NES Challenge: The Adventures of Bayou Billy

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! I am sure you’re wondering why we are here in the bayou of Louisiana in the middle of gator ally.  Well, we are here waiting on the one and only Bayou Billy! So you readers know what that means, we are at another NES Challenge.  This time around we will be playing The Adventures Of Bayou Billy on the good old RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) to see if I can beat it once and for all! Bayou Billy is a game for the Nintendo that almost every kid I knew owned, and not a one of them could beat it much like Dick Tracy and Goonies II that seemed almost impossible to beat and made for many hours of frustrating play. My cousin Stephen Alexander hates this game as he also has never beat it and in fact can barely get off the first level, and he is a pretty good old school NES game player with over the last few years beating such titles as The Karate Kid, Monster In My Pocket, Jaws, Karnov, Metal Fighter and Super Mario Bros, to name a few. So as you can see I have a pretty tough challenge ahead, but I am up for it as for this play through I am going to pig out on Cajun style food and drink to get me into the mindset of Billy! So let’s watch out for gators and see if we can lend a hand to Bayou Billy as he tries to save his lady from the evil grasp of Godfather Gordon!

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In 1989 Konami unleashed The Adventures of Bayou Billy onto the masses in North America, and a cult game was born. The game is a hybrid of side scrolling beat-‘em up, jeep driving and light gun shooter that follows Billy from level to level as he fights his way through a total of 9 of them. The plot of this adventure is pretty simple: you take control of Billy West, a former U.S. soldier turned vigilante who goes by the name Bayou Billy who is going up against crime boss Godfather Gordon’s smuggling operation.  For this, the crime lord kidnaps his girlfriend Annabelle Lane! This of course is a trap and leads Billy on a butt kicking New Orleans high stakes adventure to get her back and to stop Godfather Gordon’s reign of terror. The game was originally released in Japan in 1988 by Konami under the title “Mad City.”  When coming to America, the game went through some changes as they decided to make the game way harder, added in voices and laughter plus changed some background layouts & colors! The game was a pretty big hit for the NES and is one that most kids of the late 80’s had in their game collection.

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I first learned of The Adventures Of Bayou Billy thanks to TV commercials that aired on TV during Saturday Morning Cartoons as well as after school toons and can remember being pretty hyped to play the game as the hero reminded me of the movie character Crocodile Dundee. My parents decided that we did not need The Adventures Of Bayou Billy in our collection and did not buy our household a copy, but lucky for me, neighborhood kid brothers Jeremy and Aaron did and they would invite me over to play the game or try to as I can remember it being so hard that it became almost a challenge between us to try and beat it…we as young kids failed. The next run in with The Adventures Of Bayou Billy came when my cousins Dino and Norman had the game, and once more we played it and failed and I even borrowed it from them to try and beat it and could not even get to the final battle with Godfather Gordon. When I was older, I ended up buying a copy of the game from a second had store around here called Replay Media, and this time around my good pal Jason Gilmore and I tried to beat it and just like before, we failed…so as you can see, failure and Bayou Billy go hand and hand for me as a gamer. And just last year I bought a copy of the game complete in box from Amazon just for this update, cause now at 37 years old I am looking forward to trying to beat this game for the first time…but to be honest I would be surprised if by the end of the day I get to the end screen…I know I have no faith in my abilities of being an old school player. Check out below for a look at the copy of the game I will be playing as well as its box and booklet.

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The Adventures Of Bayou Billy TV commercial was one I remember as it had an actor playing Billy in the heart of the swamp wrestling with an alligator all the while he was telling us about the game play of it being three styles in one from side scroller, to driving to shooter, all the while doing a terrible and over the top bad Cajun accent. The alligator in most shots was a rubber one with one close up of a real one. This overly done and cheesy commercial worked on the youth at the time as it made this game a must have for kids as Konami built it up to be so grand that we just had to have it to impress our friends and to be cool on the playground.  Not to mention that we had to try to beat the amazing adventure that awaited us. Video game commercials like this were a great way for companies to get the attention of the youth who would see it and talk about it at school and with friends building a buzz around the game that caused many kids to bug their parents enough to get it. Nowadays I feel like YouTube and sites like IGN are the tools that spread the hype and game trailers to the target audiences. If you feel like having a good flashback or even want to see the commercial for the first time, check it out on YouTube and be ready for a laughable good 31 seconds with the one and only Bayou Billy.

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Besides the TV commercial, Konami pushed Bayou Billy by running sales on the hit game in toy store ads like Children’s Palace, Toys R Us and Kaybee Toys making it easier for kids to get the game by showing their parents the marked down sale price. They also made a handheld version to give young gamers another way to play the game besides on the NES and to get more money from what they saw as a franchise I am sure. Thinking about it now, I wonder why Konami never made a sequel to Bayou Billy as it would have been neat to have seen the character make the leap to the Super Nintendo or even the Sony Playstation. But any chance of Bayou Billy making a return with a new game on any video game systems is slim to none as Konami is a shell of a company they use to be and many of their workers have left them as they are focusing on gambling machines mostly…so sad.

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Bayou Billy also made the leap to the cartoon world as he appeared in two episodes of the 1989 cartoon series “Captain N: The Game Master” and was resident of Bayouland in the Videoland universe. In the cartoon, Billy had a pet gator named Loafer and helped main character Kevin Keene learn to survive in the swamp land as his game was one that Kevin could never beat, sounds like the story of many gamers’ lives. The episodes that Billy appeared in were called “How’s Bayou” and “Having A Ball,” and this once more showed that both Konami and Nintendo really wanted to push this game and title character to the moon by even adding him to their popular video game themed cartoon. The Billy character in the cartoon acted like the movie character Crocodile Dundee and this was a plan again, to help push the character as Mick Dundee was very popular in pop culture at the time. If you want to see these episodes, make sure to check out the Captain N: The Game Master complete series DVD boxset put out by Shout Factory, but be warned, it is out of print and carries a high price.

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Before we get to the NES Challenge and the Archie Comics Bayou Billy comic reviews, I would like to take a moment to take a look at the band Zebra and their first album that was self-titled as they were formed in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1975 and fit perfectly for this bayou themed update! The band members are Randy Jackson, who is the vocalist and guitarist, Guy Gelso on drums and Felix Hanemann on keyboards and bass, and this line up is still going to this day! They built their name playing clubs around Long Island, New York and covered songs by bands like Rush, Led Zeppelin and The Moody Blues, and this got the attention of Atlantic Records who signed them and released their self-titled album in 1983 making it a huge hit for the company and band. Over the years they released a few more albums via Atlantic like No Tellin’ Lies (1984), 3.V (1986) and Live (1990), but none of them did as well as their first release.  They were dropped in the early 90’s from Atlantic and took a break as a band while Randy Jackson made a side band he called Randy Jackson’s China Rain, but fans would be happy when Zebra would return in 1997 and in 2003 would release their final studio album to date Zebra IV. While not a band that is a household name, Zebra is still active and rocking clubs in New York and New Orleans showing that this band knows how to rock.

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I decided to cruise around Kettering, Ohio in my 2004 Ford Mustang and listen to Zebra’s 1983 release, and on this day the weather was chilly with slight rain and the sound of Zebra was fitting for the smooth and peaceful ride. The first thing I noticed about this album is that it has a weird mix of styles.  The best way I can describe it is if you mixed bands like Keel, Asia, Alan Parsons Project and slightly Cinderella into a blender and poured it all into a glass that had the logo of the band Fastway on it! With that said, this is my type of rock n roll as I enjoy the sounds of 80’s rock, and singer Randy Jackson has the pipes much like Ron Keel of Keel and Dave King of Fastway. Many of the tracks on the disc are solid and great tunes with the two most famous tracks off the disc being the best and those are Who’s Behind The Door? and Tell Me What You Want with the latter being my favorite as it is catchy and has great guitar rifts. Another great track is Take Your Fingers From My Hair, a ballad that is soothing and well structured, so much so that band Dream Theater even did a cover of it back in 2009. I don’t want to spend too much time on this CD, but if you enjoy good clean 80’s metal, make sure to check this disc out as it’s a good one.

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I selected the day January 24, 2017 for my showdown with Adventures Of Bayou Billy, and for this epic day of another NES Challenge, I decided I needed food and drinks that fit the New Orleans bayou theme of the game. Juliet, whose family is from Louisiana, bought me some snacks that are favorites for the bayou like Zapp’s Potato Chips, and to drink I stuck to my classic ice water. She made some chicken and sausage jambalaya as sadly I am allergic to shrimp, and it slowly cooked in the crockpot. The weather outside was grey and cloudy with slight rain with the high of only 45 degrees so it was perfect to sit inside and try and beat this classic Nintendo game! Below is a picture of the jambalaya and Zapp’s that we ate during this epic NES Challenge.

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I started my quest to beat this game at 12:00pm in the mindset that I had to beat this game as it has tormented me for years, but I must also say that doubt also was lingering as the visions of just how hard the game is kept creeping in as did the failure of my last NES Challenge of trying to beat Werewolf The Last Warrior. But I shook those thoughts off and fired up the RES, took the controller in my hands and began my quest to save Annabelle Lane from that evil crime lord Godfather Gordon! To my surprise, after only a few tries I was able to defeat the first level only dying a few times kicking at the alligators and moved onto the second level that was an easy shooter where I had to take on a helicopter while using my d-pad for the gun. The third level was the start of me having a real hard time with the stage boss who is big, mean, and ready to fling Billy around like a rag doll. After losing on stage 3 and wasting all my continues, I took a break and watched Hatchet III for the second time to keep with the New Orleans bayou feel of the day. I jumped back into my quest to save Annabelle after the movie, and I failed really hard as I was not in the groove and kept dying on stage one! I walked away for a moment, and Juliet gave it a shot and sadly she didn’t last long as she allowed Billy to be beat worst than S.D. Jones against King Kong Bundy in a WWF Wrestling match! I cleared my head of the butt whooping I had just taken, and after taking a deep breath, I turned on the RES for the last time of the day and got into the zone of trying like hell to help Bayou Billy get his girlfriend back! I started out strong once again kicking the crap out of the bad guys who are just hit sponges who take way too many hits, and after losing my cool after cheap enemy hits I came to the conclusion that this game is just way too hard for no reason and instead of busting a blood vessel to try and beat it I would rather just turn off the RES and sit back and relax and read some comics because this game was not worth the anger it induces.  All joking aside, this game was just too hard for this aging gamer to beat in one day. But with that said, I must say that the Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtators potato chips and the homemade jambalaya were fantastic and made this day of defeat a heck of a lot better!

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To no surprise I was unable to beat The Adventures of Bayou Billy as I find it to be one of the hardest games in the whole Nintendo library! But I need to give a shout out to all the henchmen and crazed animals who all tried their best to keep me away from their boss. I need to show some respect to Godfather Gordon, that man who made this adventure so hard to beat not only because of his toughness but also his ability to hire the right muscle to keep me and Billy at bay! I also need to speak about Gordon’s bodyguards Rocky and Rocco who show their power by stopping you into the ground like you were just a tiny ant under their boot. In other words, all these bad guys do their jobs of making this game almost impossible to beat very well! So here is to all of them for making this old school gamer once more walk away from his RES a defeated man.

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So while beating the game was a complete bust, I still was able to enjoy some good bayou style food and a fun filled silly day of playing a classic NES game on my RES while hanging out with my girlfriend Juliet! I also want to thank Konami for making this classic game because while it has tormented me for years, it still has added entertainment to my life. But now it’s time to tackle the Archie Comics series based on this video game that thanks to the team up of Lone Star Comics, Darkstar and Bell, Book and Comic I was able to collect, read and review for this NES Challenge Update. And as Bayou Billy dusts himself off after the butt kicking we both just took, he wants me to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So grab your giant Crocodile Dundee knife and let’s head back into the swamps and this time enjoy some comic books based on this video game adventurer Bayou Billy.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 1 of 5

Bayou Billy is on his way to testify in court when he stops some street punks from robbing an old couple on vacation from New Jersey. Once in court the words Billy says and the fact he can point out the perpetrator who started some wicked fires named Hurricane Hank, leads to the pyro to be found guilty, and along with Assistant District Attorney Annabel Lee he is able to get one of Godfather Gordon’s henchmen off the streets. That night Annabel gets an anonymous call to meet some people who have the dirt on the Gordon Crime family only to find herself the target of a hit that leaves her shot and wounded, but luckily she knows karate and is able to steal the hitmen’s boat and finds herself weak at the doorstep of Bayou Billy’s home deep in the swamp. Godfather Gordon is mad at his son Rock Gordon for botching the hit as now they know Billy is now at her side. Rocco Gordon, Godfather’s stepson, comes up with an idea to send their mercenary team F.I.S.T to kill not only Annabel and Bayou Billy but also his Delta Force friends who were heading to the home to join their friend in the approaching war. Bayou Billy is joined by trap master Broadside, Tracker a Native America tracker and fighter and lastly the eye-patch wearing Sureshot who is a master of the bow and arrow and together they protect Annabel and defeat the likes of Mr. T.N.T and Cut Throat. In the end the battle leaves Bayou Billy’s swamp home destroyed but he and his team have mopped up some of Gordon’s top henchmen and saved the town’s Assistant District Attorney who is now out to get Godfather Gordon in a jail cell.

This first issue sets the groundwork that Bayou Billy is a bounty hunter who once was a Delta Force solider who still has war buddies and is a legend around New Orleans as criminals think that he can not be killed and will not die…hey wait, just like The Phantom! The story for this issue is that Annabel Lee has become a target of the Gordon Crime Family as she has been very outspoken about their crimes.  This leaves her the target of a hit that she is lucky to escape from, getting help from the town’s hero Bayou Billy who along with his own team are ready to tackle crime and bring it down. Bayou Billy is a little cocky yet very loyal and committed to doing the right thing.  You can tell he has a crush on Annabel Lee, who doesn’t have the same feelings for him. He has no fear and tackles trouble head on laughing off threats from baddies. His Delta Force buddies Sure Shot, Tracker and Broadside are loyal friends and clearly guys Billy can depend on for the coming turf war. Godfather Gordon and his two sons Rock and Rocco are pure evil crime lords who have their hand in all types of crimes and don’t care who they kill in order to get what they need and want. Their elite team called F.I.S.T is made up of all types of criminals from the hitmen Cut Throat and Creole all the way to helicopter pilot and gunner Wild Bill.  But while they are all skilled at what they do, they are just out classed by Billy and his group. Annabel Lee is a woman who wants to use the justice system to put criminals away and does a great job at doing so; she is also pretty and can defend her self as she as a green belt in martial arts. Over all this is a fun kid friendly adventure comic that takes some liberties with the video game it’s based on.  One of the major changes is that Rock and Rocco are the sons of Godfather Gordon and not his bodyguards. But while changes like that might upset The Adventures of Bayou Billy diehard fans, I can look over it, as I found they mixed action, drama, crime and war comic well to make for a kids comic that packs a gator sized bite. The cover is great and is a more cartoonish version of the NES cover box.  The interior art done by Amanda Connor is fantastic and she helps bring Bayou Billy to life on the comic pages. I should also note that The Adventures of Bayou Billy is apart of the Archie Adventure Series line and joined its place in history along side other titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, The Fly, Sonic The Hedgehog and ManTech Robot Warriors for delivering quality comics aimed toward early teen readers. But with issue # 1 being a great read, I am looking forward to seeing what issue # 2 has in store for us.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 2  **1/2
Released in 1989   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 2 of 5

That firebug Hurricane Hank is having nightmares in prison about his last run-in with Bayou Billy that not only landed him in jail but also minus a hand! He wants so badly to get out of jail and get his revenge once and for all and must come up with a plan. Meanwhile Bayou Billy pays Godfather Gordon a visit, and after roughing him up, is able to get money to build a new house as his F.I.S.T agents blew up his last one so Billy finds it fair that the crime boss pays to build him a new one. Worse for our heroes is that the whole F.I.S.T group is freed, and Hurricane Hank does escape jail and sets into motion a scheme to kill Bayou Billy! Tracker however followed Hurricane Hank and alerts Billy as the Gordons alert Annabel Lee to where he is hiding as they find their one time henchman too much of a loose cannon now. Bayou Billy knows it’s a trap and shares a story with Annabel from his Delta Force years about how he was set up by a Gordon back then that left him dead for a short time and was only brought back thanks to the effort of his friends.  He shares the story of the second time he was dead and saved when a hitman sent by Godfather Gordon named Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill used a nerve gas that took his breath away.  If not for an old man living in the bayou named Papa Jambo, he would have once more been in a grave. Bayou Billy takes Annabel Lee to his friend Grease Monkey and her garage as he goes after Hurricane Hank.  A battle breaks out that leaves a warehouse burnt down, Bayou Billy bruised and sore and Hurricane Hank once more on the losing end of life.

This second bayou adventure is a fun kid friendly read that loses the charm of issue # 1 slightly as this one just was kind of middle of the road and comes off as almost a watered down version of a Dick Tracy story. The plot is: a criminal who Bayou Billy put away and cost him to lose one of his hands escapes jail more crazy than ever. and his madness to get revenge is what leads to his downfall. Hurricane Hank is a man who had slipped into madness as he is plagued with nightmares of losing his hand and every moment of his life is used plotting the death of Bayou Billy and setting the world on fire. While once a respected henchman for Godfather Gordon, his mental state has even made the crime family turn on him. Plus his ego gets the better of him as when he had Bayou Billy down for the count and could have fried him like chicken on a boat, he instead chooses to try and kill our hero with his bare hands that just leads to him being out smarted and out classed and at the bottom of the water. Godfather Gordon as well as his sons and F.I.S.T stay out of this fight and pretty much lay low after the last beating they took, but Godfather does at least call in a tip so that Hurricane Hank can be found with the hope he and Billy will just kill each other! Tracker, Broadside and Sure Shot act as distractions so Billy can get Hurricane Hank and each play their part well.  We also meet Grease Monkey, the cute redhead female mechanic and friend of the Delta Force group who works on their trucks and boats. Annabel Lee is now clearly in love with Bayou Billy and is still trying her best to put the Gordon crime family behind bars, but is faced with lots of setbacks and bribes to judges. I also enjoyed Papa Jambo who not only saved Bayou Billy from death but also taught him all his tricks of the trade in the swamps. The fights in the issue between Hurricane Hank and Bayou Billy are great and reminded me a lot of classic comic book fights you would have seen in Mighty Crusaders and other independent hero comics. The cover is just okay with the black lines being used as shadows on Bayou Billy being a little cheesy.  The interior art is also a little off and is done by a team up of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito who both normally do great work. While this issue is just okay, I did have a good time reading it and enjoyed the idea that Konami and Archie Comics put time and thought into trying to make this comic series based on a video game work. Well let’s see what issue three has in store for us. Oh and I have to say, I want to know more about Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill ,the man who killed Bayou Billy for the second time and wore a trench coat, a hat and a gasmask!

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 3 of 5

The New Orleans Police Department is having a heck of a time trying to break down a man named Blackie Blue who is in fact really a creature that is part human and part ferret thanks to a scientist to did an experiment on him while on death row in prison! After Blackie makes short work of the cops, he rushes away and the job of finding him goes to Tracker, Sure Shot and Broadside as Bayou Billy goes out on his own to try and find Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, the man who killed him many years back. But when Billy joins his friends, he soon finds out that Blackie Blue is as strong as an ox and escapes our heroes with ease. Later Bayou Billy and Annabel Lee meet up and return to Billy’s new home paid for by Godfather Gordon’s money, and they are as well visited by Tracker, Broadside and Sure Shot and plan to talk over a cup of coffee when Blackie Blue attacks and pulls Billy underwater almost killing him if not for the help of the alligators of the swamp who attack and keep Blackie at bay! As Billy fills his lungs with air and warms up, Annabel Lee comes up with a plan to capture both Blackie Blue and Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill by pitting them against each other! Bayou Billy likes the idea and sets up the trap that works as a charm as Gaskill is knocked silly by a mighty punch and Blackie is knocked out via gas grenades and all Billy has to do is cuff them and bring them to face justice. In the end as Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is in court he escapes thanks to a smoke grenade and a terrible lawyer who allowed him to get his hands on one.

This issue’s plot has Bayou Billy on a mission of revenge as he wants to bring down Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, a hitman who was hired to kill many years back, but to add to the madness an inmate that had been experimented on has escaped and is now more beast like and he has his sights on killing Billy! The two fights between Bayou Billy and Blackie Blue are one sided as the beast man is way stronger and has raw animal instincts to kill his targeted prey making you really feel as if our hero could be taken down! Blackie’s fight with Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is also pretty much one sided as the beast pushes through the madman’s gas attacks in order to knock him silly and only after he complete his goal does he fall. In this issue Bayou Billy is as noble as ever but does have the nagging want for revenge that keeps him off the case of the major threat at the time as he wanted to stop his old foe who had been laying low for years. Plus I like the fact that Bayou Billy is very loyal to his friends as well as his girlfriend and that they all hang out not only in town but also in the swamp…that’s what I call friendship goals! Blackie Blue is an interesting bad guy as when human he had an accident that dyed his skin and hair blue and it’s hinted that Batman was responsible and that his partner in crime was The Joker! Blackie was on death row and because he didn’t want to die, he was chosen to be a subject in a experiment that turned him into a wereferret that has raw power and the need to kill his prey! As the beast Blackie’s appearance is this blue fur all over, sharp teeth and claws and wearing a prison jumpsuit.  For Wolf Hunter 2 fans, think Panthor. Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill on the other hand has a hideout in a shack near an old farmhouse and is still toying with making new gas grenades and is taken by surprise when he is attacked by Blackie, but is smart enough to escape in court. This issue was lots of fun and had just the right amount of action, adventure and even a dash of horror to keep this 37-year-old comic reader entertained. The cover is pretty cool and showcases the horror element with a dash of late 80’s Marvel Spider-Man cover appeal, and the art inside is solid again and done by the team of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito again showing that they work very well with each other. We are three issues in and over all Archie Comics as part of there Adventure Series is doing a great job of making this Konami video game character a very fun comic one, well worth reading, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue brings.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 4  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 4 of 5

Bayou Billy is having a nightmare about the death of his first wife Laurie who was blown up with a car bomb that was meant for him.  The hit was placed on him by one of the Gordon family and after quitting his job as a New Orleans police officer, he became the bounty hunter he is today…that was two years ago to the day and he still wants answers to who wanted him dead. Once more he gears up and sets out to look for Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill whom he thinks might have the answers and heads to a rough bar called the Rue Morgue.  A lead brings him to loan shark enforcer Two-Head McGraw and after a brief fight, they send him to a slimy man named Snitch who spills his guts that Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is hiding in an old chemical plant. Bayou Billy shows up and tries to get the jump on his old enemy only to find himself on the receiving end of a gas bomb that leaves him disorientated! Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill goes to Grease Monkey’s garage and knocks out the young mechanic and steals one of Billy’s monster trucks.  Once Billy awakens to try and find Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, he is attacked with his own truck! But with the aid of a can of red paint and good luck, Billy is able to trick Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill and use his own jeep as a bomb that leaves the killer gas man at the mercy of Bayou Billy who gets the name of the man who placed the bomb that killed his wife.  It’s Hurricane Hank, the man who drowned two issues back, but with this shattering news he also has delivered Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill to the cops and justice….but through out his adventure a shadow figure has been following him!

