Tarzan’s Great Christmas Eve Adventure

Merry Christmas Eve! It’s hard to believe it’s that time of the year again when Santa Claus is gearing up to start his big night of present giving and spreading good cheer. And for this Holiday update I decided to take us out of the snow filled cold night of December here in Ohio and take us to the heart of the jungle as we go and visit the one and old Lord Of The Jungle Tarzan! This update is going to be a very long one as I have chosen the Marvel Comics series to review and have also decided to do a Game Boy Challenge as I try to beat the game Tarzan Lord Of The Jungle, plus talk about all things Tarzan from novels to cinema and everything in-between! I want to also let you know that this update was one that I have been working on since mid 2018 as I wanted to take my time and share my enjoyment of Tarzan with you all. So if you’re ready grab yourself a glass of eggnog, grab your safari hat and listen for the yell of Tarzan cause we are heading to the jungle for this epic and long Holiday update adventure.

Before we dive into the character Tarzan we should take a few moments and take a look at the man who created him and that is of course author Edgar Rice Burroughs. Edgar was born on September 1, 1875 in Chicago, Illinois to George and Mary Burroughs and had a pretty good childhood and was well educated and when old enough went to several Military Schools and even enlisted in the Army, but was discharged when they found that he had heart issues. In 1891 he left the Chicago area when a influenza outbreak infected many and he went to live with his brother were he worked on the ranch and was a cowboy and when returning back home he took work in his fathers battery factory. By 1900 he settled down and married is long time sweetheart Emma Hulbert and also began several years of working in many different jobs like being the manager at a mining company owned by his brother, worked for the railroad in Salt Lake City and even was a wholesaler salesman for pencil-sharpeners. But by 1911 with a wife and two children Edgar decided that he wanted to try his hand and writing and he started to do so, mainly doing pulp stories for magazines and built his style and talent. In 1913 he and his wife had their third and final child John Coleman Burroughs who would go on to be an amazing artist. Edgar also would end up being a pilot after he bought a plane and this allowed his whole family learn to fly. Edgar was getting more and more respect for his writing and in 1934 he separated from his wife Emma and ended up a year later marrying actress Florence Gilbert Dearholt who was known for her roles in such films as “Down Home (1920)”, “The Johnstown Flood (1926)” and “The Return Of Peter Grimm (1926)” to name a few…but the marriage ended by 1942. Another amazing fact is that in his 60’s Edgar was in Honolulu at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and he ended up becoming a U.S. Correspondent being one of the worlds oldest! On March 19, 1950 and at the age of 74 Edgar Rice Burroughs passed away from a heart attack, and he at the time was an artist who made so much money off the movies and shows that were based on his characters he created. During his long career of being a writer he created the characters of Tarzan The Ape Man and John Carter Warlord Of Mars among others and for these characters he was placed in The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame in 2003! While he is gone and his work will forever live on in novels, comics, movies, shows, games and toys showing that he really is an icon of Sci-Fi fiction.

Growing up I read not only comic books & magazines but also lots of paperback books and some of my favorites to find at Half Price Books and the Paperback Rack were old Tarzan novels. I would gobble up any and all Tarzan books I could find and would crack them open some nights before bed and read a chapter or two all the while enjoying the jungle adventure. Still to this day when looking at paperback novels at places like Half Price Books and Bell Book And Comic when finding a Tarzan book I don’t have I pick it up! I have many good memories of reading Tarzan books in my room in Waynesville and picturing the words I was reading in my mind. That’s the thing about Tarzan is that when I read one of the old paperbacks I felt like I was in that jungle amongst the apes, lions and warriors and these books are some of the first novels that got me into reading not just comic books. I would say my favorite book of the series is “Tarzan Of The Apes” the first book in the series as I always felt it packed such a great impact and was what introduced me to the world of Tarzan. If you enjoy sitting down and reading a good book check out one of the Tarzan adventures on a cold winter night and I am sure you’ll enjoy it!

While Tarzan was a big hit in literature he was a star when it came to the world of cinema as well, as movie goers for decades could not get enough of his adventures on the silver screen. It’s crazy to think that Tarzan as been in movies sense the days of Silent Films and even as of 2016 he got a big budget movie thanks to Warner Brothers and the release of “Legend Of Tarzan”. And lets be honest Tarzan was a major box office draw in the 1930’s through 1960’s and actors like Gordon Scott, Lex Barker, Denny Miller and Johnny Weissmuller and truly made the character Tarzan a hero from many young kids world wide. Growing up I cannot count how many of these films I have seen from seeing them on TV, VHS and DVD and every time I watch one I feel like a kid again as they just don’t make jungle adventure films like this anymore. Hands down Johnny Weissmuller is the best Tarzan but I also really liked Gordon Scott in the role as well. I mean to be honest I cannot think of a really “Bad” actor to play the role. In fact over the years I have found myself buying every Tarzan live action film and who knows maybe some day here on Rotten Ink I’ll do an update that talks about each film in the series, as well as give an answer to what film is the best! While Tarzan might not be the box office draw he once was, he still made his massive mark on the world of adventure cinema and has entertained so many viewers over the years.

While he has always been a box-office draw Tarzan has also made his mark in the world of TV, as he has not only had live actions shows he has also been in cartoons. That’s right The Lord Of The Jungle has made his way to the world of animation and Saturday Moring Cartoons! And one that always sticks out to me and is one I seen when I was a youngster in reruns called “Tarzan, Lord Of The Jungle” that was shown in 1976 on CBS when originally broadcasted. The show was created by Filmation the same folks who brought the world iconic cartoons as “Masters Of The Universe”, “Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids”, “Blackstar”, “She-Ra: Princess Of Power”, “BraveStarr” and “The Groovie Goolies And Friends” to name a very small few. The cartoon ran from 1976-1980 for a total of 36 episodes that ran 30 minutes each. In the cartoon Tarzan who was well spoken would have all types of adventures with his ape friend N’kima and all his other jungle friends. Tarzan in the show was voiced by Robert Ridgely who would also voice iconic cartoon characters like Thundarr The Barbarian, Flash Gordon in “The New Adventures Of Flash Gordon” and The Peculiar Purple Pie in “Strawberry Shortcake” showing that he was a master of the voice talent arts. I am not sure where I seen episodes of this show I tend to think TV like on USA Cartoon Express or maybe it could have been on a old VHS Tape. One thing that’s for sure that I do know is that the first season was released by Warner Brothers on DVD in 2016, and the series very much has a cult following among fans of the character. If you have not seen this cartoon series make sure to track down the DVD season and give it a watch as it does a great job of bring Tarzan alive via animation.

The first ever Tarzan comic book series was published by Dell in 1948 and was a long running series having a total of 206 issues and ending in 1972. But even before that Tarzan was the star of his own comic strip that started in 1929 and has been reprinted as well as have had many talented artist working on it like Russ Manning and Hal Foster. After Dell cancelled the series DC Comics picked it up in 1972 with issue 207 and ran till issue 258 ending the original series in 1977. Marvel Comics in 1977 decided that they were going to give Tarzan and try and re-launched it with a new number 1 and their series lasted 29 issues as well as 3 annuals. From their many other comic companies have released comics based on Tarzan from Dark Horse to Dynamite and while he is not a major player in the world of comics he has very much made his mark. Tarzan has also teamed up and fought many other comic characters in his adventures like Planet Of The Apes, Batman, Predator and Red Sonja. Growing up I have read many Tarzan comics with most of them being the ones from Marvel as my late Uncle Thurman gave my brother and me a stack of them when we were younger, and can say just like the films I have always enjoyed him in comics as well.

Like all iconic characters that is geared towards kids and collectors Tarzan has had his fair share of cool figures and dolls made in his likeness making it very easy for fans to get their hands on cool action figures and have their very own adventures. When I was a kid many companies released figures based on the Lord Of The Jungle companies like Dakin, Trendmasters and Mattel and I had figures from them all besides Mattel as they were based on the animated Disney film. In fact when I was playing Toy Wars the figure of Tarzan’s mom Kala was used and was in the rebels base helping fight off attacks from Stormtroopers and Cobra Guards. But while those toys were cool and parts of my childhood the one figure I always wanted and still want to this day is the Mego Tarzan figure as I have always found it to be a must have and never have gotten one. Plus all of these figures we have talked about are just a drop in the hat of ones made based on Tarzan. So in other words if you liked Tarzan growing up and played with action figures toy companies had you covered. Check out the pictures below to see some of these toys in all their glory.

Besides toys and comics Tarzan has also made his way onto all types of other cool merchandise like shirts, posters, magazines, buttons, lunch boxes, board games, vinyl records, comic books, video games, home video, drinking glass, books, coloring books and so much more! Showing that over the year’s fans of Tarzan has had lots of great things to choose from and could add to their love for the character. It’s crazy to thank that in 2020 Tarzan is not as big of a hero to the young and young at heart, but for those of use who still really enjoy The King Of The Jungle there is so much cool collectibles out in the world to add to your collection.

Lets now talk video games as the Lord Of The Jungle has had his share of digital adventures as well. Like in 1984 for the ColecoVision the game Tarzan was released to cash in on the film Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan. 1991 saw the release of Tarzan Goes Ape for the Commodore 64. 1994 seen Tarzan: Lord of The Jungle come out for both Game Boy and Game Gear. Disney’s Tarzan in 1999 got many video games for many systems like Sony Playstation, N64, PC and Game Boy Color! And of course many other Disney Tarzan games were made for such systems as Playstation 2, Game Cube, PC and GBA. And even in 2019 a Tarzan slot machine was released in casinos and became a hit with players. Over the years to be honest the only video game I have played of Tarzan was the one based on the Disney film for the Playstation and always wanted to play the one for the ColecoVision. But for this Holiday Christmas Eve update I have a little something special planned. So keep reading!

Game Developers Euroncom developed a game based on Tarzan that was published by GameTech in 1994 for the Nintendo Game Boy and the Sega Game Gear. The game was called Tarzan: Lord Of The Jungle and has the player take control of Tarzan as he tries to complete six stages with each having their own storyline from stopping evil poachers to curing a primate disease. The game is an action platformer and each mission/level has a time limit that is pretty tight and leaves very little room for error. When released the game was meet with mediocre reviews and scores as many just thought it was to average and to repetitive with not having a password system meaning you had to play the same levels over and over in order to try and beat it. The games sales were also not that great as the US version for Game Gear didn’t even make it out and was cancelled. Below is some screen shots from the game as well as the cover for the Game Boy Version, and I must say the box art is great…but the in game look is a little cartoonish and reminds me more of George Of The Jungle!

So wanting to do this update for awhile as I have always been a big Tarzan fan I had to really think long and hard on what video game to play and try and beat and it came down to either the Playstation one based on the Disney animated movie or the Game Boy version and for me hands down I had to pick the Game Boy one as its more classic and closer to the Tarzan I grew up loving. So I also decided that I am going to play this game on my Game Boy Color and even better drove out to the woods to play the game as while I might not have a jungle near were I live, I do have lots of wooded areas and parks! I choose to play the game near the woods by Calvary Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio as it is a super peaceful place and one I visit often to relax and read comics at. I choose September 23, 2020 to do so as it was sunny out and was only 75 degrees out with a nice small breeze. I gave myself a playtime of 35 minutes to see how far I could get in the game and the first mission had me collecting flowers to give to a witch doctor in order to get a potion to give to a sick great ape…this level is a run around and find objects to go bring to one character to only take it to another…this level is timed like all levels in this game and after running around and failing a few times I was able to clear the first level and save the Great Ape by throwing the cure in bottles at him as he tried to attack me!

The second level is as far as I got in the time I gave myself and has Tarzan trying to get stolen gold back from a Crocodile who has hidden it. I must say he gameplay for this game is easy and not hard at all to play, the only real annoying parts is the game maps are all over the pace and sometimes swinging from the vines can be annoying. The music is pretty standard stuff and is catchy. Over all this is a pretty fun fetch side scrolling game that is worth checking out if you enjoy the old style Game Boy games.

As you can see Tarzan is a true icon in culture and has made an impact on many fans life over the decades. I would also like to thank Bell Book & Comic, Lone Star Comics, Half Price Books, Game Swap Kettering and Mavericks Cards And Comics for having these issues in stock and making this update possible as well as letting me relive reading them again! I want to also remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if you’re ready lets head to the jungle and have an adventure with the one and only Tarzan!

Tarzan # 1  ***
Released in 1977     Cover Price .30     Marvel   # 1 of 29

A European man named Jules is on a Safari when all of a sudden he and his helpers are attacked by the Natua Tribe who slaughter them all leaving only Jules alive! The man runs through the jungle is fear and ends up loosing the tribe but gets the attention of a very hungry lion who now has his sites on him for dinner. As the lion is about to attack from the trees above comes Tarzan who fights with the beast and stabs it with his knife until it dead, saving Jules life for the first time as quickly the Natua Tribe are now on them and are looking to finish off Jules who is now being protected by the lord of the jungle. The Natua Tribe flings their spears at Tarzan who dodges them and uses his knife to keep them at bay until his backup arrives that is Tantor an elephant that stomp and flings the Natua Tribe all around and saves the day. Once the coast is clear Tarzan and Jules ride Tantor to the safety of Tarzans home in order for Jules to heal and rest up. But little does Tarzan know that the man he just saved is not named Jules but is Albert Werper an angry man who has sworn to kill Tarzan!

This first issue is as good as I remember it being when I was a youngster and delivers all the thrills and adventures of jungle films as well as brings Tarzan back to life in the pages of comics. This comics plot is very simple and has our hero saving a man from a blood thirsty tribe as well as a man eating lion only to have really saved his own enemy. This issue Tarzan is brave and a hero as he risks his life to save a strangers, he also can be very human like as well as very beast like and is just a very classic feeling hero. That’s the thing about Tarzan while he is a very old style hero he seems to never really go out of fashion. Albert Werper is a very tricky man as he acts like a victim when in fact it looks like he while be one foe Tarzan will regret saving. The Natua Tribe are savages who are hunting man like they are animals and even shrug off the fear of Tarzan when they think they can get the upper hand. The thing also about this issue is that it’s a very quick read is very fast paced. Plus it really showcases the fighting style of Tarzan as he is skilled in hand to hand combat as well as using his animal friends to win the big fights. The cover for this issue is great and captures the mood of the issues plot and the interior art is great and is done by John Buscema and has that classic Marvel Comics look. Over all this is a great read for fans of Tarzan and was a great issue to start the Marvel series on. A great read and one I have enjoyed revisiting and makes me really looking forward to doing so with the rest in the series as well.

Tarzan # 2  ***
Released in 1977   Cover Price .30   Marvel    # 2 of 29

Tarzan and Albert travel on the mighty elephant Tantor till they reach the bungalow house of Tarzan were this fake victim meets Muviro the chief of the Waziri Tribe as well as Tarzan’s wife Jane! That night after eating a good dinner Tarzan goes on a walk with one of his monkey friends as Jane sits and tells Albert the story of the legend of Tarzan. She shares that Tarzan was in fact raised by apes after they killed his parents, she tells of his wisdom to teach himself how to read, she talks of his rise to rule the apes as well as when they first meet and he saved her from a great ape. She shares that she was the one to teach him English as well as shares that she was to be married to Tarzan’s cousin unknown to them all before finally marring her true love. She also shares that Tarzan is from a wealthy family and has inherited it all. After she finishes Tarzan comes back home as Albert goes for a walk so the married couple can chat, and as he listens in at the window he learns that Tarzan and his wife Jane who had the Greystroke fortune are now broke after a bad investment and now Tarzan must travel deep into the African jungle to get gold from haunted ruins! Now Albert has a plan to not only kill Tarzan but also steal some of the gold.

Once more Marvel Comics and the creative team behind this comic series proves that they knew how to do the legend of adventures of Tarzan right! The plot of this issue is really the origin of Tarzan as well as sets up why Albert has a mission to kill the Lord of the Jungle. Tarzan in this issue opens his home to a stranger and even fills his belly with good food plus offers a warm bed for him to sleep in. Jane as well is very nice and shares her story with the stranger as well as is the one who cooked the dinner and as well welcomes the stranger in her home. Albert Werper is a military trained killer who is on the run for murder and has joined a band of evildoers who deal in ivory and human trafficking. He has sworn to kill Tarzan so he and his gang of goons can move deeper in the jungle to get what they need to grow. Plus he also shows that he is very mentally unstable as he kills his own Military commander and has becomes a cold-blooded member of a group that treats human and animal lives as nothing! The best part about this issue is that while it’s an origin issue we do not fully focus on that story that we all already know and we add elements of the current story. Plus like the first issue this one really does have a classic pulp hero feel to it as something and nothing all happen at the same time but it all feels very classic and entertaining. I must also say that I like the character of Terkoz as massive ape who once was the King of the apes who was beaten, disgraced and later killed by Tarzan! I would have liked to have known what his story was after he was kicked out of the ape tribe and was left to fend for himself all with hatred in his heart for the human Tarzan. The cover for this issue is great and shows not only our hero but also Jane and Terkoz. The interior art is done by John Buscema again and is amazing stuff. So as you can see this second issue as well is well done and has held up for me and makes me want to move onto issue # 3.

Tarzan # 3  **1/2
Released in 1977     Cover Price .30     Marvel     # 3 of 29

The next day Albert Werper decides that he is “leaving” to get back home and has an escort of Waziri Tribe warriors. Once in the jungle they run across one of Albert’s fellow raiders and he plays it off as if he is lost, and on the orders of Albert the Waziri warriors are sent away. Albert informs his fellow con man that he has yet to kill Tarzan as he is going to lead them to mass amounts of gold and that while the lord of the jungle is away they need to kidnap his wife! As Tarzan leaves for the lost city of Opar his unknown enemy Albert is stalking him. Tarzan and some of the Waziri start their long quest and our hero spends time loving having to not be civilized like when he is around Jane and his mind is other places as Albert stalks in all the while. Tarzan and his warrior friends walk and climb until they finally reach the lost city and when entering they soon start to remove all the gold bars they would need to rebuild they Greystoke fortune, and all the while Albert watches with greed in his eyes. After Tarzan takes just the amount he would need to recover from the huge money loss and earthquake happens and rocks end up blocking the Waziri warriors from his friend as well as Tarzan is knocked out on the same side as the hiding Albert who leaves his one time savior for dead as he tries to find a way out only to end up captured by weird cavemen like people who are lead by a beautiful woman named LA who is the cities high priestess and the are going to sacrifice Albert to their fire god! But lucky for him Tarzan awakens with his mind foggy and decides to save him from death and takes out many of the cavemen who are being commanded by LA who is mad at Tarzan for rejecting her to become her High Priest.

This third issue brings us readers more adventure and one-step closer to the showdown between Tarzan and Albert Werper. This issues plot has Tarzan and 50 of his warrior friends heading to a lost city that is filled with wild cavemen and their very attractive priestess in order to get gold to bail out Tarzan who has lost all his families riches, and while he is on this quest he is also being stalked by a man who he once saved and thought a friend. In this issue Tarzan has his mind filled with stress of being a married man with responsibilities in the civil world who needs money to live and the Lord of the Jungle side that wants nothing more than to live in the jungle and act like a primate. And in this issue he also finds himself hurt with a rock hit to the head and his mind foggy and shaky, and also seems to be confused on who and what he is. LA is a High Priestess to this lost kingdom and has been in love with Tarzan for many years and goes into a rage when he does not love her back the same way, she also holds lots of power as her primitive followers do whatever she asks. She also likes to take human lives in order to please her God and she is cold blooded when she is crossed. Albert Werper is a snake in the grass and not only does he want Tarzan dead but also want to steal gold, and once more when he finds himself in trouble he is rescued by a man he left for dead when injured by the earthquake, showing he has no loyalty nor respect for anyone. This issue has a slow pace and builds up Tarzan’s inner thoughts on his life and because of this the action takes a backseat and does not kick in till the end of the issue, but that’s not a bad thing as I still find it to be a solid and entertaining issue. The cover is eye catching and very cool as is the interior art done once more by John Buscema as I have always loved this era of Marvel Comics and their in house style. And before we move onto issue four I need to say that issue three for me has held up like the others reread.

Tarzan # 4  ***
Released in 1977     Cover Price .30     Marvel     # 4 of 29

Tarzan now more beast like has ended his rampage of murder as the rest of the cavemen run away and LA is left crying over the Lord of the Jungle who has blown off he love that she has held for him over the years. And after freeing Albert Tarzan returns to the treasure room and steals some jewels and snaps at Albert when he tries to take some and the pair head into the jungle. Meanwhile Jane is back home waiting for her husband to return and has a few warriors around her as protection and closing in on them is Achmet Zek and his band of traders who are going to kidnap Jane on the orders of Albert so they can get the gold! The raiders attack and kill off the warriors who fight to keep Jane safe as she herself fights by their side with a riffle, but once they have her they loot her home and set it on fire leaving her devastated and rage filled. But the raiders have failed as one warrior still lives and while severely injured Mugambi only has one thing on his mind…revenge! Meanwhile Tarzan decides that Albert and he must eat and picks a fight with a pair on panthers who have just made a kill, and Tarzan fights his hardest and wins but is hurt bad in the battle and soon finds himself down and Albert stealing his jewels and ends with Albert about to stab Tarzan with his own knife!

