So here we go as we take a look at “Ghastly Goodies,” a comic put out by Almost Normal Comics.

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Ghastly Goodies # 1  ***
Released in 2015   Cover Price $2.99   Almost Normal Comics   # 1 of ??

Our first twisted tale is called “The Hand Of Glory” and is about a thief who cuts off the hand of a hanged man that is supposed to be a good luck charm if you light candles around it’s fingers.  It works for awhile until the crook soon finds out the hand has a mind of its own and is killing the victims he is only stealing from! The second story is called “The Howling Jar” and has two young boys spying on their old neighbor that they think is a witch as she drinks from a large jar in her basement.  They break in to see what’s in the jar and find out the old woman is a witch, and they are the next drink in her jar! Third story is “Dance Of The Corpse Worm.” Ed’s uncle has passed away and during the funeral he strikes up a one night stand with the young attractive mortician who worked on his uncle.  He soon learns that this young lady really “loves” her work and passes on a nasty little pet to Ed! “The Sickness” is the final story and has parents being attacked by their ill baby who wants them to be just like him!

This is a great little independent comic that is much like Tales From The Crypt and Creepshow in its anthology styling. Its host is a strange man in a black hat with candles around the brim with a handlebar mustache wearing a straight jacket who acts as the pun master after each gruesome tale of terror…or is that ghastly tale of terror? Each story has its own charm and each seem like they could have easily been a story in Creepy or Vault Of Horror as each doesn’t end well for those involved and the outcome is always gruesome and fitting for their fates. It’s hard to pick a best and worst story as all of them were well done but I will say the weakest story was The Sickness as the zombie baby with a knife killing its parents was creepy but also the shortest and tamest of them all. The best one was tough to pick, and I had to think about it for a day before choosing, but I finally picked one and it is the opener The Hand Of Glory.  The reason I picked it was because it had a classic horror story feel to it and for some reason reminded me of a Hammer Horror Film! Warren E. Elliott is the writer and artist for this comic, and his style is great and holds a charm of 60’s underground comics mixed with late 80’s horror independent comics charm. This needs to be an ongoing series, and I wish my local comic shops Mavericks or Bell Book And Comic would stock it if a full series is in the works. I would recommend this to fans of classic horror anthology comics as I think the over all creepy and fun feel to it is sure to please. One last thing before I give you some samples of the artwork is I want to know who the host of these tales is!

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But before we get to Dust Devil, I should talk about an area here in Ohio that is said to be a portal to Hell called “Satan’s Hollow” in Blue Ash, Ohio.  It’s said that Satanist use this place to meet and sacrifice people and animals and was even said to have opened a gate to Hell and that Satan himself appeared! This is a place that I have wanted to visit on one of my adventures into the Unknown Ohio but never got the chance as stories of it being on private property among rumors that it is also used as a drug hub always pushed it back on the list of stuff to do as none of us wanted to mess with any of that kind of drama. But over the years I kept looking into Satan’s Hollow as a place that is said to have housed Satan for a short time peeked my interest and this is something that I think at some point this coming year Stephen, Josh and I might take a look into. But I have heard that it’s just really a drainage tunnel that kids have turned into an urban legend about Satan that they have spray painted with creepy messages and that the tunnels the further you get back into them get tiny, but I still want to see for myself. Below is a photo of Satan’s Hollow from the blog Creepy Cincinnati.