This issue works really well as we get a good background on to why Bayou Billy does what he does and why he hates the Gordon crime family so much.  Plus his reasons are legit as they tried to not only kill him but killed his wife! Bayou Billy has spent the last two years of his life hunting down criminals in the big easy all to find out who of the Gordon’s paid for the bomb to be placed that killed his wife, and sadly at the end of the issue he does not get the answer he seeks. Also packed into this issue are many of the criminals who work for the Gordon Crime Family like Snitch a skinny eye glass wearing weasel of a man who will spill his guts for the right price, Two-Head McGraw who are joined twins who act as muscle for Rock Gordon when people cant pay pack the loans he has given them, and lastly Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill who we all know is the gas mask wearing killer who tried to murder Bayou Billy a few years back. All the bad guys are pains in the butt this issue but all fall to the hands of Bayou Billy who is a man on a mission to get answers. Grease Monkey, the female mechanic and friend of Bayou Billy, also comes into play as she is attacked by Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill who knocks her out and steals one of the monster trucks she has in storage.  Lucky for her, she was not killed. This issue is packed with drama but also an equal amount of action making for one heck of a good kid friendly comic read! The cover on this issue is a little downbeat with Billy at the grave of his wife, and I am sure scared some parents away from buying the issue for their child. The interior art was done once more by the team of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito and is great as always.  In fact, the month this issue was released, Amanda Connor was Archie’s Artist of the Month, way to go Amanda! Over all this was a great issue and worth reading for sure, now sadly we are at the last issue in the comic series based on The Adventures Of Bayou Billy.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 5  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 5 of 5

Bayou Billy robs criminal La Rue and his henchmen Mitts and Slugger of a briefcase filled with dirty money, and now he is wanted for questioning by the local law.  This shocks his friends Tracker, Sureshot and Broadside as they don’t know why Billy did it! Also at this time, fellow bounty hunter Black Gator is very upset that the media only pays attention to Bayou Billy and wants to shutdown his competition permanently! We soon find out that Godfather Gordon has hired Schwartz N. Eiger, a criminal ex-soap opera actor to play as Bayou Billy and pull off the crime so that his enemy will take the rap for the crime and be out of their hair for awhile.  Meanwhile Billy himself is having bad dreams about a black gator and is under arrest for a crime he did not commit when he wakes up, but lucky for Billy he has some tricks up his sleeve and escapes the cops only to run into Black Gator who wants to kill Bayou Billy to prove he is the best bounty hunter.  All the while Godfather Gordon is watching as it all comes to a head when Bayou Billy, Black Gator, The Cops, La Rue and Schwartz N. Eiger all meet up at an abandoned theater where Billy clears his name and comes out the winner in the fight with Black Gator.

This final issue was clearly not intended to be so as many questions are still left unanswered like how will Bayou Billy get his revenge of the Godfather Gordon family for putting a hit on him that backfired and killed his wife as well as many bad guys are still out in the world including Black Gator who clearly wants to kill Billy and ruin his reputation at being the best bounty hunter in the bayou. But with that said, I must also say this issue has a fun vibe to it as it pits our hero Bayou Billy against a Black Gator, a man who wears a ninja outfit and is as skilled as he is in fighting! Plus throw in washed up actor Schwartz N. Eiger as well as smaller crime lord La Rue and his baseball dressed bodyguards Mitts and Slugger and you have a recipe for a fun kid friendly crime caper. This issue as well is really cool as many of the faces of the past issues are around like his mentor Papa Jambo as well as Godfather Gordon and his sons making this a cool send off for the comic series. Bayou Billy is a solid character who is badass when he needs to be as well as a quick thinker when the time calls for mind over muscle.  I also like that while he kicks the crap out of people he is also shown getting his head knocked around to making him a more believable character than many comic heroes based on video games. Tracker, Sureshot, Grease Monkey and Broadside are all great sidekick characters who help add to the story as well as each have their own generic yet so good personalities. Annabel Lee is a cool character as she is not only a lawyer but also Billy’s girlfriend and not a female character that is always needing to be saved by the hero! Godfather Gordon and his sons Rock and Rocco are slimy, and you want to see them get theirs.  They also employee so many colorful and odd mercenaries & scumbags like Schwartz N. Eiger, Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, Hurricane Hank and Wild Bill to name a few! Not to mention this series had some other cool bad guy characters like Black Gator and the werewolf-like Blackie Blue both who were foes that Billy had a hard time with. I think the best fight in the whole series took place in this issue as the Billy and Black Gator’s fight was epic and was what comic book fists fights are all about. The cover for this issue is good and reminds me of something you would have seen on a Marvel Comics G.I. Joe cover. The art inside is solid once more and is done by Amanda Connor and her partner in crime for this final issue Robert Downs, and it’s great kids comic work. Over all Adventures of Bayou Billy was a very good kid comic series that showcased a Nintendo game character in a great way and gave him even more of a personality, and I am sure it drove some comic readers into buying the game, just like the game forced people to look into buying the comic. I for one wished the series had more issues as I enjoyed reading this for the first time for many of the issues and again for others. Check out the art below for a sample of what you will see if you read this comic series.

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While I might have failed at beating The Adventures of Bayou Billy on my RES, I did get a victory in getting to read the Archie Comic adventures based on the character! I am also very shocked that this game never did get a sequel as like I said, many kids I knew owned it and for the most part it’s a pretty beloved game for many old school gamers. But for our next update, we are going to be leaving the bayou and heading into the world of animals running wild with the taste for human flesh as we take a look at the Action Lab: Danger Zone series The Final Plague! So until next time friends and readers, play a video game or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host.  See you in about 10 days!

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The Ghost Who Walks Among Us And Can Never Die…The Phantom

In the world of comic books, crime doesn’t pay thanks to the Superheroes who protect the innocent and punish the guilty. I mean Gothom City has Batman, The City has Dick Tracy and New York has many like Spider-Man, Daredevil and Fantastic Four, to name a few. But while the big cities have their protectors, so does the jungles of Bangalla in Africa who has the one and only The Phantom! What is really cool about The Phantom is that he is much like Batman and Dick Tracy as he has no superhuman powers and is just a man who is a vigilante and dedicates his life to defending the weak and beating evil down. If you think about it as well, The Phantom, who was created in 1936, is a character who bridged the comic strip hero and the comic book superhero and is the first hero to really walk that line. So let’s kick 2017 off right and spend some time in Bangalla and see what The Phantom is all about and how DC brought him back to comic books in 1988.

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First, we must take a look at the life of the creator of The Phantom, the one and only Leon Harrison Gross aka Lee Falk, who was born on April 28, 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and had a decent childhood growing up Jewish.  Things would take a slight turn for the bad when his father passed away when Lee was still young, but his mother remarried sometime later and this gave Lee a stepfather he loved and respected and looked up to. The older he got, he began making comic strips and made up a fake bio story for himself as he claimed to be a world traveler who experienced so much out in the world which lead him to create the characters Mandrake The Magician and later The Phantom who were both picked up by King Feature Syndicate. He created The Phantom as he grew up loving the stories of Tarzan and The Jungle Book and decided to also add in pirates and thugs from around the world as it was a topic that also interested him.  Originally he wanted to call the character The Grey Ghost and wanted his costume and all to be grey but things changed when he liked the name The Phantom better and the news printer screwed up and made the costume purple, and the color stuck with readers. Weirdly enough, Falk did not have faith in his characters and thought they would only last a few weeks and was shocked that they lasted his whole lifetime, During World War II Falk worked for KMOX radio and was the chief of propaganda.  Also, the older he got the more world traveling he did in order to not have to lie about his background stories. Lee Falk was married three times and had three children with two daughters and one son. Lee Folk also loved the theater and over the years wrote 12 plays, directed 100 of them and produced over 300 others! Not to mention over his lifetime he even ran five theaters! His plays would have such Hollywood actors as Basil Rathbone, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Chico Marx and Charlton Heston acting in them! As you can see Lee Falk was a very creative man who did lots of very cool things. Lee Falk passed away from heart failure on March 13, 1999 at the age of 87 and up to his death he was still working on his comic strips…a true man who loved his characters and creations. It’s amazing to think about just how many comic strip creators worked on their strips all the way up until their deaths showing that unlike the comic book world, the creators loved their creations and got joy of bringing them to life for the readers. This update is dedicated to you, Lee Falk, a true icon of comic strip artists and a man who lived for what he loved to do.

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The Phantom is a hero who has no super powers and uses his wits, fists and guns to right the wrongs and protect his friends and tribes around his home in Africa. His costume is the following: a black eye mask, a skull ring and a purple costume that was based on an old African idol.  The look is used to scare criminals and pirates, who are his main targets. The Phantom is a costume and legacy that is passed down from generation to generation within the Walker family who do this in order to give the appearance that The Phantom is not human and immortal to strike even more fear into the hearts of those who do evil. The Phantom is a trained fighter with his fists, and I would guess that he has the punch of a heavy weight boxer! He is also skilled with a gun and while not a full dead shot, he hits his target when it’s needed. The Phantom is very smart and has the same kind of mind for solving crimes as Batman, The Shadow and Dick Tracy as he is also quick to get out of a bad situation. The Phantom’s main weapon is fear as legends spread of him being a ghost and not able to be killed, using superstition of the unknown to his advantage of just passing on the title to the next in the family bloodline. The 21st Phantom also has a pet wolf named Devil who helps him uphold justice and has his white horse Hero to get him places faster. Say what you will, The Phantom is a kick butt hero who might not be super but sure knows how to get the job done!

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On June 7, 1996, thanks to Paramount Pictures, a film based on The Phantom was released to theaters and was directed by Simon Wincer and had Billy Zane as The Phantom himself. Also in the cast were Catherine Zeta-Jones, Treat Williams and Kristy Swanson with the score being done by David Newman. Before it was made The Phantom had many different directors attached to it including big names like Sergio Leone, Joe Dante and Joel Schumacher who all left the project at one point or another for reasons of their own. Paramount picked the relativity unknown Simon Wincer, who had directed a few films before it like Quigley Down Under, Free Willy, Lightning Jack and Operation Dumbo Drop to name a few and they gave him a $45 million budget.  He is the one who hired Zane to play the title role as they both were fans of the character since childhood. The film’s production went smooth, and the hype was high for the film’s release as Paramount was wishing for the same kind of success as Warner Brothers had with Batman in 1989 and Touchstone had with Dick Tracy in 1990…but the box office and critics were not nice to this film as it only brought in $17,323,326.00 in the US and didn’t even get released in theaters overseas! The film came in at #93 of the year and beat out such films as The Frighteners, Trainspotting, Thinner and Mulholland Falls to name a few. While the film bombed at the theater, it developed a cult following when it was released on VHS and DVD, making the film turn in a small profit for Paramount. While I am a fan of The Phantom character, I skipped this film at the theater and waited for home video.  I found it to be a fun dumb popcorn movie that, while it didn’t 100% capture the magic of the comic strip, it at least delivered some fun action and adventure. And I must say that the outfit for The Phantom that actor Billy Zane wears was pretty well done and looked like a modern version of the classic suit and brought out elements to make it stand out on the big screen.

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But the 1996 film was not the first time The Phantom made the jump from comic strip to media on the big and small screen as the first was the 1943 Columbia Pictures serial simple called “The Phantom” that had a total of 15 chapters and had Tom Tyler as The Phantom. A serial sequel for The Phantom was in the works in 1955 with actor John Hart in the role of The Phantom and as production was chugging along they soon found that they no longer owned the rights to use The Phantom and quickly changed it over to calling it “The Adventures Of Captain Africa.” This was followed by the cartoon “Defenders Of The Earth” that aired on TV in 1986 and had Peter Mark Richman voicing the character for a total of 65 episodes, only lasting one season. In 1994, a cartoon called “Phantom 2040” was released as a series that lasted for 35 episodes and a total of 2 seasons with Family Ties actor Scott Valentine lending his pipes to make the character speak. And in 2009 they made a TV mini series based on the character and called it “The Phantom” that had two feature length movies to tell this new version of the character.  This time around actor Ryan Carnes landed the role of the character. So as you can see, Hollywood has had many plans for this character to be the next comic character to be on every kid’s t-shirt and have toys on every chain store shelf…while they tried, it just was not meant to be as it was clear the youth was just not biting at The Phantom to replace their Batman toys and comics. I can proudly say that as a youngster I did my part, as I owned The Phantom action figure from the Defenders Of The Earth toy line.

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Besides the movies and cartoons getting released on VHS and DVD, some other really cool stuff based on The Phantom has been released over the years from action figures, t-shirts, posters, statues, comic books, novels, card game, video game, Halloween costumes, replica skull rings, bobble heads, lunch box and so much more! The Phantom has had his fair share of collectibles for his fans to collect and enjoy, not to mention, besides DC, other comic book companies like Pacific Comics Club, Gold Key, Whitman, King, Pioneer, Dynomite, Marvel and Moonstone among others have printed adventures of this character. Besides some of the comics and the Defenders action figure, one thing I had in my teens was a skull ring replica that a fellow classmate gave me, and I can remember wearing it around school and feeling super cool…yeah, I know –  I was young and didn’t know any better. I wonder if that ring is still someplace in my parent’s basement, also know as Independent B Movie Studios. So in closing, if you enjoy The Phantom, the world is filled with collectibles for you!

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Speaking of Independent B Movie, the old shot on video company that my friends and I use to make films together under that brought you such shot on video classics as The Wolf Hunter, Farmer Joe and Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa to name a small few.  For a small time we toyed with the idea of doing fan films based on some of our favorite movies and characters with lots of things being written and talked about at our annual company meetings. Characters like Superman, Lone Ranger, Leatherface, Spider-Man and Neo from The Matrix all had fan scripts written or talked about, and one of the characters I was developing a fan film for was The Phantom! The idea for my film would have had Matt Hoffman or Jason Gilmore playing The Phantom who was sent on a mission to stop Dr. Frankenstein from creating a monster for the Nazi’s who needed this super solider to turn the tide of the war.  The setting was Frankenstein’s Castle in Kettering and the woods around it would have acted as the jungle with all the typical friends taking on roles like Josh Weinberg who I wanted to play Dr. Frankenstein.  Garrison Kane would have played The Monster and Dave Wean, Patrick Neeley, Mike Ritchie and Jason Young would have made up the supporting cast. If memory serves me right, I think the title of it would have been called “The Phantom vs. Frankenstein,” real original right? The costume was going to be ordered offline and The Frankenstein’s Monster mask was something we would have gotten from Foy’s in Fairborn. But the film idea went nowhere and a script was never written as only scraps of paper with notes was all I had taken down for my idea for this flick, and sadly that are long gone by now. I could have only imagined if we were to have filmed this just how cheesy and terrible the action fights would have been, but I am sure much like all the films we made, it would have had a small cult following for being so bad it’s good. Below is a mock-up poster for this movie done by my friend Jason Young who I’m sure would have been cast in this could-have-been fan made film.  Check it out!

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Speaking of Jason Young – before we get into the reviews of DC Comics first run of The Phantom, I want to share something very cool with you: my good friend Jason has started a comic review blog called “The Bewildering” for independent comics issue # 1’s he finds in .25 and $1.00 boxes at stores as well as conventions! And with his reviews, he breaks down the issues’ plots really well and will update about once a month.  It’s worth checking out if you enjoy your comics on the moldy side of the comic racks. Jason Young is a super talented dude as he is the owner of “Buyer Beware Comics” that puts out his bio comic called “Veggie Dog Saturn” among other titles. He is the co-owner of “Sparkle Comics” and its horror comic branch “Blood Scream Comics” and is working on a very cool comic called “Defenders Of The Planets” based on knock off He-Man toys from the 80’s! He also is co-host on the comic podcast called “Gutter Trash” with artist Eric Shonborn, not to mention he works at Mavericks Cards And Comics, a local shop that helps hook me up with comics for this blog! So in other words you are for sure in for a high quality good read with his blog, and I recommend that you check it out and show him some love.

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So now that we have taken a look at The Phantom from comic strip to an old never made fan made film that would have been directed by me, lets get to the main attraction here at Rotten Ink and that’s the comic book reviews! When choosing The Phantom as this update I had to think long and hard about what comic company I wanted to choose as many have tackled releases for The Phantom.  Most of the time I would just gone with Marvel Comics but decided to go with DC as the covers caught my attention more and looked like it could be a fun mini series.  Plus I feel like sometimes poor DC gets the short end of the stick here as I cover Marvel way more often. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock to make this update possible and want to also say thank you again to the late great Lee Falk for creating this iconic character for all us comic readers to enjoy! And as always, I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star scale rating and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s enter the Skull Cave and see what kind of adventure we can share with The Phantom!

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The Phantom # 1  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 1 of 4

A young boy named Kit Walker is writing in the journal in the Skull Cave as he is the next in line to be The Phantom, the ghost who cannot die.  He is talking about his fears and reads back to the first Phantom who watched as his father was killed by pirates and he himself washed ashore in Bangalla, Africa near death.  He was taken in by its tribe and found that if the world was going to get justice, it was by him becoming justice itself and becoming the first Phantom who wanted to protect his new home and get revenge on the pirates! Now Kit Walker is an adult and the 21st Phantom who along with his step-nephew Rex, wolf Devil and white horse Hero are called upon by the tribes people as some drug smugglers have kidnapped two of the patrol men and are waiting for the big drug transaction. As The Phantom rushes off to save his friends the patrol men, one who even is under his protection for saving his life some time back, Rex starts to read the history of The Phantom journal and learns that the 13th Phantom was tricked onto a pirate ship by a evil men named Chessmen and captured! In modern times, The Phantom arrives too late as one of the patrolmen is shot dead, and as he frees the other, he soon finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun of a hired gun of one of the original Chessmen who has always been told to kill The Phantom and his supporters!

Three Phantoms’ tales are woven together into this issue’s plot as we take a look at what sparked the 1st Phantom to take on the mantel of being the ghost of justice as well as follow the 13th on a set up mission and are in present day with the 21st who is battling relatives of enemies from the past! And while this might sound confusing, it’s really not and by all accounts is really well done and gives each of The Phantoms their own characters and own traits letting you get the feel that this is truly a mantel that is handed down from father to son over the decades. All three of the Phantoms are very strong-willed people who understand that evil in the world will prey and destroy the weak if someone does not watch out for them.  Each puts his life on the line to rescue the innocent and stomp out the evil that is running loose. Rex is a young man who while is not blood to current The Phantom, he is adopted into the legacy and feels very much connected to it all and wants to learn the history and family secrets to prepare for the day he is called upon to wear the purple costume of good. The pirates and captain are the villains of the story thus far and when they are not stealing or selling drugs, they are killing and have zero remorse for ending lives too soon.  One of them shoots a man in the head without a care all because he had the mark of The Phantom on him! And what’s really shocking is they show the aftermath of the gunshot with a body on the deck in a pool of blood; that’s pretty crazy for a comic based on a comic strip character. The only thing that kind of made this comic a hard read was that some of the lettering for the journal was written in cursive and at times it was hard to read as it felt piled up and a little sloppy. The cover is well done and has The Phantom doing what he does best and that’s beating up pirates! The art is great and is done by Joe Orlando who I think did a fantastic job of mixing the normal 80’s DC Comics style with a touch of Sunday Comics appeal. Over all I am very impressed with this first issue and really kick myself for waiting until 2017 to read this comic as younger me would have really enjoyed this back in 1988!

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The Phantom # 2  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 2 of 4

Rex is reading the history of The Phantom in the Skull Cave as The Phantom kicks into high gear and saves the remaining officer and takes down the captain and his men, but all he could get from the captain as who is his boss is the name Chessman because his own shipmate shoots and kills him before turning the gun on himself. The officer calls the colonel on the ship’s radio for back up and help as The Phantom slips into the jungle with anger and revenge on his mind as the name Chessman is attached to those who did his father wrong many moons back. After a few hours The Phantom contacts the colonel and finds that a man named Charles Chessman from New York is the prime suspect of being the head of the drug smugglers, so alongside Devil, The Phantom as Kit Walker boards a plane for New York to get his answers and justice…but soon finds that his American girlfriend Diana’s family are long time friends with Chessman! The Phantom heads to the office of Charles Chessman only to find himself under arrest! All the while young Rex is reading about the 13th Phantom and his struggle to break free from the pirates who sold him into slavery.