This is a great issue that brings action and drama together and leaves us on a cliffhanger of Tarzan about to be stabbed in the back as he is injured! This issues plot has Jane being kidnapped by an evil group of looters and traders who also slaughter and kill warriors all the while Tarzan has lost his memory and is wondering around the jungle as Albert follows along. Tarzan in this issue is like a wild animal and acts like a savage beast and even picks a fight with two panthers in order to steal their food! While Albert Werper is as sleazy and cowardly as ever, tagging along with Tarzan again, getting saved by him as all the while trying to murder him. Jane shows she is a fighter as she kills many of the looters who have came for her and her warrior friends as well are all brave and loyal. And our main bad guy Achmet Zek is a total scumbag who has zero respect for human life and only wants wealth! Two of the interesting subplots that I found myself liking are LA being in love with Tarzan and the fact she has been so for many years and has the if you don’t love me then you must die attitude about it, you know this subplot is going to come back into play. And the other is the almost murder of Mugambi who has loyalty to his friends and wants to get revenge on those who injured him and killed/kidnapped. This issue really is fantastic and captures the fun jungle adventure nature of Tarzan and shows that Roy Thomas understands how to turn the novels into comics. The cover is super eye catching and still holds up to this day and as before the art by John Buscema is amazing. To sum it up this issue is great and a solid read for fans of Tarzan and shows that this comic series help shows why Marvel was the best comic company in the 70’s! On a side note I have to say that Marvel has brought Star Wars and Conan The Barbarian home and I think it’s time they bring Tarzan and Star Trek back as well!

Tarzan # 5  ***
Released in 1977     Cover Price .30     Marvel     # 5 of 29

As Tarzan is passed out Albert Werper is about to stab him, but fear sets in that if his first stab don’t kill the lord of the jungle he himself might find death at the hands of Tarzan! So Albert runs off with the jewels as the Tarzan awakens with an animal rage inside him and wants to get his pretty stones back and to kill the white man Albert…but not before he takes a nap. Albert rushes to the camp of Achmet Zek and his raiders to deliver the news of Tarzan’s “death” as well as that the old ruins does hold lots of gold! Achmet Zek orders for Albert to take Jane up north and sell her to slave owners as he and his men go after the gold. Once in his tent Albert counts his jewels and soon notices that Achmet is spying on him and this makes the European know that he is a dead man for hiding the riches from the warlord, and that night Achmet returns to Albert’s tent and stabs his bed to find that his target as already escaped and has taken Jane with him. And while Achmet and many of his raiders go on the hunt for Albert, Tarzan is attacked by three apes and finds himself surrounded by LA The Princess of Opar who wants her dagger back and is willing to have her cavemen rip him apart to get it!

The plot continues in this issue and has Tarzan loosing touch with his human side and turning more animal like and his savage nature is out on control as he attacks man and animal alike. All the while his wife Jane is a prisoner of the evil Achmet Zek who has turned on his own alley Albert Werper over jewels! And the story comes to an end when LA shows up and wants what belongs to her back. I am guessing that the next issue could be an all out war as Tarzan will be in the middle of the battle between Achmet and his raiders, LA and her cavemen and the tribes who fight for Tarzan and Jane. Tarzan in this issue is very savage and has forgotten how to be a man and is more in the mindset of revenge and survival and not even slightly worried about Jane and his home as he has forgotten all about them! Plus he almost seems to enjoy killing the animals of the jungle and has no remorse for the deaths he is causing. Poor Jane is just a prisoner who is holding on to the hope that her husband will rescue her. Mugambi in the issue is healing up and stalking the raiders as he wants to save Jane as well as get a little revenge in the process. LA Princess of Opar is a woman who is very angry as she not only has been stolen from but also has a broken heart as Tarzan does not feel the same way about her as she does for him, I also think she is ready to kill and kill again along with her evil cavemen in order to get her respect back. Albert Werper is scum who is fearful of an injured Tarzan, steals jewels and even hides them from his own partner in crimes and then has no issue with selling off a woman to a slave trade in order to make extra money…total scum! Achmet Zek is as well scum who lets money and power rule his life and has no loyalty to his own raiders, he is also a coward and would kill in the night than face to face…I can not wait to see him get what’s coming to him. That’s one thing for sure this series is going right that villains are so bad you really do want to see them pay for their crimes. I also like how this comic makes you wonder when and how Tarzan will get his mind back and will he be the one to take revenge on Albert and Achmet or will the jungle it’s self deal them justice. The cover for this issue is great and the art by John Buscema is still top notch. Over all this is another great and entertaining issue that delivers all the action and adventure you would expect from Tarzan and I for one can not wait to read the next issue!

Tarzan # 6  **1/2
Released in 1977     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 6 of 29

Tarzan is beaten up by the apes and the cavemen when he shows that he no longer has the dagger and this sets LA into a rage and she vows that the next morning she will offer the Lord of The Jungles heart to their sun god! That night LA falls asleep next to Tarzan and when the morning comes his death is to take place for his crimes against them, but before he can be killed his elephant friend Tantor appears in a fit of madness as it’s matting season and he is on a warpath to kill anyone in his way and that includes Tarzan! LA frees Tarzan and the pair quickly hide in a tall tree all the while Tantor tries to get them as well as kills many of the cavemen. After Tarzan tricks Tantor in leaving he orders LA and her cavemen to return to Opar and that the men need to listen to the law of LA. Meanwhile he learn that Jane escaped the camp on her own and is trying to survive the animals of the jungle who think she could be an easy meal. Meanwhile Albert Werper has gotten a horse from a downed raider and rushes only to be taken prisoner alongside Mugambi by an army who are hunting down Achmet Zek. Meanwhile Jane runs into Achmet who is once more taken her hostage only to have his men attacked by apes as well as Tarzan who has regained some of his memory. In the end the apes and Tarzan are gunned down and Jane is once more a prisoner of a greedy madman.

This issue has Tarzan and LA hiding for from an elephant that is on a rampage and must work together to survive it. The side story has Albert being hunted and becoming a prisoner of the army as Jane once more becomes the captive of Achmet! Tarzan in this issue is gaining some of his memories back and spends much of the issue protecting LA only to late be shot while trying to save his wife from being kidnapped. The end of this comic does a great job of making the reader wonder how bad Tarzan has been shot and how will he save his wife. LA is so madly in love with Tarzan that she breaks her bound to her people as she refuses to sacrifice the Lord Of The Jungle, she is a powerful woman who really is blinded by love. Jane meanwhile in this issue is running for her life and escapes one bad location only to keep stepping into worse and worse ones! Achmet Zek is a man who feels like he has been crossed and has set his sights on killing his one time crime partner Albert Werper who is running for his life like a rat. Mugambi meanwhile finds himself as well captured by the army and taken as a prisoner, and all he wants to really do is get revenge in the name of Tarzan. Tantor is blinded with rage over wanting to find a mate and is clearly the main threat in this issue as everyone in his path are afraid of his massive power as he wants to kill any person or animal in his way. This issue is a good read but does fell a little bit like a filler issue as weird enough to say it slows the pace down of this story arch we are in, I also feel that the cover is just ok and that the interior art by John Buscema seems rushed and not his best work at all in this series this far. To sum it up I was entertained but is the weakest in the series I have read this far…but keep in mind it’s still very good just a step down from the past issues. With that lest see what issue seven has in store for us.

Tarzan # 7  **1/2
Released in 1977     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 7 of 29

Tarzan is wounded and lays on the jungle floor among the bodies of his friends the apes, his mind wonders to the evils of Achmet as well as he can not shake the sight of the beautiful blonde that was the evil mans prisoner…as Tarzan can not remember that the woman is Jane his wife. As he grows weaker his mind starts to play tricks on him as he sees himself in the jungle at night watching as his enemy tribe hide near a fire as the meat eating beasts are on the prowl, with the main threat being the lion Huma and his mate Sabor who want to make them a late night meal, and they get one when they get a tribesman and Tarzan watches with amusement as one of his enemies dies that night. Tarzan head back to his ape family and remembers back to his questions about the world around him like the moon, rain and stars and how none of his wise apes have any clues to the answers. Tarzan soon thinks that the moon one day will be eaten by Huma and this will turn night to all dark and this worries the apes as well as Tarzan! But one ape in the group has set his sights on killing Tarzan as he knows that he is not like them, and this causes great tension between the apes as well as Tarzan. As a tribe’s man is walking in the jungle the apes decide that they are going to kill him and Tarzan originally stands by the apes side until he realizes that they just want to kill him for being human and the apes have now turned on him and he as well is marked for death! Tarzan is saved by one of his friend apes as well as Tantor and as the warrior leaves and Tarzan denounces his ape tribe, the ape who started the drama is killed and things try to go back to normal. Late one night an eclipse happens and the apes think that the lion Huma has attacked and is eating the moon and in a panic they call for Tarzan who fires arrows into the sky…and when the eclipse is over they think he saved the moon and he is once more a member of the ape tribe.

This issue is one that is set around a wounded Lord Of The Jungles mind as he goes to a world when his life is more primitive and all he really knows is the ways to survive and wants to learn about the universe around him and thinks he finds the answers all about the moon! This issue is very weak on action and is more of a character driven issue and really does dive into the primitive mind of Tarzan and his memories of the past. The Lord Of The Jungle in this issue is wise in his ways but is also very cold blooded as he does not mind taking a life or even watching lives be taken, its crazy that he gets joy watching a warrior from another tribe be eaten alive by a pair of lions! I also love how the issue really does revolve around the moon and the fear that the jungle has about living in nights in total darkness. The issues main baddies are Gunto and ape who wants to have all the other apes turn on and kill Tarzan and the lion Huma who is feared by all as he is a killer and a eater of all meat. While this issue was a cool get away from out main storyline this far is does also take a little of the momentum away as we are totally removed from that plot and focus more on the past of our hero…while interesting they really should have saved it for an annual, but with that said its still a really good issue. The cover is very eye catching and has Tarzan in a battle with an ape and the interior art is once more fantastic and is done by John Buscema who really does a great job of bring Tarzan alive in the pages of a Marvel Comic. Lets see what issue eight has in store for us and lets hope that it brings us back on track and has Tarzan saving Jane from the evil grip of Achmet Zek!

Tarzan # 8  ***
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 8 of 29

Tarzan slowly gets to his feet as he is surrounded by apes he does not know and they are angered that two of their own have been shot, but before they can turn on the weaken Tarzan one of the fallen apes is still alive and just wounded and tells them who they are about to attack and they understand and take the pair to their home to heal their wounds. Tarzan cannot shake the image of Jane out of his mind as he heals up and still don’t remember that she is his wife, but he knows that she must be his! Once he is healed enough Tarzan asks the apes for help to rescue Jane and they all want nothing to do with the mission and even one challenges Tarzan to a fight named Chulk who after defeated joins Tarzan as does Taglat and the three set out on their mission. Tarzan and his ape friends attack a trio of the Desert Warriors and steal their cloths and wear them and sneak into the camp, while inside Tarzan and Chulk try and find rare jewels to give as a gift to Jane when they rescue her as Taglat has an idea of his own goes off and rescues Jane as he now wants her for his mate! Once Taglat kidnaps Jane and runs into the jungle Tarzan finds that he has been betrayed by the ape and is now on the hunt for revenge as the warriors of Achmet Zek are left confused and scared of the noise of anger that erupted from Tarzan’s mouth. Meanwhile both Albert Werper and Mugambi are still being held prisoner, with Albert making a deal for his life and freedom that will take the army to the lost city so that they can steal all the gold and jewels.

This is another fantastic issue that brings all the jungle action one looks for in a Tarzan comic as the plot has Tarzan waking up and filled with rage and the want to rescue Jane who he has decided will be his mate not remembering she is his wife and going on a rampage with two apes to rescue her from Achmet Zek and his evil men, only to find that one of his ape friends has also selected Jane to be his mate and causing the Lord Of The Jungle to be on a rampage of revenge! Tarzan in this issue is still much like a wild animal as he has no issues killing and will fight and snarl his way to getting what he desires. In other words Tarzan really is out of his mind and has lost all connection to his civil side! Poor Jane in this issue thinks her husband is dead, is kidnapped by a group of evil warriors, is later kidnapped by an ape and all she really wanted is to have a peaceful time at her jungle home as her husband took care of business of getting some treasure to get them out of debt. Not to mention poor Mugambi who is a brave warrior and dear friend of Tarzan who was trying to save Jane as well and avenge his slain friends has been taken captive along with the scumbag Albert Werper who started this whole mess! The ape Taglat is very sneaky in this issue as acts as Tarzan’s friend and helper when his true attentions is to steal Jane away from him and make her his mate, a true scummy move and shows that Taglat is a user! Achmet Zek and his raiders are money hungry as well as cruel and after they think they killed Tarzan they planed to sell off his wife to the highest bidder, cold blooded they are! The pacing of this issue is well done and each character in our story we get to catch up with and see what they are doing as all these pieces start to fall into place before the stories climax, and I have to say Roy Thomas did a fantastic job writing these comics this far! The cover is eye catching and pretty dang cool and the interior art once again is top notch and done by John Buscema who has the classic Marvel style that I love. We are eight issues in and these are as good as I remember them as a kid and not a dud in the batch this far! Lets see what issue nine has in store for us.

Tarzan # 9  **1/2
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 9 of 29

A young Tarzan is reading books at his fathers old cabin and is puzzled by all the talk of God in them as he does not understand why there is no pictures of him as he can not wrap his mind around the concept of the old mighty King of Kings! When returning to his Ape family he asks all the wise ones if they know about this good with one saying it to be the Moon, and that night Tarzan asks and screams at the Moon and when a cloud covers it he knows the Moon is not God! He next goes to a tribe of warriors and see their Witch Doctor wearing a Buffalo Head and thinks that this must be God, but once he approaches and the Doctor looses his nerve he knows that this man is not God as well. As he is leaving the tribes Chief tries to kill Tarzan with a thrown spear, as Tarzan dodges it he attacks the old man and just as he is about to kill him, he stops as he has pity for the old man who is gripped with fear. Once back home he wonders more about God, but his thinking time is cut short when a baby ape and its mom are being attacked by a massive snake! Tarzan leaps into battle and into the coils of the snake and with a well placed knife strike kills the beast and saves the lives of his primate friends! In the end Tarzan returns to his thinking about God and learns that the answer he seeks is all around him as he comes to realize that God is who gave him the feeling a pity and the act of compassion, he also soon looks around and knows that God made the Moon, The Apes, Mankind and all things good!

This issue takes place when Tarzan was younger long before he meets Jane and way before the events of our current story arch and is a nice fill in issue! The plot of this issue has Tarzan on a mission to find out who and what a being he has read about in old books called God, and goes around the jungle to find the answer only to find that the answer has been all around him at all times. This is a pretty simple plotted issue from Roy Thomas that is very heavy on religion as it takes a stance that God created everything good and that Satan created all the bad in the world. But what works for me is the fact that someone like Tarzan who lives in the Jungle with no bibles, churches and fellow believers around would question who this God is and why is he so powerful that many blindly follow him. Tarzan in this issue is very noble as he has a want to learn as well as shows that he will leap into action to save his fellow friends and as well will spare those who wish him harm when they deserve it. I also dig the Water Buffalo headed Witch Doctor as I think he added a really cool feel to the issue as many tribes back in the day did look at them as healers and saviors. The cover is eye catching and has Tarzan fighting the massive snake and as always John Buscema kills it on interior art. Over all a nice fill in issue that delivers a fun read and a solid jungle adventure.

Tarzan # 10  ***
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 10 of 29

Tarzan is still not himself as his memory is gone all he knows is that he has spotted Albert Werper with the army and that he is the own who stole his jewels and took away the pretty white woman (Jane) that he has an attraction to! Tarzan watches as Albert leads the soliders to a burial site that is filled with tons of gold, only for them to be attacked by the raiding warriors of Achmet Zek who wants not only the gold but also wants to bring down Albert for double crossing him. Tarzan follows Albert and Achmet who are playing a dangerous game of trying to kill the other to get away with the stolen jewels, all the while Tarzan is watching as he as well just wants his jewels back and to find his lady. Meanwhile its shown that Mugambi is in fact the one who has the jewels as he has took them from Albert when they were captured together and replaced his with river pebbles! But when Mugambi takes a nap after being on the run after escaping the prison camp, the jewels is stolen by the great ape Chulk who wants them as he likes what humans have. Meanwhile the ape Taglat still has Jane and his treating her like a rag doll when the lion Numa comes to her “rescue” and attacks and brings down Taglat and then turns his bloodlust toward Jane who tries to hide from the beast in the trees. Tarzan finally finds the fleeing Albert and takes him down and as he is choking him his memories comes back and he now knows that he is Tarzan and Jane is his wife! But before he can get the answers out of Albert they are both knocked out and taken by a Military Captain who wants to put Albert on trail for murder and decides to cage Tarzan for being to wild!

Wow this issue has so much going on as we have several characters and stories going on all at once and yet they are blending together really well! The plot is this Tarzan is on the trail of the man Albert who set him up and stole everything from him as well as a evil crime lord who wants all the jewels that Albert stole, while Tarzan’s friends are on the hunt to find Jane who was taken prisoner and is now in the hands of a killer ape who is being stalked by a bloodthirsty lion and even a army Captain is thrown in who wants to capture Albert for killing one of his soldiers! Oh and most important is that by the end of this issue Tarzan gets his memory back and remembers who he is and what is going one, and when this happens he is quickly knocked out by the Captain’s men. The pacing is very fast and flows really well and at this point even with all the fill in issues that breaks up the flow of this story arch I am drawn in and really can not wait to see how this story ends. Tarzan in this issues goes from a confused Wildman back to the Lord Of The Jungle and when he is wild he seems to not be worried about killing both man and animal. Albert Werper is such a spineless coward who would do whatever he can to gain wealth or even save his own sleazy hide. Achmet Zek is as well a very evil guy who controls his soldiers with fear and again craves power and riches. Taglat the great ape is also filled with rage and only when he meets his match in the lion Numa does he realize it as he pays for his rage with his life. Poor Jane is so tormented in this issues as she is roughed up by a gorilla and then is stalked by a lion…she just can not win! The cover for this issue is amazing and very eye catching and the interior artwork is top notch as its done by John Buscema again as he is one of the all time greats in my opinion. So with that lets see what issue 11 has in store for us and see how this epic story comes to an end.

Tarzan # 11  ***
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 11 of 29

Tarzan and Albert Werper are being held prisoner by the Congo Free State soldiers lead by The Captain who has plans to deal with Albert and have Tarzan locked away! Meanwhile poor Jane finds herself rescued and then taken prisoner by Abdul Mourak and his men who were just defeated by Achmet Zek and his raiders, and they think they can at least hold Jane for ransom and make some money this day. As night falls Tarzan is still head at a camp as a prisoner when his ape friends lead by Chulk come to rescue him, and with gunfire from the humans ringing out Tarzan and Albert are carried away into the jungle and to safety…but sadly during the gunfight loyal Chulk is shot and dies. Tarzan is upset about his friend’s death as Albert finds the jewels on the ape’s body and once more steals them. Albert then lies to Tarzan and says sense he saved his life that he will lead him to the last place he say Jane and lucky for the crook he does lead him to Jane who is once more under attack by lions who have attacked and killed most of Mourak’s people! The lion Numa once more has his sites on Jane and Tarzan comes in for the rescue and fights off the hungry lion and finally kills it and takes Jane away as the lions below still attack the soldiers. Albert Werper ran way in the jungle as Tarzan and Jane return home and are greeted by Mugambi and his warrior friends. After a few months they rebuild their home and while out hunting they find the body of Albert Werper who had died in the jungle and recover the jewels he had stolen and started all this madness.

What a fun ending for this story arch that we traveled this far with in this series, I must say I really like the ending as all comes around and all ends well and its packed with drama, sadness, action and adventure all things you want in a Tarzan story. The plot has Tarzan being freed from being a prisoner by his ape friends and saving Jane from a pride of lions and in the end reuniting with his friends, rebuilding his home and getting his jewels and gold back. Tarzan in this issue goes into full hero mode as he gets his ape friends to help save him and Albert from the Captain, he then swings into action and fights off a massive lion in order to save his wife and in the end rebuilds the life that he had before all this greed turned his world all around. Jane in this issues goes from escaping the lion, to becoming a prisoner of some corrupt soldiers, to once more being the target of a lion and in the end saved by her husband…man she had a rough go around this issue. Mugambi and the tribe warriors are noble and loyal to their friendship with Tarzan as are the apes who come to his side when needed, with poor Chulk loosing his life to save the slimy Albert. Speaking of Albert Werper he starts off this series as scum and remains scum until he dies, and its great knowing that he died in the jungle and was never able to use the jewels he stole, in fact who scummy he is its great to know he died a slow and terrible death! While The Captain, Achmet Zek and Abdul Mourak are all set up to be terrible people with agendas that will make them rich or give them some sort of power it’s the Lion Numa that is the final baddy of this story as his want and need to kill Jane is so bad that he risks his own life to get her, and even dies trying. The cover for this issue is great and eye catching for fans of Tarzan and as always the art of John Buscema is top notch. This far Roy Thomas and his team of creators show that they know how to make a great and entertaining Tarzan series.