Satans Hollow

I first heard of director Richard Stanley from my friend and film mentor Andy Copp who was a huge fan of his renegade film style and would often talk about him in the same breath as Quentin Tarantino and Alejandro Jodorowsky showing his amount of respect for his directing style. Stanley was born on November 22 1966 in Fish Hoek, South Africa and at a young age followed his mother Penny Miller as she traveled the world to document witchcraft and folklore from all over the world for her books as she was a artist and anthropologist. Stanley got the film bug in High School when he joined the Young Filmmakers Workshop and created a 8mm short film called “Rites Of Passage” that won him an IAC International Student Film award! He would go onto follow it up with another 8mm short film called “Incidents In An Expanding Universe” and it as well won a IAC award showing that this young filmmaker had a bright future in cinema and he continued making short films. Stanley now older moved to London, England and started making music videos for bands like Public Image Limited and Fields Of The Nephilim and did a documentary on the Soviet war in Afghanistan called “Voices Of The Moon” that followed the lives of Afghani people. In 1990 he made his leap to feature films with “Hardware” a cyberpunk film starring Iggy Pop and Lemmy of Motorhead! The film made a splash and the Weinstein Brothers picked it up for distribution exposing the film to a wider audience. In 1992 he made the film “Dust Devil” and had a terrible time with the production as the budget was small and distributor Miramax kept messing with the editing of the film, this was his first bad taste of Major Hollywood studios. His next project as well was a headache as he worked with band Marilion on a video for their concept album Brave and this to was messed with during editing, so much so he disowned the finished product! His next project came in 1996 when he landed the writer and directing gig for his dream project a telling of “The Island Of Doctor Moreau” for New Line Cinema and this turned out to be a doomed project as it was plagued with lots of setbacks, heartaches and disappointments and this lead to Stanley being fired only a few days into production. Most of the drama for Stanley came from star Val Kilmer who clashed with the director and caused lots of problems for many of the cast and crew. This was the final straw for Stanley as after he watched his project get taken away he walked away from film making for awhile and returned to making documentaries and short films including 2008’s werewolf epic called “Black Tulips” among many others. Stanley also started writing films and comics for others and 2011 he directed a segment for the film “The Theatre Bizarre” called Mother Of Toads. In 2014 Stanley was interviewed for a documentary about The Island Of Doctor Moreau called “Lost Souls: The Doomed Journey Of Richard Stanley’s Island Of Dr. Moreau” that told his side of the story of what happened on set. Stanley has also hinted that his original version of Dr. Moreau might be made into a comic and a film sometime soon, and this is something I would love to see. While Stanley has been mistreated by Hollywood the man is very talented and I would love to see him make more stylish Horror Films in the future. This was just a quick look at Stanley as he is a very interesting person with some creative beliefs and if you get time you should Google him and read more about not only his cursed productions but also his interviews.

Richard Stanley 1Richard Stanley 2IMG_0448.JPG

Dust Devil started filming in 1991 in Namibia, and the story was loosely based Nhadiep, a serial killer who was said to have had dark magic powers that helped him in his killings. The film’s plot follows many paths including a cop, a female traveler as well as the killer known as The Dust Devil! IMDB has the film’s plot described like this” “A shape shifter comes from the desert in search of victims, a spirit the locals call ‘The Dust Devil’. He prays on the lonely and the unloved, those who have already lost everything but life itself. Wendy has broken up with her husband and wanders aimlessly in her car. She picks up a stranger and begins having misgivings about picking him up when strange things begin to occur. Meanwhile a local police officer tracks the killer. Aided by a shaman’s admonishments about witchcraft he sets off to try and stop the beast before it can complete its grisly task”. Late in 1991, Stanley cut the film to 120 minutes and then to 110 minutes hoping that the longer cut would be the European version as Miramax had the US rights and they wanted a much shorter film, and boy did they chop it down to a runtime of 87 minutes when they released it on VHS and Laserdisc. Off and on the film was getting cut by Miramax until finally Stanley was able to get the film prints back and cut a final cut of the film that lasted 105 minutes and later a directors cut that lasted 114 Minutes long was released on DVD by Subversive Cinema in America. The film is a weird one, and I can remember buying the DVD when I found it at a local second hand media store in Dayton called Second Time Around, and my then girlfriend sitting with me to watch it…yeah she didn’t last long as she was bored pretty quickly of the odd story line and pacing of the film. In 2015, my friends Jason Young and Eric Shonborn covered Dust Devil on their podcast Gutter Trash and that was a fun listen. Love it or hate it, Dust Devil is one strange horror film that has made it’s mark on the world. This update I would like to dedicate to Andy Copp as I am sure he would have enjoyed this one.

Dust Devil Movie 1Dust Devil VHSDust Devil Movie 2

So are you ready to face The Dust Devil in this short promo comic? Are you ready to see what kind of horror this has in store for us? I mean what kind of murder will this fiend commit on these pages and even better will it keep to the film’s odd nature? Before we travel to with the Dust Devil, we should grab some water or your choice of a cold beverage, and I need to remind you that I am grading this issue 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. Also thanks to Game Swap in Kettering for having this comic in stock as now I have two of them as one was also placed inside by single disc DVD release. So let’s get ready to witness a tale of madness!