The Phantom once more shows why he is the man who cannot die when he beats up a boat full of pirates and heads to America to settle a score with a person connected with the torture of his father. While he is dealing with his want for revenge, his adopted nephew is learning the history of The Phantom. This issue feels like a great classic hero tale and adds in just enough violence, drama and modern settings to give it an appeal to readers who enjoy Batman, Superman and classic stuff like Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon. The Phantom is as heroic as he can be in this issue and saves not only the life of an officer but also a whole plane full of passengers and crew when a man tries to take it over and with one quick punch that threat comes to an end. Rex, like any young man, is wanting to learn all he can and prove that he could be very worthy of The Phantom legacy someday. The pirates and the captain are such scum that they even turn on each other when the odds are out of their favor.  The Captain has no spine and is about to squeal like a pig on who hired them before his own right hand man put a bullet to good use. Diana Palmer is a woman who clearly cares about her boyfriend The Phantom and understands his odd way of life, but her mother doesn’t like the relationship and thinks The Phantom is too creepy. Something that is working really well for this comic mini series is that like his father The Phantom is trying to get the revenge that his father was unable to dish out all those years back and this adds to not only the drama but also the action. The cover is pretty slick and holds a classic look and the interior art is done by Joe Orlando again and is fantastic.  Again, the only complaint I have is that some of the cursive lettering is hard to read in spots but that’s very minor and didn’t take away any of the enjoyment of the issue. So with issue two being as good as issue one, I cannot wait to see what issue three has in store for us the readers, and I wish I would have bought this series when I was a kid as I would have enjoyed it a lot.

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The Phantom # 3  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 3 of 4

The Phantom and Devil outsmart and out-maneuver the officers and as they go on a wild goose chase to track him down he slips back into the office of Chessman and beats him up and tells him he has a short time to turn himself over to the police and tell them the truth about his drug selling and stolen good ways or that he himself will be the judge, jury and executioner. After taking his leave, Diana comes to see Chessman and is upset over the fact that he beat up one of her friends who she thinks is truly a nice guy and decides to go on a dinner date with Chessman and has a terrible argument with The Phantom leaving the couple at odds and even possibly broken up. The Phantom goes out the night of the date and gets information on all of Chessman’s thugs.  Meanwhile, during dinner Chessman hires a hitman named Stryker to hunt down and kill The Phantom who is in turn now hunting down Chessman’s right hand man! All the while, we get flashbacks to the 13th Phantom who escapes his chains and goes on a hunt and kills the first of The Chessman brothers to send a message to the others that no one crosses justice and The Phantom.

This third issue ushers in the idea that The Phantom is now onto the man who has not only killed his friend and is pushing drugs but also is a relative of the evil men who pushed his father, the 13th Phantom near death’s door. And while trying to put a stop to the evil of this man he might lose his girlfriend as well as his life as now the hunter might just very well become the hunted. The Phantom is a man alone in New York as his own lady thinks he is on the wrong track, and this leaves him trying to fight this fight without her knowledge of the target, but at least he has Devil by his side and is kind enough to give Chessman a choice of turning himself in or become a body in the morgue. Diana is making a big mistake by thinking that her longtime family friend is a nice guy and not scum.  This leaves her also at the madman’s mercy as she is now at his house for dinner and he is desperate to rid the world of The Phantom.  I would not put it past him to use her as a human meat shield when the action goes down. Chessman is just so slimy and plays the role of a nice guy who really has a black selfish heart, and I can’t wait for him to get served some cold justice. Stryker is a mystery and looks like your typical mafia style hitman, and he could be a challenge for The Phantom once they meet! The story of the 13th Phantom from the past and the 21st Phantom’s paths are one in the same dealing with the same evil and crappy people The Chessman family is good story telling and writer Peter David is doing some amazing things to make The Phantom cool for comic readers of 1988 and beyond. The cover once more holds a classic look and captures the adventure style of the character and his legacy as again the art by Joe Orlando is top notch and amazing stuff. Once more this issue is as good as the other two so far and leaves the reader wanting more and wanting to see how the story ends in the next issue. So like The Phantom, let’s lurk into the shadows of your favorite place to read comics and see what happens next.

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The Phantom # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 4 of 4

At dinner Diana overhears Chessman telling Stryker about his right hand man being busted by the cops thanks to The Phantom and that this spoiled a major drug deal for him.  Before she can get away, Chessman and Stryker take Diana hostage and want to use her as bait when they find out she knows him! The Phantom spends the next nights breaking up Chessman’s illegal operations but finally finds a message that Diana is in trouble and heads to Chessman’s house and into a trap. The Phantom sets Diana free but she is soon recaptured by Chessman who throws her into his car and hits the streets to get to his private plane.  While The Phantom and Devil make short work of Stryker, who, armed with a sniper rifle, hardly put up hardly before being knocked out. The Phantom watches as his enemy takes his true love away and borrows a police horse and tracks them down to bridge where traffic has come to a standstill and with a gun to her head Diana is forced to watch as Chessman and The Phantom have a showdown that leaves them both falling off the bridge. Chessman is in bad shape and rushed to the hospital but is suspected to live and will face charges for his drug empire.  The Phantom is thought to be dead until he shows up with Devil to Diana’s house and they patch things up and all ends well. We also see that the 13th Phantom also had an epic fight with the pirate Chessman brother that as well left them both falling off a mountain that they both died from, but this once more proved that the legacy of The Phantom would live forever.

This four issue mini series took us on an adventure that had us in the past and modern times as well as in the jungles of Africa and the slums of New York and pitted good vs. evil and justice against law breaker. The Phantom in this issue not only brings down many drug and gambling rings but also takes down a hitman as well as defeats a rich business man who is the ring leader of smugglers and has lived his life as a lie and gotten the support of many with his phony good guy persona. And most importantly, he also wins his girl’s heart back as well as keeps the legacy of The Phantom going and intact. The best part about The Phantom is that while he is super talented in hand to hand combat, he also uses his mind to really bring down those who are doing bad and wicked things. Devil is a loyal wolf and is a big help when it comes to fighting crime and is the best ally as he is threat with his razor sharp teeth! Rex learns lots about The Phantom legacy by going into the records, a place he is not meant to be, but a place it is known he would enter as all future Phantoms have interest in the past adventures. Diana Palmer is a woman who stands by her man…well that is until he beats up and points the figure at a rich family friend and then you turn on him and try and send him home until everything he said turns out to be true and he saves your life and then you fall back in love with him. Diana should have had faith in her superhero boyfriend as she clearly has a brain in her head. Stryker is all talk as he acts as if it would be easy to kill off The Phantom and when he gets his chance, he crumbles faster than a house of cards in a hurricane! The 13th Phantom in this series is a hero who is beaten, sold and near death but finds his inner power to get his revenge and to prove that his family legacy is not to be taken lightly. Charles Chessman is a man who has no morals and only cares about making money and getting his own fat out of the fire and would kill an innocent woman to get away, even after being given the chance to turn himself in he decides that he would rather not and try to kill his nemesis. He is much like the Chessman Pirate Brothers as his ego is what causes his downfall and leads him to a life in jail. The one thing that shocked me about this comic series was the fact that it shows not only blood but also a suicide and shows them both very gritty and this brings a more raw and natural feeling to it. The cover on this issue also is very well done and captures the heroic nature of The Phantom and adds the touch of mobsters and gritty city life to its appeal. The art is again done by the talented Joe Orlando and his work helped make this comic series even better of a read and added to the enjoyment of the sold story written by Peter David. Over all, if you enjoy classic hero tales that are filled with drama, action and a more realistic hero, then I suggest checking out this 4 issue mini series as I am glad that I did all these years after its newsstand run. Check out below to get a taste of the artwork from Joe Orlando and see just how good it is.

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Being a fan of The Phantom since a young age, it really is shocking that it took this long for me to read this mini series as to be honest I remember seeing it at comic shops in my teens and never pulled the trigger on buying the issues. I really think fans of such characters, as Batman, Dick Tracy, The Unknown Solider and Moon Knight should check out The Phantom if you have not already. With our next update, we are staying with DC and taking a look at one of the biggest events in comic history in my life time and one that some say brought the beginning of the end for the comic boom and I am of course talking about Doomsday: The Death Of Superman! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, read a novel or two and as always support your local Horror Host, and I will see you next update for Superman’s deadliest fight ever.

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Flash Gordon Savior Of The Comic Universe!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stone Protectors: Trolls Who Wanted That TMNT Money!

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

Crazy Christmas Lights

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

Original Troll Dolls

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

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

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

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

Hot Woman Slave of the Trolls

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

Trolls Costume 1Trolls Costume 2Trolls Costume 3

So there you have it, Troll Dolls can be fun and collectable as well as can be creepy and things of nightmares and mental torture! But we are now at the point in this Christmas Countdown update where we must take a look at the Harvey Comic series based on the Stone Protectors toy and cartoon line, and I want to thank both Game Swap in Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock. While you dye your hair and spike it just to get into the spirit of this update, I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if your hair is ready, let’s go on an adventure with Cornelius and the rest of the Stone Protectors and see just what these guys are made of.

Stone Protectors 0

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

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

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

Stone Protectors 1

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

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

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

Stone Protectors 2

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

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

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

Stone Protectors 3

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

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

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

Stone Protectors art 1

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

Flash Gordon Movie Logo 0

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?

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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

Pro Wrestling’s Master Of The Five Count: King Kong Bundy

When you think of the big men of Pro Wrestling, names like Andre The Giant, Big John Studd, Big Van Vader, Haystacks Calhoun, Kevin Nash, One Man Gang and a small amount of others come to mind, but at the top of that list for any old school wrestling fan has to be the one and only King Kong Bundy! The walking condominium, as Gorilla Monsoon use to call him, has made his mark in the WWF and independent scene throughout the 80’s and 90’s and was one of the sport’s most hated bad guys as his feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Hillbilly Jim and The Undertaker encouraged boos from fans worldwide. For this update, we will take a look at TLW Productions comic based on King Kong Bundy as well as the man himself and his career. So lace up your boots and make sure your tights are on right as we step into the ring with the master of the five count, the man who delivers the most brutal avalanche splash to anyone in his way, the legend of pro wrestling’s big men King Kong Bundy who was billed as weighing 458 pounds!

King Kong Bundy 1

Christopher Alan Pallies was born on November 7, 1957 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and did not start his wrestling career until 1981 when he began working for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) where he was named Big Daddy Bundy and would wear a rope belt to hold up his blue jean pants.  He was a fan favorite who was friends with the Von Erich Family, that was until a dispute broke up the friendship and Bundy began to be managed by Gary Hart and started to wear his signature black singlet and changed his name from Big Daddy to King Kong and went from good to bad in a blink of an eye! During the feud he would loose his hair in a match that would lead to Bundy’s final transformation into a monster heel. In 1982, King Kong Bundy was selected to be the final opponent for Fritz Von Erich who was Texas’s most iconic wrestler and the owner of World Class. Bundy would travel after leaving World Class and wrestle for the AWA, NWA, Japan and Mid-South where he would start his 5 count request to add heat from fans during matches against jobbers and fan favorites. In 1985, King Kong Bundy would sign to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and be pushed as a giant heel that was managed by Jimmy Hart and would go to the first WrestleMania and defeat veteran S.D. Jones in nine seconds! In late 1985, Jimmy Hart traded King Kong Bundy’s contract to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan for both The Missing Link and Adrian Adonis as Heenan wanted Bundy for his stable called The Heenan Family. Bundy began a feud with Andre The Giant that became so heated that Bundy broke Andre’s sternum after a series of massive big splashes.  This lead to many matches finally settling in a match called “The Colossal Jostle” that saw Andre beating Bundy all during the match until Bundy was saved by fellow Heenan Family member Big John Studd. His next feud was with WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan after Bundy once more used his weight to crush Hogan giving him bruised ribs.  They settled the war in a steel cage at WrestleMania II where Hogan defeated his massive opponent. Bundy’s next major fight would come at WrestleMania III where Bundy along with midget wrestlers Lord Littlebrook and Little Tokyo took on Hillbilly Jim and his partners Little Beaver and Haiti Kid.  The match would have Bundy and his team losing by disqualification after Bundy body slammed and elbowed Little Beaver causing his own team to even turn on him! In 1987 on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, Bundy would beat Hulk Hogan via count out, but by the rematch in 1988 on the next Saturday Night’s Main Event special, Hogan would beat Bundy.  This also marked the end of Bundy’s in WWF. During this run, Bundy was able to feud with wrestling’s top two stars with Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant and was a part of the major boom of pro wrestling in the 80’s,  Love him or hate him, King Kong Bundy helped put butts in the seats and delivered some fun and entertaining matches.

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After leaving pro wrestling behind for about six years, King Kong Bundy would return as part of Ted DiBiase’s group called “The Million Dollar Corporation” alongside other wrestlers like Irwin R. Schyster, Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatanka and The Fake Undertaker. His first Pay-Per View match was at Survivor Series where The Million Dollar Team beat the Guts And Glory Team lead by Lex Luger, with Bundy and Bigelow being the only survivors. Bundy would be in the 1995 Royal Rumble, coming in at # 15 and only lasting three minutes after being tossed out by Mabel. After floating around and doing the dirty work of The Million Dollar Corporation, his final WrestleMania was XI where he was defeated by The Undertaker and became number four of the Streak. Bundy’s second and final run in the WWF came to an end in late 1995. While his second run was not as impactful, it did introduce him to a new generation of wrestling fans, and he did a great job of putting over younger talent and will forever be on the books for losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania and become a notch on the legendary Streak.

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After leaving WWF in 1995, Bundy started working for independent promotions and became an attraction wherever he went! He wrestled for such promotions as USA Power Pro Wrestling, USWF, JCW and NBW, and while at an independent show facing Primo Canera III, the ring broke after he delivered a Bundy Splash! On October 10, 1999 for the Heroes Of Wrestling PPV, King Kong Bundy teamed with Jim Neidhart to defeat Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Yokozuna in an impromptu to tag match after Roberts was in no shape to wrestle.  Bundy and Yokozuna came out to try and save the match from stinking up the place. During this independent run, Bundy would feud with the likes of Koszmar Polski, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Tom Brandi and Doink The Clown. While slowing down nowadays, you can still find Bundy from time to time at wrestling conventions as well as comic and horror ones! At the age of 58, the idea of his return to WWE or even wrestling for TNA is very doubtful, but one thing is for sure, the master of the five count could still pin many of the worlds wrestling stars.

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On March 1, 1986 on the fifth Saturday Night’s Main Event special Hulk Hogan was defending his WWF Championship against The Magnificent Don Muraco when King Kong Bundy interfered in the match causing Hogan to win by disqualification, but this also lead to Bundy crushing Hogan’s ribs and causing the champ some major pain and forcing him to be carried away on a stretcher. This was one of the classic wrestling moments that stuck with me as Hogan was the Real American and the ultimate baby face in wrestling, and watching him get crushed was shocking! This moment lead to the Steel Cage Match at WrestleMania II, where, for the first time, kids of the 80’s truly thought that Hogan could lose the WWF Title.  I mean Hogan was going in the match with taped up ribs, and Bundy not only had the weight advantage but also had that weasel Bobby Heenan in his corner.  It was as if Hogan had the odds against him! Not to mention Bundy was on a 300 win streak that had him pinning people with his trademark 5 count instead of the normal 3. The steel cage was the classic thick blue bars and was not the terrible chain link fence they use now and looked more unforgiving even if it was probably just hollow metal. Calling the match was Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Horror Hostess Elvira Mistress Of The Dark, who was looking as ravishing as ever.  Even as a youngster, I always thought Elvira was one hot goth beauty. The match itself was brutal and a blood bath as Bundy was busted open and Hogan was able to get the win after climbing over the top of the cage to the arena floor. The match might not have been one of the best in the history of WrestleMania, but it will forever be one that I remember.

wrestlemania 2 mediawrestlemania 2 matchWrestlemania 2 vhs

But Bundy was not just a pro wrestler, he was also an actor and in 1988 he starred in “Moving,” a comedy starring Richard Pryor where he played moving man Gorgo who is the brute force for the rude movers who in the end gets punked out by Pryor’s character after everything goes wrong. Also in 1988, Bundy was on the TV Show “Married With Children” where he played Uncle Irwin, the brother to Peggy Bundy and would later be on an episode where he played himself and wrestled Bud Bundy who was dressed as a bee. Lesser known acting roles are the 2002 short film “Bill’s Seat” where he played Big Swede, and in 2008 he was in a film called “Fight The Panda Syndicate” where he played Otto Belmar. Besides acting, he also became a comedian and has tickled the funny bones of all who have seen him. While he might not be box office gold like The Rock, his roles in movies and TV have entertained many, and I must say Moving was a film my brother and I watched a lot.

King Kong Bundy MovingKing Kong Bundy Married With ChildrenKing Kong Bundy Married With Children 2

Vendex Computers with their HeadStart line in the late 1980’s hired King Kong Bundy to promote their product in TV Commercials as well as in Print Ads.  This is what is said that lead to Bundy leaving the WWF for the first time as Vince McMahon was upset that Bundy made the deal without telling the WWF and therefore, the story goes, he did not get a percent of the money Bundy earned as he was under contract with the WWF. But the argument would go that Bundy being an Independent Contractor could take out sourced jobs like that to make extra money but Vince did not see it that way. Bundy was the face for the computer brand for a short amount of time, but this was the final straw and the WWF and Bundy parted ways all over him make extra money on the side…or as I have said so the story goes. So what do you think should Vince have a right to part of his wrestlers pay for acting and promotion work? Did Bundy do the right thing by leaving the WWF in 1988? Would you have bought a Vendex Computer cause of King Kong Bundy endorse it? Is this even a real drama issue between Bundy and Vince that is said to still burn between the two till this day? Or is this just a wrestling rumor told through the ages? So many questions with so many answers!

King Kong Bundy Computer Ad

Like any wrestling legend Bundy has had his share of merchandise. Some of the most notable include the LJN figure as well as Thumb Wrestler and Bendie and the official WWF Bundy t-shirt. He would appear on trading cards, magazines and VHS tapes. He would have official action figures as of late as well as some none-WWF figures from smaller toy companies. He had a comic book series and video game appearances and posters. Growing up I had both the large and bendie Bundy figures, and me and my friends use to make jokes about how you could kill a person with his figure as it was one wide and heavy piece of rubber. I have lots of memories throwing that Bundy figure around and acting like Hulk Hogan or Andre The Giant were body slamming him. So if you’re a Bundy fan, there is stuff in the world that you can get to make your collection complete and show the world you stand with King Kong Bundy.

King Kong Bundy FigureKing Kong Bundy VHSKing Kong Bundy T-Shirt

King Kong Bundy has been in a few video games like Legends Of Wrestling series that had a total of three games that were released for PS2 and Xbox by Acclaim. In WWF/WWE games he has appeared in WWE 2K14 for 2K Sports and Legends Of WrestleMania for THQ both of those games were released for PS3 and Xbox 360. That’s right, you can relive King Kong Bundy fighting Hulk Hogan in a steel cage in many of these games or even have him try and Bundy Splash the likes of Ricky Morton, Mil Mascaras or Mike Von Erich in the Legends Of Wrestling Series. So pick up your controller and demand a five count when putting the Smack Down on the computer or a friend.

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So I hope you learned a little about King Kong Bundy or even took a trip down memory lane with this update so far as it’s been fun looking back and remembering some of these moments in his career. I want to thank Jason Young who gave me issues one and two of this series for Christmas in 2015 and sparked me trying to find the other three issues in the series in order to do this update. I also want to thank TWL for sending me the missing three issues so that this update could happen! So before we get into the ring with the Master of the Five count, I need to remind you all that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s step in the ring with the walking condominium and see what kind of comic adventures he will have.

King Kong Bundy Comic 1

King Kong Bundy # 1  **1/2
Released in 2001    Cover Price None    TLW Productions    # 1 of 5

The Iran Sheik is upset that all the kids around the world are cheering for King Kong Bundy, and while Bundy gets the tough fights, the Sheik feels he is getting no real competition. So a match is set up for Bundy to fight the Sheik that has the madman from Iran cheating to try and win by loading his boot, using the ring bell and even knocking out the referee. The Iran Sheik’s cheating ways leads to him loosing the match by disqualification. The rest of the comic is filled with short stories like two adventures of Lil’ Bundy that has King Kong Bundy as a kid going trick or treating.  The second story is him fighting with his teacher that he big splashes! Another story has Bundy at a bar throwing a man who was beating up his girlfriend through the front window for disturbing him while he was drinking! One has him buying a white suit that makes him look like a famed super villain called The Kongpin and being attacked by masked heroes.  While another has him accidentally drinking a experimental liquid right before a match that turns him to skin and bones, but even with the weight loss, the master of the five count puts a beat down on his opponent Tang Eater Smith! The final story has Bundy in the main event taking on another big man named The Volcano! The match is heavy handed but in the end Bundy gets the five count!

Wow, this is a mixed bag of comic stories all revolving around King Kong Bundy, and strangely enough they are pretty entertaining and have a true independent comic feel to them. The main stories are the book ends and showcase Bundy in fights with the first being againstThe Iran Sheik, who is the only other real wrestler to appear in one of the stories.  The second one has him fighting a parody of The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon) named Volcano who is a big heavy set guy who spits red mist to show the eruption. King Kong Bundy is the star of the comic and is shown in two different lights, one being a good guy who, while edgy, loves his fans.  The other side is pure heel with him claiming to be the best wrestler in the world and even chasing off an abused woman all because her fight with her boyfriend annoyed him while he was drinking. Odd to have Bundy shown in a positive light as he has always been a heel when I used to watch WWF as a kid, managed by the likes of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. It was nice seeing The Iran Sheik in the issue as he is the perfect bad guy for any wrestler turned comic hero to fight! Plus the issue’s other baddies, The Volcano and Tang Eater Smith, are pretty funny generic wrestlers who are just stacked up for Bundy to squash and get the five count on. The part that works the most for me about this comic is for some reason, just as Jason Young said, it reminds me of the old Rock N Roll Comics by Revolutionary Comics with its art style and charm.  Plus the cover is fantastic and would be eye catching to any fan of pro wrestling or independent comics. The art is done by Brien Cardello, and one segment is done by Marco Dileonardo.  Both are fitting and bring the mood and feel of this wrestling comic alive!One other cool aspect of this comic is there are one page features that breaks down big moments in Bundy’s wrestling and acting career complete with art and facts.  So sum it up, this first issue is lots of fun, and I am still amazed that this series exists and can’t wait to see what issue two has in store for me! 