Tarzan # 12  **1/2
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 12 of 29

Numa The Lion is on the prowl and after failing to capture a zebra he sets his sights on a tribe of apes and ends up killing a mother ape, and this triggers anger in Tarzan who gets his ape brothers to come together and stalk Numa into the jungle to fight back as he warns that the lion will keep returning and killing them if they do not fight back. Tarzan and the apes use sticks and stones to anger and fight with Numa and they even trick him in order to get the body back of their fallen friend. Once back in the tribe Tarzan thinks long and hard about how they are being stalked and killed by many of the jungles predators and that its time for them to come up with a way make them safe and fight back against the ones that want to eat them. That night Tarzan sneaks into the village of a Cannibal tribe and steals the lions hide they have and the next morning he plays a prank on his ape friends as he acts like Numa to try and scare his friends, but he is happy when they fight back and use stones to defend themselves and a well thrown one knocks Tarzan out cold! As the apes discover that the lion was really Tarzan the elders of the tribe want to kill him as his younger ape friends come to his aid and are willing to fight to defend him. But before a fight breaks out in the ape tribe Tarzan wakes up and is dazed but happy to know his friends listened on how to defend themselves against lions.

In this issue Tarzan is younger and not yet married to Jane and still lives with his ape tribe family and is pushed to far by the lion Numa who kills one of the female apes that was a mother to a very young baby, and this anger makes Tarzan fight back against the predator and also comes up with a plan to always make his tribe ready to protect themselves when enemies come around. Tarzan in this issue is younger and not in charge of the tribe yet and has ideas and leadership skill that he is torn about showing as the elders clearly do not like his brash ways, but what they need to see is all his ideas and actions are done to better protect and strengthen his tribe and family. The apes are also split as many of them are clearly starting to stand with Tarzan while the older ones want to kill or chase him off, as they do not like his power that he is gaining. Numa the lion is a very hungry giant cat that wants nothing more then a meal of fresh meat and sadly the apes are in his sight and become that meal he is craving. The really cool thing about this issue that is clearly going to be continued in the next issue is that rise of Tarzan in the ape tribe as his ideas and self defense plans are proven to be useful as the old timers just have the idea of run away and leave the weak behind if they are attacked better them then you attitude. I also like that they show a village of a human cannibal tribe who have a lion skin suit just laying around…awesome. The cover is well done and once more eye catching and no shock the interior artwork by John Buscema is great stuff. A solid issue and a great read and keeps up that this Marvel Tarzan series is an above average read and are great stuff! Lets see if issue 13 is as good as all that game before it.

Tarzan # 13  **1/2
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 13 of 29

Tarzan notices that his ape friends seem to be on edge and are not up for play at all, and when going back to his fathers old cabin he finds the Gomangan Tribe there and they are setting a trap for the lion Numa as they have plans to capture and torture him, and Tarzan can not allow that as he hates this tribe and their cruel ways. So Tarzan steals the bait for the trap and then captures the tribes Witch Doctor and places him in the trap as the bait! The next day the Gomangan Tribe go looking for their missing doctor and soon find his mangled body in the cage as well as Numa! The Tribe quickly gets a new Witch Doctor and they take Numa back to the village as the lion is to be tortured and killed…and Tarzan decides that this is not going to happen as he brings out the lion skin he stole last issue and enters the village and scares the tribe as they think Tarzan is a white devil that can shape shift! After tricking them into chasing him Tarzan sneaks away and into the village and sets Numa free who in turns tacks the returning tribe and kills one warrior and injures others, giving them a lesson in respect for Lions and the Lord Of The Jungle himself Tarzan.

This issue is very entertaining and is fast paced and has Tarzan being puzzled by why his friends the apes are not in a playful mood anymore after he pranked them by wearing a lion suit to scare them and decides to instead pull a massive deadly prank on a tribe of humans that he dislikes as he finds them cruel. In the end he learns to respect the lions of the jungle as well as by messing with the tribe puts fear into them to never mess with him or the lions again for their cruel ceremonies. Tarzan in this issue shows that while he does have a fun loving and noble side he also very much has a cruel side as he kidnaps a man and leaves him in a cage trap that has the man eaten alive by a lion…now that’s some mean spirited revenge! The lion Numa is as well a raging beast that kills anyone and everyone that gets in its way! While the Gomangan Tribe are superstitious people who are also very cruel to the animals of the jungle as fun for them is capturing and torturing lions as a tribe, plus life is cheap to them even among their own members as they move on and forget about the dead like they don’t matter. The plot of this one is truly to show that Tarzan is using his mind to out smart both animal and man, with him also learning just ho different he is from his ape family and that he also has a playful and cruel side. The cover for this issue is great and has Tarzan in the lion skin scaring the enemy tribe and the interior art is killer and once more done by the super talented John Buscema. Over all this one is another solid issue that delivers a very entertaining read.

Tarzan # 14  ***
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 14 of 29

Tarzan’s best friend Taug’s mate Teeka and their son Gazan are in the jungle looking for food to bring back to the tribe when a great bull ape from another tribe named Toog stumbles upon her and decides that she will now be his mate! Toog attacks and leaves poor Gazan fro dead after knocking the baby from a tall tree and beats Teeka unconscious and takes her away. When Taug finds his son he is near deaths door and this sets the ape into a rage as he wants revenge on who has taken his mate and has almost killed his son, and Tarzan who has returned from the old cabin of his parents (were he also found some bullets that he takes) makes a plan for he and Taug to track down this intruder, kill him and bring back Teeka safe and sound to her village and her injured son. As Tarzan and Taug make the journey to find Teeka she is being beaten and dragged by Toog who brings her to his tribe just in time to be warned that he has been followed, and Toog and his tribe set a trap. Tarzan and Taug are ambushed and attack with each holding their own and Tarzan even knifing one to death before he and his friend are out numbered! As all looks bad for Tarzan and his friend it’s Teeka that saves the day when she finds Tarzan’s lost pouch that has the bullets that she throws causing them to go off and scare away the attacking apes and allowing Tarzan, Taug and Teeka to return home confused by what the bullets are.

This issue follows the ape Toog who is very selfish and decides that he will kidnap a female ape from another tribe in order to return to his tribe that he was shamed from after loosing a fight with the leader. And Tarzan as always has pride in his tribe and loyalty to his best friend Taug sets his site to get her back and end the lives of the ape that took her. Lets first talk about Toog a alpha male ape who is mad that he lost a fight and was shamed by his tribe and now is wondering the jungle looking for a mate and for trouble and chooses a female at random to beat and drag back to his home and even has zero remorse for trying to murder a baby ape! In other words Toog is one evil primate who needed to be stopped as he will kill and beat the innocent in order to get what he wants. Poor Teeka goes through hell in this issue as she watches her own child be knocked form a tree and thinks he is dead, she is beaten several times by her captor and finally has to step in as her mate and friend are being ganged up on…she really does have it terrible in this issue. Taug as well has it pretty bad as he finds his son who he thinks is dead at first, then finds his mate missing and taken by an aggressive ape and then gets beaten up on by a pack of savage primates from a rival tribe. Tarzan is trying his best to understand all of the stuff he has found in the cabin that his parents died in like the books, bullets and gold…but he also shows that sometimes his anger and noble attitude will lead him to make rash and to brave of decisions. I love that Tarzan knives a massive ape with a night to show that he and his friend mean business and want their friend back! The cover is great on this one as well and as like before the interior art is amazing and done by John Buscema and this once more is a great issue that really showed that Tarzan and Marvel Comics was a great combination!

Tarzan # 15  ***
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 15 of 29

Tarzan and his elephant friend Tantor are in the jungle when they stumble on a old man who is scared out of his mind and telling them that Arab Slavers are on his trail and wont to enslave people to work the mines of the sinister Abdul Alhazred The Mad Arab! The Slavers appear and kill the old man and then knock Tarzan out and as they are about to take him to be a slave in the mines Tantor comes to his rescue and chases the Slavers away and then carries his friend away until he wakes up. Meanwhile the Slavers have attacked a small village and have killed the King and taken his daughter Princess Ayesha as a slave and she is very upset and swears that she will get free and have her revenge. Once Tarzan wakes up he meets a group of mercenaries who have been hired to save Ayesha from The Slavers and they ask him to join in and he agrees, but as they rest he heads out into the jungle and tracks down The Slavers that killed the old man and makes them pay for the crime with their lives. Abdul Alhazred meanwhile kills one of his captives in front of the others to say they work in the dangerous mines or they die by his hands.

This issue is wow pretty dang deep as it is dealing with slavery and how others think they have the right to “own” another persons life and send them to work for them or be beaten or killed…and not to get to political but no one EVER has the right to have slaves! The plot has a vile group of slavers coming to the jungle to work a mine for the riches and is using people they are taking from villages to do so, but while doing this they have gotten the attention of Tarzan as well as have taken and angered a strong willed Princess as well has have gotten a bunch of sleazy mercenaries on their trail. Tarzan in this issue shows that he hates the idea of slavery and has set a mission in his mind first to avenge a victim of it as well as to save and free all those who are being oppressed, Tarzan is a true noble man who while be might be a wild man still understands right from wrong. The Mercenaries in my opinion should not be trusted as they are into just getting the money to get the Princess back and one is even sneaking around killing elephants in order to sell the ivory. Princess Ayesha is a very proud and strong willed woman who would do anything for her father as well as her village, and I can not wait until she breaks free and gets her revenge on the slavers who really are truly the biggest scum bad guys we have seen this far in this series. Abdul Alhazred is a massive muscle bound villain who is pure evil and has no respect for human life and really does just care about himself and his want for riches, and while he is total scum he is also a great comic book bad guy as you find yourself hating him and counting down the pages until you see him pay. Also really liked how we get to see Tantor the elephant again as it’s always cool to see Tarzan’s animal friends lending a hand against the threats the jungle faces. The cover is good and the use of red makes it eye catching and need I say anything besides John Buscema on art again. This story arch as I have said is very raw and I cannot wait to see how Tarzan shuts these Slavers down!

Tarzan # 16  ***
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 16 of 29

The mercenaries have found the bodies of the slavers that Tarzan had killed the night before and start to question if they should team up with him to raid the mine camp, as Tarzan listens he hears them speak about how they are really going to loot and will use gliders to escape once they get what they want…but something else makes Tarzan’s blood turn cold as he finds out that the mercenary named Simon is hunting Tantor for his ivory! Tarzan rushes off to save his friend but is two late as Simon not only kills Tantor but also several apes! Simon has to leave the Ivory behind as Tarzan is raged filled and teams with ape Dak-Lat to hunt Simon down. Meanwhile Princess Ayesha is taken to Abdul Alhazred who likes what he sees and orders his men to kill all the slaves once the mine is opened wide enough! Tarzan tracks Simon down just as the animal killer uses his glider and after knocking out two of the mercenaries both Trazan and Dak-Lat give chase as the Slavers think they are demons of the sky and open fire on them all, but Abdul Alhazred has used mind control and now controls Princess Ayesha! In the end while in the Mine a portal is opened and while Tarzan fights with Abdul Alhazred and the fight comes to an end when The Slavers come in with Dak-Lat who is killed by Abdul Alhazred and Tarzan is beaten! The mercenaries tell him that they would like to join him and together they walk through the portal, and Tarzan at the last second before it closes forever is able to as well crawl through it.

Tarzan is even more enraged when he finds that the mercenaries are bad people and one has killed his friend the elephant named Tantor, and worse while this is going on The Slavers are killing the slaves and the poor Princess has had her mind poisoned! And the strangest part is that a portal has opened in the mine that takes them all away to an unknown location and the issue ends on this cliffhanger! Poor Tarzan in this issue is the hero he always is but also has some much losses as his friend Tantor is killed as well as several apes and then he also gets roughed up and watches as the odds to save the Princess and the remaining slaves become more and more low as The Salvers just gain in power. The mercenaries really are scumbags and just want to get money with Simon being the worst as he also kills animals to sell the ivory in the black market! The mercenaries are ones I cannot wait to see them get what they deserve. The Slavers are as terrible as ever as they some very evil deeds that include killing slaves on orders and not being bothered by it at all. Abdul Alhazred is so ego driven that he really does think his word is law and to him all life is cheap as he does not care who dies around him…even his own men, not to even mention he is a sleazy trickster who uses “magic” to hypnotize women into being his slaves and sacrifices. The portal in the mine is very interesting to me and makes me wonder were it leads, as was it created by Abdul Alhazred as a quick way to get back to his home or does it lead to another dimension? But I will guess we will have to read the next issue to find that out. Plus a major bummer that Tantor has been killed as he was a very loyal friend and protector to Tarzan and his death was cold blooded. The cover on this issue is ok and had that classic late 70’s Marvel look and as like before the interiors are fantastic and done by John Buscema. Like before this is a great issue and shows that Marvel Comics and Tarzan The Ape Man go hand and hand.

Tarzan # 17  ***
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 17 of 29

Tarzan in pain makes it through the portal and finds himself in a land called Pellucidar that is filled not only with wild animals but also dinosaurs and mystic stones and carvings. As Abdul Alhazred leads the mercenaries deeper into the land as he needs to sacrifice the Princess in this land in order to gain even more power, poor Tarzan listens to the plan as long as he can before passing out. Meanwhile Princess Ayesha is the trance is walking in this savage land heading toward the place she has been told to wait at, but lucky for her she is being followed by Hyena like creatures and she unaware of the danger falls into a river breaking the mind control and alerting her to the fact she is in danger and in a unknown land. But her savior is a young wild man who fights of the hyenas and whisks her away from Abdul and his helpers when he notices the fear on the Princess’s face as he thinks she is a goddess! Simon ends up picking up the trail of the Princess once they find the bodies of the slain hyenas and Abdul is getting angry as he wants his victim and craves his soon to be power and is loosing faith in the mercenaries as he is seeing them as fools not warriors. Tarzan wakes up to find that a spear is pointed at him by a priest mounted on a bird creature and none of these natives look friendly, so Tarzan does what he does best and that’s fight and in the fight the Priest is killed and Tarzan does his best to fight off this Death Cult Tribe and finally he must jump off a cliff to escape their spears. And once Tarzan finds land again he is meet by Pirates who have their guns pointed at him and as well do not seem friendly!

This issue is like Tarzan trapped in a weird savage jungle land version of the land of Oz as its friends with cannibal death cult tribes, pirates, wild men, dinosaurs and beasts! This issues plot thickens as Abdul Alhazred leads the scummy mercenaries into a savage wild world were he plans to kill the Princess in order to gain power as Tarzan is weak and must fight for his life against cannibals as a wild man saves the Princess and is acting as her protector…this is stuff of pure cliffhanger novels and movie serials. Tarzan barely gets a moment to catch his breath as he has been beaten up and once he wakes up he is under attack again! But the one thing you have to say about Tarzan is he does not back down from danger and will fight with his last breath. The Princess Ayesha is as well fighting for her life in a strange land, and if not for the unnamed young warrior she would have been killed by the lands savage meat eating animals. Abdul Alhazred shows that he does not care about anyone or anything but himself and what can benefit him! He is using the mercenaries and I am sure once they reach their goal and when he gets the power I am sure he will kill them all! The savage land of Pellucidar is very interesting as I like that the land has dinosaurs as well as cannibal tribes and pirates and they all seem like they are in bad moods and are out to kill! And I am sure at some point in this series we will see a clash between the Pirates and the Cannibals and while I don’t remember if this happens from reading this series in my early teens, I sure hope it does. And like before this issue ends of a major cliffhanger as a pirate has his gun pointed at Tarzan as the Lord Of The Jungle is getting out of the water, and you know that these guys are bad news for our hero. The cover for this issue is great and reminds me of a Marvel Conan The Barbarian cover and as always the inside art by John Buscema is great. To sum it up another great issue and I cannot wait to reread the next issue after all these years!

Tarzan # 18  **1/2
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 18 of 29

Princess Ayesha and her Warrior savior climb onto the back of a pterodactyl and try to get away from Abdul Alhazred and the mercenaries who are right behind them and they open fire on our fleeing heroes with a bullet from Simon’s gun hitting the warrior, but they are able to get away. Meanwhile Tarzan is given an offer from the Pirates and their Captain to join them or die, and Tarzan joins as he hopes they can help him get his revenge on Simon and Abdul! Meanwhile the Cannibal Death Tribe meet up with Abdul Alhazred and are on his side as they think that the profits have talked about his coming, and when the tribe mentions Tarzan the mercenaries loose their cool and this causes Abdul to turn on them as well and threaten them with death! Meanwhile Tarzan and the Pirates spot the bad guys and before they can do anything they are attacked by a sea creature that leaves many of the dead and Tarzan and the Captain fighting for their lives as they could become lunch for the creature, Tarzan ends up removing one of the creatures eyes and in the end breaks its jaw ending its terror. For his heroic deeds The Captain tells his crew that Tarzan is now his blood brother as he has saved them all. Meanwhile someone has snuck and stole the Pirates buried treasure showing that another player is in this game of life and death in a savage world.

This issue explores the savage world of Pellucidar more and lets you see more of the groups that live there. This ones plot has Tarzan hanging with the Pirates and fighting off a massive sea monster while Abdul Alhazred and the useless mercenaries team with the Cannibal Tribe! And let us not forget that Princess Ayesha and her Warrior are still on the run with the Warrior being shot and also we have an unknown person watching from the shadows and stealing the Pirates loot! Tarzan in this issue is filled with revenge as he wants nothing more then to kill both Simon and Abdul with his own hands, but as always he proves that he is a real hero as he single handedly kills a giant sea creature and saves the lives of many Pirates…I also like that in this issue Tarzan is not impressed with the Pirates gold they try and give him and he looks at it like they just threw garbage at him. Abdul Alhazred keeps up his ego driven killer attitude up in this issue as he treats his mercenaries like scum and would kill them if given the chance, and I am sure will once he gets his power. The Warrior protecting Princess Ayesha has been shot, and this issue does not show us if he is dead or how bad the wound is…so as you can see we have so many questions that need to be answered with the biggest being who is the man in the shadows that steals the gold! This issue is a fun and solid read that brings action, adventure and drama and continues this storyline and is pretty much none stop action! The cover is great and once more reminds me of a Conan The Barbarian cover and the interiors are still being done by John Buscema and are great like before. Lets see what’s next in this story and see how closer Tarzan gets to his revenge.

Tarzan # 19  **1/2
Released in 1978     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 19 of 29

The pterodactyl that Princess Ayesha and her wounded warrior crashes and unlucky for them they seem to have been spotted by a race of mutant looking people. Meanwhile at sea Tarzan and The Pirates run into Abdul Alhazred and his ship filled with Cannibal Tribesmen and mercenaries and a bloody battle breaks out that leaves many on both sides dead as knives, swords, guns and clubs are all used to dispatch the other sides forces. The Captain pulls out his gun and shoots Abdul Alhazred in the face and finds that the bullet does no harm, and this scares the Captain and he wants to now break the ship away and no longer follow…and this angers Tarzan who punches out The Captain and tries to take over the ship only to find the crew is very loyal to The Captain and Tarzan jumps over board and starts his journey for revenge alone. Meanwhile one of the missing mercenaries is spotted on the beach and his friends what the ship pulled over but Abdul Alhazred is not having it and has the mercenaries beaten on his ship and the one is left behind. The Pirates return to find their treasure gone and they blame Tarzan and the left behind mercenary plays into it and says he watched Tarzan and the Cannibal Tribe steal it, and this letting him get a ride to the ship so get could get his revenge on Abdul Alhazred as well as Tarzan! While back on the ship of Abdul Alhazred he tells his beaten mercenaries that he had to do that because the Cannibals only respect power and that’s why he is showing it.

In this issue we follow as Tarzan becomes a blood brother to the pirates, to turn on them and now be their enemy. We learn that a mercenary that was missing is alive and is now lying and teaming with the pirates in order to get to his friends and get revenge. We also see that mercenaries are really at the mercy of Abdul Alhazred who commands the Cannibal Tribe and was able to take a bullet to his face and not be phased! And lastly we see that Princess and the Warrior have crashed and we do not know if they are alive or dead, but we do know some strange looking people watched them fall from the sky. Tarzan because of his quest for revenge goes from a hero to a scumbag in the eyes of the pirates as he turns on The Captain and then ditches them when they do not follow him as he claims he is the Captain now, man Tarzan will stop at nothing to get his revenge on the murderous dogs he chases. Abdul Alhazred is truly powerful as he shows that his coldness and evil ways really are bringing him power, as he is almost immortal as he takes a bullet to the face and does not even flinch, its clear that once he is able to sacrifice the princess and gain all that power he will kill everyone around him and will return to Earth and do the same until he rules the world with an iron fist. I am guessing also that the lost and found mercenary is the one who stole the Pirates gold and is blaming Tarzan for his own deed, but again I am just guessing here. The cover is good and eye catching and this time around Sal Buscema is doing the interior art and its great stuff. So with that lets see how this story continues and how the Princess survived the fall and who are the strange people who watched!