Dust Devil Comic 1

Dust Devil  # 1  **1/2
Released in 2006   Cover Price FREE   Subversive Cinema     # 1 of 1

The Dust Devil is looking at why he does what he does and talks in thought about how the souls of his victims call to him even before he has murdered them.  To top it off he also shares that he has been around for decades and even was there to kill Hitler! He says it’s the scent of his victims that draw him to places. He shares that over the years he has taken the look of animals and even things in-between human and animal but has as of late settled for a human look which opens him up for the weakness of pleasure and wanting to sex up the women. He loves what he is and loves what he does, and the thrill is wandering the world and not knowing were the scent of victims will take him.

This comic is short and sweet and is used to give you a inside look at the Dust Devil and all his bloody deeds from being the real Jack The Ripper to killing a young woman who he meets and has sex with and then decides to kill her with a knife! It shows that he collects the fingers of the famous people he kills and that as a human he has the desires of humans. I love the fact also it has taken the shape of animals as well as monsters and has disposed of many people. The Dust Devil is clearly evil and in this comic it shows that he loves to kill and that he does not care who is on his list of death. The comic also does a great job of helping you really understand the film and is a nice counter piece as it teaches you a little more about the character before you watch the film or even after! The comic is pretty violent but doesn’t go overboard on blood but does keep the sleaze and uneasy nature of the film. The cover is pretty bland, and if this was a issue that could be picked up at your local comic shop I am sure you all would look over it as would I.  The art inside is pretty cool and is done by Phil Avelli who also wrote the script.  His art is cartoonish yet holds a horror appeal. To sum it up, while very short, it is a great comic that fans of the film will surely enjoy as much as I do.

Dust Devil Art 1

Well this was a fun quick update that allowed me to relive the film Dust Devil as well as enjoy this cool promo comic that added more layers to the legacy of the film. I truly wish that more companies would make comics based on films they release besides Arrow Video.  I would love to see Troma and Pop Cinema get back in the comic game as well as would love to see companies like SRS Cinema, Tempe and Retromedia Entertainment make comics based on their films. Speaking of films being turned into comics, our next update is yet another of the Draculina Photo Comics based on The Vampire Conspiracy so make sure to grab some garlic and cover your neck for that one. Until then, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local horror host! Oh yeah and beware of the Dust Devil as he could be anywhere, even at your local coffee shop….beware take care…beware…see what I did there worked in a little Ed Wood Jr. for the fun of it!

vampire conspiracy logo

I Want to Believe in The X-Files Season 1

Greetings, gentle readers of Rotten Ink, Juliet here. I’ve decided to take advantage of Matt’s longstanding invitation to do a guest post and give him a break after a busy Halloween season by exploring one of The X-Files comic series with you.

Hum the theme with me. Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo-doo...

Sing the theme with me. Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo-doo…

The X-Files premiered on September 10, 1993. Realizing that I was 10 when the show premiered 20 years ago this fall is the first thing to truly make me feel old. Although there were other shows I was a huge fan of as a child, The X-Files is the first and only show where I’ve watched ever single episode as it aired for the entire run of the show. It was without question my favorite show during its 9 year run and if pressed to pick an all-time favorite TV show, that’s my answer. There are plenty of shows I absolutely adore: The Avengers, The Rockford Files, Star Trek, Sports Night, Six Feet Under and my current TV crush, Fringe, but my affection for The X-Files simply cannot be matched. It’s everything I love in a show: some kind of detective or spy element (the more strange/covert, the better), strong female characters, the ability to be both dramatic and funny, an element of the supernatural or paranormal and, as my mom best put it, “a super complicated plot with plenty of twists and turns that you can babble on and theorize about nonstop.” But The X-Files was even more than those elements combined. As the seasons and the mythology progressed, I became so emotionally invested in the show. Both characters’ quests to believe in something whether it be aliens or religion, Scully’s battle with cancer and Mulder’s feeling of responsibility for putting her in harm’s way, the ideas of trust and truth and how both can be twisted and broken, these are the things that made it easy to become so completely invested in this show, to the point that I can still remember how devastating the end of season 4 was and how agonizing it was waiting all summer to find out whether or not it was going to be okay. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I won’t spoil it for you, though given that 5 more seasons and two feature films followed, I don’t know that you’ll be able to experience the uncertainty about that particular moment the way those of us watching in 1997 did.