King Kong Bundy Comic 2

King Kong Bundy # 2  **1/2
Released in 2002    Cover Price $5.00    TLW Productions    # 2 of 5

King Kong Bundy keeps making short work of sleazy manager Herbie Swartz and making his style look cheap and dated. So to get his revenge on Bundy, Swartz finds an old government robot war machine that looks like Bundy and books a match between the two. While at first it looks grim for Bundy, his never give up attitude proves too much for the robot showing the fans that no one can beat Bundy, not even a robot version of himself! Next up Bundy is upset as the crowd is booing him during his last match but soon finds out that the real match is the next day, and he actually beat up Metallica at their very own concert! The next adventure of Lil Bundy has him training Chuck Brown into beating the kids of Family Circus to death! In a quick story Bundy scares everyone out of the ring during a battle royal. The final story has midget wrestlers being mad about the way Bundy treated Little Beaver at WrestleMania III and want him to wrestle Smalley Biggs, a midget wrestler who has never lost.  After many sleepless nights of them disrupting his sleep, he and a college professor make a midget clone that is known as Mini-Bundy, and he wrestles the match and wins!

This second issue is much like the first, a fun read about a wrestler who by all accounts is underrated by current fans of the sport. Like the first issue as well, this one is packed with lots of mini stories about Bundy that has him cloning himself into a midget all the way to beating up Metallica at their own concert. King Kong Bundy is still loved by the fans for the most part but does do lots of bad things including, as a youngster, teaching a kid to beat weaker kids to death! But Bundy is the type of character that would pick on the weaker man as he is so powerful and bigger than most that survival of the fittest was his attitude even in WWF, just go ask S.D. Jones. Herbie Swartz is a great low talent manager who I hope shows back up in a future issue as his lame stable of wrestlers could be used more to be a thorn in Bundy’s side. Smalley Biggs and his fellow small wrestlers are good at being annoying and keeping the full size Bundy from getting sleep, but are no match for the tiny Bundy clone. My favorite story in this issue has to be the opener called “Enter Mecha-Bundy” as it reminds me of the film King Kong Escapes that pits a Mecha-Kong, a robot version of King Kong, against the real deal and that’s what this story is about as well. The cover for this issue is amazing and fitting as it’s dedicated to those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks and has Bundy standing tall holding the American flag. The art in this issue is done by many talented artists that include the likes of Andy Macdonald, Lou Platania, Sal Cipriano, Oliver Drac and Brien Cardello, and all do fantastic work on their segments. This issue also does a segment that takes a brief look at wrestler Big John Studd, and this made me wish they also would have done a full comic series based on him! Over all this second issue is just as great as the first, and I can’t wait to read issue three and see what its all about.

King Kong Bundy Comic 3

King Kong Bundy # 3  **1/2
Released in 2002    Cover Price None    TLW Productions    # 3 of 5

Captain Bodyslam is stuck in traffic, and this leaves Steve The Promoter without an opponent for King Kong Bundy.  But fate is on his side as he finds Frank, a big man who is an elevator mechanic, and offers him the match. Steve tells the Ref not to stop the fight as Frank fights very dirty and during the match Bundy takes a hammer and wrench to the head and finally gets mad when he finds out The Promoter told them not to stop the fight no matter what! By the time Captain Bodyslam shows up for the match, he is crushed in a accident caused by Frank and a counter weight! Bundy, Frank and the crew just walk away and get a beer. The second story has the comic creators trying to explain just how big King Kong Bundy is by comparing him to things ranging from bags of M&Ms all the way to Playboy bunnies. The third and final story has King Kong Bundy being harassed by superheroes like Superman, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Thor and by the end walking away in frustration.

King Kong Bundy is back to bring us readers three stories as well as more moments in his long wrestling career. I am still amazed that this comic series was made and also very happy to see it made as I think more comics about pro wrestlers should make their ways to comic book stores. In this issue Bundy is still well loved by wrestling fans and just looks forward to squashing his opponent in the ring in order to get the five count. Bundy also seems to showcase his short temper and doesn’t like it when he feels people disrespect him.  He also seems to not be bothered when a fellow wrestler is killed in the ring…oh that Bundy, he so crazy! Captain Bodyslam is so cheesy and reminds of a wrestler that you would see in a match at a high school gym and that’s what makes him such a fun ,yet gone-to-soon character. The opening story is my favorite as I like the idea of a crazed normal guy getting into the ring with Bundy and trying his best to cheat to win, but yet still can’t. Over all this is another good solid issue and shows that Bundy has more stories to share, and I really like the highlights of his career as this issue breaks down his matches with Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), The Undertaker and Diesel (Kevin Nash), and you can tell that artist and writer Brien Cardello is not a fan of Hall and Nash!  Let’s see what Bundy has planned next for us, shall we?

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King Kong Bundy # 4  **1/2
Released in 2003    Cover Price None    TLW Productions    # 4 of 5

King Kong Bundy travels to Japan as he has been challenged by the undefeated Osara, a man that is the size of Bundy and who is filled with honor and the thrill of the fight! The match is sold out, and during the event, the promoters are cheating using robotic machinery to trip and hold Bundy in spot! By the mid-match Osara figures out that cheating has been involved in the match, and he awards Bundy the winner of the match as the crooked promoters run off. Bundy and Osara become friends after the match and enjoy a very healthy dinner of chicken! The second story has ninjas sneaking into Bundy’s hotel room with orders to hurt him a little to keep him in Japan so that a rematch can be made between him and Osara.  This of course backfires as Bundy thinks they are hotel workers helping him, and in the mayhem, he ends up hurting them badly enough that they quit! The third story takes a look at Bundy’s tag team match at the failed Heroes Of Wrestling PPV that had him and Jim Neidhart teaming up against Yokozuna and a trashed Jake Roberts! The fourth and final story has Bundy using puppets to explain why this issue was a year late!

More great stuff that features the squared ring!  This time around Bundy travels to Japan to face a challenger who just might have been able to beat him! Three of the four stories are really great in this issue with the fourth story being the weakest – but really it’s more of a comedy skit than a wrestling action one. While it’s hard to choose, I think my favorite story in this one has to be the Heroes Of Wrestling PPV as the depiction of a drunk Jake Roberts made me laugh as they made him look so rough that I laughed out loud! If you ‘ve ever seen that PPV, you realize that Jake ruined not only his match but also the main event! The comic acts as if Bundy was so mad about Jake’s antics that he came out to beat him up and that Yokozuna was bored with not beating anyone up yet and marched down to the ring as well. King Kong Bundy once more has lots of pride and when challenged travels to Japan for honor, yet he also beats up an old lady who is buying chicken for her little dog as he says he needs the protein! I think that’s what people should understand about Bundy in this comic, it’s his way or no way and he doesn’t care to hurt anyone who gets in his way! Osara is a mountain of a man, and by the looks of him, could have given Bundy a ride for his money.  But he’s also a man of honor; when he finds out cheating was involved, he quickly stops the match. This was a very fun issue and has art done by not only Brien Cardello but also Kris Renkewitz and Tom Lyle, and each gives their own touch to the look and legend of Bundy. The cover is also well done and reminds me of looking at the independent comic boxes at Mavericks Cards And Comics and buying some with the oddest looking covers in the mid 90’s. I’m still chuckling over the drawings of the bolding Jake Roberts, fun stuff indeed.

King Kong Bundy Comic 5

King Kong Bundy # 5  **1/2
Released in 2003    Cover Price None    TLW Productions    # 5 of 5

King Kong Bundy is at home watering the flowers in his front lawn when the paperboy throws the paper, hitting Bundy in the head and causing him to turn the hose on the paperboy and knock him into the neighbor’s garbage cans! Bundy soon finds out from neighbor and friend Chuck that the paperboy is the son of famed mobster Vito The Cobra! During the weekend poker game, a message of roses and a dead fish is sent to Bundy as a warning.  Then, during a TV broadcast at the local college during a battle royal, Bundy is attacked by henchmen in the ring but as always Bundy comes out the winner! In the end Bundy meets Vito, and the pair make peace as it’s clear his son in the instigator in the turmoil taking place in the neighborhood. The second story is about King Kong Bundy wrestling Jerry “The King” Lawler in an epic match that has Bundy pinning The King with the help of Rick Rude and Jimmy Hart, and oh yeah, a pair of brass knuckles. The third story has Bundy and his pal, fellow wrestler Warthog, in the costume room trying on all types of outfits making Bundy look like everyone from Hulk Hogan to Wolverine of the X-Men, but in the end Bundy just wants to be Bundy. The fourth and final part has King Kong Bundy answering questions from fan letters and ends up leaving on a date with Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

This was the final issue in the “Worlds Best Wrestling Comic” as the issues say and by all accounts while it might not be the best it sure as hell was one fun of a read! This issue has four stories with the best being the first as Bundy’s run in with the mob is a fun adventures that pits the odds against Bundy who never shows fear as his life is on the line. Plus it was cool to see the comic book version of the famous Jerry Lawler vs. Bundy match making this issue another hit with this comic and pro wrestling fan. I have to give major props to TLW Productions, Brien Cardello and all the other artist who worked on this series as they took a heel pro wrestler and turned out a solid well done comic that would please fans of wrestling as well as independent comics. King Kong Bundy through out the series shows many different sides of his personality as he can go from doing the right thing to getting pure joy on hurting people and it seems as if fans in the comic still always cheer him for almost anything he does good or bad. Plus I like that while his attitude might slightly change from story to story, from issue to issue Bundy acts like the same character, and this is the sign of a good character and good writers. In this issue we get to see the likes of Jerry “The King” Lawler, Jimmy Hart and Rick Rude, and throughout the series we also got to see Big John Studd, Iran Sheik, Yokozuna, Jim Neidhart and Jake “The Snake” Roberts all who added to stories and were great to see as comic characters.  For some of them, it was the very time they appeared in a comic.  Art is by Brien Cardello and looks pretty dang good and has a Box Brown, Chester Brown and Jason Young charm to it. The cover is over done and very pink, but heck it still is eye catching and fun. I would say if you’re a fan of pro wrestling from the 80’s and early 90’s, a fan of King Kong Bundy or just like smaller press comics, check out this series for sure as I am glad I got the chance to review it here on Rotten Ink.  Below is some artwork from the series, so give it a look for at least a five count!

King Kong Bundy Comic Art 1

Before I wrap this up, while doing some research for this update, I came across this picture of King Kong Bundy with hair and just had to share it with you readers as this is a sight most of us never have seen before.  The Bundy many of us know and love or hate was bald, so take a look at this!

King Kong Bundy With Hair

So I hoped you enjoyed this look at wrestling legend King Kong Bundy and that you learned something new or some of it triggered your own memories of his matches and career. Now I am sure I left some major things out including feuds and groups he was in, but I tried to focus on the things I remember him for as well as what would be considered his highlights. I want to also thank TLW Productions and Jason Young again for getting me these issues and making this update possible! For our next update we are stepping out of the ring and into the holiday of July 4th for a look at a patriotic superhero named The Shield.  So make sure to join me back here for that! Until then, read a comic or three, play a video game or two and support your local wrestling federation.  See you back here on July 4th!

On a side note TWL Productions is working on a new King Kong Bundy series that is currently looking for help funding via Kickstarter! The first issue being pitched will also have wrestling legend One Man Gang in it! So if you have a little extra cash and love classic wrestling like I do make sure to give and help it come alive.  

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The Next Generation Of The Final Frontier

First officer’s blog, Stardate 69885.3.  Greetings, Inkfleet cadets – Juliet once again reporting for blogging duty.  Today we’re heading to the final frontier to talk about a show (and the comics based on it) that is and was incredibly important to me, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I’ll henceforth be abbreviating as ST:TNG.  So why The Next Generation and not the original series?  As I’ll get into further along in this update, I adore the original series, but ST:TNG was such an important part of my childhood, for better or worse.  Matt, on the other hand, is a HUGE original series fan so it’s only appropriate that I handle this one while he takes on the original series at a later date.  So settle in with some tea – earl grey – hot and prepare to bolding go where no one has gone before.

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In 1986, 20 years after Star Trek’s debut and as Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were demanding larger salaries during the production of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Paramount began to consider a new Star Trek television series.  This actually wasn’t the first first time they had toyed with the idea.  In 1977, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had announced that Star Trek Phase II would be coming to the small screen as part of the newly created Paramount Television Service.  The series was to feature a second five year mission for the original series crew, but when Paramount Television Services failed to launch, the plot for the pilot episode was rewritten and became Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Star Trek: The Next Generation was announced in October of 1986, the cast in the spring of 1987.   Originally Gene Roddenberry hadn’t planned on being involved in the production but came on as creator, working with Paramount exec Rick Berman, after he was unhappy with some of the original concept designs.  The show premiered in October, 1987 in what’s called first-run syndication, meaning that any TV station, regardless of network affiliation, could carry the show in the timeslot of its choosing – a fact that I actually just learned while researching this blog that clears up a lot of my own confusion as to whether I was viewing the episodes first-run or in syndicated re-runs (both, kind of).

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The first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” introduces us to the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D (Kirk’s Enterprise was the NCC-1701 in the show and then the NCC-1701-A beginning in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) roughly 70 years after Kirk and co’s original five year mission.  Captained by Jean-Luc Picard, the Enterprise’s ongoing mission is, like in the original series, to seek out new life and new civilizations.  This Enterprise, however, is home to more than officiers, and the presence of children and families on the ship becomes a subtle but important theme throughout the show’s run.  The Federation and the Klingons enjoy a relative peace, making it possible for a Klingon officer, Lt. Worf, to be head of security.  New threats, however, have emerged most notably with the Borg Collective joining other villainous races like the Romulans.  The Borg are a cybernetic race assimilated from other conquered species.  Their origins are a bit vague as they hail from the faraway Delta Quadrant (where Star Trek: Voyager takes place), but their story and the threat they pose is explored throughout ST:TNG and the subsequent movies and shows.  I’m actually really curious to see if they’ll be a part of either the forthcoming CBS Star Trek series slated for 2017 of which very few details have been revealed, or, if perhaps they’ll make an appearance in the Abrams-verse Star Trek films, which are simply an alternate timeline/universe split off from the original series – more on that in a moment.

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I would be remiss to mention the Borg without mentioning Q, as he both begins ST:TNG and introduces the Borg to the Enterprise crew and the viewers.  Q is an omnipotent being, one of many like him who form the Q Continuum.  Masterfully played by John de Lancie, Q serves as a both a framing device for the entire ST:TNG series and a recurring meddlesome presence who, although typically arriving humorously, often raises huge philosophical and ethical questions about the Enterprise’s mission to “seek out new life and new civilizations.”  So although he was a bit over the top, Q really helped add a whole new dimension to the stories of his episodes.  Speaking of dimensions (see what I did there?), Q was often (especially in the novels – again, stay tuned, we’re getting there) involved in stories that explored the concept of multiple dimensions and the space-time continuum.  Although The Original Series dealt with these concepts quite a bit, I feel like they really shone in ST:TNG, and the novels that centered around time were particularly interesting and well crafted. We’ll talk about those in a moment, but first a bit about my history with the show itself.

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I was four years old when ST:TNG premiered so unlike The X-Files, I don’t have a distinct memory of the first time I saw the show.  Rather, the show’s been ever-present in my life; much like public radio, ST:TNG was just always there.  By 1991, our local station had also started re-running episodes daily as I do have very clear memories of watching ST:TNG every night at 7pm after Little House on the Prairie in our then-new house (which is my parents’ house to this day).  Several year later, I think after the show had ended in 1994, they moved the reruns to 11pm, and I remember being completely upset because that was past my bedtime. Pretty quickly, however, my bedtime was changed to accommodate watching ST:TNG every night even though I had probably seen every episode five times over already – thanks, Mom and Dad!  That should be some indication of how much the show meant to me.  I’m going to get into that a bit further, but first let’s talk about some of the merchandise as this kind of all ties together.

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There was SO.MUCH merchandise for ST:TNG.  The variety of toys alone was rather staggering.  I can remember going to the Bookie Parlor (yes, the same comic store Matt’s spoken of fondly many times here on the blog) as a child and being rather amazed at how many ships and playsets were available, not to mention the posters, books, comics, t-shirts, lunchboxes, pogs and more.  In terms of action figures, the first set of ST:TNG action figures came out in 1988 from Galoob.  This set of 10 3.5 inch figures came out as a limited release and are pretty rare to find today.  The largest and popular assortment of ST:TNG figures were the 5” Playmates figures that were released in waves of 10-23 figures beginning in 1991.  Funny enough, I never had any of these as a kid.  I couldn’t even tell you why, but I only ever got a handful of the First Contact figures which were larger at 6 inches tall.  However, thanks to the heroic efforts of Matt, in my 30s I’m now the proud owner of a nearly complete set of the 3.5” ST:TNG figures.  Other notable merchandise that I actually owned includes a replica communicator that actually featured Patrick Stewart’s voice,  a giant poster with bios of each crew member and a more recent acquisition: a complete of set of PEZ dispensers of the whole ST:TNG crew (check out the photos below).  Though not exclusively ST:TNG, I also owned and proudly wore a Women of Star Trek t-shirt that featured the amazing ladies from the original series all the way through Deep Space 9 (my version of the shirt pre-dated Voyager’s premiere though I’ve seen later editions that included Captain Janeway).

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There were also VHS tapes, and lots of them.  Beginning in 1991, tapes of individual episodes were released and eventually every single episode made it onto VHS.  They also made it onto LaserDisc, released with two episodes per disc.  Again, a full run of the series was released in this format.  The first season of ST:TNG came out on DVD in 2002.  All seven seasons were eventually released, and in 2007, the full series was released in a 49 disc set.  The series was also released on Blu-Ray, remastered from original 35mm footage using a special technique that allowed for maximum picture quality.

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The the video game department, ST:TNG had lots of options for the PC gamer, from movie tie-ins for Generations and First Contact to highly specialized games such as Armada and Borg Assimilator.  On the home console front, NES, Gameboy and Gear Gamer players got Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993.  Sega would follow in 1994 with Star Trek: The Next Generation – Echoes From the Past and Generations: Beyond the Nexus.  ST:TNG made it to the Playstation 2 with Encounters and Conquest (which was also available for the Wii), and was represented in the Xbox 360 and PC game Star Trek: Legacy.  Arcade fans got to experience the super cool Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine.

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Of all the really cool pieces of Star Trek: The Next Generation merchandise that I either owned or coveted, by far the most important items to me were the paperback novels.  They began in 1988 with Ghost Ship, the first of the numbered series, which went all the way to 63.  I was the proud owner of all of the ST:TNG numbered paperbacks through #45 (at the time, that was the most recent release).  I got the majority of the early run at a library sale, and began seeking out others at the library and then buying them from Books & Co as I found them.  There were also one-shot novels outside of the numbered series including titles like Q-Squared, Vendetta, Imzadi and Kahless.  These books were hugely, hugely important to me as a young reader.  I had always been an advanced reader for my grade level, but because I was so excited about having more ST:TNG stories to consume beyond the seven seasons of the show, I devoured these books, sometimes reading one in a single evening.  From the age of 11 to 13, you typically didn’t see me without one or several ST:TNG paperbacks in my possession at all times.  My quest to find new ones to read meant I spent a lot of time looking through the sci-fantasy paperbacks at my local library and eventually I began picking up other titles, both by genre mainstays like Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffery and other random one-offs, some very good and other delightfully cheesy.  But it wasn’t all warm fuzzy scifi nerd joy for a young Juliet.  As I’m sure you can imagine, the other 11-13 year olds I went to school with didn’t quite think the ST:TNG novels were as cool as I did.  Pair that a teacher who required you to track the pages you’d read, out loud, in front of class each day (remember that sometimes I’d read a whole novel on a usual day), and you’ve got a lot of pre-teen mocking and accusations from  classmates and a teacher that I was lying about the reading.  Sigh. Pre-teen angst aside, I learned a lot from these books as I came to understand which of the regular authors tended toward which type of stories and who was stronger with certain characters.  It’s helped me as a writer think about my own strengths and the type of stories I both like to tell and am good at writing.  By far, my favorite ST:TNG novel writer was Peter David.  I absolutely loved his use of multiple timelines that could both stand on their own as interesting stories and intersected in interesting ways.  David’s Q-Squared more than likely laid the groundwork for me to fall in love with even more complex timelines in novels like The Man in the Empty Suit and even experimental work like House of Leaves.

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The novels weren’t the only books released around the ST:TNG franchise.  There was an episode guide called The Complete Guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation that was re-released several times as the show was renewed for additional seasons (and that at one point in my life, I had memorized – no joke).  There were also several technical manuals, books about the science of Star Trek, and a host of other random series tie-ins like Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek:  The Next Generation.