Tarzan # 20  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 20 of 29

The scumbag Simon is at it again in this new land as he uses his riffle and kills a whole herb of elephants to prove power to the cannibals, and when Tarzan finds them his rage burns even hotter as he wants to find and kill the men who killed his friend Tantor as well as avenge the slaves who have lost their lives in all this madness. As Tarzan heads out to find them he runs into a Saber-Tooth Tiger that is hungry and wants to make a meal out of Tarzan, and as the pair fight they stumble into weak ground and fall underground were they become allies in a fight against spear fighting lizard men who are on the attack and both man and beast win this day. Meanwhile another race of Lizard people have found Princess Ayesha and her Warrior and they watch as the lizard people hypnotize humans and lead them into the water, and sadly this fate comes for both the Warrior and Princess as they are lead into the water and disappear…but are they dead? Meanwhile Abdul Alhazred has the ship docked and sunk and tells his followers that they now will travel by foot to his desired spot, as the mercenaries and Cannibal tribesmen do what they are told. The Pirates along with the mercenary named Ike Frazier are still on the hunt for Tarzan and the Cannibal ship and while at see the are caught in a dark whirlpool at sea and The Captain, Crew and Ike are taking down into it. Meanwhile the Princess awakens in the water and fights of the Lizard people and saves the Warriors life and they run off to find safety together. In the jungle Tarzan is found by some slavers tribes men who try and take him hostage, but they fail to keep him and by the end of it Tarzan is heading toward the place of that Abdul is heading ridding on a pterodactyl.

This issue is crazy and is none stop action and plot twist and turns and is leading our cast of characters all over the place with many of them having doom all around them! And as a reader you find yourself drawn into not only this issue but also this massive story arch that has been taking place over about six issues this far. I mean just in this issue Tarzan goes from fighting a Saber-Tooth Tiger to killing a bunch of lizard humanoids living underground to getting captured and ending the issue flying away on a dinosaur…I mean if this does not draw you classic hero readers in I don’t know what would! Not to mention we really get to see the strong will of Princess Ayesha as she shakes off being hypnotized by humanoid human eating lizards, but also kills one and blinds another with one of their own teeth…The Princess is badass! Also its good to see while injured The Warrior that has been watching after the Princess is ok and is still doing his best to help her. The Pirates and Ike are in deep trouble as a whirlpool is sucking them down and both the Captain and Ike think that Abdul is being its creation and of course Abdul is on his quest to gain his power. This issue no joke is action after action and throws so much at you that it takes a moment after reading it to soak it all in! A great issue and once more shows that Tarzan should still be at Marvel Comics and that classic writers of the past should be brought back to bring the series alive again…but sadly I am sure this will never happen…but both Conan The Barbarian and Star Wars are back home at Marvel so never say never I guess. The cover is pretty great and has Tarzan choking a Saber-Tooth Tiger and Sal is on interior art again this time around and did killer work. A great issue in this great series that is bringing this story together is the best way to sum this issue up.

Tarzan # 21  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 21 of 29

Tarzan on his dinosaurs fights off more tribes men who all wish him dead now as he heads to a city in the swamp and that’s the same place Abdul is leading his people as something inside it holds the power he seeks. Meanwhile the Princess and Warrior are hiding out and watch as one of the lizard people enter and after talking to another on a screen activates a sound weapon that will hurt the humans of the planet! This sound alerts many of the animals as well including the Sabre-Tooth Tiger as well as Abdul and his pet hawk leading them all to the same location! With the weapon now set off near the swamp castle a the swamp water boils and out comes the Pirate ship and the crew find themselves in the middle of a massive amount of tribes men driven mad by the weapon and looking to kill as a large amount of them died from the canon! Tarzan once more saves The Captain from drowning and the pair with the remaining pirates fight off the tribes men and find out that all sides have been played by the now missing Ike! Abdul enters the castle and he now has no need for them even after Simon kills one of his own, but Princess Ayesha sneaks into the room and uses the cannon and has it pointed at Abdul killing his pet hawk and zapping him.

This issue answers the question we all have been asking sense this story started and that’s the power that Abdul Alhazred is crazing is really a cannon that is being used by lizards to fight human tribesmen! Now the main thing being we are not sure if he wants the cannon it’s self or if he is looking to have blasted himself with it to amp up his already dark and odd powers…so did Princess Ayesha hurt him or did she give him what he wanted, I guess we will have to wait until next issue to find out as this is the cliffhanger we are left on. Tarzan by now is just sick of all this and is taking the fight to anyone that is a Slaver or connected to Abdul Alhazred as he is taken over by rage and just wants to deal out cold justice. It is great that Tarzan and The Captain patch things up and learn that they both have been used by that snake Ike from the mercenaries who tricked them for his own gain and for his own set of plans. Simon of the mercenaries is really out for riches as he shoots his own fellow mercenary in order to get in good with Abdul who dismisses him as the madman has no loyalty just as Simon don’t. The Lizard Men are also pretty evil as they use a high tech weapon that kills many of humans lives and they seem to think its funny, these Lizard men as well need to be brought down and I hope Tarzan and the Princess do just that by the end of this tale, as I truly do hope that Princess Ayesha gets her revenge on everyone that has treated her terrible in this series! I also like how we see that the Sabre-Tooth Tiger is on his way to join this battle, and his team up with Tarzan reminds me of the 60’s Marvel Comic character Ka-Zar and his sabre-tooth cat Zabu who ran around the jungles of the Savageland. This issue is a solid read and is clearly wrapping this story arch as its clear that all the main players are in one area and an epic battle is about to break loose! The cover for this issue is ok and while fitting not all that eye catching and the interior art is done once more by Sal and is great. Over all another great read for this overly solid series based on the classic book character.

Tarzan # 22  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 22 of 29

Abdul Alhazred is now in pain after being shot with the cannon as Simon thinks about shooting him and taking all the power he has from the crystal for himself as he know understands that Alhazred’s raw and strange power is tied to this land and the crystal that also powers the cannon. Meanwhile the Lizard men bust in and attack Princess Ayesha and the Warrior, but the Princess grabs a metal pipe and bashes the controls to the cannon causing it to explode and after they all lay lifeless in the rubble. Meanwhile Tarzan along with the Pirates is on their way to confront Alhazred and his lackeys, but when they are almost their Tarzan splits from the Pirates and send them on the path of Ike who is the one who stole their treasure! As The Captain leads what’s left of his men after Ike Tarzan swings away in the trees to find Alhazred and Simon as the Lord Of The Jungle wants revenge. Tarzan in front of the Pyramid meets up with the savage warriors that had been blasted by the cannon and takes lead of the remaining men as a stampede of Dinosaurs and the Saber-Tooth Tiger stomp by heading toward the pyramid themselves, while The Captain and the Pirates see this and decide to give up the search and to find a boat and leave, unknown to them Ike was killed by the stomping dinosaurs. Alhazred snaps out of his pain and starts to beat up Simon as Tarzan and his Warriors break into the pyramid and fight with The Lizard People and the Cannibal Warriors and this massive fight gets broken up when the Dinosaurs come stomping in crushing anyone in their way. Tarzan breaks away from the fight and heads toward Alhazred and once to him he finds Simon dead from a broken neck and Alhazred wants to sacrifice Tarzan to the crystal to gain more power!

Man this storyline is getting crazy as this issue has Tarzan on his way to Abdul Alhazred all the while dodging rampaging dinosaurs, beating up Cannibal tribesmen, dodging the death stares of the Lizard Men and patching up his friendship with the Pirate Captain. While Abdul Alhazred himself is injured by the thing that gives him his power, turned on by his Mercenary hired guns and needs more human lives to feed to the crystal! Tarzan in this issue is super focused on bringing Simon and Abdul Alhazred to justice as they have wronged him over and over through out this story arch, and he also sticks to his word when it comes to not given up and being loyal to his friends, even when his anger sometimes made him make bad decisions. Abdul Alhazred shows slight weakness and we truly get a look at his power as we now know that it comes from the massive crystal that demands he give it human souls in order to get more power, and he truly shows he has zero respect for human life and the only thing that matters to him…is himself. Simon is so greedy that his own want for power is what leads to his neck being snapped and his soul given to the crystal. The other Mercenaries are just lambs in line to the slaughter, well besides Ike who is crushed to death under the feet of rampaging dinosaurs. Poor Princess Ayesha and her Warrior protector go down with a fight as The Lizard Men want then dead, and after the explosion I am not sure what her fate is! So much going on with so many characters involved, but damn it this is a great story and captures the mood and feel of a good Jungle Adventure! The cover is eye catching and has Tarzan fighting with dinosaurs and the interior art by Sal Buscema is great and showcases why I love Marvel Comic from the 70’s and Early 80’s. Over all a great issue that is winding down a storyline that has been one hell of a ride this far.

Tarzan # 23  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .35     Marvel     # 23 of 29

Tarzan draws his knife and is ready to make Abdul Alhazred pay for all his crimes in the jungle against the slaves he has murdered, and Alhazred is more joyed with the idea of killing Tarzan to please the crystal. Tarzan goes onto the attack and after stabbing Abdul Alhazred a bunch of times he sees that the blade does not inflect any damage! That’s is until one blow cuts deeps and causes Abdul Alhazred pain and he starts to bleed and its clear that the Crystal is drawing power from his pain and anger as well, showing Abdul Alhazred is not the chosen one but just a pawn for the Crystal. This angers Alhazred and his fight with Tarzan gets more intense and grows with emotions of anger, hatred and rage and the Mercenaries do what they can to keep the Cannibal Tribe at bay, and with the combined forces of Tarzan’s knife and a gun shot from one of the dying Mercenaries they are able to wound Alhazred and he stumbles into the Crystal that drains him of all his life. With that the Mercenary dies leaving only one of them left, who now stands with Tarzan as he is ready to go home and put this nightmare land behind him. Meanwhile the savage warriors have defeated the Lizard people and the Cannibal Tribesmen and are now up with Tarzan who gives them one last order to destroy the Crystal and they obey. And at the wreckage of the cannon Princess Ayesha and her Warrior are still alive and he must fight off and bare handed kill one of the remaining Lizard People to save his ladies life, and in the end as Tarzan and the Mercenary head to find a way home, the see the Princess with her Warrior and know she is happier here then returning home to a destroyed village.

This issue wraps the story of Abdul Alhazred that madman who graved power and had no respect for human life, and in his end he learned that he himself was no one special as the thing that gave him his powers is also the same thing that took them back as well as his life. Alhazred is a great example of a classic bad guy as he is opposing, crazy, mean, strong, a killer and a great foe for our hero. His end is also very fitting as he himself faces the same grim death that he has sacrificed so many to and even with all his power and anger he just becomes a pile of dust. Tarzan after all this adventure and time in this issue he gets his revenge for the death of the old man as well as all the slaves over the years, its great to see him go full savage with his fathers knife and put up the fight of his life against a bad guy who clearly was stronger then him, but also not clearly as battle ready. I also like the fact Tarzan in this strange land has managed to make new friends with the Warriors and the Pirates! A plus for me as well is the fact Princess Ayesha and her Warrior boyfriend have a happy ending as that poor girl had some terrible luck and moments in her life in this series, so glad she was able to find happiness. I also like that the French Mercenary who was the only one among the bunch who was a good person not only lived but also found his inner power and learned how to fight to stay alive and to protect others. The Lizard People and The Cannibal Tribe are great backup bad guys who are as evil as the madman they follow, and they as well get brought down. This was a solid and great story arch that took Tarzan from the jungle all the way to a savage land in the middle of the Earth on a quest for revenge, and it takes so much twist and turns of action and drama that it really delivered a great comic book reads. The cover is eye catching and reminds me of a cover you would see for another Marvel Comic series like Spider-Man, Captain America or even X-Men. The interior art by Sal Buscema is fantastic and again holds that 70’s Marvel charm.

Tarzan # 24  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .40     Marvel     # 24 of 29

Tarzan and The Mercenary have found the portal to take them back to their world and are seen off by Princess Ayesha, The Warriors and even the Pirates who all wish them well on their travel back, and Tarzan with The Mercenary enter the portal and once back home use TNT to blow up the cave that held the portal and then go their separate ways. Meanwhile Jane with the Waziri Tribe are with Jad-Bal-Ja the black maned golden lion and are watching a wild grass fire and making sure that it will not reach their houses, and also making sure that they will not be stomped to death by the stampeding animals! The fire has been started by rich white people Mr. Tory, Miss Lyle and their hired gun Ian Chalmers who ends up seeing Jane who is trying to help the scared animals who are heading toward a massive gorge and rushes to try and help, and this of course would kill them all if they fall over and Jane could not stand by and witness this. So along with Jad-Bal-Ja and the Waziri Tribe they try and save the animals life, but Jane is knocked out of her jeep and she falls off the cliff of the gorge and while hanging on the side the rhino that knocked her over is on a rampage and is about the push the jeep over as well…so death is closing in. But as Jane looses her grip Ian is to late and she falls and as the hunter is shaken he is about to be attacked by Jad-Bal-Ja as the lion blames this man for the death of Jane…but lucky for Ian Jad-Bal-Ja is netted by Mr. Tory who wants the beats head for his collection! Ian who has been a hunter in Africa knows that the black manned lion is that of Tarzan’s and that means the lady was Jane and he warns his boss that trouble is coming. Tarzan meanwhile is almost home only seeing the fire, but is more focused on getting home to see his wife.

This is a great way to end the Abdul Alhazred story to get into this new story that has British and American Game Hunters being the cause of hurting Jane and capturing Tarzan’s Lion friend! This issue’s plot has Tarzan getting back home and closing the portal to that savage land for good while his wife Jane is trying her best to save the life of animals that are running for their lives from a fire that is set by a rich hunter named Mr. Troy who wanted to eliminate the tall grass, and his actions lead to a major accident that leaves Jane falling over a cliff! Tarzan in this issue is on a mission to get back to his wife as he has gotten his revenge, but has been gone for so long due to being stuck in the savage land…and even during this quest to get home he still knows that the portal being left open would be dangerous so he uses some good old TNT and blows up the cave that houses it…Tarzan is a true hero who while flawed is a good person at heart as he wants to protect and save. Jane Greystoke as well shows how great of a person she is as she puts her own life in danger in order to save the lives of animals and she as well has no fear of danger and she is a fitting wife for Tarzan! The black maned golden lion known as Jad-Bal-Ja is awesome and is very much loyal to Jane and the beast does what he can to protect her and listen to her orders. Ian Chalmers is an American Hunter who is a gun for hire to help the rich hunt dangerous animals, and does not wish to hurt people nor even animals for no reason and I think he knows the danger they are now in with Jane being “killed” in an accident and also now that they have captured his friend the lion. Mr. Tory and Miss Lyle are so out of touch and are killing animals and causing land destruction for there own gain…and I don’t think they care or even really gets just what they have done. This is a great story to follow the long saga we just ended and I also like that this one appears to be very Jane centered as for many issues now she has been nowhere in sight so its great to see her also be a hero. Good action packed cover, great interior artwork from Sal Buscema and cool new characters make this a story I cannot wait to see what’s next.

Tarzan # 25  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .40     Marvel     # 25 of 29

Tarzan returns home just as his son Jack “Korak” Clayton III does as well and the Waziri Tribe tell them of the fire and accident and this sets father and son off on a mission of rescue and revenge! Meanwhile we find out that Mr. Roger Tory is in fact not filling the animals as he wants them to put on display in New York to make tons of money as he thinks Jad-Bal-Ja will be a big prized feature as no one has seen a black maned lion before! Like before Ian tries to warn his boss that things will get really bad when Tarzan finds out about the accident of his wife, and Tory brushes it off and says they will deal and kill Tarzan if needed and they head back to camp. Unknown to them Jane has climbed out of the gorge, while she is hurt she is very much filled with anger and rage over the fire and accident. As Mr. Troy is packing up the animals to ship to New York they are confronted by a very angry Tarzan who goes crazy in the tent freeing many of the animals, beating up many of the hired men of Mr. Troy before setting his sights on the fat man himself, and just as he is about to kill the man he thinks killed his wife Tarzan is hit with a electric cattle prod and is attacked and shocked until he is knocked out. Once out cold Mr. Roger Tory, Sarah Lyle and Ian Chalmers cage Tarzan and decide they will take him and show him off in New York as a wild man! As they are loading up the animals and Tarzan they are confronted by a shotgun touting Jane who wants them to let her husband go, but Roger tricks her and gets the gun away and decides he will kidnap her are well to but in his “Great Show” and as Ian tries to talk sense into his boss he is made fun of and sent away. As Roger with his crew and cargo fly away Korak shows up with gun in hand to get answers from the natives left behind.

The plot thickens as this issue has the rich fat business man and his crooked crew now not only stealing animals from Africa but also is now kidnapping Tarzan and his wife Jane in order to turn them both into a sideshow attraction in New York! And their only hope is if their son Korak The Killer can track them down and set them free…well that is what we are lead to believe right now. Lets start with talking about the stories bad guys and the worst one is Mr. Roger Tory a rich fat American who thinks money can buy anyone and anything and that he can do what ever he likes cause he has the money to back it up. It’s also clear that life of others means nothing to Roger as he has no issues with killing animal or human and loves to also talk down to people as well as cheat them. Young woman Sarah Lyle is a greedy woman who only is around Roger as she sees him as a meal ticket to money and fame, she is also very mean hearted and only cares about herself and money. Another scumbag member of Roger’s crew is Smithers who is his accountant of crime and has it out for Jad-Bal-Ja as the beast clawed him during the fight in the tent…really he is a weasel and scum. Ian Chalmers is a hunter who needs the money of Roger’s in order to pay off gambling debuts, and he hates all the shady stuff but has to go along as the money talks and his own fears keep him in line. Tarzan lets rage blind him in battle in this issue and leads to his capture as he leaves himself open for attack. Jane is able to climb a gorge, over take a worker and steal his gun and even confront the hunting party, sure she gets captured in the end but she is one tough cookie! Korak takes his sweet time to aid his father in the search for Jane and is even late in order to save his parents from being kidnapped…in other words for a man that has the nickname Killer sure does not impress in this issue. And to me the thing that is great is that taking Tarzan to New York to display for a crowd reminds me of King Kong! The cover is great and shows action and just like before the interior art is done by the talented Sal Buscema and I great like before. So lets see what happens when Tarzan gets to New York and lets see if Korak can make up for his late to the party foul in the next issue.

Tarzan # 26  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .40     Marvel     # 26 of 29

Tarzan is filled with rage and hatred as he is trapped in the cage as Roger informs him that he plans to make him the main attraction as his new themed club and that Jane is indeed alive and if Tarzan acts up he will have her killed, and in order to keep Tarzan quite Martin will be injecting his throat with a tranquilizer so that he can not alert people of his kidnapping! As the planes land Jane is placed in a sack and taken away as Ian watches, but does not act to save her while Tarzan is bound and yet still is able to almost kill Martin Smithers before he is finally injected and passes out. Roger loads up his new attractions and heads to his club as he has money to make. Meanwhile back in Africa Korak gets the answers from the helpers of Roger and heads off to try and hire a small plane to take him to America. Meanwhile back in New York Roger is leading a parade in order to build hype for his club and in this parade is a caged Tarzan as well as Jad-Bal-Ja, and as Tarzan is angry the crowd just cheer and laugh. While in a room in the Empire State Building Jane is being held captive and when she has a failed escape attempt, she soon learns that Ian Chalmers has fallen in love with her…and she will use this to her advantage. In the end we see the inside of the club that is filled with rich people and Tarzan is stuck in a cage with his yells and grunts going unnoticed.

This issues plot has Roger Tory getting to New York and with cruel tactics, drugs and beatings he does what he can to try and get Tarzan under control so that he can use this Lord Of The Jungle as a way to get money from those who enter his club. And all the while Jane is being as well held against her will and worse away from her husband as she is as well being used as a way to keep Tarzan in line. This is a great way to bring Tarzan to an American city and captures more reader’s attention as the series is not just Jungle adventures anymore and brings the drama and action to the society that they can identify with. Tarzan in this issue really is just a prisoner who while fights back against Smithers, spends the rest of the issue in a cage unable to speak and only with the want to escape and find his wife. Jane as well is helpless as even when fighting back and trying to escape the odds are just not one her side. And like before Korak is taking his sweet time to help is parents, he always seems to be like 500 steps behind when it comes to being the hero he needs to be. Roger Tory and his cronies are really put no value on human lives, as they will kill, mistreat and exploit anyone to make some money, in fact they are human traffickers…man these guys really are pure scum. Ian Chalmers shows that while he is a good hunter he really is spineless when it comes to standing up against the crimes of Roger, plus the fact that he is fallen in love with a wild man’s wife shows that this made is also not very smart! I like how this story arch is going and I feel that it shows the downside of humans as they really would pay to stare at and laugh at a human in a cage that was different from them. The cover is great and one that I remember from my youth and the interior art by Sal again is top notch. Over all another great issue in this Marvel Comics Tarzan series and to me proves that they do the Lord Of The Jungle right.

Tarzan # 27  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .40     Marvel     # 27 of 29

Roger Tory is living large at his club as his customers are spending tons of money and are enjoying all he has on display including Tarzan who many think is just an actor playing a wild man, at one point many of the people at the club throw their drinks at him and laugh at his anger. Meanwhile Korak is on his way to take a private plane and fly it to New York in order to try and save his parents. Meanwhile at the Safari Club the mobster Blackjack and his gang show up as Roger owes them lots of money from a scam he pulled off in Chicago and they have came to collect and tell Smithers to go and get his boss. Meanwhile Tarzan and Jad-Bal-Ja are placed in a cell that is protected by unbreakable glass and are forced to fight for their lives against a massive Albino Gorilla who has been drugged and put into a rage! As Roger meets with Blackjack the alerts the mobster he can pay him in full in about a week, but this is not good enough for Blackjack to takes his tommygun and shoots the glass of the cell freeing Tarzan, The Albino Gorilla and Jad-Bal-Ja into the crowd who go into a panic! Meanwhile Jane once more take the chance to try and escape and knocks out a henchman as well as Ian and then breaks the widow of her room on the 85th floor and climbs up the building as Ian when woken up thinks she has committed suicide.