Artist's rendering of my reaction to the end of Season 4.

Artist’s rendering of my reaction to the end of Season 4.

The X-Files was an important turning point in television for a lot of reasons: one of the first television shows to be released in season sets on DVD and as one of the 20th anniversary articles pointed out, one of the first shows whose fandom thrived on the internet yet one of the last shows set in present day where the internet was not yet an integral part of day to day life. More on the internet/fandom points in a bit. The X-Files DVDs are among my favorite items in my movie collection. I have the original run of giant, fat, fold out cases, and wouldn’t trade them for the world even though they take up an insane amount of shelf space . The season sets started coming out right around the time I got my first job in high school at a locally owned CD & DVD shop. I didn’t even own a DVD player when I began saving up and buying those sets with my employee discount (which still made them over 10 times as much as the sets cost nowadays).

They take up a mile of shelf space, but I love them.

They take up a mile of shelf space, but I love them.

Admittedly, even when I was younger, the thought crossed my mind that my infatuation with The X-Files would fade, and certainly the later seasons sometimes made the show hard to love. Both before and after The X-Files’ run, there were shows that began as my FAVORITEST.SHOW.EVER. That either got increasingly stupid (Lois & Clark) or increasingly repetitive (C.S.I. – more on that if Matt ever lets me write another one of these – which is really a promise and a threat). It says a lot about my attachment to show the and its characters that 20 years later, I can still not only watch it over and over on DVD, but am also still hoping that the oft-rumored third movie will one day materialize. I’d also be lying if I said my fangirl heart didn’t do a little flipflop upon seeing David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson’s latest Entertainment Weekly cover.

Seriously...look at them.

Seriously…look at them.

Ah, shipperdom.

Aren't they just the best?

Aren’t they just the best?

Wait, what? For those of you who know what I’m talking about, feel free to skip the next four paragraphs ahead or nod along as you read the testimony of your fellow nerd…as in Nerd…capital N. None of this trendy nerd business, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I say capital N Nerd because that’s seriously how I felt about fandom and shipperdom when I was younger – painfully nerdy. Of course, as a grown up, I’ve met many many people who are into fandom, hell, who taught me the term fandom, but as a younger person, it was at times isolating to be so.freaking.into. something in a way that goes beyond liking a TV show, movie, book series, etc. Remember, this is all happening right as the internet is very slowly becoming commonplace in people’s homes (yes, children, there was a time before we all had all of the internets at our fingertips 24-7). As I got older, it was amazing to meet people who shared this similar kind of obsessive love for a fictional series, whether it be the same series I loved or not, the first of these folks being my best friend Anne. When I met her in high school, Anne was super into the Buffy fandom, a love that she passed on to, and that I’ll write about at some future point. She’s also the person who introduced me to online fandom, which really opened up a whole world and connected me to people who were the exact type of obsessive, yet creative fan that I was previously so embarrassed to be.

I still have my copy of this one.

I still have my copy of this one.

The X-Files became my first formal foray into fanfiction, though, as I recently told another friend I had really been writing fanfiction from a very early age as a young Star Trek fan, though never really knew that there was name, let alone a community of people who write it. Fanfiction is another one of those weird to talk about things, especially because of the whole 50 Fifty Shades of Grey situation. And actually my discussion of fanfiction would be much better suited to a blog about C.S.I. So look forward to that at some point (again, if Matt ever lets me do this again). Now to return to the digression from which I digressed, what is shipperdom? Shippers are typically members of a fandom who are want to see or are supportive of two of the characters getting together in a romantic relationSHIP. It goes beyond just wanting to see the characters end up together though. If you’re a shipper (or at least this is how all of the shippers I know, including myself, are), you study every interaction between your pairing in a given episode. You look for the subtle, the subtext of the conversation; you analyze everything. It’s a huge emotional investment for many. If you happen to watch a show where there are two major but opposing ships (C.S.I. is a huge, personal example…again, more on that another time), it’s that much more intense. And remember, this is all for fun.

I have a never-ending supply of these.

Shipperdom is having a stockpile of pictures like this.