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This of course brings us to the comics.  There were several series of ST:TNG comics released by DC and later their Wildstorm imprint.  For our purposes, I’ll be covering the first ST:TNG six-issue miniseries, now called Volume 1, released in early 1988.  They were written by Mike Carlin, who was also group editor for Superman at the time and later served as DC’s executive editor from 1996 until 2002.  The artwork was by Pablo Marcos, who had previously made a name for himself doing horror comics for Marvel.  Marcos would stay on for a good portion of the second ST:TNG DC run (Volume 2), the bulk of which was written by Michael Jan Friedman.  Big thanks to Matt for tracking down the Volume 1 series for me via Lone Star Comics, and before we engage, remember that here on Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and look for how close the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s set a course for the DC six-issue mini-series of Star Trek: The Next Generation….Engage!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation  #1  *
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.50    DC    1 of 6

We begin with Captain Picard’s opening narration (the same one that opens the show), which leads into a monologue of his reflections on the Enterprise, its mission and the fact that unlike his prior command posts, this ship is carrying not just his crew, but their families including many children.   On the bridge, Picard’s crew, including Commander Riker, Lt. Worf, Lt. Yar, Counselor Troi, Lt. Commander Data and Lt. LaForge, are ready to proceed with their first mission as they conduct scans of a nearby planet and adjust to working together.  An alien race makes contact and expresses and interest in meeting the Enterprise crew.  As Picard begins to make plans for an away team, Dr Crusher and Wesley visit the bridge to ask for more medical supplies, but everything is interrupted when the supposedly peaceful aliens fire on the ship.  After consulting with Riker and Troi, Picard decides that the away team will go ahead as planned with Riker, Troi, Yar, LaForge and Data visiting the alien planet.  As soon as they arrive, they’re fired on again again and pursued by warriors in a large armored vehicle.  Meanwhile, back on the ship, Picard has to deal with young Wesley asking him about his plans for dealing with the potentially hostile aliens and a husband and wife bridge team who are bickering nonstop.  Back on the planet, Yar gets the hostile aliens under control for the moment, and Troi probes their minds to discover that their actions aren’t necessarily purely hostile but that they’re involved in some kind of war games.  The team is then transported elsewhere, by another set of aliens who apologize for the welcome the Enterprise crew has received to their planet thus far.  Out of concern for his crew, Picard has jumped into a transporter and ends up on the same ship as his away team to be greeted by the aliens, who appear to be children.

Huh.  So…that was….an issue that I read.  The beginning of this issue read almost like it was going to be a comic version of the first episode of ST:TNG, Encounter at Farpoint but ended up veering off to its own story. According to the editor’s notes in the back of the comic, DC began work on this ST:TNG mini-series in early 1987, right around the time the show began shooting its first season, which I think, explains a lot about why some of the characterizations feel just a bit off.  For example: in the show, Data rarely speaks with contractions, save for some very deliberate scripting choices and the occasion flub, but in this comic, he uses them nonstop.  It’s entirely possible that decision wasn’t made until Brent Spiner began shooting as the character so the DC folks had already started working on the comic and this wasn’t communicated to them.  The way the characters interact with one another, even the way they address each other (commonly by first names instead of by last name or title) also feels just a bit off from the show. Speaking of out of place, the biggest problem I had with this issue were the things that felt like DC trying to “comicfy” ST:TNG – as if the show itself didn’t have the right elements for a comic in the 1980s (come on guys, it’s in space!) so they added giant Mad-Max-esque armored vehicles, warriors who looked like your usual Conan-Krull-HeMan clones and gave the bickering bridge couple capes…just so you were sure you were reading a comic book  The art itself is okay – very much of its time and nothing to write home about.  The cover is pretty cool with a painted looking Enterprise in warp flight over the LCARS display.  Let’s see if they can iron out some of my complaints in the next issue, though it’s got Picard fighting aliens in front of a Christmas tree on the cover so I’m not exactly optimistic.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #2  *1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    2 of 6

The Enterprise is en route to a Federation Starbase for standard maintenance, and the crew is preparing to celebrate Christmas on the holodeck.  The sensors pick up an alien vessel traveling at warp speed nearby so Riker proceeds with the usual diplomatic greetings, but when the communications channels are opened, the Enterprise’s instruments go berserk.  They recover quickly and finally reach the strange mummy-like aliens who are happy to accept the crew’s invitation to join them in their holiday celebrations.  The rest of the crew make merry on the holodeck, which is made up to look like ski slopes, but Picard and Yar excuse themselves to greet their alien visitors.  As they proceed to the holodeck, one of the aliens wanders off and catches Wesley, who’s also wandered away from the party, but says that he’s “not the one I’m looking for.”  Wesley tries to warn Picard and the rest of the crew, but when confronted, the aliens just say that there was an odd presence that they were chasing, which could also explain the earlier malfunctions on the Enterprise.  Picard doesn’t seem terribly concerned, so Wesley throws a tantrum and leaves the party.  Troi chases after him saying she believes him because she’s sensed something strange as well.  The aliens and the Enterprise crew clash as the presence once again wrecks havoc, materializing to look like Santa Claus (seriously).  When this happens, the aliens are unmasked and revealed to look suspiciously like a race of Grinches (again, seriously).  Finally the presence is freed out in space and the aliens agree to stay and celebrate Christmas with the Enterprise crew.

I spent the first few minutes of this comic extremely confused because I thought that this was going to be a continuation of the story from issue 1, but nope.  Instead we forge ahead into a rather ridiculous holiday story that ultimately results in the Enterprise crew and some aliens bonding over the spirit of Christmas.  It’s exactly as cheesy as it sounds, and I groaned loudly when the mysterious presence began to manifest itself in the shape of Santa Claus.  I won’t tell you what I said, when, upon flipping back through the pages to write this review, I realized that the aliens looked like the Grinch. Sigh. I suppose I should mentioned that I’m not a fan of holiday specials in general so the concept was already rather painful.  But even putting that aside, this just felt way too wacky to be ST:TNG – like bad fanfiction.  The art in this issue was slightly improved from the last – the characters are starting to look a bit more like themselves.  Let’s see if we can take a few more baby steps towards a good read in issue 3.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation  #3  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.35    DC    3 of 6

The Enterprise is beginning another mission when Picard catches Yar and Wesley running through the corridors playing a game.  He chastises them, and Yar tells Wesley a bit about her childhood on a rough colony planet before she’s summoned to the bridge.  The Enterprise has encountered a strange ship of unknown origin with no apparent lifeforms on board.  Yar volunteers to lead an away mission, saying that it’s best to investigate now that get caught in a trap later.  The mission, however, quickly goes awry as the team is attacked by invisible assailants, who seem to somehow know Tasha Yar.  Back on the Enterprise, Picard has to figure out whether or not to destroy this mysterious ship, and as he grapples with the ethics, Q appears on the bridge to throw his two cents in.  The alien ship begins firing on the Enterprise, and Picard makes the decision to protect the civilians onboard by separating the saucer section and commanding from the battle bridge.  Meanwhile, Wesley observes the transporters being used without anyone seemingly being beamed aboard the saucer section, while Deanna senses a psychic attack on Tasha Yar.  Q tries to bait Picard into destroying the alien ship, but then the Enterprise receives a hail of distress from the human-like creatures aboard who claim to have been abandoned by their leader.  While Q continues to argue with Picard, the aliens board the battle bridge and accuse Q of breaking his part of their deal.  While Picard tries to make sense of the arrangement that Q has made, Gordi informs him that the saucer section has vanished in space as our story is to be continued.

FINALLY, a comic that feels like ST: TNG and not some silly kids book (no offense if that’s what you’re into, it’s just not what I’m after in a Star Trek comic).  The story for this issue very much had the feel of a regular episode with moments of comedy, adventure and drama as well as Q meddling about as Picard tries to navigate the Prime Directive and captaining a ship with both commissioned crew and civilians onboard.  If that wasn’t enough, we got the ship separating, which always felt like a treat in the show (by treat, I mean thing that would cause a young Juliet to demand the attention of everyone around me: “Look! Look!  They’re going to the battle bridge which means THEY’RE GOING TO SEPARATE THE SHIP!!”).  The art’s still not fabulous, but for the most part, everyone looked remotely like themselves.  I’m actually a bit excited to see how this one wraps up so let’s move on to the next issue.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #4  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.35    DC    4 of 6

The saucer section is lost in space as Q argues with Picard’s crew on the battle bridge about his role in this situation claiming that there’s someone else controlling the situation that even he does not have influence over.  Meanwhile, the saucer section under Riker’s command is experiencing strange turbulence as it hurls through space.  In sick bay, Tasha Yar awakens to see a mysterious cloaked figure named Reglech, who she recognizes from her childhood on the colony planet.  While Picard discovers that Q has mysteriously lost his omnipotent power (and manages to get a good punch in), Wesley sneaks onto Riker’s bridge and manages to be in the right place at the right time when Riker relieves his helmsman of duty.  Tasha, meanwhile, has wandered away from sick bay with Reglech who taunts her about her childhood.  As a Q appears on Riker’s bridge, other Q’s watch as Tasha overpowers Reglech and observe that she shows promise.  Tasha brings “Reglech” (who’s now revealed to be another Q) to the bridge and the Q’s leave the saucer section, which finally stops shaking.  Meanwhile back on the battle bridge, Q finds himself abandoned on the Enterprise, powerless, and lashes out.  As the saucer section comes back into range, Q’s tantrum causes Gordi to be shot by a phaser, seemingly killing him….to be continued.

Interesting that this comic came out in May 1988 because almost exactly a year later, season two episode “Q Who” would air, the main plot of which is that Q is kicked out of the continuum for his meddlesome behavior.  That aspect of this issue is interesting, but feels kind of rushed in comparison to the way the story is told in the episode.  The bits about Tasha’s childhood are also interesting but rushed.  One thing that did annoy me was that the Bickley’s, the bickering husband and wife crew members from the first issue, are back and bickering in full force.  Seriously, who are these people and why are they necessary?  They aren’t even comic relief, they’re just annoying.  Another thing that’s more bothersome than outright annoying is Data’s reaction to Gordi’s apparent death.  I’m hoping they better explain his emotion-drive outburst in the next issue because this early in the show, it’s really not fitting for the character.  So is Gordi really dead?  Let’s find out!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #5  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    5 of 6

Gordi is seemingly dead, and Data is furious.  The Android attacks Q as the saucer section is re-attached to the ship.  Dr. Crusher arrives on the battle bridge and begins to tend to Gordi.  She takes him and Q (who’s still powerless and was pummeled by Data) to sick bay.  Worf and Picard discuss whether or not Q’s lack of power can result in him eventually changing and shedding his trickster nature, while Data worries over Gordi in sick bay.  Reglech has been confined to the detention deck with the aliens from the ship back in issue 3 (hey, remember those guys?) and manipulates them into facilitating his escape.  Tasha pursues the escaped Reglech, who goes to sick bay as Q is awakening.  Reglech is to kill Gordi, but Data jumps in the way, seemingly unhurt by his phaser blasts.  Then Q jumps in the way, sparing both Data and Gordi as he willingly sacrifices himself.  This puts Q back in the good graces of the continuum and he leaves the Enterprise unharmed as Gordi finally awakens.

All told, this isn’t a terrible arc, though really, I think the story would have been better served over a few more issues.  I seriously forgot about the aliens from the beginning of the story and was a bit shocked that for all of issue 4, they were apparently biding their time on the detention deck.  The Enterprise crew is once again all over the place.  It’s really interesting because for as well as they’ve got Picard down in this story arc, other characters just seem so off in terms of characterization.  Data is by far the worst offender.  Whereas others seem off, there are things about him in this story arc that are straight up canonically wrong.  As I mentioned in the prior issue’s write-up, I was hoping that his emotional outburst over Gordi’s attack was some kind of product of Q’s meddling, but apparently, it was just the product of bad writing -or- of the comics being written/produced prior to or concurrently with the beginning of the first few episodes so the characters weren’t really properly fleshed out.  And that’s the thing I have to remember, people reading these comics in 1988 only had a handful of ST:TNG episodes to compare the characterization to whereas I have multiple viewings of seven seasons under my belt, not to mention the novels.  So with that in mind, I’ll move on to the final comic in this six-issue mini-series.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #6  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    6 of 6

The Enterprise is finally on its mission to the mystical planet Faltos (which is where they were headed before the great Q interruption that made for the last story arc).  As Picard gives the orders to set course, Data begins to argue with him about the coordinates, saying that Picard is wrong.  Just as Data is about to be relieved of duty, the crew figures out that he is telling the truth, Starfleet command has implanted secret information about Faltos into Data’s brain.  The Enterprise finds the mysterious planet and send an away team to meet with the Faltos world tribunal, made up of many different races of aliens. Deanna has a bad feeling about the mission, but Riker doesn’t want to keep the tribunal waiting so they proceed.  The tribunal treats them as welcome guests, so welcome, in fact, that they’re informed that the Enterprise’s crew will now be permanent residents of the planet as so many visitors have done before them.  Naturally, the away team and Picard are outraged, and as they try to figure out what to do, Data realizes that perhaps there’s additional information hidden inside him.  So Picard and Dr. Crusher beam down to the planet under the pretense of diplomacy and proceed to help Gordi tinker with Data.  they learned that Data’s creator, Dr. Soong, studied crystalline energy while trapped on Faltos and used that knowledge, now implanted in Data, to escape.  So Picard and his crew put their plan into action and escape in the Enterprise, but not before the leader of the world tribunal uses his powers to remove all knowledge of Faltos’ location from Data’s (and thus Star Fleet’s) memory.

Story-wise, this was actually a pretty good way to wrap up this six-issue run.  Of all these comics, this one felt the closest to an actual episode of the show, just adapted to the pacing needs of a single issue comic, and there’s a part of me that actually wonders if this story wasn’t somehow recycled for an early episode of Voyager that’s very similar.  I’d love to know a bit more about Faltos, and see more of the planet, but even that didn’t bother me as it was obviously the easiest thing to skip for page restraints without messing up the actual story.  The art, on the other hand, still wasn’t great.  There are panels where everyone looks good, like comic stylized version of their TV characters, but in others, the characters, Data in particular, just looked ridiculous.  Earlier in the series, I was really unsure as to whether I’d be interested in reading the volume two comics, but I think with this ending, I may give them a shot at some point.  Speaking of which, I have a few more comics to cover here on Rotten Ink, the two movie ST:TNG movie adaptation comics.

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Of course, there were actually four ST:TNG movies, or three and a half depending on how you classify Generations since it is technically both an original series and Next Generation movie.  Generations was released in 1994, and the tactic of having a film covering both shows was interesting.  On one hand, I get it – all of the Trek movies up to that point were based on characters from the original series, and only three years prior, while ST:TNG was still on the air, Star Trek VI came out in theaters.  The flipside of this is that ST:TNG ended a successful TV run only months before Generations was released in theaters so it kind of begs the question, what else did that property need to do to prove itself worthy of getting its own film.  But ultimately Generations was a good passing of the torch and paved the way well for First Contact, which to me is the best ST:TNG film.  I’ll leave the plots of both of these for a moment as we’ll get to them in the comic reviews below.  After First Contact in 1996, Insurrection followed in 1998. I have mixed feeling about that one.  I don’t think it was quite as bad as many people claim, but it reminds me a lot of X-Files: I Want To Believe in that it really wasn’t a film, just a two-part mid-season episode on the big screen.  And then we have Star Trek: Nemesis.  I’ll level with you, dear Rotten Ink readers, I’ve only seen once, in the theater, and even fourteen years later that still feels like enough.  I ought to be able to have the same attitude about Nemsis that I do about Insurrection because I think the logical side of my brain knows that’s the case.  However, because Nemsis was considered such a commercial flop and a mess of a movie, it ended up being the last Star Trek movie before the JJ Abrams films (which I actually don’t mind especially since they’re attempting to simply make them an alternate universe which keeps in the spirit of Star Trek), which just really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  But we aren’t talking about Nemesis as there wasn’t a comic adaptation of it.  So here with go with Star Trek Generations.

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Star Trek Generations # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $3.95    DC    1 of 1

Captain Kirk, Scotty and Chekov are in attendance for the high profile launch of the Enterprise B.  On the ship’s maiden voyage, it encounters a distress signal from the Laku, a transport ship of refugees.  The rescue effort, however, goes completely awry resulting in Captain Kirk’s death.  Years later, the crew of the Enterprise D is celebrating Worf’s promotion when news arrives both of a personal tragedy for Picard’s family and in the form a distress call from the Amagosa star observatory.  The crew meet Dr. Soran, who was once a refugee on board the Laku.  He’s in league with the Klingon Duras Sisters, stealing trilithium and kidnapping Gordi, all in an effort to return to something called the Nexus.  Picard agrees to a prisoner exchange, but tricks the Klingons and goes after Soran, entering the Nexus himself.  While the Enterprise battles the Duras Sisters, Picard meets up with Kirk, who’s been living inside in perfect fantasy in the Nexus since the launch of the Enterprise B all those years ago.  Together, the captains defeat Soran, but not without a price as Kirk truly dies this time around.  Picard returns to his own reality to find his crew safe, but the Enterprise D destroyed.

I should have known that with Michael Jan Friedman credited for the story adaptation, this would be a great comic.  As I mentioned above, Friedman wrote most of the ST:TNG Volume 2 comics as well as a good number of original Star Trek and ST:TNG novels.  So not only is the characterization spot-on, the plot follows the movie extremely closely with good pacing for a comic adaptation (pacing is one of those things that seems really tricky to nail when adapting a film into a single comic).  The only thing that didn’t quite work story-wise was the subplot of Data getting the emotion chip, and that’s really because so much of what makes that great in the movie is Brent Spiner’s acting, not the script itself.  Plus, a tricorder singing about “lovely little lifeforms” just doesn’t read with the same charm it has onscreen.  Gordon Purcell’s artwork is wonderful.  Everyone looks, not just like the actor that portrays them, but there’s a lot care to capture their facial expressions and mannerisms.  Also, (and I realize that this also has to do with age and changes in the way comics are printed) the colors are really rich.  This comic both does the film justice and is an interesting read on its own.

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Star Trek First Contact # 1   ***
Released in 1996     Cover Price $5.95     Marvel     1 of 1

Picard still has nightmares about his time with the Borg, and because of his when they attack Earth, Star Fleet sends the Enterprise E (yes, they got a new ship) to patrol the Neutral Zone instead of into the action.  But when they learn that Star Fleet is losing, Picard disobeys orders takes the Enterprise into the thick of battle.  They’re able to destroy a Borg cube, but not before it launches a smaller sphere ship that creates a temporal vortex that sucks the Enterprise in.  Quickly the crew realize that they’ve been transported back in time, and that the Borg are trying to go back to assimilate Earth before First Contact (the first time humanity used warp engine technology triggers a visit from the Vulcans) and thus change the future.  The Enterprise destroys the sphere, but not before some surviving Borg beam onto the ship and begin assimilating it, including the Borg Queen who takes a special interest in Data.  Meanwhile on the ground, an away team attempt to aid Zefram Cochane and his assistant Lily in succeeding in their destiny of flying the first warp ship thus alerting the Vulcans to the fact that humanity has evolved in its intelligence.

Switching things up a bit, this adaptation was released by Marvel instead of DC.  Luckily, in the same vein as DC’s Generations adaptation, this was written by John Vornholt, who’s written a ton of Star Trek novels so it’s safe to say that like Michael Jan Friendman, he’s well versed in the universe and the characters.  The story fit the film nicely, but for me didn’t have the same impact as the movie.  To be fair, First Contact is by far my favorite ST:TNG movie, and to again draw an X-Files comparison, like Fight the Future, it’s one I still get excited about watching no matter how many times I’ve seen it (and I still get a little teary-eyed when First Contact happens).  So for most people, this comic will absolutely do the job and then some, but I still came away just a little underwhelmed.  The artwork by Terry Pallot and Rod Whigham is good.  Slightly more cartoony than the Generations artwork, but still great for the human characters.  Actually my super minor artwork complaint is more about the space scenes.  In panels where something is happening with the Enterprise, especially when it’s fighting the Borg cube, there are super cartoony sound effect words that for me ruined the mood of what otherwise would be a very dramatic moment.  The overall presentation of the book is nice – it’s thick with a cardstock cover as part of the Star Trek 30th anniversary line of products.  Again, this is certainly worth a read to get a taste of the film and for ST:TNG fans.  Earlier in this update, I showed you the Enterprise D, so check out the Enterprise E below….

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Alas, it’s time for me to set coordinates for another mission and return the helm to Matt for our next update.  We’ll be staying in space (sort of) and in the 90s for his next update, which is also (sort of) holiday themed. While I was crying over Vulcans in First Contact in 1996, earlier that year another space movie was released that also pitted hostile aliens against humanity for the fate of the future.  Since we’re two years too early for X-Files Fight the Fight, I’m obviously talk about Independence Day.  So join us next time as Matt dives into this film, its comic tie-ins and it’s sequel…20 years later.

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NES Challenge: Werewolf The Last Warrior

When I was a kid, Nintendo was the main source of video game entertainment at home, and while Atari tried to hang on, the original NES was just unbeatable even giving arcades a run for their money as almost every kid I knew had a NES.  My friends and I spent lots of time talking about what games we had played and would always brag if we beat one as it was almost like earning a medal. I have lots of fond memories of playing games like Friday The 13th, Castlevania, Contra and Legendary Wings with my cousins Dino and Norman, Kranov and Excitebike with cousin Nathan, Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, Kung Fu, Ghost N Goblins, Gologo 13 and WCW with my brother and parents, Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The Arcade Game with cousin Stephen, not to mention Festers Quest, Blades Of Steel and Double Dribble with friend Mike Cessna.  So you can see, the NES was a system that brought many great moments into the lives of those who picked up the controllers. So for this update we are going to take a look at a promo comic given away with the Data East game Werewolf The Last Warrior, plus I am going to try my best to beat the game in one day! So grab some Mountain Dew and load up a bowl with some potato chips as we are going back to the past to play a game that always kicked my ass…the one and only Werewolf The Last Warrior!

Werewolf The Last Warrior Rage

SAS Sakata developed Werewolf: The Last Warrior, and Data East released it in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  It was a side scrolling action game that mixed in elements of horror and even a touch of super hero and was a solid success. In Japan the game was known as “Super Werewolf Chronicle Warwolf” and was released there in 1991 as well as in Europe. The game’s plot is this: on Red Earth, the second colony planet, the evil Dr. Faryan along with his evil mutants have taken over and enslaved mankind and it’s up to a man named Ken who can transform into a werewolf warrior named Warwolf to save us all. During the game you can transform back and forth between being a man or beast, and you must grab W’s to do so; the red ones turn you into a werewolf, the blue ones turn you back human and by collecting five bubbles you will be transformed into a super werewolf that can jump higher. Playing as Ken, your attacks are weak but playing as Warwolf, your attacks have a longer range and you gain the ability to wall climb. The game also got the Official Nintendo Seal meaning it was a game they green lit to come to the system.  Back in the day, Nintendo was very select on how many titles a company could put out on their system, and the seal was supposed to act as a seal of quality. For years after being released, rumors of a sequel popped up, but nothing ever came from it making this game the only one in what could have been a series.