Tarzan who is the most feared and respected living being in the jungles of Africa is now stuck in a cage in New York being mocked, laughed at and used to as entertainment and all the while the man behind this torment is being threatened by a crime boss who wants the money he is owed and this is all comes to a dangerous event by the end of this issue as chaos breaks out in the club and a rampaging gorilla is set free! Oh man were to start but I for one love how this story is playing out as it really does remind me of King Kong as well as all the classic Jungle Movies of golden age Hollywood. I also like that now we have more bad guys added to the mix as the mobsters are just as bad as Roger and his goons and greed is what is pushing both bad sides. Tarzan in this issue goes from being mocked by the crowd to being put in a fight to the death against a gorilla for their entertainment, and because of the drug they injected him with he can not tell them this is not a show and he is no actor! Jane once more uses her charms and inner power to fight to escape and does just that by the end of the issue and even climbs the Empire State Building to do so! Korak besides saving a British Soldier from a panther attack he is pretty useless and spends the time trying to get to a small plane so he can fly to NY to save his parents, really this far Korak is moving at the pace of a snail and is doing no good at this point to save his family. Ian Chalmers is a guy who clearly down on his luck and while good at heart is so far in debut to Roger that he is nothing more then a hired gun that he keeps spineless. Roger, Smithers and Sarah are all about the Safari Club as they want to make all they money they can off stolen animals and a kidnapped couple, and its shows when they are faced with people that are bigger and badder then them they are cowards. Black Jack and his gang mean business and will kill to get what’s owed and will even put the lives of people not involved in order to get it, I think Black Jack is not done with causing issues for everyone. Jad-Bal-Ja the lion shows that he is loyal to Tarzan as he does what he can to help fight the rampaging Albino Gorilla who is so drugged that he feels no pain and only wants to kill anything and everyone in its sights! The cover is great and eye catching and shows Tarzan and the Albino Gorilla fighting and Sal does the interior art so you know its good. A great issue and I cannot wait to reread the next issue and remember how this story plays out.

Tarzan # 28  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .40     Marvel     # 28 of 29

Ian Chalmers who original freaked out as he thought Jane jumped from the window on the 85th floor of the Empire State Building, now notices that she is trying to climb to the top of it! Meanwhile the cops have shown up to the Safari Club and before they enter the club they gunned down a lion and walk in as Tarzan and Jad-Bal-Ja are in a fight to the death against the Albino Gorilla and notice that The Black Jack Gang are standing with Roger watching this chaos. During the fight Black Jack starts to get a respect for Tarzan who is clearly the underdog but is fighting like a King and has zero fear in his eyes, he alerts Roger that if Tarzan dies he will die as well! And Black Jack then notices that Roger is hiding the knife of Tarzan and takes it and throws it to him and Tarzan uses it to end the battle and the life of the Albino Gorilla, and after the battle Tarzan is filled with rage and lets out a yell that chills the blood of everyone in the club. The Cops draw their guns and are about to gun down Tarzan and Jad-Bal-Ja when Black Jack and his gang pull their guns and warn the police to go take a hike or they will bring a war to the police department, and this works as the cops leave and Black Jack takes Jad-Bal-Ja and Roger to the docks and Tarzan rushes to the Empire State Building after getting Jane’s location from Roger. Tarzan reaches his destination and gets passed the cops and makes it to Jane just in time as Ian and his goons have surrounded her, Tarzan knocks them out and he and Jane jump onto a plane that flies by that is being flown by their son Korak and they head to the docks to meet with Black Jack

Wow this was a fun issue that is packed with action and drama and has Tarzan killing a massive gorilla, become friends with a gangster, knock around some police officers, get to the top of the Empire State Building, rescues his wife and flies away on the wing of a plane…yep this issue is pretty dang great! Tarzan in this issue is a man on a mission to survive a fight against the odds as well as to find and save his wife from the crazy world of New York City! Tarzan is the true hero of the jungle and his family and I love the fact he has zero fear when it comes to almost dying at the hands of the Albino Gorilla as well as when it comes to rushing past the cops like they are leaves in the wind. Jane as well has zero fear in her escape from Roger’s Goons and risks her own life in order to climb a building to safety with the idea to get away and save her husband. The useless Korak shows up at the last minute to try and play hero with his plane, he really is useless in this adventure. Black Jack and his Gang are bad guys for the most part, but do have some respect for Tarzan and his family and that’s why he decides to help the Lord Of The Jungle escape. Roger is truly a spineless coward who fears Tarzan, Black Jack as well as being sued by the guests of his club, not to even mention his goons including Ian have all failed in their missions and Sarah in the end dumps Roger! I really liked the fight between the Albino Gorilla and Tarzan who ended up having the use a knife to end the fight. I also was a fan of Tarzan running around New York City in order to find his wife and dig that they used the Empire State Building as the final stand place between Tarzan and Roger’s Goons. The cover is great and eye catching as it reminds me of King Kong and the interior art by Sal is great like before. Well next up is the final issue in the main series, so lets see how Marvel wraps up Tarzan.

Tarzan # 29  ***
Released in 1979     Cover Price .40     Marvel     # 29 of 29

Tarzan along with Jane, Korak, Jad-Bal-Ja as well as a few other apes are all on a small boat in the middle of the ocean, they are all weak, thirsty and being burnt by the sun that is shinning down above them…and then Tarzan remembers back to what has lead them to this situation…he flashes back to New York as when he and his family arrive at the docks they are rushed onto a massive ship set but by Black Jack who handles the police when the show up and turns in Roger for kidnapping. While on the ship Tarzan and his family are treated like guests of honor by the Captain who even events them to the massive ball that is happing that night. While Tarzan goes to the ships cargo to visit his animal friends he stumbles upon a blackmail scheme going down between a sinister chap in a Top Hat and Mr. Vorga about rigging peace talks between two nations, as Top Hat has letters that Vorga had written to a sleazy female bar singer and will release them if he does not do what is asked of him. Tarzan as heard enough and snatches the letters from Top Hats hands and runs him off and threatens him if he comes back to Vorga’s room he will regret it. While at the ships ball Mr. Vorga and his wife sit with Tarzan and his family, but things get bad when Top Hats hired goon dressed as a clown stabs Vorga in the back and Tarzan gives chase as the goon and Top Hat run away…but Top Hat as other ideas and uses dynamite to blow up the ship and Tarzan just in time is able to save his animal friends and get them on a life boat along with Jane, Korak, the wounded Mr. Vorga plus his wife and the ships captain…and then we cut back to currant times as they are all hungry, thirsty, sun baked and missing land, when in a distance they spot land and better yet right near Tarzan’s home and they are all saved!

It’s crazy as this was the final issue in Marvel’s amazing Tarzan series and just like almost all the others before it, this issue delivers a great read that features the classic hero doing what he does best and that’s saving the day as well as beating the odds that are stacked against him. This issue has Tarzan and his family on a cruise ship that is taking them back home and before they can be dropped off a crazed man blows up the ship and causes Tarzan and the rest to fight for their life against the cruel sea and the blistering hot sun. Tarzan in this issue takes up for a man who is being bullied and as well shows that he is not only loyal to his family and animal friends but also to those who can not defend themselves, and when things get bad on the ship he not only goes after the bad guys but also does all he can to save lives from the sinking ship. Jane and Korak are around and while they are only bit players in this issue they do serve a purpose of being the motivation for Tarzan to fight harder and the reason to survive. Top Hat is a crazy man who wants to bride to get what he wants and when that doesn’t work he decides murder is the answer and then when confronted he ends up killing himself and others by blowing up the ship causing it to sink! I think the best part of Top Hat is that he looks like a cartoon bag guy complete with curly mustache…its great classic bad guys stuff. Marvel in this final issue gets Tarzan and his family home and it’s a fitting end, but also I wish his final adventure with Marvel would have been bigger and better and would have had him fighting a great cat or a super crazed witch doctor, and not the sun being the main threat. The cover is good and pretty dang eye catching and as always the interior art is done by the great Sal Buscema who did a great job of bringing Tarzan to the pages of this comic series. Tarzan The Lord Of The Jungle is great and is one comic series that I feel was really well done by Marvel and that the team on this book cared about what they were doing, and I for one had a blast re-visiting this series after all these years…and once more I want to thank my late Uncle Thurman for introducing me to it as him giving me these comics when I was a kid made me a life long fan of the character. Check out below for artwork done by Sal for this series.

But I know what you readers are thinking this is the Christmas Eve update for 2020 so we need more Tarzan…well you are in luck as its now time for me to take a look at the King Sized Annuals! So here is more Tarzan for your Holiday enjoyment.

Tarzan Annual # 1  ***
Released in 1977     Cover Price .50     Marvel     # 1 of 3

Tarzan returns to a site in the jungle that holds all types of memories from his time as a youth picking berries with his mother and then he remembers back to his first crush Teeka a young female ape who captured his attention, and he remembers back to having to fight Taug in order to win her hand! Tarzan and Taug are in a battle to the death that is until a panther shows up and is looking to bring down an ape for lunch and the cat has its eyes on Teeka, and while the others flee Tarzan with his rope and knife come to her rescue and after running the panther off Tarzan and Teeka spend the afternoon together, but when he leaves to find food she ends up going to Taug and this breaks Tarzan’s heart who goes on a multiple day long solo hunt. While in the jungle we watches a tribe build a cage and then later watches as Taug is captured in the cage and is taken away by the tribe. Tarzan thinks that this is the best thing to happen for him as with Taug out of the way he thinks Teeka will be his, that is until she sees the sadness in her eyes and this sparks him to try and rescue Taug. Tarzan saves Taug and the ape returns to his mate as Tarzan at that moment knew he was different from his ape family. We join Tarzan once more as he chuckles about his part memory and then he finds his old vein rope in the spot and remembers back again to a time when he first learned to swing from vines, and during a time he had a major fight with Bukawai a disfigured human witch doctor who lives in a cave near the ape tribe and has two hyenas as pets. One day a massive storm hits the jungle and Tarzan is injured when lighting hits the tree he was seeking shelter from, and who finds him is Bukawai who takes him to the cave and ties him to a pole and wants to watch as Tarzan dies, but Bukawai during this is being cruel to his hyenas who see Tarzan as a fresh meat meal. Tarzan figures away to free himself and ends up chasing off the hyenas and then ties Bukawai to the poll and the hyenas return to eat him! Back in currant times its now getting late and Tarzan is done remembering the past and swings off back into the heart of the jungle.

This first King Sized Annual is a great read for Tarzan fans and has a good plot that follows the Lord Of The Jungle as he dealt with his first crush and the heartbreak that comes along with it, and he also remembers back to the time when he had to face and bring down a evil witch doctor. Tarzan really is feeling nostalgic for his past as he remembers times with his ape parents, his first crush and even the first time he learned to swing around on vines in the trees. Tarzan even in his younger days had no fear and would fight to the death against anything that gets in his path of what he wants as he takes on a raging ape, a panther, a pair of hyenas and a crazed witch doctor. I think what works for this annual is the fact its moments from Tarzan’s past and showed how he has grown as just a young boy living with apes to becoming The Lord Of The Jungle! It’s also great to see that Tarzan’s ape father truly hated him and wished for his adoptive son’s death all the time. The issues main bad guy is Bukawai a witch doctor who was badly disfigured from disease and was shunned by his tribe cause this as well as the fact Tarzan disproved his cures and medicines, while he is crippled and broken down his hate and want for revenge keeps him going and all he wants to do is watch Tarzan die! But because his hate took him over when he had the chance to do so his cruelty to his pet hyenas turn them on him and he became a quick meal for them. The cover for this issue is great and very eye catching and features Tarzan standing over the body of a gorilla he brought down and the interior art done by John Buscema and is great stuff and once more has the classic 70’s Marvel appeal. Great read and a must for fans of Tarzan as it’s a fun story with more of Tarzan’s backstory explored.

Tarzan Annual # 2  ***1/2
Released in 1978     Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 2 of 3

Tarzan and his lion Jad-Bal-Ja stumble upon a massacre, as dead bodies of humans are all around and only an old man who clings to life is able to tell Tarzan what has happened. You see a King, Queen and the Princess had been overthrown from their kingdom by the Kings brother who then gave the order to slaughter them all while they left…but the old man begs Tarzan to care for The Princess who is still alive with his dying breath. Tarzan finds the Princess who was in hiding and she is mad and wants revenge for the death of her parents…and Tarzan agrees to help her do so. Tarzan gets them to the Kingdom Of The Cliffs and as they walk across the bridge they are attacked and taken as prisoners to see The King! As the Princess shouts about how her parents were murdered by this new King he himself acts shocked about the death of his brother and ordered that Tarzan and Jab-Bal-Ja be placed in a cell and the Princess to be taken to her old chambers. The King is worried now as many of the warriors are grumbling about if the claims of a murder squad sent to kill the former King is true. Tarzan finds out that he is be to sacrificed to the Kingdom’s giant snake god and when that time comes all hell breaks loose as The Princess is able to stab The King with a dagger, Tarzan breaks the skull flame pillar that held the serpent back, the giant snake appears and is looking for human meat and Jab-Bal-Ja break free of his cage and attacks the giant snake along with Tarzan who as well breaks free! Tarzan and his lion with the help of the warriors would the giant snake that makes an escape that is heading toward the Kingdom’s High Priest who wants to throw the Princess from a cliff and end her rule before it even starts! Just as the Priest is about to toss her over the giant snake appears and knocks the Priest over the cliff as it as well goes over ending both terrible lives and as The Princess is about to fall Tarzan once more saves her and she takes her place as the true Queen of the Kingdom as Tarzan heads home with his lion to see Jane.

The second King Size Annual could be the best issue in all of Marvel’s Tarzan series as it really is a great fantastic read that brings action, adventure and even a dash of fantasy and has Tarzan saving a Princess and helping her get revenge on those who murdered her parents and stole her place of ruling the Kingdom. Tarzan is as always a true hero as he fulfills an old mans dying wish, protects and helps a Princess reclaim her kingdom as well as slays a massive snake that has been keeping a kingdom at bay. Jad-Bal-Ja the golden black manned lion is also very much a hero in this issue as he fights off warriors, sets Tarzan free and then also starts the main attack of the giant snake! The Princess is young but is a true fighter and is filled with rage and revenge and wants to bring down her Uncle who is the man who took over her Kingdom and as well ordered the murder of her parents. The Uncle King is truly a coward and scum as he forced his way into power and murdered his own brother and then also wanted to marry his own niece…yeah he is gross and when he takes a knife to the gut and dies you as a reader feels good about it. The High Priest as well to the Kingdom is a terrible person and wants power and wants to murder those by feeding them to a massive snake that ends up being the key to his own death. I loved the over all feel and story of this issue as it truly brings out a great adventure for Tarzan that would have made for a great movie as well! The cover is pretty great and the interior art is done by Sal Buscema and is great stuff! Now that I am thinking about it this issue reminds me of an issue of Conan The Barbarian and in fact it could easily been an issue if you just swapped out Tarzan for Conan. Over all this could be hands down my favorite issue in this series and shows that 100% Marvel knew how to make comics based on The Lord Of The Jungle.

Tarzan Annual # 3  **1/2
Released in 1979     Cover Price .60     Marvel     # 3 of 3

Tarzan, Jane, Korak and guests are in London and are celebrating Guy Fawkes day by given dressed up kids pennies and heading toward the Opera for a show that features Jane’s friend Julia Hague, and while going in they find out Julia’s sister Evelyn has gone missing in Africa! Jane and Tarzan make their way to Julia’s dressing room and find out that she is not missing but kidnapped, and that she is not allowed to tell a soul…but she has and a Dwarf in the Opera house has heard this and before Tarzan can grab him he escapes into the crowd. Later as the Opera starts Julia is singing her heart out and Tarzan is able to stop her murder as the Dwarf armed with a gun, Tarzan and Korak surround him and the Dwarf ends up jumping to his death from a booth. Now safe Julia shows Jane and Tarzan a box her sister sent her that has a tiny human skeleton in it and Tarzan knows were he must travel to Africa to save her, but worse someone in the shadows is once more watching and listening. Tarzan and his friend Pierre D’Arnot are on a small plane flying over the place called The Great Thorn Forest and are shot down by Max Hunter a man who works for Sykes and is the kidnapper of Evelyn, Tarzan is thrown from the plane wreck as Pierre is knocked out and still in the plane when its attacked by a savage all female cavewoman tribe called the Alali Women and after Tarzan and the now rescued Pierre run them off they soon find that Sykes and his group are also under attack and that the Alali Women have run off with Evelyn after Tarzan uses a flamethrower tank to scare them off, Tarzan and Pierre then capture the kidnapers and find out that they did so to sell off the mini skeletons that she found as they think they would be worth millions to the right buyers. Tarzan then rushes off after the Alali Women to save Evelyn only to find them at war with the tiny Ant-Man warriors, and the tiny warriors make short work of the Alali Women and during the fight both Tarzan and Evelyn are hurt and are shrunken down to have their wounds treated as the warriors and their King and Queen are friends of Tarzan! Meanwhile a rival race of Ant-Men use their tiny arrows to bring down Pierre and the kidnappers quickly tell the Ant-Men that Tarzan is the one who dug up their graveyard and that they will ride with them in the tank to get revenge for this crime! Tarzan leads the good Ant-Men against the invaders and white small and even turning normal size he is able to stop the flame tank and bring the would be kidnapers to justice as the good Ant-Men run off the bad ones. In the end Korak arrives with a plane and picks up Tarzan, the injured Pierre and Evelyn and they return to London.

This final Tarzan Annual is a great read and delivers a solid adventure for Tarzan as he goes from a London Opera House all the way to a tiny Ant-Man village in Africa and all the while he is fighting off a mad dwarf with a gun, wild cavewomen out for blood and a group of greedy kidnappers who seek money and fame. Really this story is as crazy as that summery discretion sounds! Tarzan clearly does not understand the customs of the civil world, and yet he at times is more human then the people that surround him in the big city of London. Tarzan also shows that he is loyal to his friends as well as his wives friends as he is willing to travel to a part of the Jungles of Africa that is dangerous in order to save the sister of a woman he has just meet, but is close friends of his wife Jane. He also shows once more he has no fear as he is willing to fight off all enemies that come at him in this issue. Pierre D’Arnot is a Frenchman who is close friends of Tarzan who as well rushes into a unknown danger to help, and is very useful with a gun, and thank the heavens that he wears a leather jacket of he would have been a dead man thanks to the tiny arrows of the Ant-Men. Korak and Jane are around and do their best to help with this kidnaping plot as well as keep the victims sister calm. The Ant-Men have two sides one kingdom is peaceful and is ruled by friends of Tarzan while the other side is bad and are looking for a war as well as a reason to truly hate Tarzan. The Kidnapers Martin, Max and Sykes are true scumbags who will snuff out a life, lie, cheat and steal all in the quest to make a quick fortune off anyone and everything. Plus the Kidnapers in their grasp has eyes, ears and killers in London and also are in control of a very powerful flamethrower tank that makes them super deadly. The Alali Women are a cave woman clan who want to mate and kill males that are foolish enough to stumble in their area, they are deadly and bloodthirsty and not to be messed with. This is a crazy adventure that is well paced and showcases once more that Marvel Comics knew how to make a great Tarzan adventure comic. The cover is eye catching and showcases Tarzan in danger from not only the Ant-Men but also the Alali Women. The interior art is done by the team of Sal as well as Ricardo Villamonte and is great stuff. No joke I am a little sad that this is the final issue for this update as I have had a great time covering Tarzan and his Marvel Comic adventures and wish it would have lasted a little longer. But with that said check out the artwork below to see the style used in these annuals.

Wow that was lots of fun re-reading the Marvel Comics adventures of Tarzan and for me they really held up and were fantastic 70’s comic reads that showcases just why Tarzan is still to this day a classic hero of pop culture. It’s a shame that Marvel Comics have not brought Tarzan back to the company as I feel that he could fit in perfect with their currant plans of returning characters like Star Wars and Conan The Barbarian as well as the newly added Ultraman. I would love to see a comic that would pit Tarzan against Conan as that fight would be epic and awesome. This was a long and epic Christmas Eve update and I hope that this holiday season brought you some joy and thank you for spending some time here at Rotten Ink. Our next update will be my countdown of films I seen in the theater this year and it’s a strange one indeed so I will see you back for that one. Until next time make sure to send a message to your loved ones, enjoy your holiday season the best you can and as always make sure to leave milk and cookies out for Santa! Be safe and I will see you next year to chat about the cinema.

The Undead Files: Isle Of The Dead

So as crazy as this sounds, I decided to cover the promo comic for the PC Game “Isle Of The Dead” and bump “Batman Nosferatu” to another update in the future. When I was growing up, my parents got a computer, and while from time to time we could use it, playing games on it was few and far and mostly I would play SkiFree, Free Cell or Minesweeper, all super classic games for PC Gaming. And then some time later, my brother bought himself a computer that he planned on using for college class projects as he was about to graduate high school and had plans of becoming a schoolteacher. Along with the computer that was rocking Windows 95 and had both a CD Rom and diskette drive, he bought a printer and a hand scanner and this opened the door for us to play a ton of PC Games. What was very cool was that my brother allowed me as well to get on the computer to play games or even get online via AOL. My brother’s PC opened the world of classic PC Horror Games for me and that is why we will be taking a look at one of those games and a promo comic that came with the game for this countdown to Halloween 2020 update! So if you are ready, let’s visit the world of Isle Of The Dead and see if we can survive the hordes of the undead! Oh and I do want to warn you that some of the gifs used on this update do have some disturbing imagery, so keep that in mind as you read on.