Again, if you’re into fandom and/or a shipper, I’m probably just hitting the tip of the iceberg. If you’re not, you just might be questioning my mental health and relationship to reality. Here’s my disclaimer in the simplest of terms possible: yes, as with anything else, there are people within the fandom community who don’t have a good handle on reality and thus form a unhealthy obsessive relationship with whatever fiction they’re a fan of. There are plenty of people, however, for whom even a seemingly obsessive relationship with fiction is relaxation, a creative exercise and is leisure-time and balances can be struck, line can be drawn between fandom, work, family, etc. So long-story short (too late): I was/am a Mulder-Scully shipper.

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Duh.

You can imagine, I’m sure, my excitement when in the third theatrical trailer for the first film, Fight in the Future, it looks like we’re finally going to get the kiss we’ve all been waiting for. To be fair, that was only one of many things that had me completely hyped to see Fight the Future, and it’s one of those films I have a very distinct memory of seeing in the theater. I went with my dad (also a big fan of the show) to see it at the Beaver Valley Cinema (yes, the same theater Matt recently talked about in his rundown of now defunct independent movie houses). We had to see it at Beaver Valley because right when the film opened, there was some kind of issue with 20th Century Fox and Showcase Cinemas (at the time, the main first-run theater chain in the Dayton area), and I think the Showcases got the film a week or two late or it closed early. I can’t remember precisely how it all went down, I just remember that we felt lucky that Beaver Valley had the film because it was the only theater in the area showing it for a while. It was a packed house, and (SPOILER ALERT) coming back to the kiss, I will never forget the loud groan from the audience when Scully gets stung by the bee.

So that happened.

So that happened.

A side note about Fight the Future: its soundtrack remains one of my favorites to listen to front to back. The show soundtrack, Songs in the Key of X is also great, but the Fight the Future soundtrack is the perfect combination of dark, moody late 90s songs and some really unexpected covers (Filter’s rendition of “One,” anyone?). I just might be listening to it as I’m writing this…maybe…. Another side note: I was researching who wrote the Fight the Future paperback adaptation on Amazon, and a beekeeping book was the first item in the related searches. Ha!

The bees' big scene costarring Mulder and Scully.

The bees’ big scene costarring Mulder and Scully.

When Matt and I saw the second film, I Want to Believe, it was a nearly opposite experience. Although the film was available most everywhere, we were two of maybe five people in the entire theater, and I really ought to apologize to those 3 other people and to Matt because I may have been, uhm, a bit vocal about (more SPOILER ALERTS ahead) the lack of aliens, any mention of the 9 seasons of mythology, any acknowledgement of the fact that Mulder knows the date of colonization or comments about a certain infant. I have really mixed feelings about I Want to Believe. On one hand, it’s a miracle that it got made so long after the end of the show. The new content was a pleasant surprise and felt like a good extended episode that was not mythology related but served the characters well. On the other hand, for a fan who stuck with the show for 9 years of twists and turns in the mythology, sometimes brilliant and other times horrendous, it felt like such a betrayal to loyal fans to not even have a passing mention of what had come before. I understand the bind the writers were in; one of the flaws cited about Fight the Future was that it wasn’t very accessible for folks who didn’t know the show. Luckily when it came out, The X-Files was one of the most popular shows on TV. However, when I Want to Believe came out in 2008, The X-Files hadn’t been on TV for 6 years, and many loyal fans hadn’t even made it through the last 2 sans-Mulder seasons of the show or had only watched the admittedly lackluster series finale. So yes, including a lot of mythology in the main plot of I Want to Believe would have made an uphill battle of a film that much more difficult, but I feel like the message to diehard fans was, “well guys, at least you got another movie…”

And at least we got this.

And at least we got this.

There have been, of course, on-going rumors about a third X-Files film especially this year with the 20th anniversary giving the show renewed media coverage. Chris Carter, David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson have all been quoted as saying that they’d be interested in doing a third, but there’s been no movement from Fox yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if happens though. Despite years of rumors about a second film, I had just about given up hope when I Want To Believe materialized. Until then, we’ll have to settle with the season 10 comic series that’s currently being put out by IDW, which I’ll probably touch on in a future guest post once the series is a bit farther along.

Come on guys, that third movie can start filming any day now.

Come on guys, that third movie can start filming any day now.