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The first time I ever played this game was sometime in 1991 or 1992 when Mike Cessna rented it from a video store, and we all played it for a little while in his living room after school. But my time of really getting to play it and trying to beat it came in late 1992 or early 1993 when my Grandma and Grandpa Brassfield bought it from a garage sale for my cousin Nathan who would stay with them for long periods of time. When Nathan was over at my Grandparents’, he would not want to play this game and would always have us all try and beat “Karnov” or “Wizards And Warriors,” but when he was not over I would spend lots of time playing Werewolf or hooking up the Atari 2600 and try to beat Spider-Man.  Both games were super hard, and I never did beat them in my youth. But as I got older and was 19 years of age, my close friend Jason Gilmore and I started to collect old Nintendo games from our youth, and while I kept many of my old ones, there were ones I never owned and Werewolf was on the top of my have to have list as I knew I must have a showdown with this game as beating it was long over due.  Jason and I spent many nights playing and beating Video games and sadly Werewolf was one that defeated us as we could not beat it. Now I am 36 years old, and I still own my copy of Werewolf: The Last Warrior.  I think I am ready for one last showdown with this game that has defeated me in the beating the game department, and thanks to “Phasers On Stun” and owner Ron and worker Spencer, I was able to get a complete copy of the game with box, comic and booklet just for this review and showdown, so thanks guys!

My Werewolf The Last Warrior Complete In Box

Before I get to deep into this challenge, I want to chat about a few other things that I truly enjoy just so I can get myself in the right frame of mind to play and finally beat this NES Game.  First up, I want to talk about Golgotha, the newest release from one of my favorite bands, W.A.S.P., fronted by the underrated song writer Blackie Lawless. Over the years the band has gone through many changes with mostly band members coming and going but one thing that has always stayed besides Lawless is the ability to write and perform amazing Rock N Roll songs! When I pre-ordered his CD back in late 2015 it was with the hopes that it would live up to the hype I created in my own mind as I was in need of a fix of classic sounding 80’s rock and I was banking on this release to deliver, but the main question on your mind is did it. I decided to listen to this CD in my 2004 Ford Mustang as I drove around town as I wanted to mimic the days when I was a youngster and driving blaring music was my way to unwind, and the first thing I must say is that the sound W.A.S.P. delivered with this release was that of a true to life 80’s Hairband sound! The downside to this release is once more Lawless thinks every song needs to be long epic ballads with almost all songs being over 5 minutes long! Another thing I noticed is that while Lawless has been born again, this has not affected the raw feeling of these new tracks and only thing missing is cuss words and sexual undertows of his songs past. I should also note that Golgotha was released 6 years after W.A.S.P.’s last release that was Babylon that was released in 2009. The best track on the CD for me has to be “Scream” as it made for a great tune to cruise around to with the windows down and really did remind me of a classic 80’s W.A.S.P song. My least favorite track was “Golgotha” and while not a terrible tune just was more of a song I would think you would hear on a Christian Rock release and not a Hard Rock one. Golgotha is a great solid release and shows that while Blackie Lawless might be in his 60’s the man still knows how to deliver a fist pumping, head banging rock n roll record, fans of the band should check it out and I for one cant wait to see what the bands next release will bring. And who knows maybe the next release will see the return of Randy Piper, Chris Holmes and Tony Richards to the band! And for those wondering Golgotha or also known as Calvary is the name of the spot beyond Jerusalem’s walls were Jesus was crucified, just wanted to share.

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On April 10, 2016 I held another Horror Movie Marathon over at my cousin Stephen’s house and as always it was a fun time filled with good friends, tasty snacks and cheesy horror flicks! On April 9th we held the pre-show once again and in attendance was Stephen, Jeremy Hoyt and Garrison Kane and we ate Wing Zone and started off the night with “Jack ‘O’ Slasher” put out by SRS Cinema and is a no budget film about a haunted house that is run by Satanists who summon a killer Pumpkin Man to murder people who attend as well as find them a virgin. The second film was released by Wild Eye Media and was called “Morbid” and was a horror comedy about a small town being stalked by a masked killer called The Business Man who kills for the joy of it. The final film of the night was “Bunni” also released by Wild Eye Media and is about a group of young adults breaking into a closed down magic and sex toyshop during the Halloween season only to find themselves being stalked and killed by a white masked female killer who wears a corset and fishnet stockings. It was a fun time as listening to Jeremy who is not a horror fan, get worked up over the plots and characters made for some fun discussions after the films. Plus the wings from WingZone where great as I got mine with the Cool Ranch Dry Rub and it made the perfect meal to watch the splatter on the screen to. Stephen and myself choose our best and worst film of the night and we both agreed hands down the worst was Jack ‘O’ Slasher as the film lacked a good enough story and killer to suffer through all the random shots and off brand style of a director who was clearly into Rob Zombie films and was trying to make his own version of House Of 1000 Corpses thanks to a Haunted House he had at his disposal. While Jack ‘O’ Slasher had some fun and silly kills it was just kind of lacking. My favorite film of the pre-show was Bunni as I enjoyed the atmosphere of the closed up store front as well as loved the fact Bunni was a female killer who killed for the sake of killing before she can be hurt by them as she was once a abused wife. Plus Bunni had some great gore effects as well as some funny acting and even characters dressed up like Hulk Hogan and a TMNT for Halloween. Stephen picked Morbid as his flick of the night as he enjoyed the silly horror comedy nature and he liked the look of the killer known as The Business Man. Over all a good night of horror and a taste of things to come the next morning at 7am!

Jack O Slasher DVDMorbid DVDBunni DVD

The Horror Movie Marathon started at 7am with just Stephen and I up and ready to watch some Horror Flicks! We started off with a Universal Classic called “The Black Cat” that starred Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff who are mortal enemies after a war that leaves one of them a prisoner and the other swooning the captured mans wife, and when a couple stumble onto this death feud they become the pawns in a sick twisted game of revenge and Satan Worshiping. The second film was suppose to be the 1971 Philippino film called “Curse Of The Vampires” but due to a bad DVD we ended up watching “Monster High” a 1989 Horror Comedy about Mr. Armageddon and his team of monsters that include a Mummy and two dim whited aliens attacking a school to bring on the apocalypse and some teens and a game of basketball that stands in the end of the worlds way. “Dr. Jekyll And The Werewolf” was the third film of the day and starred Paul Naschy as the cursed Waldemar Daninsky who goes to Dr. Jekyll for help to cure his werewolf ways but soon finds that his very own Hyde said is waiting in the shadows of his mind! The fourth film was another Horror Comedy called “Monsturd” about an escaped killer who mixes with some contaminated water in the city sewer that turns him into a killer giant poop monster! The space alien creature feature “XTRO” was the fifth film to make the line up and follows a man who went missing for three years returning home to be with his family, but things are not what they seem as he has some very strange powers. “Demon’s Rook” was the sixth film and has three evil demons being set free on Earth thanks to a young man who as a child was kidnapped and by a protector demon that turned over the job to him, now he must stop them before they find him and kill innocent people. The seventh film was “Suburban Sasquatch” about a Bigfoot on the loose in a small town and a reporter and a female Native American huntress trying to team up to stop its rampage. The Outback deformed slasher film “Charlie’s Farm” was the eighth film of the marathon that starred Tara Reid, Nathan Jones, Kane Hodder and Bill Mosley and delivered a bloody good time. “Elves” the holiday themed horror film about a killer Elf who works along side modern day Nazis to impregnate a young virgin and must be stopped by Grizzly Adams was the ninth film of the day. The 1995 giant bug movie “Mosquito” starring Gunner Hansen was the tenth film of the day and entertained with its nature run amuck and cheesy special effects. The eleventh film was “Madhouse” starring Vincent Price and Peter Cushing about an actor known for playing a character called Dr. Death being looked at for possible real life murders, but has the actor lost his mind or is something more sinister happing. The final film of the night was “Half Human” a found footage Blair Witch Project style film about two guys and some girls they picked up at the bar heading to a state park and soon find that they are not alone as bodies are found and something or some one is watching and stalking. People who attended this Marathon besides Stephen were the following Juliet Fromholt, Thomas “Maurice” Smith, Garrison Kane and Jeremy Hoyt and while not a massive turn out it still was a fun time.

The worst film of the Marathon was Suburban Sasquatch as both Stephen and I picked this film as it was very boring, the mostly digital effects were laughable bad, Bigfoot was just a man in a cheap gorilla suit and the main character The Reporter was a unlikable turd who I was begging would die a cruel death. The only thing Suburban Sasquatch had going for it was some of it was so bad it made you laugh out loud and the fact actress Sue Lynn Sanchez who plays the bow and arrow huntress was attractive. Picking my top three best films of the Marathon was pretty tough as I enjoyed many of them for different reasons but after a couple of days of thinking about it I have decided this is my picks and the reasons why. My # 1 is Madhouse as Price was fantastic as the shaken actor and the twists and turns are fantastic! # 2 for me was Dr. Jekyll And The Werewolf a great gothic Spanish werewolf film mixed with the Jekyll and Hyde story, Naschy is as always fantastic as Daninsky. And my pick for # 3 was one I had to really think about as many films were entertaining but I had to stick with Demon’s Rook as the effects and story of this demon tale was well done and was a nice mix of art house and horror film. But I also need to stress that Black Cat and XTRO also get a shout out for almost making it into my # 3 spot! Stephen choose for his top three #1.) Madhouse, # 2.) Black Cat and #3.) Demon’s Rook! His shout out for almost making his list went to Monsturd! Another Horror Movie Marathon is in the books and once more a great time filled with cheesy flicks, good food and great friends.

The Back Cat DVDMonster High DVDDr Jekyll And The Werewolf DVD (sc)Monsturd DVDXTRO dvdThe Demons Rook dvdSuburban Sasquatch dvdCharlies Farm dvdElves dvdMosquito dvdMadhouse dvdHalf Human DVD

The day I choose for my showdown was May 2, 2016 as it was a day that I could tag team the game along with my good friend Todd The Fox who as well as me loves this game but yet it has tortured him for years on not being able to beat it as it has me! The weather outside was cool and cloudy. We choose to play the game with an original NES Controller but the system was a Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System or a RES that I got from Game Swap many years back. My mood was calm and focused as I knew that I must become one with Chief WarWolf in order to over come this amazing quest to save Red Earth from the evil mutants that want to destroy it! Todd was as well focused and wanted to finally put an end to the Mutant attacks. We started out really good blowing through the first level and made short work of sub-bosses The Giant Head and boss Green Slime Man whom never was a factor to stop us on our mission! Stage 2 known as Mad City gave us some trouble as Area 2 has Werewolf on top of a building dodging lightning that kills you with one hit, both Todd and I tried this level many times but once we figured out were to go it became easy and boy did we have to replay not only this level but all the levels before it as the boss of this level Iron Head had our number! Todd and Myself fought Iron Head many times and for some reason he kept beating us, until I figured out a way to beat him once and then the tables turned as he became pretty simple to beat and this allowed us to continue our quest to beat this NES game.

RES with WerewolfRES Werewolf Last Warrior LevelRES Werewolf level

Stage 3 – Stalactite Cave & Madness Base became our major thorn in the thumb and the level that would crush our hopes and dreams of beating Werewolf: The Last Warrior! Todd was the skilled gamer on this level and while as skilled as he was the level was brutal and we lost many continues and had to restart the game many times as our continues would run out. While the level was super challenging it was the main stage boss that kept us at bay and made us fail at our mission and that killer of a boss was called Fireman who was so fast and brutal that the fights with Werewolf made our hero look like a helpless puppy. No matter how hard we tried and no matter our game plan we came up with Fireman was our messenger of death! Fireman showed us mercy as he would kill us quick and with no suffering, and I could almost swear that he was taking great joy in watching us fail at our task at hand. And with our many failed fights with Fireman came the cold hard reality that we were not going to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior creeped into our brains and failure was the word looming in the air. Sad to report to you Readers and Friends we did not beat the game this day, but this I will say now I will have a rematch again soon and I will conquer this classic NES game once and for all. Below is a picture of Todd and Me as he pose with the game that beat us at its own game.

Me and Todd Failed At NES Werewolf

Werewolf: The Last Warrior is a great side scrolling game that is challenging and mixes Action and Horror really well and sprinkles in Native American and Japanese touches to make it something of its own. WarWolf the Werewolf is a great hero who might not be as iconic as Mario or Simon Belmont, but for me has his place in the 8-Bit Video Game Hero Hall Of Fame. But also what makes this game work is the bad guys who make your journey to the end challenging so for this brief moment I want to give some respect to The Big Head a character who shows up many times and wants to stop you at any coast. Green Slime Man who sludges along and even will turn himself into two bouncing balls just to beat you around. Iron Head who stomps, punches and throws chunks of rock at you to smash you into the ground. Lets not forget Fireman who zooms in and out with the fury of a runaway comet trying to burn you to ash. And lastly Monster and Lord Faryan whom I have never fought but both who I am sure wanted to snuff out my characters life. Like all media the good guys are only as good as the bad guys who challenge them and this game has the right characters in play. And on a side note am I the only one who thinks Lord Faryan looks allot like the X-Men villain Magneto?

The Big HeadGreen Slime ManIron HeadFiremanMonsterDark Lord Faryan

Man I enjoy playing a good NES game and had a blast playing Werewolf even if I didn’t beat it, Todd and I still tried our best to do so and had fun doing it. So I guess it’s time to take a look at this Data East Mini Comic that came with the game when you purchased it from your local store, and I must also say that no matter how hard people and companies push me to go digital for my video games I would rather own a disc or cart with cool packages then a file on my system. But while you find your Power Glove or your NES Max I am going to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So lets hit the power button and see what this cool promo mini comic has to add to the world of Werewolf: The Last Warrior.

Werewolf The Last Warrior Comic 1

Werewolf: The Last Warrior # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $0.00   Data East    # 1 of 1

Chief War Wolf is a man whose spirit quest has lead him to the world of wolves and more importantly Werewolves! His small tribe lives in peace in an area off the beaten path and away from the evils of the rest of the world. Dr. Lawrence Faryan has been sent on vacation by the government as he has become obsessed with bio weapons.  When climbing a mountain and finding a cave, he unleashes an evil being that possesses him and he heads back to Washington with an idea that sends a goo into space that will turn the world into slime monsters and mindless drones all willing to do his evil deeds and the lucky ones die from the exposure! War Wolf along with his tribe’s Medicine Man Kinju travel to a cave where War Wolf spends weeks with the Great Spirit and transforms into a sword handed werewolf ready to battle evil. Leaving the cave, he finds his friend Kinju dead and this sparks rage, and War Wolf the Werewolf is ready to destroy Faryan and everything he stands for!

I wish this comic would have lead into a full comic series based on this game and its characters.  I would have loved to have seen Blackthrone Comics as the company to put it out, but sadly this never was meant to be as this promo comic was the only issue ever released. Chief War Wolf is a good hero character, and while a man of few words, he knows what he must do in order to protect his tribe and get revenge for the death of his friend and medicine man Kinju. As a human War Wolf is brave, and as a werewolf with razor sharp blades for hands, he is a warrior. Medicine Man Kinju is very wise and knows that his friend and chief is the only hope and knows that once he takes him to the world of werewolves, things will never be the same, but yet the world will be saved. Dr. Lawrence Faryan is a man who is in love with war and once taken over by an evil spirit, he turns into a pure war and death hungry fiend! Besides shooting some green goop into space and turning a man into a slime monster, Faryan doesn’t do much…in fact the comic has pretty much zero action, but the story is good and short and well done. What works best for this comic is the fact it’s a nice lead up to the video game and brings depth to the characters and gives a little more of a backstory. The art is fantastic, but sadly I could not find who did it, but whoever it was sure did know how to draw a werewolf! Over all this is a short and very entertaining comic for fans of the video game while people who aren’t familiar with the game might get a kick out of it, I am sure they will find it bland and pointless…so I guess what I am trying to say is, if you love the game make sure to track this down and give it a read. Below is some artwork from this comic, and you can see just how good it is!

Werewolf Last Warrior Art 1Werewolf Last Warrior Art 2Werewolf Last Warrior Art 3

So while this game might have whipped me like a stray dog, I still had a good time reading this comic and playing a video game alongside my good friend Todd. But I think it’s time to set down the controller and turn off the power on the good old RES and once more try to hand Rotten Ink over to Juliet so she can take you into warp drive and deliver her look at Star Trek: The Next Generation and the DC Comic mini series based on that hit series! So until then, read a comic or three, play a video game or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you in space for the next update, my friends.

Another STTNG Logo

The Undead Files: Resident Evil

I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on the game that captured my imagination and was one of the key deciding factors for me to buy a Sony Playstation over a Nintendo 64 and other game systems. The year 1993 was the major kick off for what is called the fifth generation of gaming with such systems as the Panasonic 3DO and the Atari Jaguar hitting the market late in the year and both claiming to be as powerful as systems that came before them like The Sega CD, Phillips CD-I and the Super Nintendo.  But both failed to capture the market for many reasons, one being 3DO’s high price sticker on both the games and console and the Jaguar had terrible in-house games and very few third party releases. Sega responded to these systems with an add-on for the Genesis called the 32X in 1994 and then again a year later with stand alone system the Sega Saturn, but the console wars was about to heat up when on September 9th 1995 Sony released Playstation and Nintendo released the N64 in 1996 as well making an all out war for who would be the king of home consoles. The year 1996 also marked the death of Atari and Panasonic being console makers as both the Jaguar (who even tried to stay alive with a CD game add on) and 3DO hit the electronics graveyard, while Sega and Nintendo held on with the Saturn and N64 it was the Playstation that became the king of the home fifth gen. Consoles!

Sony Playstation System 0

As you all know, I am a gamer and have been since the days of the NES, and horror themed games have always been my cup of tea.  So I figured I would talk real quick about one of my favorites for the NES, based on the horror film series Friday The 13th by LJN. And before everyone gets worked up, this game is by far NOT the best horror theme game for the NES, but it is by far the most mistreated and underrated and seems to be the punching bag for cheap Angry Video Game Nerd rip-off reviewers the internet wide. So let’s take a quick look at Friday The 13th for the NES.

Friday_the_13th_cart

Camp Crystal Lake is back open for business.  Six counselors are in charge of the campers, but the hockey mask killer Jason Voorhees is back and is making chop steak of the kids.  He is not alone as zombies, wolves, birds, bats and his mother’s floating head all try to slow you down from the rescue. Your weapons are rocks, knives, an ax, pitchfork, torch and machete, and your goal is to light all the cabins fireplaces, kill Jason’s mom’s head to get her sweater, save as many of the kids as you can, fight off Jason in and around the cabins, and live through three days of terror. The gameplay is a side scrolling action game that adds in a maze style when you enter the cabin, and the maze controls can be confusing and cause the player to get turned around. The side scrolling also doesn’t follow the rules, and when heading right you are really going left! But once you get used to this terrible control set up, the game starts to become really fun as you hurry from cabin to cabin lighting the fireplaces and running to the cabins Jason is attacking. Jason not only will fight you in the cabins Punch Out style, he will also surprise attack you during the side scrolling section and try his best to kill you! The game is a challenge for many reasons; yes, one is being the bad controls, but also because it’s a race against time and survival of all the little campers and fellow staff members is in your hands and it can add some pressure as the Jason Alarm (a loud beep) goes off and you know that people are dying! This game is one that I used to play all the time with my brother Bryan and cousins Dino and Norman Dimitrouleas, and all of use would spend hours trying to beat it.  The first person I saw beat it was Norman, who was shocked to see that he finally beat it! I would later go on to beat it as well, but Norman was still the first and the trail blazer to beat what was a hard game. The game has a special place in my gaming heart and will be one of those games I will always remember that I played and beat.

Friday The 13th Nes Screen 1Friday The 13th Nes Title ScreenFriday The 13th NES in Cabin Screen

The game’s graphics are nothing special.  The camp counselors have no facial features, and the backgrounds are standard woods, lake, cave and trails with nothing major standing out. The normal enemies look like stock characters and could easily be placed in other games of the horror nature. Jason looks great in an odd way, as he wears a purple jump suit and has a bright blue mask and gloves on. For as long I can remember, people made fun of this look for Jason, but the funny thing is that for all those goons who laughed at the look and the game, they all sure did flock to by the super cool action figure from NECA toys! Jason in Friday the 13th for the NES made by LJN will always be one of my favorite games for the NES and once more will say that its very underrated by gamers, but I will admit that the AVGN episode was really funny as The Nerd meet Jason who was forcing him to play the game or be killed!

NES Jason SideJason NES punchout styleNES Jason ToyAVGN Friday The 13th

It was spring of 1996 when I first saw Resident Evil on the Sony Playstation made by Capcom at my cousins’ house.  Dino and Norman were always up to date on video game consoles, and besides Nintendo Power and Game Informer Magazine and my friend Jason Gilmore, they were always my key to what cool new games had came out. They much like my brother and myself were into horror films and enjoyed a good scare and that’s why Norman told me he wanted me to come see his new zombie game. I can remember that the Playstation was downstairs in a furnished basement that had a pool table as well as a giant couch.  As soon as Norman pushed power on the Playstation and that amazing chime echoed off the walls and I saw the games first cut scene of actors running from an unknown attacker, I could feel myself being drawn into the story of the game.  You have a choice of playing two members of an elite group called S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Squad) Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield and along side fellow members Albert Wesker, Barry Burton and helicopter pilot Brad Vickers must search a giant mansion for fellow members, all the while fighting off hordes of zombies and other nasty baddies. This is the true birth place of what is called Survival Horror in game genres, although many would say that it’s Sweet Home, a game made by Capcom back in 1989 for the Japanese version of the NES called Famicom and based on a film of the same name, but to me Resident Evil is the true starter of this style of game. I can’t express the moment I saw the first zombie in the game slowly turn around as he was munching on one of your team mates and comes shuffling after you.  Now thats’ a true scary iconic moment in gaming and something super cool that my cousin shared with me knowing I would eat up every horror filled bite! Sadly early this year the world lost Norman D, and thats heartbreaking as he was a kind hearted man who not only had friends and family who loved him but also left behind two children. This update is for you Norman…Love You Cousin.