Isle Of The Dead was developed by Rainmaker Software and released by Merit Software in 1993 for PC and was a first person adventure survival horror game. Rainmaker Software was a very short-lived game developer who besides Isle Of The Dead only had one other game under their belt, the 1995 game “Nerves Of Steel” that was a war game that played much like Isle. The creators behind this game were A. Sean Glaspell along with Myk Friedman, Bryan Kelsch and Bruce J. Mack, and they wanted to bring a story driven hack slash game to gamers that was very much inspired by comic books. The game had music done by Scott Loehr and was shown off at the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show, and even at one point a port was made and ready to go for release on the Atari Jaguar home console, but was cancelled before being unleashed. The game was massacred by reviewers as it was getting mostly low scores with Dragon Magazine giving it a 0 out of 5 stars and PC Joker giving it a 38%. To this day YouTube gamers are still giving the game poor reviews. Most of the complaints about the game were the sloppy game play, the repetitive music, the goofy gore and the lack of real direction of where you are and what you are doing. But while for many, the game is in their Top 100 Worst Classic PC Games, it has also found cult classic status as many enjoy the cheesy nature of the game, and I am proud to say that I am one of those who grew up playing it and loving it! The game was not only released on diskette but also on CD. I think that the game was harshly panned by many reviewers is because it followed in the shadow of other first person games like Wolfenstein 3D and even Doom was released in late 1993…and because of this Isle Of The Dead was just lost in shuffle. While Isle Of The Dead never got a sequel or an official remake, I will say that a game series that I feel that could be connected to it is “Dead Island” that first started in 2011 for home consoles like PS3 and Xbox 360. While it’s not really connected, at least the undead island video game adventures lived on with it.

My Brother Bryan and I would look for PC games at a local used media shop (that we both ended up working for later) called “Replay Media,” and I can remember him buying games like “Doom II”, “You Don’t Know Jack”, “Plan Nine From Outer Space” and even one that was trivia and movie reviews that was made by Blockbuster Video. I on the other had remember having games based on “X-Men”, “Tom and Jerry” and an amazing one called “WaxWorks.” We would also hit thrift stores and that’s were my brother found Isle Of The Dead and with it being a horror game, we knew we had to buy it. The edition he had was the four diskettes version and came in a very cool big box and had the comic book in it as well. I can remember that when my brother first played it, he was not that impressed with the first person horror shooter, and when it was my turn to play, I can remember I was confused on what the heck I was doing and where I was suppose to go…and even with these frustrations…we both kept playing the game over time and each time we would get a little further and figure out the puzzles and traps. Of course once technology changed and we upgraded to bigger and better PC’s, the day and age of DOS Diskette games faded away into the background, but for some reason Isle Of The Dead always stuck with me from the simple game play, to the story of an island filled with zombie and even the music that plays throughout the game have always been something I looked back on fondly. I look back at my days sitting in my brother’s room near a window trying my best to figure out and beat Isle Of The Dead very fondly, and I have no shame in saying…I never beat the game as it would crash so many times and when not crashing I just found myself wandering around. Over all, I wish I could play Isle Of The Dead again…and just maybe I can one day on my Mac laptop!

Now let’s talk about the baddies that make up the Isle Of The Dead!! The main brains behind the horrors you face is a Mad Scientist who is evil and who seems to enjoy having the island filled with the undead and chasing off anyone foolish enough to step foot on it. He also is holding a woman hostage and is super dastardly. The island is filled with tons of flesh eating zombies that range from the mutated, female, fatty with guts out, cub scout kid zombie and of course muscle bound surfer dude zombie! Also around are massive killer bats that stalk around the caves. So as you can see, the Isle Of The Dead is filled with so many terrors that all want you dead!

I almost forgot to talk about the game’s hero, Jake Dunbar, the lone survivor of a bad plane crash that leaves all his fellow passengers dead! Jake is a man who just wants off the island and wants to survive the onslaught of the undead that appear and want him dead. Jake is a hero as well as when he finds out that the Mad Scientist has a woman held captive, and he knows he must rescue her before he escapes the island. Jake is armed with two kinds of shotguns as well as a machete in order to fight off the zombie horde and also must pick up items along the way to help in his journey. Jake Dunbar is a cool character, and while he does not have a huge back story, you get to know him and bond with him along the journey. One crazy thing about this game though, is if you quit the game this makes Jake kill himself…yeah super depressing way to end this hero’s life in this game.

So as you can see, Isle Of The Dead is a PC game that is not super popular, but over the decades has built up a cult following…I mean it’s such a indie game that when I was a teenager and many of my friends were PC Gamers, none of them had ever heard of this title, let alone played it! I also am very happy that I was able to track down a copy of the comic book to make this Countdown To Halloween 2020 and Undead File update possible. Plus I want to thank the Ebay seller for having this in stock and also letting me reread this after all these years. I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, let’s head out into the isle and see what these zombies have in store for us.

Isle Of The Dead # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $0.00     Rainmaker   # 1 of 1

Two brave pilots lose control of the plane and crash land on Nuwapu, and it leaves everyone dead onboard, well besides Jake Dunbar who was tossed out during the crash. Jake uses all the strength he has and passes out on the beach. After a while he wakes up and looks around the wreckage and finds a shotgun as well as a med kit and looks for whatever else he can find. While looking around Jake is attacked by a zombie and uses the shotgun to blow its head off, and then all scared and nervous he knows that he must find the villagers of the island and see if they can help him get off it! As Jake heads into the jungle, it’s clear that he is being watched and stocked by zombies! The comic ends with the question of if Jake will get off the island and if he will find out who the madman is who is creating the zombies.

This comic book does a great job of setting up the moments before the game takes place and even gives you a few hints of what to look for in the plane like the shotgun and med kit! The comic follows Jake Dunbar, a man who was a passenger on a plane that crashes on an island that is filled with zombies, traps and mysteries…and ends with the question of whether he will survive the island or be eaten alive! Jake is a hero that does not want to be a hero and is fighting his way through the jungle in order to survive and with the temptation of a pretty woman in distress (as seen in the game) he arms himself and becomes the hero he needs to be! The zombies are hungry for human flesh and are running on instinct to eat and consume. The comic has one massive gory moment that has a zombies head being blown off by a shotgun and it reminds me of so many of the indie zombie comics of the 90’s like The Dead, The Walking Dead and Dead World. The cover for this promo comic is great and very eye catching, but I will also say very lazy, as it’s just the box cover used for the game. The interior art is great and done by a uncredited artist and really does have a indie comic look to it and the art could be at home with companies like Aircel and Arrow. Over all this is a good short promo comic that does a good job of showcasing the PC Game it was made to promote. If you like Isle Of The Dead or indie zombie horror comics, track this one down and give it a read. Oh and I have to say, when reading this comic again after all these years, much of it came back to me. Check out the artwork below from the unknown artist and see what I mean that this art style would have been right at home at Aircel Comics in the 90’s.

Isle Of The Dead for me is up there with Doom and Wolfenstein as some of the most iconic first generation of first-person shooters released for the PC! And as I have said before, survival horror and just horror video games are things that I think about around Halloween time as I think everyone reading this update should at least play one horror video game this October. This year on the PS4 I have been playing “Zombie Army 4”, “World War Z”, “Predator: Hunting Ground” and “Blair Witch” all games that are super fun and have added to this year that has started off so badly with the virus crisis. For our next update, we are escaping the Isle and will be heading to the country to take a look at a killer warlock scarecrow that is from the 1995 direct to video movie “Night Of The Scarecrow”! So until next time, read a horror comic or three, play a horror video game or two and as always, support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a bloody good time down on the farm.

Earthworm Jim Saves Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve! It’s crazy to think that another year is almost over and that we are about to celebrate another Christmas here at Rotten Ink. This time of the year is always very special for me and makes me think back to my youth and all the cool toys, games, music, comics and books I used to get for the holidays as well as always makes me think about how lucky I am to have so many amazing people in my life as I have a great family, amazing friends and am blessed to be able to have so many creative outlets like Game Swap Kettering, Sparkle Comics, Bloodline Video, Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, Radio, Rockstar Pro Wrestling, Rotten Ink and so many other top notch projects that allow for me to have an outlet. As I have said here before, one of the coolest Christmas gifts I ever got was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and that’s why I always think about classic video games around this holiday as if brings back great memories of playing them with family, friends and even trying to beat games myself! So for this update I have decided to take a look a video game character that made his major splash on the Sega Genesis that spawned a cartoon and even a comic series, and this cheesy character is the one and only Earthworm Jim! So if you’re ready to take a trip with Rotten Ink, Marvel Comics and Earthworm Jim this Christmas Eve, you should find a comfy chair, pour yourself some eggnog. and as we all wait for Santa, I think it’s time to have a classic game flashback.

Earthworm Jim was a normal worm on the planet earth that spent his days digging around in dirt and avoiding being eaten by birds. Meanwhile in space Psy-Crow, a feared bounty hunter, accidentally drops a cyber space suit from his ship that falls to Earth and Jim who is on the run from birds looking to make him a meal hides inside it and the suit evolves him into a more human-like life form with intelligence and a goofball charm. But with his new found power and mind, he becomes a marked worm as Psy-Crow on the orders of the evil Queen Slug-For-A-Butt is set for death and Jim himself now wants to meet the Queen’s lovely sister Princess What’s-Her-Name! And so began Earthworm Jim, space explorer and hero, who armed with his ray gun has saved worlds as well as those who are in need. Earthworm Jim in his cyber suit weighs around 154 pounds and stands about 5’8” and has super strength and a heroic heart, but he also is a little goofy as he still is a worm! Say what you will about Earthworm Jim, but he is the hero we didn’t know we needed.

Earthworm Jim is a side scrolling game that was created by Doug TenNapel and was a fun silly concept that captured the attention of not only gamers but also game publishers. The first Earthworm Jim game was released in 1994 for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo and has Earthworm Jim avoiding his enemies and trying to save Princess What’s-Her-Name! The game over the years would go on to be on many other systems like Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, Nintendo Game Boy, PC and Game Boy Advance. The game was super popular and by 1995 the sequel Earthworm Jim 2 was released and continued the story of the first game and was released for Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, PC and the Sega Saturn to name a few. This game was a hit but was not fully embraced by gamers and critics as the game did not change enough to warrant its quick release to cash in on the popularity of the original. The game series took a break for a while, and it was not till 1999 when the world got Earthworm Jim 3D that was only released for the Nintendo 64 and has Jim fighting to wake from a coma and must battle his rogues gallery who have all entered his mind. This game was not well received and marked the end of the series for home consoles.

In my youth, I can remember spending many of hours playing both Earthworm Jim and Earthworm Jim 2 for the Sega Genesis at my friends houses as well as at my cousins Dino and Norman’s. Shocking enough, I never did ever buy my own copy of the game and always just played it with them or borrowed it from them for a short time. Sadly I have never played Earthworm Jim 3D as it just never was on my radar as by the time it was released I was all about the Sony Playstation when it came to playing games. One other thing that is crazy to think is that games like Earthworm Jim helped spawn many other weird themed games like Conker, Crash Bandicoot, Banjo-Kazooie and Boogerman to name a few, and yes I know Boogerman was released the same year as Earthworm Jim. Say what you will about the Earthworm Jim series of games, but one thing is for sure, if you grew up in the 90’s and played video games they were on many of our must play games list.

Did you know in 1995 a cartoon series was released based around the adventures of Earthworm Jim? Released by Universal Cartoon Studios and airing on Kids WB starting on September 9, 1995, this series followed Earthworm Jim as he is being attacked by all types of baddies who want his power suit for their own evil plans! This cartoon was part action, part adventure and part silly as it played up on the over all goofy nature of the character and its universe. Voice actor Dan Castellaneta played Earthworm Jim, Jeff Bennett played Peter Puppy and Kath Soucie voiced Princess What’s-Her-Name showing they had some great voice talent on this show. The series only lasted for 23 episodes and ended its run on December 13, 1996 making it a very short run cartoon that built a very small cult fan base from those who grew up in the 90s. The cartoon has made its way to home media on both VHS and DVD with the latter being the complete series. This was a cartoon I can remember seeing from time to time, but was not something I watched often as I was a little older when it was released and was more into other shows at that time. But if you like this cartoon, make sure to do yourself a favor and get the DVD set put out by VEI and relive this classic toon.

In the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s toy company Playmates was one of the kings of the toy aisle as they delivered figures based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek, The Addams Family, Toxic Crusaders, The Simpsons, Dick Tracy, Skeleton Warriors, Flash Gordon, Coneheads and Zorro to name a few and along with these figures they also did Earthworm Jim ones based on the cartoon and video game! These figures were released in 1995 with a total of eight figures being made with three of them being different versions of Earthworm Jim. Also in the line was Princess What’s-Her-Name and Peter Puppy as well as baddies Psycrow, Henchrat and Bob! Each figure also came with weapons as well as a mini character like goldfish # 4 and Snott! The series of toys never made it to a wave two even though they made an appearance at Toy Fair with figures of Evil Jim, Queen Slug-For-A- Butt and The Hamstinator all planned. The figures were really cool and fit alongside Playmates other figures. Growing up I did not own any of them but do remember them in stores, to be honest it’s a little crazy that I did not at least buy Earthworm Jim as I was a fan of the game even in 1995!

Back in the 90’s Marvel Comics had already closed down their kids comic branch Star Comics and absorbed many of those titles under Marvel Comics proper like Muppet Babies and Thundercats to name a few. But they also had Epic Comics still going as it was a creator owned branch that was founded in 1982 and featured comics based on Horror Movies like Hellraiser and Nightbreed. In 1994 they tried to open a branch called Marvel Music that was comics based on musical acts like Alice Cooper, Rolling Stones and Billy Ray Cyrus and this was very short lived as by 1995 this branch was history and all titles canceled. But out of the ashes of the weirdness of Marvel Music and the cool kid friendly comics based on cartoons and toys of Star came Marvel Absurd a branch that would have issues of weird teen style comics based on popular toons and video games of the time. Some titles in this branch was just carry overs from Marvel Titles like the Nickelodeon cartoon “Ren And Stimpy” plus the hit MTV cartoon “Beavis & Butthead” that switched over to this branch way into their series. And the new title launched for this branch was “Earthworm Jim” based on the popular video game at the time not to mention the silly parody comic “Marvel Riot” that lasted only one issue. But like most things at Marvel Comics at the time as soon as it started in ended as its whole run was from around 1994-1996 as the brand was just not super popular for Marvel. But I want to take a moment to let you readers know that in 2020 I will do a Top 10 Countdown Of Things That Should Have Gotten An Absurd Comic!

So as you can see, Earthworm Jim was a perfect fit for the short lived Marvel Absurd comic line as he was wacky, weird and over the top! And not so surprisingly, this comic series is a little hard to get and the issues hold a decent price on them to get so I want to thank sellers on both Ebay and Amazon for having them in stock and making this holiday update possible. I want to remind all you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready to see what Marvel Comics and Earthworm Jim have in store for us, let’s get to the comic review section of this update.

Earthworm Jim # 1  ***
Released in 1995     Cover Price $2.25      Marvel      # 1 of 3

Queen-Slug-For-A-Butt, Major Mucus and Doc Duodenum have entered Heck and asked the underground ruler Evil to let them hire an army of evil lawyers so they can sue Earthworm Jim for all the years of stopping their evil schemes! Meanwhile Jim himself is on a “date” with Princess What’s-Her-Name and they are attacked by Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head who take them prisoner, as Professor wants the cyber space suit and Psy-Crow wants to eat Jim once he is out of the suit!!! As Jim escapes the grip of Psy-Crow his suit runs amuck in the lab while talking goldfish Bob and his catmen have Princes What’s-Her-Name prisoner and force her to agree to marry him as they fake that they will kill Jim if show don’t! Meanwhile the escaped worm Jim finds himself in the prison area and meets many failed experiments that are being locked up and that includes a small puppy man named Peter Puppy, and once Jim finds these creatures need help he returns to the lab and gets his suit back by beating Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head, heads to the dungeon and frees the creatures and along with Peter jumps on a rocket to stop the wedding of Princes What’s-Her-Name and Bob!

This comic is super silly and really is Absurd and that’s a great thing as a comic based on Earthworm Jim needed to be this way. The plot has all of Jim’s bad guys wanting to defeat him with some trying to hire lawyers to sue him with others wanting to kill him and steal his suit to build an army of super soldiers! But while the lawyers do not find Jim in this issue, they are still on the lookout for him as his main nemesis are Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head who kidnap him and his Princess girlfriend and want him dead in the ground! Earthworm Jim in this issue is heroic and slightly goofy but shows that he will always stand up for the little guy and do whatever it takes to do the right thing! I love how Jim in this issue also finds his inner hero when he meets a group of freaks that have been created and kept prisoner and knows he must set them free! Princess What’s-Her-Name also shows that she is a great person that is able to take care of herself as she mops the floor with many catmen! I also feel bad for her as she thinks her man Jim has been tortured and even cut by his captures, and this makes her agree to marry a goldfish. Professor Monkey-For-A-Head and Psy-Crow are the issues main bad guys as they are teaming up with the idea to finally bring down Jim once and for all and they are cruel and seem to get joy in this sick game they are playing. Bob the goldfish as well is a sick man who is a terrible creature who is trying to force love in order to gain power. We shall see how the lawsuit goes if the Lawyers of Heck come into play in one of the further issues. Over all this is a very fun action, adventures, comedy and silly comic that brings the video games/cartoon character to life on the pages of a comic book. The cover is fantastic and very eye catching and captures that 90’s style, the interior art is done by Barry Crain and is top notch and does capture the fun nature of the Earthworm Jim universe. So with this first issue being great, let’s see what the next issue has in store for us.

Earthworm Jim # 2  **1/2
Released in 1996     Cover Price $2.25     Marvel     # 2 of 3

Evil, the cat leader of Heck, is upset at his lawyers and orders them to get the job done this issue or they will all way the price! While Earthworm Jim and Peter are lost in space, as they cannot find the hideout of Bob and even after getting directors from a Gas Station planet it takes them sometime to find their way. Meanwhile Bob is gloating and bullying his soon to be wife Princess What’s-Her-Name, as a cat slips a bomb into the Princess bouquet! Meanwhile Earthworm Jim has found the directions to stop the wedding, as Bob now knows that Jim is on his way to stop the wedding! Even Queen-Slug-For-A-Butt the sister of Princess What’s-Her-Name shows up for the wedding as this will truly give Bob power. Once Jim and Peter arrive they take a mutated hamster and head to the ceremony to save the day. Jim just in time is able to save the Princess before they say the “I Do’s” and Bob climbs into a mega mech suit and puts a hurting on Jim, but lucky for Jim he is able to crack Bob’s fishbowl and wins the day! As Jim, The Princess and Peter celebrate the Heck Lawyers have arrived and worse the bomb in the bouquet is about to explode!

Earthworm Jim and his puppy friend Peter are on a mission to stop a forced wedding that will see Princess What’s-Her-Name being the wife of the cruel goldfish Bob…and along the way Jim must fight off catmen, not get lost and come face to face with Bob who also now has a massive suit that is more powerful! I like in this issue that Earthworm Jim once more has a good heart and so wants to be the hero, not to mention he is still shown to be a total goof who it seems by luck is able to save the day. Peter Puppy is shown in this issue that when pushed he can and will turn into a dog monster, making him a good ally for Jim to have. Princess What’s-Her-Name who is a great and loving character shows she is willing to ruin her life in order to protect the life of her wormfriend Jim! Bob is such a jerk and when he don’t get what he wants in this issue spends his time beating up Jim, oh and he also seems to love to boss around his catmen henchmen. The Lawyers From Heck at the end of this issue finally find Jim, but worse just as they have the bomb planted is about to blow. The issue is filled with dumb humor as well as some zany action and adventure moments making for a good read. I also really enjoy the fact that both Pinhead from Hellraiser and the Creature From The Black Lagoon have cameos in this issue and Pinhead is shown as one of the Lawyers of Heck and Gillman is the Preacher for the wedding. The cover for this issue is lots of fun and has a James Bond feel to it and the interior art for the start of the comic is done by Barry Crain and is great with the later part of the issue being done by Manny Galan & Carlos Garzon and is just so-so. Over all this was a good issue, and I cannot wait to see how this series ends.