But comics are why we’re here so let’s get onto it, shall we? Today I’m going to look at the Topps X-Files Season One tie-in comics as well as the comics for Fight the Future. During the show’s original run, Topps had a 41-issue main series of comics based on the X-Files with stories that different from what was on television. In the middle of this run, in 1996, they began to publish a special series of episode adaptations from season 1. The idea was actual to do comic adaptations of the whole show, but that fell through before the season 2 books were ever completed. We start with the Pilot, naturally.

PilotThe X-Files Season 1: Pilot   **1/2
 Released in 1997  Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   0 of 8

The following is inspired by actual eyewitness accounts. In Oregon, a young woman is found dead in the woods, and the authorities begin wondering if “it” is happening again. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, a young FBI agent named Dana Scully receives her new assignment working with Fox “Spooky” Mulder on an unusual case docket known as the X-Files. These cases deal with the unexplained, the paranormal, and they’re Mulder’s passion in life. Scully’s job, per her superiors, is to use her scientific knowledge to debunk these cases, the first of which is figuring out who killed Karen Swenson, the young woman in Oregon. Mulder thinks this is a classic example of alien abduction, while Scully maintains there must be some logical explanation for what’s been happening to Karen and her fellow schoolmates from the notorious class of ’89. The truth is, of course, out there, but will our daring duo be able to figure it out before more kids are abducted?

Ah, the pilot episode. It will always have a special place in my heart. Although not the best story of the series, it’s certainly a strong start – better than many first pilots, and some first seasons of the average TV show. The comic version is an extremely faithful adaptation, to the point that X-Files creator Chris Carter is given the writer credit for the comic, while Topps’ Roy Thomas is merely credited for script adaptation. More on that later. John Van Fleet did both the cover and the interior art, while his style works for the cover, I’m not wild about the interiors. I get what he was going for with the shadowy, painted look, but it tends to look sloppy in more panels than not and doesn’t serve the story well. In 1997, your options for re-experiencing the pilot episode were to track it down on VHS, read the YA paperback adaptation or read this comic. But today, the DVDs are so readily available that if the comic doesn’t have anything to add, it’s hard to make a case for it over the actual episode. Let’s see how Deep Throat fares next.

 DeepThroat

The X-Files Season One: Deep Throat  *** 1/2
Released in 1997   Cover price $4.95   Topps Comics   1 of 8

There’s something strange going on with test pilots at Ellens Air Force Base, and Mulder takes it upon himself (and Scully) to investigate. But before they can get rolling, Mulder meets a mysterious man who advises him to drop the case, citing “a certain interest” in Mulder’s work. But that doesn’t stop Mulder’s quest for the truth, which puts he and Scully into harm’s way as well as the path of young UFO nuts, faux journalists, military wives and, perhaps, the spaceships they seek.

I always forget how much I really love this episode. It’s certainly not extraordinary like “Bad Blood,” “Jose Chung’s From Out Space,” and many of my other favorites, but it’s a strong episode. While the Pilot establishes the paranormal aspect of the show, and teases the conspiracy, Deep Throat ushers in the mythology that, for better or worse, would sustain the show for nine years. I think I especially connected with this one because of the idea of the Air Force pilots flying either UFOs or planes built with UFO technology because I grew up not far from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where it’s rumored UFOs and or aliens were brought after the Rosewell crash. Hangar 18, anyone? Comic-wise, Roy Thomas gets a title change from Script Adaptation to Writer, and while the comic still doesn’t deviate from the television episode, that fact doesn’t seem so completely obvious this time around. What may have helped with that was the addition of Claude St. Aubin on pencils and Rick Magyar on ink. The art was so much better in this issue and served the story well. Mulder and Scully, for the most part, looked like Mulder and Scully, and the UFO scenes that were super dramatic onscreen looked really nice on the page. John van Fleet is back on the cover with a nice painting of our heroes.

Squeeze

The X-Files Season 1: Squeeze   ***
Released in 1997   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   2 of 8

People are getting their livers ripped out, and Scully’s former classmate is on the case. He asks her opinion on the case, and she and Mulder end up joining the investigation. The other FBI agents think their suspect, a name named Tooms, is a serial killer. Mulder posits he’s a 100+ year old genetic mutant who comes out of hibernation in his creepy newspaper nest to feed on livers every so often. Who’s right about the killer? Read and see.