Resident Evil Zombie Turn

I sat and watched Norman play the game and was drawn deeper and deeper into the story and wanting him to find the next key or item to move onto the next room in the giant abandoned mansion and was hyped when a zombie or infected dog or monster would appear. After we left and went home, I was craving more Resident Evil, and when I bought my Sony Playstation, Resident Evil and WCW Nitro were the first two games I bought and me and my friend Jason Gilmore spent many late nights playing the heck out of those games. After that I can remember buying Resident Evil 2 and 3 from Blockbuster Video as well as Resident Evil Survivor, and these games made me a loyal fan of Capcom as well as fueled my love for Playstation. So in a major way this update is a big THANK YOU to Capcom for making the Resident Evil series and bringing Survival Horror games to the front of the class during this era of gaming. So here is to you, Capcom, for all the years of making games that have entertained the masses and have brought us all types of iconic series from Resident Evil all the way to Street Fighter.  Keep doing what you do best and that’s make games that make players happy.

capcom

The present day world of gaming is filled with first person war shooters, terrible digital download fluff games and a heck of a lot of cellphone games.  For me, the only games that make me rush to my local game shop and preorder are survival horror and always at the top of that list is Resident Evil alongside Silent Hill and TellTale Games Walking Dead seasons when the retail discs are made available. So before we get into the Marvel Comics promo comic that was given away for free back in 1996, we should first take a look at Resident Evil in games, movies and pop culture.  So grab some healing spray and stay close as we are about to travel a path filled with the undead as we enter the world of RESIDENT EVIL! The write ups will come to us thanks to IMDB and their contributors, as I tend to babble when I write about things I love like these games.  However I will also add my thoughts to each to add my own flare.

Resident Evil 1Resident Evil PSXResident Evil 2

Something bizarre is happening in Raccoon City. People are being eaten with no clue why. S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team goes to investigate more on the situation in Raccoon Forest. The team is supposedly wiped out and S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team is sent in to find out what is going on. The team, comprised of Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, and Albert Wesker, find strange mysterious goings on. They retreat into a huge mansion where the horror and terror begins. Throughout the game, truths about the problem in Raccoon City are revealed.”

This is the groundbreaking game that started it all.  Not only was it filled with scares but also puzzles that made you think as well as taught you not to just run and gun down the zombies as bullets were hard to come by. Not to mention, it was great how you could pick to play as Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield with each having their own adventure and cut scenes. The mansion was a perfect setting for this type of game as you felt almost as if the walls were coming in, and the atmosphere of being alone and not knowing where your friends are could send shivers down a gamer’s spine while playing late at night. The game is so classic that it got a Directors Cut on Playstation, a remake on Nintendo Gamecube and an HD Remake on PS3 and other systems. Over all this in one great horror themed game and ranks for sure in my top 10 video game for the original Playstation.

Resident Evil 2 -1Resident Evil 2 PSXResident Evil 2 - 2

“In this sequel to Resident Evil, the genetically made zombies are back and it’s up to two new heroes to stop them. Leon S. Kennedy picked a bad day to join the racoon police department. He finds the town of Raccoon City crawling with zombies. Along the way, he meets Claire Redfield (the sister of Chris Redfield from the first game). Claire has come to the town to find Chris. Leon and Claire decide to separate and search for survivors on thier way to the police station. Along the way, they meet some interesting characters. Leon meets Ada Wong, a mysterious woman who doesn’t like talking about what she is up to; Claire meets Sherry Birkin, a troubled little girl searching for her parents. The game comes on two separate disks to follow the separate adventures of Leon and Claire.”

This second game is also a classic, but I cannot lie, when it first came out I was a fan of it..BUT thought that it was a little overrated by all my friends who would say it was the best Survival Horror Game and better than the original. Taking the location to the city and away from the old mansion certainly helped add a new level of horror to the series. I can remember playing this game in my parents’ basement with Jason Gilmore and trying our best to beat it, and he did! Over all, it’s a great follow up to the original game with great new characters added to the storyline wth Claire Redfield, Ada Wong and Leon Kennedy who are now mainstays in the over all story arc.The game also not only has zombies but also super tall super strong trenchcoat wearing baddies called Tyrants.

Resident Evil 3 - 1Resident Evil 3 PSXResident Evil 3 - 2

Just days after surviving the grisley disaster at the mansion lab, Jill Valentine resigns from S.T.A.R.S. and attempts to escape a nightmarish city in ruins. Trapped in a town crawling with hordes of flesh-eating zombies, hideous mutants, and a relentless new nemesis, she must rely on cunning and brute force to stay alive. What she soon discovers is that the evil created by Umbrella Corporation’s bio-tech terror is even more horrifying then she ever imagined…

This is hands down my favorite game in the series! I can remember that I bought this game from Blockbuster Video when I worked there and was super hyped to pop it into my Playstation and give it a play.  From the moment I started running around the zombie filled streets as Jill Valentine to the moment I first saw the one monster brute killing machine Nemesis, I was hooked and became a superfan of the story and characters of this 3rd game in the series. I loved hearing the booming voice of Nemesis screaming “STARRRRSSSS” and this game reminded me for some reason of my favorite zombie film Day of the Dead.  I have a story about why, but I will save it for when we take a look at Dead Dog Comics Day Of The Dead comic. I can remember when I finally beat this game I totally felt like I accomplished something major.

Resident Evil 4 - 1Resident Evil 4 PS2Resident Evil 4 - 2

Six years after the viral outbreak that destroyed Racoon City, former police officer Leon S. Kennedy is a federal agent sent to Europe to search for the President’s daughter. Unfortunately for him, he stumbles upon a scenerio frighteningly similar to what he encountered back in Racoon City…

The 4th game in the series is one that most fans of the series will tell you is the best one next to Resident Evil 2, but for me it was a fun play with a pretty cool and creepy storyline but is way overrated as being called “the best” in the series. Gone were the hordes of zombies and in their place was infected people who mutate. Gone away was the tank style controls as it was replaced with over the shoulder style aiming and movement. The game is a fun spooky play with blood, guts and gore, and while not the best in my eyes, it did change and shake the series up.

Resident Evil 5 - 1Resident Evil 5 PS3Resident Evil 5 - 2

Sent in by the BSAA, Chris Redfield has a new mission. It takes him into South Africa where he encounters a new horror and relives an old past.”

When I first started to play Resident Evil 5, I straight out was not enjoying it as the A.I. partner I had was always getting stuck and dying causing me to have to start over again. I was so frustrated that this game sat on a shelf for about two years until my friend Jeremy Hoyt said he would play the game again and with a fellow human playing the second character, the game was fun and yet still challenging. Word of mouth on this game has been very split since the day it was released, with some fans loving the more action horror approach while others hating the fact the survival element is gone as guns and ammo are aplenty. I myself am very split on this game as the one player mode would get a D- and the two player mode would get a solid B, worth the play with a friend.

Resident Evil 6 - 1Resident Evil 6 PS3Resident Evil 6 - 2

The war on bio-terrorism continues as Chris Redfield, Leon Kennedy, and other famous Resident Evil stalwarts battle a seemingly familiar adversary. However, as these veterans of survival horror pursue this latest threat, their nightmare reaches critical mass when it is discovered that it is in fact Ada Wong’s dark clone, Carla, who is championing the most deadly bio-weapon yet – the C-Virus. Chris and Leon have eradicated some of the worst viral strains, from Raccoon City and beyond. But can they overcome this most deadly strain yet? Moreover, when push comes to shove, can they shed old compassion and take down their former friends? How will a conflicted young Wesker come to terms with his lineage, and where will his true alliance fall in this deadly chess match?”

This 6th game in the series was met with mixed reviews, and I feel like it was was too harshly judged. I enjoyed the fact that the game took three different paths and each would cross at times and would get you ever so closer to the over all store of this installment. The game had the right mix of horror and action and was a fun co-op game as me and Jeremy played and beat this one as well. Lots of a gun play, some zombies as well as bosses made this one a good time. I will say that it’s by far the weakest in the series, but again, not as bad as some would have you believe.

Resident Evil Survivor 1Resident Evil Survivor PSXResident Evil Survivor 2

In 1998 a disaster struck the quiet midwestern residence of Raccoon City. An uncontrollable outbreak of the Umbrella created T-Virus transformed the city into an inescapable death trap. To stop the outbreak from spreading, Umbrella Incorporated was forced to wipe out the entire city. However, this was not the only location where an outbreak occurred…”

I wanted to cover this game real quick as it was another Resident Evil game that was one the original Sony Playstation that I spent tons of time trying to beat when I was in my early 20’s! The game was not a third person one but took the route of being a first person shooter as you took the role of a man who forgets who he is and must survive the zombie outbreak. As of the last 2 years I replayed this game, and while it’s nothing special, it still has a place in my heart. My friend Jason Gilmore hated this game so much, and I can remember him getting so pissed off at it having to use the controller instead of a light gun. Below is also is a picture that acts as a who’s who of the Resident Evil Video Game World from Zero to 6!

Who's Who Of Resident Evil

Resident Evil’s main story only has 6 installments up to this point but has a ton of spin-off games that help add to the legacy of the series, and these have been made on many systems over the years like Gamecube, Nintendo DS, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2, XBox 360 and many more! Some of the great games in this series are Resident Evil 0 – a game that acts as a prequel, Resident Evil Revelations that has sparked two games thus far and is a cool way to add to the creepy nature of the series as the first game in the series has you stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean! But these spin-off games have also had some bad games like the Resident Evil Outbreak series that had you picking from a cast of everyday people and trying to survive and escape the odds as well as the shoot em up cheese fest Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City that while fun for being a no brainer kind of game was very much a major time waster as well. Love or hate these side games, one things for sure, they at least help add to the Survival Horror legacy that the series help start.

Resident Evil 0 GamecubeResident Evil Outbreak PS2Resident Evil Dead Aim PS2Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City Xbox 360Resident Evil Survivor Revelations PS3

Besides the video games, Resident Evil has also broke into the world of Hollywood as several live action and some animated films have been made featuring the characters and even making some up along the way. The live action movies follow Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, with the first film coming out in 2002 and a total of 5 films thus far made for the series with the 6th on planned for a 2017 release. While they are by no means classic zombies films and fall flat when you compare them to the likes of Romero’s Dead films or even the first three of the Return of the Living Dead films, they still deliver some zombie horror filled with over the top Matrix style action scenes. While I have seen the live action Resident Evil films, many of them even in the theater, I have not seen that animated ones though I hear that they are fantastic and are better.  My friend Jeremy who is a Resident Evil fan like myself really enjoys the animated ones and recommends them to you. So if you dig the games and can’t get enough R.E., make sure to check out the films as they may hold you over till the next game.

Resident Evil Movie DVDResident_evil_retribution_posterResident Evil animated movie

One thing that has always been really cool about Resident Evil is that lots of toys have been made of the characters with some of the first ones I remember coming out via Toy Biz who were known for making the X-Men and Marvel Toys when I was a youngster. What I remember most about these toys was that they did ones for parts 1 and 2 and that they would come in two packs that would feature a hero like Jill and with a zombie! They would be packed with all types of weapons as well as sometimes other goodies. I know over the years I have had some of the zombie figures, and I think in my parents basement somewhere there is a Jill but what I remember the most about these figures is when Game Swap in Kettering first opened my friend Max brought some of his figures in and he placed them on the shelf above the DVD Boxsets.  To this day, they sit on that shelf in his honor. Looking back at it, he was also big fan of this video game series, and I would like to dedicate this update to him as he was truly a great friend and will forever live on to all those who knew him.

Resident Evil Toys

Before we get into the Marvel Comic promo issue, I would like to take a moment to say that I have been to many horror and comic conventions over the years, and it’s always cool to see people dressed up cosplaying as their favorite characters from film, video games and comics.  I always like to see was the people who dress as characters from Resident Evil! Always nice seeing a good looking goth girl running around in a S.T.A.R.S. Uniform like I use to for many years at Horrorhound Weekend. But I have not seen her the last few times I have been, so below are some pictures of people cosplaying as Resident Evil characters Jill Valentine, Nemesis and Ada Wong, so check them out and enjoy!

Resident Evil Jill CosplayNemesis CosplayResident Evil Ada Wong Cosplay

So we have made it to the Town Hall here in Raccoon City and have dodged many zombies.  Along the way, we have talked about Resident Evil in video games, movies, toys and cosplay, and we are now at the point where we will be talking about Resident Evil in comics.  I chose to review the Marvel Comic over Wildstorm’s because this was the first R.E. comic and is a direct tie in to the original game. So while you use the health spray and pick the green herbs to mix with the red ones, I need to remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So let’s get ready to enter and hope we can find a rotten ink ribbon fast!

Resident Evil Promo Comic 1

Resident Evil # 1  **1/2
Released in 1996    Cover Price Free    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 1

Richard Aiken is a member of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team and is alone in a mansion with “things” that are watching him as he tries his best to call back to base and his boss Albert Wesker for help, but soon finds that the wires in his phone box are cut! Aiken’s team has been attacked and many of them killed.  What was just a search for missing hikers has turned into a massacre of his friends. Meanwhile Wesker gets a phone call from a shadowy figure that tells him that he must keep a secret from being discovered and that he did a good job of sabotaging the Bravo Team’s chopper. As Wesker hangs up, Barry and members of the Alpha Team show up to see if he has any news on the missing team, and this makes Wesker decided to call on his top team to find out what’s going on in the area near the abandon mansion. Meanwhile Aiken is in the mansion running from shadows, poison gas and worse a giant snake! Wesker gets his team ready that includes Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, and together they chopper to the site of the missing team and bail out in order to find them.

This comic is a pre-equal to the Capcom PlayStation video game and does a nice job of quickly explaining what happened before the events of the game and shows you some of the fate of the Bravo team. The plot is this simple: a group of special forces go missing in a area where people have vanished.  They themselves get into a world of trouble as what is waiting for them is something pure evil and their only hope is another team who is on the way to save the day. Richard Aiken is the first member of S.T.A.R.S. we meet, and sadly by the time we catch up with him, he is filled with fear and is running for his life. But he does fight to stay alive all the way up to the giant snake crossing his path and for all accounts ending his life. Albert Wesker, who is the head of the S.T.A.R. teams, is clearly a scumbag as he is shown to be hiding something from the start and is more into keeping that secret then saving his missing men. Jill, Chris, Barry and the rest of the Alpha Team are all side characters, and they clearly take this back seat as they are more important in the video game so I think they wanted them to be around but not the stars. This comic shows no zombies besides in shadows and the only “monsters” shown are the giant snake and the green gas of death. I do wish they would have shown the zombies, but again, if they did I think it might have taken away from the game when you first meet the flesh eaters, a true double edged sword. The comic has zero blood and is only a total of 12 pages with the cover the same as the game’s cover and has art done by Dave Johnson who worked on other books like Detective Comics and Action Comics. Over all this promo comic was a fun read and helps add to the story of Resident Evil but it also is way too highly priced for what it is.  So fans of the game series should check it out for sure.  Casual fans might want to stay away from a comic with little action and no true scares. Below is some artwork from the comic to show you the style of the book’s art.

Resident Evil Art 1

So while this Marvel Promo Comic might not have been great like the game it was based on, it still was a fun read and a part of the history of Resident Evil. For our next update, we are leaving the undead-infested Raccoon City and entering the fast food world of fried chicken as we are taking a trip into the 11 herbs and spices of KFC and learning about its spokesman Colonel Sanders! So from zombies who eat human flesh to a Colonel who eats friend chicken flesh, our next one is for sure going to be a great time. Until then, read a comic or three, play a video game or two, support your local horror host and watch out for the undead!

KFC Logo

Marvel At The Mighty Black Goliath

Welcome back, my friends, to Rotten Ink.  It’s amazing to think we are in 2016, and my little place on the web has been going for over three years now with my first official update being about The Smurfs and the Marvel Comic series based on those little blue guys back on September 10th 2012.  It’s grown so much from there and has allowed me to cover such topics as horror hosts, movies and video games as well as talk about my life as a child and adult and cover things from making no budget movies to old school crushes and everything in-between! People have asked me over the years what my favorite update I have ever done is, and while I have enjoyed them all and have put my thoughts and memories into each, I would have to say it was “Start Halloween With The Universal Monsters!” as I got to cover Dell Comics takes on the classic monsters like Dracula and The Wolf Man as well as got to talk about what the Halloween season reminds me of, a great trip down memory lane for sure. Lots of readers and friends have also asked me what my favorite comic company is to cover.  That’s an easy one as I have to say classic Marvel Comics.  While I do love companies like DC, IDW and Dell, Marvel has always been my top choice to read as all my favorite superheroes come from that company: Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Conan and Man-Thing. Another question I get is what horror host am I most looking forward to covering on a Icon update.  My top two that I knew that were a must for me, I have already done,Commander USA and Dr. Creep, but as for the ones I have not covered it’s a tie between Sammy Terry, Joe Bob Briggs, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Grandpa Munster, all of whom have influenced me in the world of horror hosting as well as no budget filmmaking. The question that I always look at is what your most read topic is, as of this update, the top three go like this Hellraiser III, Smurfs and Rob Zombie’s Bigfoot. One last question I will answer is people ask what of my old media projects would I like to see turned into a comic book series, and while of course the answer is Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre that wish could be coming true thanks to my friend Damien Brunk so out of the other stuff I would say my old slasher film The Sadness who is a killer who murders women and video tapes it all the while doing these horrible acts to please his fathers voice that echoes in his brain. So in closing, if you are a long time reader or just discovered me, I want to say thanks for taking the time to check out my little place on the web, and here is looking forward to the next three years and beyond. This update we will take a look at Black Goliath, a classic 70’s Marvel Character who was a cash in on the Blaxploitation cinema of the time.  So here is looking on to the future and bringing more fun updates to you my friends and readers.

Happy 3 Year

Once many centuries ago, it was believed that giants could have walked among us, even the Bible has Goliath a giant warrior who was killed by a stone from David’s slingshot. It’s been said that giants even battled early settlers here in America and that when their bones are found, the Smithsonian covers it up! In pop culture giants are among us from pro wrestler Andre The Giant to comic character Giant Man. But one giant that has always peeked my interest is The San Diego Mummy, a giant mummified body that measured 8 foot 4 inches and was found in a cave by prospectors in the early 1900’s.  It’s said that you could see the twisted teeth and giants ribs trough the skin and it looked like the Aztec Mummy from the classic south of the border horror film series to me. The Smithsonian was all over this discovery and even bought the body for a large sum of money. They came and looked at it and were hyped by what they saw, but the story goes that once they tested parts of the giant’s skin they found it to be a hoax and made of gelation and claimed the remains were a fake and deposed of it. This is where things get crazy as many people claim that the Smithsonian was on a fever pitch to buy large skeletons and many people claim they claimed hoaxes on many that are believed to be the real deal including the San Diego Giant! The odd thing about San Diego Giant is where is it now? Did they dispose of it? If he is real, why are they storing him and not sharing him with the public? And why are the people of Smithsonian trying to buy and hide all the giant skeletons in the world? So many questions un-answered! On a side note, the body also reminds me of the Atlas Comic character The Brute…could this be the body that inspired that comic series?

The San Diego Giant Mummy

WWE 2K16 came out on October 27th 2015, and this year the main attraction was that it had the largest roster in the game’s history as well as had a spotlight on the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin, whom I have never been a fan of during his WWF/WWE run but the possibilities of other wrestlers he had faced made for a interesting wait to see who was announced. Plus they added a ton of names from NXT and this as well made me hyped and ready for the game.  The downside was the pre-order bonus wrestler, as it was the T-800.  Yeah, that’s right, a Terminator…a fake movie character who has never been in a WWE ring…Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor who plays the character has and at least would have made a better choice as he is in the WWE Hall Of Fame…yeah, terrible bonus for sure. But terrible bonus and all, this was one game I was super hyped to play as I found that the new additions of Finn Balor and Kalisto and legends like Bret Hart, Sting and Ultimate Warrior made this a must-have video game for me. Plus any wrestling game that sports the largest roster in WWE game history, I had to play!

WWE 2K16 Ultimate WarriorWWE 2K16 PS4WWE 2K16 Sting

But like THQ before, 2K has also been snubbing wrestlers that should be showcased in the game! I know that WWE has lots of say on who is in the game and who is left out but so does the company who is distributing the game, and the following 3 wrestlers are my picks of wrestlers who were down right snubbed and should have had a place on the 120 on-disc roster or at least DLC. So sit back and take a look at my picks and in the comments feel free to leave your list of snubbed wrestlers from WWE 2K16!

wwe 2k16 Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan

Let’s start off this list with the biggest and most iconic name left out of this game, as well as one wrestler who was slated to be in the game but pulled amidst controversy. First we should talk about why they pulled him from the game; in 2012 Hogan was recorded making dumb and hurtful raciest comments that were centered around his daughter Brooke’s personal life and music career.  It should be noted that he made these commits at the lowest point in his life when he and his wife were splitting, he was sleeping with one of his best friends wife and he was suicidal. Hogan has done his best to do damage control and clear his name of not being a racist person; wrestlers and stars have come to his aid and yet WWE has washed him from their records and fired from his deal, canceled all his upcoming merchandise and pulled him from WWE 2K16. Now let’s look at why Hulk Hogan should have been in the game and the reasons are many! I mean he was a top wrestler not only just in WWF/WWE but also AWA, WCW and TNA as well was an actor in movies and TV. He has been WWF/WWE champion as well as World Heavyweight Champion a number of times, has headlined not only the first Wrestlemania but many more over the years and is one of the biggest icons in the business. While he should have been let go from his WWE contract or even suspended and made to make his dumb decision right, his fans should not be punished by taking him out of the game as he would have been a great grappler to have in the world title mix against the likes of Triple H, Roman Reigns, John Cena and Kevin Owens.