Earthworm Jim # 3  **
Released in 1996     Cover Price $2.25      Marvel     # 3 of 3

Earthworm Jim is being surrounded by all his rogues gallery as well as Lawyers from Heck as they were their for the wedding of their evil friend Bob, but things turn good when Peter by accident sneezes the flowers with the bomb in it into the crowd of baddies and the explosion leaves most of them down and out! As Earthworm Jim, Princess What’s-Her-Name and Peter escape the planet the Lawyers try and figure out where he went now so they can serve him papers. Peter would like to go back to his home world and Jim agrees to take him, but he soon learns that Peter when hurt, scared, mad or even slightly annoyed will turn into a wild dog beast that is looking for a fight! They go back and fourth with Peter raging and threatening to fight Jim that is until the Princess has had enough and puts them both in their places. Now at Peter’s home planet, they have been followed by Evil and the Heck Lawyers who know have decided to kill Jim and just sue his estate! But before Evil and them can commit the murder Jim and his people are attacked by a giant red dinosaur and Jim is stomped into the ground and is loosing the fight, but lucky for him Princess What’s-Her-Name gets into Jim’s suit and powers up her already massive power and she beats the Dinosaur with ease. With Peter home and Jim back in the suit, the puppy ends up asking if he could just go home and live with them as he now knows that his planet is a terrible place to live. Jim and The Princess agree to take Peter to their home planet and while there Peter ends up saving the day as he attacks and eats Evil and chases off all the Heck Lawyers after becoming the dog monster! In the end Earthworm Jim and Princess What’s-Her-Name continue their date and all ends well.

This third and final issue is fun, but is the weakest issue in the series as I feel they waste so much time with the joke everything sets Peter off in becoming the dog monster…and while funny maybe the first couple of times it wears thin pretty fast when its back to back to back, making me as a reader kind of be annoyed with the Peter character. It almost seemed liked they ran out of story ideas and just made this final issue filled with lots of filler moments. The plot has Earthworm Jim and Princess What’s-Her-Name taking their new friend Peter to his home planet, and they are being stalked by Evil cat ruler of Heck and his demonic army of lawyers as well as trying to survive the planet that is filled with all types of creatures all want blood and kills. In this issue, Earthworm Jim is still a hero but also shows that he can be defeated and also can have a short fuse when annoyed time and time again. As I said before, Peter is pretty annoying in this issue and spends almost all the issue being triggered by everything and going back and fourth into becoming a monster and a normal puppy man. Princess What’s-Her-Name is as always a hero and shows that she don’t even really need Jim to be her hero as she has the power and mind to take care of herself. Evil and his Heck Lawyers are pretty silly and like in the other issues just kind of fumble around and miss their chances to strike. The threat in this issue is around but the stakes don’t seem as high as really this whole issue’s purpose is to get Peter home, and to this reader I kind of feel that this is just a average read with not real thought put into the story and was made to fulfill the contract made with the people who made Earthworm Jim. The cover on this issue is great and eye catching, and the art in this issue is all done by Barry Crain and is good but also seems rushed. To sum it up, this is an entertaining comic mini series based on a very goofy video game character, and I am sure will please fans of Earthworm Jim. Check out the art below to see the style of Barry Crain and enjoy.

So before we end this update, I really wanted to share some of the Horror Movie characters that have cameos in this series. The first one I spotted was Pinhead from the movie series Hellraiser in issue # 2 who is on the planet Heck and is one of the Lawyers that has been hired to bring a lawsuit against Earthworm Jim. It was pretty cool seeing him as Marvel Comics under their Epic line use to make Hellraiser comics. Also in issue # 2 was Gillman from the Universal Monster movie Creature From The Black Lagoon as he is the preacher that is marrying Bob and Princess What’s-Her-Name! Sadly I think these two are the only two Movie Monsters in this series, but I must say this is very cool and I wish more comics would add little Easter Eggs like this more often.

So I hope you enjoyed this Christmas Eve update all about Earthworm Jim and it helped add to your holiday season with great memories of playing the video game, watching the cartoon, playing with the toys and even reading the comics. This time of the year really is filled with magic and makes me always think of my youth and all the great memories of Christmas pasts. So I don’t want to take up more of your holiday with my ramblings, but do want to let you know that our next update will be my Films Of 2019 update and will be the first update of 2020! So until next time enjoy your time with loved ones, have fun opening your gifts and always watch out for each other. Oh and make sure to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

A Very Merry NES Challenge Christmas Eve: Dragon’s Lair

Merry Christmas Eve to all you readers and friends, and this year has been a weird and wild ride for me as lots of great things have happened, from moving into a new home to making amazing comics with my friends at Sparkle Comics and even getting to travel to Evans City Cemetery twice this year! But sadly this year has also been a rough one for fans of horror as we lost many of our icons like George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Martin Landau, Michael Parks, Bill Paxton, Umberto Lenzi and Lon Madnight and each loss was very sad. Not to mention the world of entertainment lost many other names like Tom Petty, Bernie Wrightson, Adam West, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Berry, Ivan Koloff, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, George Steele and Basil Gogos to name a few. So make sure this holiday season to cherish your family, friends, co-workers and celebrities and anyone who offers something to your life. So let’s get back to the joy of the holiday and our topic at hand: Dragon’s Lair in the world of video games, cartoons and comics, and yes, I will even have an NES Challenge and try my best to try and beat the game! So grab your armor and helmet as we are about to go on a winter wonderland adventure with Dirk The Daring!

The hero of the world of Dragon’s Lair is the one and only Dirk The Daring, a high ranking knight for the kingdom who is selected to save the Princess Daphne from all the evil that keeps trying to kidnap her and do her harm. Dirk is well respected by the Kingdom as he is very loyal and brave and later even becomes the husband of Daphne, making him an heir to the throne! Dirk was trained at a young age to be a brave knight as he was in the Squire Scouts and even earned top badges during this time. When ready for battle Dirk gears up with his iconic armor that includes his orange over shirt and uses his sword as well as his fists, feet and head in order to fight off his enemies. I should also note that Dirk The Daring was only chosen to save the Princess after all the other knights in the Kingdom failed and were killed on this quest! So to sum up Dirk The Daring it would be this, he is a brave, loyal and smart knight who is willing to risk his life to save the Princess from a dragon and wizard and for this selfless action even finds himself the heir to the crown! Dirk The Daring is a very simple character who embodies the classic knight of old lore and is one iconic and yet sometime forgotten classic video game character.

In 1983, arcades were all the rage as machines were all over the place from pizza parlors to grocery stores.  These machines gobbled up many of players’ quarters as games like Pac-Man Jr., Donkey Kong 3 and Mario Bros. had eager gamers waiting in long lines to get a chance to try to get the top score on the machine! And during this early day of arcade machine domination, cartoonist Don Bluth and writer Rick Dyer created an interactive animated laserdisc game that as well took the arcade world by storm and even sparked sequels and many homeports of the game! The arcade game was such a hit that it, along side Pong and Pac-Man, are the only three arcade machines stored at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.! The game has been ported and remade for many home systems like Sega CD, Xbox, Playstation 2, CD-I, Nintendo DS and so many others including cell phones! In 1990, the game was released by Imagesoft, who made the game more of a side scrolling adventure game and took away the animated character of Dirk The Daring and made him into a 8-Bit hero of the home console generation as the game followed the same plot of the arcade game and turned up the difficulty to deliver a true challenging game. But with this change and the difficulty level came frustration as Dirk can be killed with one hit and almost everything can kill him including closed doors. This made gamers and critics go crazy, and the game was not well received and is considered as one of the worst games for the NES. So now that we have a brief history of this game and we learned about its over all poor reception from gamers, I can’t wait to spend a day trying to beat it on the NES!

Really quick I also need to briefly talk about the episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd where he took on Dragon’s Lair for the Nintendo Entertainment System! Back in 2007 for episode 37, The Nerd took a funny and frustrating look at Dragon’s Lair and went crazy trying his best to beat the game for the NES and found out that the game is brutal and unforgiving and nothing at all like the arcade game it was based on. Try after try he ended up losing his character’s lives and losing his cool in the process! This is a very funny episode that has the nerd drinking to try and deal with the brutal nature of the game and ends with him bumping into a close door and dying just like the character of Dirk in the video game. If you like crude and funny humor videos on YouTube, give this one a watch as it’s a good one.

In 1984, a cartoon of Dragon’s Lair was released by Rudy-Spears Productions for ABC and was part of the sadly long gone Saturday Morning Cartoons. The toon followed Dirk The Daring as he once more did his best to save and protect the lovely Princess Daphne from evil such as Singe The Dragon and Phantom Knight and at the end of each episode we are left with a cliffhanger leaving the viewer wondering how Dirk is to escape his approaching doom. The cartoon was short lived and only lasted 13 episodes and would later be replayed in reruns on USA Cartoon Express and Boomerang where it found a new audience. Voice actor Bob Sarlatte voiced Dirk The Daring while Ellen Gerstell lent her pipes to Princess Daphne. While this cartoon was not super popular and never made a huge impact in the world of toons, it was released on DVD thanks to Warner Brothers and now fans can relive it or even discover it for the first time. I remember barely it and know that I have seen episodes on USA Network but sadly don’t remember much about it besides I liked it.

Before I get into the NES Challenge part of this update, I want to also talk very briefly about some of the cool merchandise that has been made based on Dragon’s Lair that included coloring books, picture books, DVDs, comics, video games, stickers, plastic toys, trading cards, lunchbox and even very cool action figures! So what I am trying to say is that if you’re a fan, you can get yourself some cool items or heck maybe even ask Santa for some next Christmas! I think the action figures are pretty dang cool and are something that I feel I must track down.

So I decided to take my NES Challenge of Dragon’s Lair on November 8, 2017 as Juliet had to work all day and I was itching to try and tackle this legendary hard game! So starting at 9pm I hooked up the old RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) and grabbed my NES Controller and was ready for the show down of a lifetime! I poured a large glass of water, grabbed my iced coffee and opened a small bag of chips and cleared my head of other projects I was working on and knew that I had to take control of Dirk The Daring, as he needed to save Princess Daphne…so here is what happened in my showdown: upon starting the game up I noticed that the good old RES is starting to have some issues and that the controller has having major issues as it acted like it was not plugged in, and after working on it, I finally got it to work and my first impression was wow this game sucks as the controls seem delayed and this causes you to be open to the attack of the sea monster that is the first baddy you encounter! Plus while bats only drain your energy such things as rocks, doors, fire and most other bad guys can kill you in one hit! After playing for a few moments and lots of frustration, I was able to get into the castle and then that’s when the major frustration kicked in as the slow sloppy controls, one hit kills and random pop up enemies all kept causing Dirk to die and me to start the quest all over! No matter how much I tried, I was stuck in that damn dungeon and was driven to anger on just how terrible this game I was playing really was! After several hours of playing I really built up a strong dislike for the game and quickly forfeited to its suckiness, and I am not ashamed to say I did not beat Dragon’s Lair for the NES as its terrible controls made it a waste of time in trying to play as it seemed like it was fighting you not to advance. Below are some pics of me playing this game….man it was so bad!

So that NES Challenge was a waste as I found myself really disliking the game play and the delay really annoyed me to the point I just needed to walk away. But we are now at the point of the update where we will be taking a look at the comics based on Dragon’s Lair, and we will start with the Cross Gen series and work our way into the Arcana release. So as we sit here waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney, the snow man in the front yard would like for 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 some hot chocolate or even some eggnog and let’s take an epic Christmas Eve journey with Dirk The Daring! I also want to thank Lone Star Comics, Ebay and Amazon for having these comics in stock so that I could do this update.

Dragon’s Lair # 1  ***
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen     # 1 of 3

The evil dragon Singe has his sights on revenge when it comes to Dirk The Daring, and this revenge has also sparked pure hatred and bloodlust of wanting to see our hero dead for all of the dragons he has killed in the past! Princess Daphne has been asked to run the Kingdom while the King is away, and as she and Dirk are on their way there, they are attacked by Singe and his smaller sidekicks.  Soon Dirk and Daphne find out that this dragon is super powerful as he defeats Dirk and takes Princess Daphne prisoner. After waking up from his defeat, Dirk The Daring heads to the Kingdom and finds a group of heroes that want to help on his quest to get the Princess back that are Leraene, the female Captain of the Royal Guard, and Drake, a young wizard’s apprentice who uses what little knowledge he has to look into the flame and sees lots of enemies and the dark castle that Singe is hiding the Princess in. Dirk tells his friends they must stay and guard the kingdom, and he finds that Daphne is being held in a magical bubble that in two days will warp her mind and cause her to be Singe’s slave and that the only way to kill Singe is by using a magical sword called the DragonFang that is as well in the castle. Dirk has the info he needs and gears up and heads out to save the day as our first issue ends.

The is a very fun and slow burn fantasy adventure comic that does its best to bring the video game characters and universe to the comic book world, and in my opinion they do a pretty good job of doing so. The plot is simple, that the granddaddy of all dragons Singe is mad at Dirk The Daring for killing many of his kind and wants revenge and sets out his plan that includes kidnapping the princess and taking her to a place that will be filled with lots of dangers all with the hopes of ending the life of Dirk! Our hero is Dirk The Daring, a noble and strong knight who does not back down in the face of danger and will do whatever he can to protect The Princess who he respects and loves. Dirk also kind of has an ego but not to the point that he is narcissistic or cruel to characters around him he just is very confident and don’t have time for those who drag their feet around him. Daphne, while a princess, is also very much a skilled fighter, and while she was kidnapped during this issue, she at least tried her best to fight back even biting the dragon, so clearly she is not your typical weak princess kind of character. Singe is a massive dragon who is not only powerful and filled with fire breathing rage but also is super smart and has hatched a plan to get revenge. I really cant wait to see what Singe has in store for our heroes. Drake is a goofball but his limited magical knowledge could come in handy, and Leraene is skilled and a great warrior to be at Dirk’s side in this rescue quest. I also am looking forward to seeing what they will offer in the upcoming issues. While the action of this comic is at the start and the rest is building up the story, I found this first issue to be a solid read and showed that CrossGen understood the folklore and character history of Dragon’s Lair. The cover is eye catching, and I am sure not only brought in fans of the video game but also adventure comic fans. The comic’s interior art was done by Fabio Laguna, and is top notch classic animated looking art showing they hired all the right people to make this comic book work! Over all I am looking forward to reading issue two, and can’pt wait to see what Dirk The Daring and his friends are planning on this rescue mission.

Dragon’s Lair # 2  ***
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen      # 2 of 3

Dirk The Daring enters a creepy swamp, and after finding a Hydra Snake, he finds himself in quicksand and must hope that his trusty horse saves him in time. Meanwhile Singe thanks that Dirk died from their first battle and Princess Daphne soon finds out that the Dragon has many human brides that were once princess as well and that soon she will loose her free will and become one of his brides as well! As Dirk is saved by his lucky horse who is named Bertram ,and they find themselves at a dark castle that belongs to the Lizard King who is helping Singe and wants to do his best to kill our hero! As Bertram leads the alligator henchmen away from the castle Dirk and Lizard King have a fight that leads the evil Lizard King falling out of a window and into the mouths of his hungry alligators who eat him alive, as Dirk The Daring and Bertram head toward the dark castle of Singe.

In this second issue, Dirk The Daring fights the Lizard King (no, not Jim Morrison of the band The Doors!) as well as all the creepy crawlers of the swampland and gets one step closer to rescuing his true love. Dirk The Daring is focused on his quest at hand, and once more proves he is not scared to risk his own life in order to save his Princess. I also really like that Dirk on his quest is really leaning on his trusty horse Bertram for backup and boy does this horse help pull his fat out of the fire a couple of times. Dirk is a great hero in comics just like he is in video games, and in this issue he acts like a true knight! Singe is once more shows that he is cold blooded as he enjoys the fact that he has enslaved many of Princesses and that he killed Dirk The Daring or so he thinks. The Lizard King is a loud mouth little reptile man who tries his best to end the quest of Dirk but is out classed when it comes to battle and finds himself dinner for his very own pet gators! I really like the dingy swamp atmosphere in this issue as it adds a feeling of dread to the quest and is filled with snakes, spiders and killer lizards showing that many sinister things are going to stand in the way of Dirk’s rescue mission. While the first issue was part action and part story drama, this second issue goes for mostly action and only a small part drama making for a quick and fun read. The cover is pretty cool and once more eye catching for fans of the game and adventure comics. The interior art is once more done by the talented Fabio Laguna and is great stuff. This second issue is just as entertaining as the first, and I can’t wait to see what the third and final issue has in store for Dirk The Daring and us the readers.

Dragon’s Lair # 3  **1/2
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen     # 3 of 3

Princess Daphne finds herself stuck in the bubble, and none of the other Princess will help her escape as the mind washing of free will is creeping even closer, and Singe himself has the only key to open the bubble around his neck! Meanwhile Dirk The Daring and Bertram have entered a graveyard and soon find that they are being surrounded by zombies and skeletons that want both man and horse dead as they are craving death and souls! Dirk and his trusty horse fight the horde of the undead and even trick a massive skeleton into destroying himself! After they escape the graveyard they make their way even closer to the castle of Singe.

This issue is lots of fun but also slips a little as I found it to be a little lackluster on the adventure part, and Dirk fighting the undead seemed like it was just him running through them and them exploding into piles of bones…and I never felt he was in danger in this issue like I did in the past two. But while this issue is not as solid as the past two, I still want to stress that it is a very good issue even with this slight flaw. The issue’s thin plot has Dirk The Daring charging through a graveyard filled with the reanimated dead while Princess Daphne tries to figure out how to escape the magical ball she is trapped in as it’s trying to drain her of her own will and mind. Dirk and Bertram in this issue are once more working as a team and do well for themselves in this battle, and Dirk’s sword cuts down their enemies, as does the mighty back kick of Bertram.  They make a great comic duo and are top notch heroes for sure. Princess Daphne, even while captured, proves that she herself is also a warrior as she is not giving up and tries all she can to escape the odds that are clearly against her. It’s a shame that CrossGen lost the rights of Dragon’s Lair comics, and this was the final issue in their series as it leaves the story unfinished and Daphne still in that dang bubble! Singe is a sinister and sleazy dragon as he eats people, bosses princesses and makes them dress sexy and seems to get joy in causing death and destruction. The Undead, while they swarm in masses, they just were outmatched by Dirk, and they mostly just fell apart after one hit making them no major threat. I think what works for me about this series this far is the fact they did a fantastic job of blending the Dragon’s Lair video game and the cartoon together to make a fun and entertaining comic series that brings all the elements that made Dragon’s Lair special together. The cover on this third issue is okay and in my opinion is a little generic, but still also somewhat eye catching and the interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is top notch stuff as he captures the mood and spirit of the characters. I think the downside to this comic series is that CrossGen dropped the ball when they did not finish the story arch as three issues are missing to make this series complete. But lucky for readers, in 2006 independent comic company Arcana decided to finish this series and allow readers to see how the adventure quest ended. I feel its my duty to track those down to give you all a true look at Dragon’s Lair so let’s see what is next of Dirk thanks to Arcana! And not to confuse any of your readers I will number them as if they are part of the CrossGen set, but keep in mind while it will say its issue 4 for Arcana it’s only issue # 2!

Dragon’s Lair # 4  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana     # 2 of 4

Dirk The Daring and Bertram find themselves at a flowing river of lava and must split up in order to get across. Dirk dashes across on boulders and finds that he is not alone as Mud Men appear and attack! Dirk decides instead of fighting them and wasting what little time he has left to save the Princess, he dives below into a river that ends up leading him to the castle of Singe. Meanwhile inside the castle Princess Daphne tries to trick Singe and his slave women into believing that she is indeed wanting to be a part of his harem but soon finds the dragon king is smart and knows she is playing games in order to escape. Dirk meanwhile has entered the castle and finds all types of ghouls and baddies waiting for him that includes small purple ones that are multiplying! Dirk outsmarts them but soon finds himself behind a door that leads to a fire pit and attacking purple enemies behind it!

Dirk furthers his quest as he makes it past the Mud Men, out runs tiny purple knife swinging goblins and makes it to the castle of Singe! While this is a great adventure and continues the quest, I did once more feel that none of the baddies he faces are any threats to stopping him! Dirk The Daring as always is super brave and shows that he is also smart as when time or the odds are against him, he knows just they way to get away safe. Bertram is barely in this issue as he breaks away from Dirk in the lava river and disappears.  I hope they don’t write him out of the series and that he comes back in the next issue. Drake and Leraene also make a small cameo as they can see what the Princess is doing and mostly chat about her sexy outfit…weird. Princess Daphne however is still not giving up the fight and wants to murder Singe with her own bare hands if she can escape the bubble! Singe is getting cocky as he thinks Dirk is dead and that the Princess will soon be mind wiped and his slave forever. The Mud Men and Purple Goblin guys are cool but are easily tricked and are left in the dust for the most part. I do like the idea of Mud People and for some reason it made me think of the Muck Men in the 1980’s horror film Spookies. The cover for this issue is pretty fantastic, and the interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is topnotch stuff. So over all it was great to see the next issue in this series after Cross Gen dropped the ball withnot finishing it. So let’s see what the next issue has in store.

Dragon’s Lair # 5  ***
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana      # 3 of 4

Dirk The Daring is stuck on a small ledge above a fire pit with the creepy little purple goblins behind him and climbs his way out and dodges a horde of bats before entering a chamber where a beautiful dark haired woman is asking Dirk for his help. The woman is brainwashing Dirk that she is the true one she needs to help and while seducing him, he notices that she is not a hottie but a green skinned witch! Meanwhile Princess Daphne’s will is starting to break as she is down and almost given up as Singe tries to tell her he is not the bad guy that Dirk is as he has killed many of his dragon children and he is doing this for revenge…and that he is evil! Dirk meanwhile fights off the trance, and the witch calls in the Black Knight, an armored killing machine, who throws Dirk around and just as he is about to choke our hero to death the Black Knight gets his arms cut off by a gasping Dirk who then also kicks his armless foe out of a window. The Witch is now very mad and tries to use a spell to turn Dirk into a statue, but our hero is too smart for her and her spell bounces off a mirror and freezes her. As Dirk leaves her room he falls through a trap door!