This is one of those X-Files episodes that even people who didn’t watch the X-Files seems to know: that one with the guy that eats the livers. Actually they’re referring to two episodes because Eugene Victor Tooms is so delightfully creepy that he makes a comeback later in the season. Squeeze was the first Monster of the Week episode (the ones that were not connected to the mythology/conspiracy story), and we’ve once again got Roy Thomas writing the comic. Val Mayrick is on pencils this time around, and the art is good, but we’re back to a more painted coloring style. While it works on some pages, I still prefer the artwork from Deep Throat. John Van Fleet did two covers this time: one of Tooms and one of Mulder and Scully. Overall, it was really hard to capture the super creepy vibe of this episode on the page, especially those last few minutes that were so effective on screen.

Conduit

The X-Files Season 1: Conduit   **1/2
Released in 1997   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   3 of 8

A girl vanishes in a flash of light and her little brother claims to have the key to her disappearance. While the validity of the X-Files division is debated, Mulder finds him drawn to this case from reasons beyond the surface paranormal occurrences that are very similar to an important event from his childhood.

For being such an important episode, this is one I often forget about. Or maybe it’s that I take it for granted. After so many years of being a fan, it’s just ingrained in me that Mulder’s sister got abducted that I tend to forget when we actually learned that for the first time (hint: it was in this episode). This is also the first time “I Want To Believe” takes on a greater meaning beyond the UFO poster on the wall of the basement office. Roy Thomas is once again our writer. Upon further investigation, I found out that he wrote the comics based on the episode scripts and then would watch the episode to confirm that everything matched up correctly. So that explains the near perfect adaptation of the story/lack of additional scenes. On the art end of things we’ve got our fourth artist in four issues with Sean Scoffield on pencils. He’s a little sketchier than the others, but still okay. I do like John Van Fleet’s cover for this one.

Ice

The X-Files Season 1: Ice  **
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   4 out of 8

Mulder and Scully are sent to a remote Arctic research station to investigate what’s making the team members freak out and kill each other. A prehistoric worm is the culprit, but things get complicated when our agents are stuck at the station with the remaining scientists and no one knows who precisely is infected.

With issue 5 of the comic, we’re now going out of air order for the episodes. I do like this episode. It’s another Monster of the Week (though when you consider Fight the Future, it might almost fit into the mythology), and it’s got a guest appearance from Felicity Huffman, though if you were to rely on the art for the comic, you wouldn’t know it was her. John Van Fleet’s back on the cover and interiors. So things are bit, uhm, painty in the image department. Roy Thomas is once again writing so the story is tight like the episode its based on.

Space

The X-Files Season 1: Space   ****
Released in 1998  Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   5 of 8

Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate a potential saboteur of a space shuttle mission. The mission’s supervisor is experiencing flashbacks from a 1977 Mars mission during which it appeared that a face was sculpted onto the planet’s surface. But soon others on the mission are seeing the ghostly face. Is it a message from another world or simply a man at the end of his rope?

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Alright guys, I’m going to level with you. This comic really surprised me. The episode as it aired was extremely lackluster. In fact, it’s regarded as one of the weakest in the first season and is reported to be Chris Carter’s least favorite. What was boring on screen actually almost works better in the comic format. What was way too slow on the screen seems to be better told on the page. Roy Thomas once again writes and Alexander Savink delivers some really nice artwork, which I think also lends to the good storytelling. John Van Fleet’s cover is one of my favorites of the Season One series, in part because it’s simple and striking. I really expected that getting through this one would be a total chore. I was happy that wasn’t at all the case.

Fire

The X-Files Season One: Fire   ***
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   6 of 8

An arsonist is targeting British ex-pat aristocrats and is able to make them seemingly spontaneously combust. Mulder and Scully are lured into the case by Mulder former flame (see what I did there?), Phoebe Green. The arsonist poses a caretaker at the vacation home of his next target while Mulder and Scully race to identify the criminal. Oh, and did I mention that Mulder is afraid of fire?

The overwhelming theme of this is one that you hate Phoebe Green, which I think is the point. She’s a rival for Mulder’s affections and therefore she must go. Granted, she’s significantly less annoying in the comic than she was onscreen. Speaking of being less annoying, for once John Van Fleet’s artwork serves the story well. The super painty style makes the fire look really menacing and all-encompassing. The cover, also done by Van Fleet is really nice – one of the standouts of the series along with Space.