WWE 2K16 Jimmy Snuka

Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka

Jimmy Snuka, much like Hulk Hogan has had a bad 2015 as he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and then picked up on murder charges of his then girlfriend in 1983! While I’m not sure if he was suppose to be in the game, I am sure if he was he was pulled out of the mix pretty quickly. But like all crimes Jimmy is innocent until proven guilty, but to WWE and 2K he is guilty until proven innocent. Jimmy Snuka was one of the biggest wrestlers in the 1980’s and was a top draw for WWE over his career and had epic matches against the likes of Don Muraco and Roddy Piper, and even when coming back in 1989 he was a solid mid-card worker who took on the likes of The Honkey Tonk Man, The Undertaker and Rick Rude! Jimmy even had a good run in AWA and WCW and remained a fan favorite. If Jimmy Snuka would have made it into WWE 2K16, I would have put him in NXT and would also use him on the main roster as matches against Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Kalisto and Seth Rollins would be booked for many of my Raw’s and PPV’s! The sad thing is even if proven not guilty, I see Snuka not being in any upcoming WWE games.

Jim Duggan

“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan

It’s crazy to think that Hacksaw has not been in a WWE main game in years given that during the 80’s and 90’s he was a huge fan favorite and is on great terms with the company and has had no run ins with the law in decades. Hacksaw had a great run with WWF/WWE from 1987-1993 and had great matches against the likes of King Harley Race, Andre The Giant and Bad News Brown. In 1988, he was even the first winner of the Royal Rumble that aired on the USA Network. When Hacksaw’s star started to drop in the WWF, he moved onto WCW and became a major draw once more winning many belts and having matches with the likes of Stunning Steve Austin, Bunkhouse Buck and Diamond Dallas Page. He left WCW in 2002 and worked some independent federations before returning to WWE in 2005 for another short run that would have him being used to put over younger talent.  This run ended in 2009 but for many years after, he appeared from time to time one WWE programing. I would love to have Hacksaw as part of my roster and would make a new tag team with him and Jack Swagger that would be trying to win Tag Team Gold! Very disappointing that Hacksaw seems to have been forgotten by not only WWE but also 2K.

It’s a shame these legends of wrestling have been left out and only time will tell if any of them will be in WWE 2K17, and I want you all to keep in mind none of these guys made it into the game but the T-800 did…shameful.

WWE 2K16 Finn

So in 2015, four of my favorite artists released new albums and of course I had to buy all three of them on CD from Amazon. So let’s start off with the softest artist on the list and one that I have been a huge fan of since the 1995 release of her first album called “Pieces of You.” Of course I am talking about Jewel; her new release is called “Picking Up The Pieces” and this her counter piece to her first release. The first thing I noticed after listening for a few minutes is that Jewel’s voice is as soothing as ever and made me fall in love with her all over again. The sound was a mix of folk and country and is clearly a record to work out some of her personal issues and as always her heart is in every song. I really enjoyed the whole CD, and I think my two favorite tracks off the disc have to be “Everything Breaks,” a song of changing love, and “My Father’s Daughter,” a sweet song about family that is a duet with Dolly Parton.  I also really liked the song “Mercy” and for the most part liked every song on the disc. I cannot praise Jewel enough as I feel she is one of the best singer songwriters of my generation, not to mention she can blend pop, country and folk together so well that it shows just how talented she is. I recommend this CD to fans of hers as well as fans looking for a heartfelt album with outstanding songs. The other artists that we will be covering at a different update are Danzig, W.A.S.P. and Alice Cooper with his all-star band called The Hollywood Vampires! So make sure to check back in and see my thoughts on their newest releases soon.

jewel picking up the pieces cd

When I was younger I had lots of Marvel Comics as did my brother Bryan, and I spent lots of late nights reading issues before bed or just kicking back in my room on a rainy day and reading them as the rain hit the widows.  One character that I saw a lot of over the years is Black Goliath.  I always had this idea that he was good friends with The Thing as I mostly remember his from issues of Marvel Two-In-One that had The Thing of Fantastic Four fame teaming up with a fellow Marvel hero. One other thing I can remember about him was that he was dying from an illness that was caused by his ability to change size and The Thing was really upset by this. But this is all I really knew about the character until I did some research over the years, so here is a quick bio of Black Goliath. Bill Foster is a biochemist who is from Los Angeles California who works for Tony Stark’s Plans And Research Division and was Hank Pym’s lab assistant who helps Pym turn to normal size when as his alter ego Giant Man he was stuck being a giant. Sometime later, Bill Foster starts taking the formula Hank did so that he as well can grow and takes on the name Black Goliath and teams with the likes of Luke Cage Power Man, The Thing and even Spider-Man to take on and defeat all types of super baddies. Black Goliath even joined the superheroes team The Champions and would later go on to change his name to Giant Man taking over the role from his friend Hank Pym. As Bill Foster, he at one point found himself working in the Savage Land for High Evolutionary and once he figures out that his employer is up to no good he calls in the West Coast Avengers and they put a stop to his evil scheme of a genetic bomb. Sometime later Bill Foster loses the power to grow and becomes a staff member for Centers For Disease Control and lend his brain to The Avengers to stop a bio-weapon. Later he once more regains his growing powers and joins a short lived team alongside Luke Cage, Brother Voodoo, The Falcon and Iron Fist as well as teams with the likes of Spider-Man and The Thing on separate missions. During the Civil War of Superheroes, Black Goliath took the side of Captain America in that heroes should not have to register their identities and during this conflict he is killed by a clone of Thor.  His death changes the balance in teams as many leave Iron Man’s side to join Captain America’s. Up to this point Bill Foster aka Black Goliath is still dead and that’s a shame as I feel he is a great classic Marvel Character who had many more adventures to bring us readers. I should note that during the Dark Reign storyline Black Goliath’s clavicle bone is stolen by Norman Osborn in hopes to be used to track down Hank Pym and his spirit can be seen in Erebus, a realm in-between life and death alongside Baron Zemo, Jack Of Hearts, Jack O’Lantern, Wasp and even Elvis Presley!

Black GoliathBlack Goliath and The ThingTHE THING

So now I am sure if you didn’t know who Black Goliath was, you do now as I hope my little history of the character helped. I really would like to thank Mavericks Cards and Comics who in June 2015 bought a huge comic collection that contained so many amazing issues and full runs from companies like Marvel, DC, Charlton and many more and Black Goliath was one I was lucky to be able to buy for this update! I was lucky enough as my friends Jason Young and Jeremy Hoyt both work for Mavericks and allowed me to go in the back and look through the boxes before they were priced and put out for the masses! I was able not only to get Black Goliath but also issues of Amazing, Spectacular & Web of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, Jungle Action with Black Panther, Master of Kung-Fu and a few other titles. So a big thanks goes to Mavericks and their crew for making this update possible. I should also note that while as I stated before I mostly knew Black Goliath from his appearances in “Marvel Two In One” and “Marvel Team Up”, growing up my brother and I did have issue # 3 of this series and I remember very little about it. So let’s grab a glass of milk so we can grow up to be big and strong and set out for a five issue adventure with the one and only Black Goliath.

Black Goliath 1

Black Goliath # 1  ***
Released in 1976     Cover Price .25   Marvel Comics   #1 of 5

Bill Foster is walking in the rain down a ghetto road in Los Angeles remembering back to the days of his youth growing up in the neighborhood playing baseball in the streets with his friends as well as the old soda shop that he use to buy cokes from for a dime. While wandering the streets, he comes across some punks who try and rob him and turns into Black Goliath and teaches them crime don’t pay! Bill goes home and is torn between becoming a full time superhero or only focusing on his scientific career that was given to him by Tony Stark.  While trying to come to a decision, he gets a call from Hank Pym who tries to push him into a career into crime fighting. After visiting his assistants called The Whiz Kids, Bill decides to become Black Goliath and stop the next robbery that will be for the lab he works! Atom-Smasher and his goons show up at a warehouse to steal some Radium and take out the two guard posted at the front and to their shock they run into Black Goliath who makes quick work of the goons, but is chopped down by Atom-Smasher who blasts him with a energy beam and is about to finish him off with an even more powerful one as our issue comes to an end!

This first issue is fantastic and captures the 70’s Blaxploitation cinema vibe and mixes it very well with the classic 70’s Marvel and is very much on par with Luke Cage Power Man! The plot of this issue has Bill Foster having a internal war with himself over becoming a full fledged superhero or being a full fledged scientist! And when robbers keep stealing shipments and breaking into labs, Bill decides that he must embrace his super powers and become Black Goliath to stop these crimes. Black Goliath is a very interesting character as he got his powers from helping Hank Pym when he was stuck as Giant Man and took that formula and improved it.  What also makes him stand out is the fact he was once a  ircus sideshow performer who lied to his girlfriend by telling her he could not control his size and was beaten up by Luke Cage who in turn walked away with Bill’s now ex! Black Goliath is a man who is quick witted and has an edge of take no bull attitude making this issue a fun read as it leaves you wondering what he is going to do. The Whiz Kids (Herbert Bell, Dale West & Talia Kruma) are nice back up characters who a being set up to be inventors of gadgets that Goliath can use in his crime busting. Atom-Smasher is a cheesy yet powerful villain who rocks his bald head and powerful energy well, in fact he seems not to be bothered by the size of Goliath as he fires an energy blast and cuts him down to size. Atom-Smasher can control matter and can use his power to go through walls and even fire powerful blasts from his hands. The cover for this first issue is fantastic and very eye catching.  Plus the art inside is well done and is done by the talented George Tuska who does a fantastic job of capturing the mood and vibe of this comic. This first issue makes me hyped to read issue # 2 and see how Goliath gets away from the deadly hands of Atom-Smasher so let’s not waste anymore time and get to it!

Black Goliath 2

Black Goliath # 2  **1/2
Released in 1976     Cover Price .25   Marvel Comics   #2 of 5

Black Goliath uses all his strength to dodge a fatal blow by Atom-Smasher and turns the table on the high energy villain! But the fight doesn’t stay in Black Goliath’s favor for long as once more Atom-Smasher is able to beat him up as well as causes a huge fire that was heading toward the L.A. airport’s fuel tanks! As Smasher escapes, poor Goliath is weak and trying his best to not to catch fire or drown in the water from the firefighters’ hose, and passes out to wake up in the care of Celia Jackson who was a stewardess for the airport and saved him from being fried to a crisp. Returning home as Bill Foster, he gets The Whiz Kids to create a tracking devise to locate Atom-Smasher.  He gets the drop on Smasher and his goons ending his reign of terror, but unknown to Black Goliath, an assassin is watching and getting orders from a hidden in the shadows crime boss to take him out!

This second adventure of Black Goliath is a very good follow up to the first and retains all the wonderful 70’s Blaxploitation action and one liners making fans of such films as Hammer and Foxy Brown happy as well as comic readers who enjoyed Power Man. In this issue Black Goliath suffers a terrible defeat, but it does not slow him down as he not only stops the bad guys in the end but also has time to make it with the young woman who saved his life! In this issue Black Goliath at first tries to only depend on his power to bring down the bad guys, but by the end learns that using his power as well as his mind is the best way to get the victory. While at first he does doubts how good of a superhero he will be, he turns it around in the end to embrace that he is new to the crime fighting game and can make mistakes. The Whiz Kids once more are used as helper characters and with their super smarts are able to make a tracking device to hunt down the location of Atom-Smasher. The tricky part is that Bill lied to them and said the device was made for the police. By this point we also are picking up on the personalities of the Whiz Kids with Herbert being the worry wart, Dale being the goofball troublemaker and Talia being the more private one who keeps her private life to herself leaving her open to be the most interesting one of them all. Celia Jackson seems like she could be a new love interest for Bill or could be just a one nightstand as the next panel after he leaves her house, Bill thinks to himself how he “scored” with her. At the warehouse Atom-Smasher puts up a fight that leaves the giant hero on his butt and proves he has power, but in the last battle when taken by surprise he goes down pretty easy as Black Goliath knocks machine parts on him and then bonds him in graphite. The Smasher’s men are about as helpful to him as cats would be in a fist fight against ninjas as they are knocked around and run like chickens. The cover is once more very eye catching, and the art done by George Tuska is fantastic.  I should also note the story in this issue was done by Chris Claremont who is best known for writing Uncanny X-Men and is the brain behind so many of that series top arcs. So far I‘m really liking this series and am looking forward to each issue that follows! Let’s see if the third issue can keep up the charm of Black Goliath.

Black Goliath 3

Black Goliath # 3  **1/2
Released in 1976     Cover Price .25   Marvel Comics   #3 of 5

As Black Goliath is about to take Atom-Smasher to the police station, the sniper attacks and grazes Goliath in the forehead causing him to drop Atom-Smasher and try to find cover. Atom-Smasher breaks free from his bonds and tries to escape, but before he can he takes a bullet to the back showing that he was the target.  Before Black Goliath can get to the sniper he is gone, but something worse happens as he starts to feel ill and as if he is dying! Meanwhile back at Stark Labs, The Whiz Kids are covering for Bill Foster as he is not at work and a very angry Tony Stark needs to speak to him, and worse a motorcycle gang breaks into the lab and steals a important package and causes mayhem to the workers including Dale and Talia who are injured in the attack. The cops give chase to the gang but soon meet their leader Vulcan, a super strong hunchback with laser shooting wristbands who kills a rookie and injures a veteran female officer. Black Goliath shakes off the sick feeling and goes after the gang to get the package back and makes quick work of the gang, even giving Vulcan a beating, but once more making a rookie mistake he goes for the stolen package and takes a laser blast from the downed Vulcan that causes a building to fall on him and let the bad guy escape. In the end some of the cops are mad about Black Goliath not saving the killed rookie and this makes Goliath mad as he has no plans on stopping being a superhero.

This third issue now adds the motorcycle gang craze of the 70’s to the mix and even adds a touch of horror as Vulcan the gang’s leader is clearly a weird looking hunchback. The plot of this issue is that someone hired an assassin to kill Atom-Smasher as they looked at him as a loose end.  Black Goliath is still a rookie at being a hero and makes some mistakes but during this time he is also having some issues with his powers as he is feeling ill. Throw in a biker gang who has been hired to steal a package from the lab and you have this issue. Black Goliath is getting better at stopping crime and is not backing down from bad guys and will do anything he can to save a life, even if he is always late at doing so. The main question is what is making Black Goliath sick and feeling like he is going to die? My thought on this is that he is straining his body as he is using the powers more often and this is causing his insides to become damaged. The normal Bill Foster part of Goliath’s life seems to be spinning out of control as he is neglecting his day job and could be facing a pink slip if he isn’t more attentive to his work. The Whiz Kids are pretty helpful in this issue as not only do they try and cover for Bill, but Dale tries his best to fight the biker gang and protect his fellow workers, and we learn that Talia is the way she is cause she left a loved on to die in the jungle to save her own butt! The Sniper and the Shadowy Big Boss are still a mystery as their identities are still unknown, but I am thinking that the big boss could be The Kingpin. Poor Atom-Smasher after being captured tried to run to fight another day, but is killed as I think they felt if the cops got ahold of him he might snitch. Vulcan is a brute, and while he is good at smashing cars and killing cops, he is not so good at fighting people with above average powers as Goliath whoops him pretty good.  While he packs some laser wristbands and leads a gang of bikers, he just does not seem like a major threat. I should also mention that Tony Stark who all Marvel Comic readers as well as the movie watchers know is Iron Man comes off as a butthead in this issue as he yells and screams and threatens to fire Bill for missing one day of work, talk about a horrible boss! The cover is once more top notch, and the team of Claremont and Tuska are back and proves that when the right team work on a book no matter how big or small the character is, they can make quality work. So with this let’s move onto issue number four.

Black Goliath 4

Black Goliath # 4  **1/2
Released in 1976     Cover Price .25   Marvel Comics   #4 of 5

Black Goliath stops some bank robbers and even breaks a stolen weapon that could kill many innocent people if used, all before heading to work where he gets chewed out by Tony Stark over the stolen package.  That leaves the two at odds, and a man named Ballard being odd and wanting to keep what’s in the box from Bill.  It’s clear the two have a past with each other. Bill changes into Black Goliath and heads to the police station where he gets news from Keith who is the nephew of Celia Jackson, the stewardess who Goliath “scored” with that the bank is being robbed.  As Black Goliath and the cops arrive, they soon find that the robber is not a common man but the super villain Stilt Man who is mad and wanting to make a statement and does just that as he manhandles Black Goliath and to prove a point uses his new Z-Ray gun on Black Goliath, Keith and Celia making them vanish into thin air as the police look on in horror.

This forth issue is good but I will say slipped a little as I feel with this one they took away the cult feel and made it more of a main stream comic that could have as easy been an issue of Spider-Man or Captain America. The issue’s plot has Bill Foster being mad at Tony Stark his boss and goes head to head with a villain who matches him in size and power and by the end uses a ray that turns our hero into nothing as he just disappears. Black Goliath is pretty cocky now at being a superhero and seems not to be bothered by having to choose between it and his career. Plus it looks as if the cops are now on his side and want his help on trying to stop crime. Bill Foster seems to be blowing off his work in this issue and even mouths off and makes his boss Tony Stark wait. The Whiz Kids take a backseat with nothing major to do besides telling Bill that Tony is on the phone for him. Tony Stark is still acting as a terrible boss, but does show that he likes Bill as a person and a friend. Ballard, I am not sure what his deal is, but he seems to have a chip on his shoulder and have a strong dislike for Bill. Celia Jackson and her nephew Keith are clearly fans and friends of Black Goliath and it’s nice to see that she is just not a one night stand. Stilt Man is a major threat in L.A. and wants to be that town’s crime lord and starts his path of doing so by robbing a bank and beating the city’s protector with little to no effort. Stilt Man is proving that he is not a joke and while the likes of Daredevil and Captain America have beaten him, Black Goliath was just out matched. The way this issue ends and with only one issue left in the series it makes me wonder how in the heck are they going to wrap up who the shadow crime boss is, where is Black Goliath at and how will he get back as well as how will he defeat Stilt Man. This issue’s cover is great like the others, and while Chris Claremont wrote the script, they changed the artist as the team of R. Buckler and Don Heck take over and do a solid job. Well it’s time to move onto the final issue.  Let’s see how Marvel wraps this one up or will it get the Steel: The Indestructible Man treatment where DC just upped and cancelled it before the story is finished.  Well let’s see, shall we?

Black Goliath 5

Black Goliath # 5  **1/2
Released in 1976     Cover Price .30   Marvel Comics   #5 of 5

Black Goliath along with Keith and Celia find themselves on another planet called Kirgar, thanks to Stilt Man’s Z-Ray Gun that during the day the temperature is so hot and by night it’s freezing, leaving them will little hope of survival. One night while they are sleeping, they are visited by a friendly alien named Derath, who gives them clothes that will help with the severely changing weather and together they try to find a shelter area that has parts on it that can send them home! Along the journey they come across a Dune Cat who tries to make Celia lunch but is quickly dealt with thanks to a laser pistol blast from the gun of Derath. Once they make it to the shelter they soon have to tangle with Mortag, a giant of a man monster who is the protector of the shelter and kills Derath with his mighty axe! The murder of his alien friend puts Black Goliath into a rage and the battle leaves Mortag in pieces as they find out that he was a robot. In the end Black Goliath, Celia and Keith use the equipment around to try and get back home.

This final issue of Black Goliath feels like they mixed superheroes with Flash Gordon as it has a very science fiction feel to it. The plot has Black Goliath along with Celia and her nephew being stuck on a planet where they meet an alien who helps them and together they must try and find a way home and battle an ancient guardian who is protecting the only building on the planet that has they stuff to send them home. Black Goliath in this series really grows as a character as he starts off not being too sure of his hero-like abilities and by this issue he is a protector of his friends and ready to fight for what right. I can 100% say that my opinion of this character changed after reading this limited run series as he went from being a cheesy character who was friends with The Thing to being an interesting hero who brought so many genres together from Superhero to Blaxploitation and a little of everything in-between like bikers and sci-fi! Celia is very much like Pam Grier in the way that she is sexy and tough with a touch of gentle. It was cool to see her go from a one nightstand to a full fledged girlfriend for Black Goliath. Keith is kind of just a background player who is used to give Celia a little more depth and draw out that she is just a normal person with a family. The Whiz Kids are really cool background players who start out as bickering co-workers and by their last appearance, it’s clear they all are good friends and care about each other.  I wish they had a little more to do before this series ended. The worst part of Marvel just pulling the plug on this series is that this issue ends with Black Goliath still on another planet and as he beats his final foe in passing he says something about them getting back home.  It’s really lame that Marvel at least didn’t give this one last issue to really tie it all up. In the letters page in this issue they did have the courtesy to warn the readers that this series was cancelled due to low sales. This final issue’s art was done by Keith Pollard, and it looks great and holds up the quality that this series had. Pollard is a fantastic artist who is known for his work on Amazing Spider-Man, The Mighty Thor and Fantastic Four in the 70’s and 80’s. This issue’s story is written by Chris Claremont again, and as always he did a pretty great job of telling a tale of adventure the Marvel way. I should also note that throughout the series Black Goliath tangled with some powerful super villains like Stilt Man, killer robot Mortag, pure power Atom-Smasher and hunchback biker Vulcan each of which you can believe as a threat to our hero. Over all, I can say that I enjoyed this series from the great art, fun stories all the way to the rotten ink smell this was for sure a great way to spend a January day reading. Below is some artwork from issue 4 done by R. Buckler and Don Heck, enjoy!

Black Goliath Art 1

Black Goliath is a Marvel Character that for the most part is forgotten or even misused and that’s a shame as he is a very cool and interesting character who could have held his own with other African American super heroes from Marvel like Luke Cage and Black Panther. But our next update we will be leaving Marvel behind and will be looking at a promo comic based on the 1992 film Dust Devil! So until then read a comic or three, support your local Horror Host and make sure to have a safe and fun February.

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