This fifth issue is really good, and my only major complaint is that for some reason Dirk The Daring spews one-liners like Ash from the Evil Dead movie series, and it’s just not fitting for Dirk. The plot of this one is very simple Dirk is now in the castle where his true love is being held captive while she is being tormented by the evil dragon. Dirk in this issue gets seduced, wises up and hacks up a knight who is trying to kill him…so as you can see Dirk is a man on a mission and will not back down from his quest at hand. Singe is an evil dragon that really does get joy is torturing his captive prisoner and who clearly likes being powerful and in charge. I also like how Singe at first makes it that you feel bad for him as he talks about the reason he is doing this is cause Dirk killed so many of his children and he felt he needed to get revenge for them, and then says plus he is just evil and enjoys all the bad he does. Poor Princess Daphne is starting to loose her strong will as it appears she is stuck with no hope of being rescued before the next full moon and her mind is turned to mush and she becomes another bride of Singe. The Witch is sinister and uses the appearance of a very hot woman to lure Dirk in and when he finds out she is not what she appears she wants him dead and is indeed a threat! The Black Knight as well is very much a threat as he only has one thing on his dark mind and that’s to kill Dirk and even when his arms are chopped off and is kicked out of a castle window he still is silent and its clear he would still fight Dirk until his very last breath! The plus for this issue for sure is the fact The Witch and Black Knight appear as if they could in fact kill Dirk and both at least put up a major fight. The cover is super cool and I am sure caught many eyes of comic readers and the interior once more is done by the talented Fabio Laguna and man its really sad that we only have one more issue to go in this series so lets see how this quest ends.

Dragon’s Lair # 6  ***
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana      # 4 of 4

Dirk The Daring falls hard to the ground after stepping onto a trapdoor and shakes off the effects and finds himself at the gold treasure room of Singe who is fast asleep.  As he makes his way to Princess Daphne, it’s clear the bubble is starting to make her dumber and when all the other slave women freak out over seeing a real man, a screaming match breaks out and this awakens Singe who is ready for battle. Dirk tries all he can to defeat the dragon from his trusty sword, an ax and even a spear and nothing seems to slow Singe down, but this is all a plan as Dirk tricks Singe into melting the stone that traps the DragonFang sword, and he uses this blade to slay Singe and is just in time to get the key from around the dragon’s neck and free Princess Daphne from the bubble, and by shattering the bubble, this also frees the minds of all the other slave women and once more Dirk The Daring is the hero!

This final issue is fast paced and has a good and fantasy final battle between Dirk and Singe that leads to an ending fitting even for the game, as almost the whole issue is the final battle and it ends with a sword to the heart of the dragon. Dirk The Daring shows why he is considered the top knight of the kingdom as he uses both skill and smarts to slay the dragon and free the Princess. That’s one thing about Dirk throughout these six issues he stays as noble and heroic making him a true hero and icon of video games and comic books. While he can also be goofy and stumble around, it was the one-liners in issue five that was the only thing I didn’t like about the comic version of this character. Princess Daphne in this issue is becoming dumb and her will is almost broken, but once save she is the kick butt woman she needs to be and becomes a great character that can also defend herself. Princess Daphne is a great character and while her captive outfit might border on porn star look, she still is a very strong female character who does not play the victim even when she is in trouble. Bertram is a loyal horse who in his own right is a hero as he saves Dirk’s life many times in this comic and is also very brave, the down side is when Arcana took over doing the comic series this horse takes a back seat and only appears at the start of issue 4 (2) and does not show back up to the very end of issue 6 (4) making him a minor player when he should have been major. Leraene and Drake are very much background hero characters and in fact add nothing really cool to the story and could have been cut out and it would have not mattered to the story. Singe is a great bad guy as he is not only a massive dragon but he is also sleazy and dangerous who enjoys all aspects of being evil! I also like the fact he is ready to fight and kill any hero who dares cross his mean spirited path. The other baddies in this comic series are just speed bumps in Dirks quest with The Black Knight being my second favorite villain in this series being Singe. I must say I do think that the creative team behind these comics really did a great job of capturing the fun and epic feel of the Don Bluth’s video game. The cover for this final issue is pretty great and show cases Dirk with Singes image in his sword. The Interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is good stuff as even some of his rushed looking panels are still amazing! I also like how in this issue a panel has golden statues of Orko from Masters Of The Universe as well as one of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker! I also really like the fact that this comic series when dropped by the original publisher was able to be finished three years later thanks to a Publisher who picked up the slack and allowed fans to get the full story. If you’re a fan of the video game and or the cartoon this comic series is for you! Below is some artwork form this fun adventure series.

So as you can see, while the NES game based on Dragon’s Lair is a stinker, the comic series was not. Growing up I never had a full connection to these characters but always did at least find them cool, and I really wished I had read these comics when released in 2003/2006 as I think I would have even enjoyed them back then. But I just finished my last glass of eggnog, and I think I can hear reindeer hooves on the roof so I think we should get some slumber so Santa can do his work. Our next update will be my Best Of Cinema of 2017, and man ,I am looking forward to you readers checking it out. So have a wonderful Christmas, and I will see you all next year!

Do You Hear What I Hear Through The Grapevine

Happy Holidays Rotten Inkers! Tis the season for chestnuts roasting on an open fire and visions of raisins dancing in your head. That’s right, raisins..from California. Yes, I, Juliet will be your guide as we explore the 1980s sensations, The California Raisins and their journey from commercial mascots to masters of media and merchandise. I’m sure you’re wondering, other than figgy pudding, what’s the connection between raisins and the holidays? One of the best-loved appearances of the California Raisins just happens to be in William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Special, which we’ll talk about more in depth in just a bit. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the special and of the California Raisins Show, the Saturday morning cartoon based on America’s favorite dried grapes, and I continue to have a formidable collection of California Raisins figures. So come along with me as we travel to Raisinville and learn all about the California Raisins, including the Blackthorne 3-D comics based on them.

As legend has it, in 1986, the California Raisin Advisory Board was trying to come up with an idea for a commercial when one of the writers, Seth Werner, said, “We have tried everything but dancing raisins singing ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine'” and thus the Raisins were born. Well, they were born through the claymation work of William Vinton and his Vinton Studios. The four main Raisins commercials were: Lunchbox, which featured the Raisins dancing out of a construction worker’s lunchbox on a high rise. The Late Show featured the Raisins dancing past other, less healthy snacks on a side table while a late night talk show played. Raisin Ray featured the Raisins alongside a claymation Ray Charles, and Michael Raisin featured them with, yes, a claymation Michael Jackson.

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In 1987, the Raisins appeared in something very near and dear to my heart growing up, William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas special. It hosted by Rex and Herb, two dinosaurs resembling Siskel and Ebert, who actually give some great historic context for the well known holiday carols featured in the program. The songs were done as super elaborate (and time-consuming to create) claymation-style skits, some of which were created in such a way to appear fluid, almost paint-like instead of looking like stop-motion. The songs featured were: We Three Kings, which starts fairly traditionally but get groovy thanks to singing camels, a comedic Carol of the Bells, O Christmas Tree which takes us into ornaments, Angels We Have Heard On High, which features two walruses ice skating in what feels like a subtle nod to the Fantastia Hippo Ballerinas. Joy To the World is a stunning collage of constant motion that celebrates African American culture. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is performed by the California Raisins, putting a little magic into the air after a Christmas eve gig (ala, as the Raisins often were, the Temptations). The hosts get their own story about wassailing, which is mistaken for waffling, waddling, wallowing, etc. This one, upon rewatch, puzzled me a bit. Are the actual wassailers at the end elves or leprechauns? When I was young I thought they were elves, but have they been leprechauns, or perhaps drunken locals the whole time? Weigh in, dear readers. The half hour Claymation Christmas Special debuted on CBS alongside the Garfield Christmas Special and the pair often ran together during the holiday season. I had one night’s CBS holiday lineup (that included Micky’s Christmas Carol, the Claymation-Garfield pairing and A Charlie Brown Christmas) taped on TV on VHS that was yearly, mandatory holiday viewing even after many of these were dropped from regular rotation.

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In 1988, the Raisins became fully fleshed out characters in their CBS special Meet the Raisins. This rockumentary mockumentary (think Spinal Tap, but with vegetables and suitable for small children) was produced by Vinton Studios and won an Emmy nomination. It actually wasn’t until this point that the Raisins got their names: A.C., Red, Stretch, and Beebop. The special also featured supporting characters such as Rudy Bagaman, the Raisins’ manager, who would go on to be one of the leading characters in the 1989 California Raisins cartoon, The California Raisins Show. That cartoon had a 13 episode run between September and December – kind of a shocker as my younger self seemed convinced that it lasted much longer. Instead of claymation, this show featured traditional cel animation from Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, but William Vinton served as creative director and executive producer so it definitely kept with his vision of the Raisins’ story. Many of the fruit and vegetable characters that were introduced in Meet the Raisins were prominent supporting characters in the cartoon, and many characters that were created for the cartoon (including my absolute favorite Lick Broccoli) then made appearances in the 1990 claymation special The Raisins: Sold Out!: The California Raisins II, which, furthering the Spinal Tap metaphor, saw had the Raisins attempting to mount a comeback with a new manager. This would be the last TV show/special for the Raisins, and they wouldn’t have much of a TV presence for many years to follow.

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During their short run, the California Raisins got a lot of merchandise created in their wrinkly image, and many of it has ended up in the Smithsonian permanent collection. Perhaps the most ubiquitous were the Raisins figurines that came out in assorted series from Hardee’s between 1987 and 1991, and were also stellar garage sale finds. I’ve been able to piece together a sizable collection of little guys, some of which I’ve had since the late 80s. In addition to the figure, there were Raisins t-shirts, Halloween costumes, lunch boxes, posters, coloring books, music albums, and a Capcom video game that was created but never officially released – though luckily it has made its way into the world via the homebrew game market. You can also check out a good representation of the California Raisins commercials, Meet the Raisins, The Raisins: Sold Out, and the entire run of the California Raisins Show on a two-DVD set called appropriately enough, The California Raisins Collection.

In 1987, as part of their series of 3D comics based on licensed properties, Blackthorne began a five issue run of comics based on the California Raisins, and these books are the subject of today’s comic reviews.  I heard it through the grapevine that here on Rotten Ink, we grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.  So let’s take the boat to Raisinville and get to know our new favorite band, the California Raisins!

The California Raisins 3-D # 1   *** 1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 1 of 5

Under the cover of night, the Raisinville Chamber Orchestra is kidnapped and loaded onto a boat by masked bandits. The next morning, two young Raisins happen upon a flyer looking for musicians to play the mayoral election. As they head into town, they pick up another Raisin as a hitchiker and find their fourth and fifth potential bandmates playing a whistle on the street. As suspicious advertisements for Snax pop up around town, the new bandmates visit the music store to pick up some instruments, but find that the beloved owner has mysteriously retired, all the instruments are gone, and the store is now home to a surly French Fry Man selling Snax. The Raisins move on to the Chamber Orchestra’s headquarters where they and other raisins queue up for auditions, but something’s fishy as raisins are going in, but no one is coming out. The Raisins catch site of a group of Sugar Cubes up to no good and rush to city hall to warn the mayor. The mayor, however, is nonplussed. He’s worried that his opponent in the election, Big Burger, is trying to run him out of town, but he stops mid-thought upon chomping down on some Snax. This is when the Raisins realize that there’s something amiss; the Snax are turning their fellow raisins into zombies and the only cure is music. So they commandeer Big Burger’s campaign vehicle, which is equipped with a loudspeaker and do their thing. Mayor Van Raisin is re-elected and Big Burger and his Snax are run out of town.

This was such a fun read! It threw me at first because the Raisins (the main ones that is) don’t use their names at all in this book, but that’s because this came out before they had names. That said, all of the hallmarks of the developing California Raisins world were present: the power of music, junk food more often than not being portrayed as the villains of the story, and the delightful little details like the picture on the wall of a bottle of wine labeled Uncle Vino. The artwork was really well done by an unnamed artist, especially considering that the majority of the characters were raisins and you could still distinguish who was who. I liked the 3D effect, though quite honestly, I would enjoy this comic entirely on its own merit so it wasn’t necessarily a selling point for me (in fact, I had a harder time reading it, not because the 3D was poorly done, but just because my eyes have trouble focusing with old school red and blue 3D glasses). This five issue run is off to a strong start, so let’s see how the rest go.

The California Raisins 3-D # 2  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 2 of 5

In a prologue, Big Burger looks at Raisinville from afar and vows that the town will be his as his junk food henchmen bring a display of the Raisins, Big Burger’s new sworn enemies. But never fear, our villain has a plan….we cut to the Raisins receiving an invitation to receive their complementary mansion earned by virtue of being the official Raisinville band. The Raisins are, of course, excited to reap the benefits of their newfound and begin exploring the mansion and discovering its various perks and quirks including some trap doors. Three Raisins are captured by the ever bickering Cookie and Candy, and the other two narrowly escape multiple traps looking for their friends. The fourth Raisin gets captured, but the last is able to discover the evil plot against them and devises a plan. Using the house’s recording gear and sound system, he minimicks Big Burger’s radio and lures Cookie and Candy away so he can free his bandmates. Together, they roll Cookie, Candy and some Sugar Cubes into a carpet and dump them into the water. When they float back to Big Burger, acknowledges that the Raisins may be more formidable foes than he anticipated, but the next round is his.

This is another solid comic that capture everything charming about the California Raisins. Interestingly, the Raisins’ mansion in this one does remind me of their house in the California Raisins Show (the cartoon), and an episode where Lick Broccoli’s manager bugs the Raisins’ home to steal the Sweet Currants’ new song. But this remains firmly in the pre-Meet the Raisins realm of issue #1: no names for the Raisins. It does, however, establish Big Burger as our main villain and brings back his henchman for more hijinks. I like the continuity, but I do hope that we get to see food characters in the next issue for the sheer fact that I like to check out the different character designs. The art is once again solid, and it’s easy to figure out who’s who among the Raisins. Onward to Issue 3!

The California Raisins 3-D # 3  **1/2
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 3 of 5

This issue feature two stories. In the first, Waisin Wipeout, the Raisins are lounging at their mansion when they get a call to come down to the beach to film a surfing music video. It’s there that they’re introduced to famous fim director Steven Spielbug, his frog assistant, surfing expert Gnarly Cobb and beach babe Cher Pear, who turns out to be a Valley Pear. While the Raisins surf for the camera, Big Burger and his henchmen (decked out, of course, in pirate hats!) lurk below the water in their submarine base. They use their device to create a tidal wave, knocking the Raisins off their boards and ruining the shot. But Raisins don’t let a little water defeat them. They get back on their boards and surf so well they create a whirlpool that knocks out Big Burger’s submarine…and looks super cool in the music video.

Story number two is X Marks the Spot. While out on a picnic, the Raisins find a map, which they assume will lead them to the treasure of Blueberry the Pirate. Of course x marks the spot right under where they were picniccing so the Raisins start digging, and find nothing. They then realize that they were digging in the wrong spot, and after several repeated instances of this, begin fighting amongst themselves. This results in tears until one Raisins realizes that the seemingly shifting x on the map was shifting because it was actually a spider.

While I didn’t hate this issue by any means, this is definitely the weakest of the first three issues. First of all, why two stories? Especially when the second story, for me, was pretty weak. The first story was good, but messed with a few of the things that I love about the Raisins in general and that the first two issues honored: why are the filmmakers bugs and not food characters? Also while I get that Cher Pear is supposed to the typical valley girl/beach bimbo, it took me entirely too long to realize that she was a pear because she was drawn entirely too human. These are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things as the art is still great, but for me, the fun comes from the food characters. It’s a formula that works so why mess with it? Speaking of messing with things, it looks like the next issue is going to deviate again by being an adaptation of Meet the Raisins. So let’s take a deep breath and dive in.

The California Raisins 3-D # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 4 of 5

The Raisins (there are four of them now) are excited because their show is getting ready to come on. We go into the TV documentary where our host tells the humble origin stories of A.C., BeeBop, and Red (names!) as they formed their first band with bass singer Zoot, who introduced them to his eventual replacement, Stretch. From there we see the Raisins’ slow rise to fame with the help of their young manager Rudy Bagaman. From impressing Ed McMelon and being literal smash sensations to rebuilding their shattered careers by working with quirky director Frederico Rasperini and playing a series of concerts in the arctic. Their eventual, triumphant return comes when Rudy Bagaman nearly crashes a plane, providing an amazing introduction to the band. The documentary concludes there, and the Raisins are pleased with what they saw.

Admittedly, I’m a little torn about this one. I would have preferred an original story as opposed to a straight adaptation of Meet the Raisins, but this was extremely well done and captured the charm of the TV special so I can’t be too mad. As I’m sure you noticed above, the Raisins now have their names, and they’ve gone from being a band of five to a quartet with a completely different back story. I wonder if these Raisins are the next generation of California Raisins, or is there some sad fifth Raisin out there in the word waiting to write his tell-all book about how his band abandoned him. The artwork in this one is the same as the rest of the comics so far: really great! Needing to be able to distinguish the Raisins from each other isn’t as big a deal though, because along with their names come new, more distinct character designs. The cover features our newly revamped Raisins rocking out on the stage. I wonder if the next issue will be an original story or another adaptation (though the next special wasn’t for a few years). Might as well take a look and see….

The California Raisins 3-D # 5  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 5 of 5

Back to multiple stories so: In the Music Mash, the Raisins (there are still four of them, but they’re not the same four from the last issue) are in the studio preparing for a gig and arguing over a new song. They decide to visit their friend Gigo who’s created a new machine that can create hit songs on the spot. Everything is going well, and they bring the device to a gig with them, but when a workman leaves his toolbox too close, the machine malfunctions creating chaos onstage. In the end, the Raisins realize it’s best to go back to basics and sing one of their classics.

In California Battle of the Bands, the Dough Buys and Richter are headed to the semifinals, and the Raisins (all FIVE of them) are late to their recording session. When they arrive, an oddly cartoony Rudy introduces them to three Lady Raisins who are their new backup singers. Back at the battle of the bands, Cookie, and Candy French Fry are sabotaging the competition for their boss, Big Burger. They plan an earthquake device and play a few more pranks on the Raisins when they show up to play. When the Raisins discover the mischief, they interrupt Ratchet’s set to warn them about the earthquake device, and the two bands work together to defeat the bad guys. They celebrate their victory with a concert all together.

I have SO MANY questions. Are there multiple bands performing as the California Raisins? This kind of follows my theory from last issue, and we do learn that there’s a whole Raisinville from which these bands could have been formed. This is all to say that these Raisins are different, unnamed Raisins than the ones we saw last issue. And then there’s the numbers issue. Was Fifth Raisin on vacation for the last story and a half? Also, what is Gigo? He’s not a discernible fruit or vegetable? Is he an alien? That said, there are so many things right about this, like Shrapnel, one of the battle bands that are clearly an homage to Guns N Roses. It was also amazing to see Shirelle, Dixie and Crystal, aka the Sweet Currants, in this issue even though they, like the Raisins this time around, weren’t called by name. I’m also glad we got one more chance to see Big Burger try to thwart the Raisins and thus conquer Raisinville. The art was great, but the latter story was a little more cartoony than anything else we’ve seen in this series. All told, this was an extremely fun and solid comic series that served these classic characters well.

So there you have it, the life and times of the California Raisins with a sprinkle of holiday cheer.  I hope it’s merry, warm and bright for you and yours, and that you’ll join Matt back here on the blog for his big holiday update.  He’ll be taking us from the land of singing fruits and vegetables into animated knights and dragons when he covers the comic adaptation of Dragon’s Lair. In the meantime, make sure you’re well stocked on hot chocolate, support local and indie businesses as you’re able this holiday season, and read a comic or three.

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.

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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.

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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.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 3

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

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

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

Flash Gordon 1980 Comic Art 1

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

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Stone Protectors: Trolls Who Wanted That TMNT Money!

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

Crazy Christmas Lights

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

Original Troll Dolls

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

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

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

Stone Protectors Toon 1Stone Protectors Toon vhsStone Protectors Toon 2

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

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

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

Hot Woman Slave of the Trolls

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

Trolls Costume 1Trolls Costume 2Trolls Costume 3

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

Stone Protectors 0

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

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

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

Stone Protectors 1

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

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

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

Stone Protectors 2

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

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

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

Stone Protectors 3

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

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

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

Stone Protectors art 1

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

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Batman vs. The Abominable Snowman: Dawn Of Winter

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

Mount Everest The Home Of The Yeti

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

The Yeti caught on photo

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

Yeti scalp and hand

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

SkiFree YetiSkiFree Title ScreenSkiFree Running Yeti

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

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

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

Mount Everest rip

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

The Railroad Killer 1

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

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

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

Railroad Killer Art 1

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

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

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

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES Screen Grab

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

The Snowman DC

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

Danzig - Skeletons CD

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

Batman 337

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

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

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

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

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

Detective Comics 522

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

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

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

Detective Comics 522 art 1Detective Comics 522 art 2

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

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