BeyondTheSea

The X-Files Season One: Beyond the Sea  ***1/2
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   7 of 8

A young couple is kidnapped and Luther Boggs, a serial killer on death row, claims to have had psychic visions that can help the police. While in the midst of this investigation, Scully is dealing with the death of her father and some visions of her own. Boggs tries to convince her that he can channel her dead father, while Mulder is injured trying to track down the kidnapper.

This is one of those great character episodes that added a lot of depth and background to Scully. The comic does a good job of interpreting it, and the artwork pairs really nicely with the story. Scott Scoffield is on pencils this time around. The coloring is done to look painted, almost in Alex Ross’ style (maybe capitalizing on the success of Kingdom Come?), which serves the story really well. I was wondering how they’d capture Boggs’ creepy vibe in the art, and this seems to have done the trick. John Van Fleet’s on cover duty again; this one is okay, but not the one of the better of the series.

Shadows

The X-Files Season One: Shadows  **
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   8 of 8

Mulder and Scully are brought into a strange case involving two men found dead with their throats crushed from the inside. The men are found to have ties with a terrorist organization and are linked to a women named Lauren who seems to have some force protecting her.

This was one of those rather forgettable episodes, and the comic is much of the same. If I could trade this one in for a comic adaptation of Eve, consider it done. John Van Fleet’s on cover and interior artwork, but this time his interiors are really different. They’re way sketchier than his other work, lots of pencil hatching instead of blobby painty coloring. I know that they had planned to do all of season 1 and into season 2, but this was such a lackluster way to end this run.

Speaking of plans for continuing the episode tie-ins, I find it interesting that the comics did not go in order of the air dates and that they completely skipped some of the episodes. Part of me is not bothered that they skipped Jersey Devil and Ghost in the Machine, though I’d be curious to see if the latter could’ve been better served by a comic like Space. It’s totally disappointing, however that they skipped Fallen Angel and Eve, the former such a important building block in the early days of the series mythology. Speaking of mythology, how about a bonus review in the form of the comic adaptation for Fight the Future.

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The X-Files: Fight the Future  **
Released in 1998   Cover Prize $5.95   Topps Comics   1 of 1

It all begins with cavemen (doesn’t it always?), but soon we are in modern times in Northern Texas, the very land where the cavemen walked hundreds of years ago where children now play and fall down holes that may be the ancient home of a certain living black oily substance. With the X-Files closed down at the end of season 5, Mulder and Scully are investigating a bomb threat at a federal building in Texas. The building explodes, and our heroes quickly realize that all is not what it seems. What follows is a twisted tale into the heart of the conspiracy filled with bees, cornfields, black oil, more bees at really inopportune times, and a giant UFO in the middle of the arctic.

If it’s not already obvious, I love Fight the Future. I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count, have read the paperback adaptation more times than any sane person should, and yet, somehow I missed out on the comic adaptation until now. So I was really excited to see what the comic treatment would be for such a complex story. How could they cram that much story into a 56 page comic? Well, I’ll tell you how: by formatting the darn thing like an intermediate reader for kids with paragraphs of text and a few pictures on each page. LAME. Seriously, what a disappointment. The page count is just enough to cram all of text in, but not really enough to give the story a thorough treatment. Give me the paperback any day. John Rozum did the story adaptation and our old pal John Van Fleet did the artwork, which is sometimes pretty nice and others really just too dark and indistinguishable. The stuff in the arctic in particular is really hard to parse out what’s happening if you don’t know the movie extremely well. If you’re not a super fan, I don’t recommend wasting your time with this one.

I wasn't kidding about the cornfields

They did WHAT to the comic adaptation of the movie?! (Also, she wasn’t kidding about the cornfields)

Thus concludes my brief journey into the comic world of The X-Files. Provided I haven’t scared away all of Matt’s readers, I may return at some point to cover the original Topps run of X-Files comics (that don’t have episode tie-ins) and explore other titles that I enjoy. In the meantime, I return you to his capable hands when next time he’ll be telling you all about the comics based on Steve Reeves’ Hercules movies. And remember: the truth is out there!

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