Flash Gordon Savior Of The Comic Universe!

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

1980 Flash Gordon 1

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

1980 Flash Gordon 21980 Flash Gordon poster1980 Flash Gordon 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

1980 Flash Gordon comic 1

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

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

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

1980 Flash Gordon comic 2

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

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

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

1980 Flash Gordon comic 3

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

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

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

Flash Gordon 1980 Comic Art 1

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

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Batman vs. The Abominable Snowman: Dawn Of Winter

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

Mount Everest The Home Of The Yeti

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

The Yeti caught on photo

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

Yeti scalp and hand

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

SkiFree YetiSkiFree Title ScreenSkiFree Running Yeti

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

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

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

Mount Everest rip

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

The Railroad Killer 1

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

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

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

Railroad Killer Art 1

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

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

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

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES Screen Grab

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

The Snowman DC

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

Danzig - Skeletons CD

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

Batman 337

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

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

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

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

Detective Comics 522

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

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

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

Detective Comics 522 art 1Detective Comics 522 art 2

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

Super Scary Saturday Preview Logo

DC At The Movies: Superman (The Christmas Eve Special)

Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas to all my friends, family and readers on this special Christmas Eve update to Rotten Ink. I hope on this day you are surrounded by loved ones and sharing good stories and memories with one another. Last year for Christmas Eve I took a look at DC Comics movie adaptations of the early Batman films, and this year I have chosen to cover the one and only Man of Steel, Superman, and the films from the Christopher Reeves years and those that followed and were inspired by it. So pull up a comfy chair near your heater or fireplace and pour yourself a glass of eggnog or your favorite choice of holiday drink, and let’s take a fly around the world of Superman as we enter DC At The Movies: Superman!

Superman The Movie Logo

Before Batman in the late 80’s and Marvel’s The Avengers were the top notch comic book movies in the world, Warner Brothers had Superman a series of films that made kids and the young at heart super hyped to visit their local cinema and watch the adventures of Superman on the silver screen. Superman was no stranger to being the world’s most popular comic book hero as before the 1978 film, he had already taken over the world of comics with Action Comics as well as had a very popular radio drama and TV show called The Adventures Of Superman along with many other forms of media like cartoons and movie serials. But in ’78, he took over the world of movies and held the top spot until 1989 when Tim Burton’s Batman took the mantel away. I sadly was not born when Superman: The Movie came to theaters and was only a tiny baby in 1981 when Superman II was released, but I do remember the hype for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace as my brother Bryan and I wanted to rush to a theater and watch it in 1987.  For some reason I want to say we did go and see it at Beaver Valley Cinemas and when asking my Mom, Dad and brother, they said that they think a family member took us to see it and our main guess was my Aunt and Uncle, Laverne and George. Christopher Reeve to me was the perfect Superman and Clark Kent, as he was able to balance the boy scout do-gooder aspect of Superman and the goofy, nerd aspect of Kent.  To this day, I feel no actors before or after him have 100% captured the character like he did. I was so sad when in 1995 Reeve had a terrible accident while riding his horse that left him paralyzed.  His condition later lead to his death at the age of 52 in 2004. I can remember watching these films many times when they aired on TV and buying them on VHS and enjoying every cheesy moment of them.  When Reeve passed away, it looked as if the Superman series was over with, that is until Bryan Singer, who made the X-Men movies, decided to make a sequel to the first two Superman films and cut out parts 3 and 4.  The film was Superman Returns and cast Brandon Routh as The Man of Steel.  It had charm but was not in the league of the originals. But before I ramble on and decide to give you a full rundown and review of each of these films, I should instead give you all a quick rundown of the films’ plots as well as who played Superman, the films’ main bad guy as well as the lead actress. I took these write ups from our good friends at IMDB as I would have been too long winded. So enjoy this quick rundown, and I hope this triggers good memories of watching these films.

Superman The Movie 1Superman The Movie PosterSuperman The Movie 2

Superman (1978)

Unable to convince the ruling council of Krypton that their world will destroy itself soon, scientist Jor-El takes drastic measures to preserve the Kryptonian race: He sends his infant son Kal-El to Earth. There, gaining great powers under Earth’s yellow sun, he will become a champion of truth and justice. Raised by the Kents, an elderly farm couple, Clark Kent learns that his abilities must be used for good. The adult Clark travels to Metropolis, where he becomes a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet…and a caped wonder whose amazing feats stun the city: Superman! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, the world’s greatest criminal mind, is plotting the greatest real estate swindle of all time. Can’t even the Man of Steel stop this nefarious scheme?

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

Superman II 1Superman II PosterSuperman II 2

Superman II (1981)

Picking up where “Superman: The Movie” left off, three criminals from the planet Krypton are released from the Phantom Zone by a nuclear explosion in space. They descend upon Earth where they could finally rule. Superman, meanwhile, is in love with Lois Lane, who finds out who he really is. Lex Luthor escapes from prison and is determined to destroy Superman by joining forces with the three criminals.

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

General Zod – Terence Stamp

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Superman III (1983)

Wealthy businessman Ross Webster discovers the hidden talents of Gus Gorman, a mischievous computer genius. Ross decides to abuse his talents, in a way to help Webster with his plans for economic control. When the man of steel interferes, something must be done about Supes. When Gus’ synthetic Kryptonite fails to kill Superman, it turns him in an evil incarnation of his former self. The tar-laced Kryptonite pits man against himself, setting up the Clark vs. Superman battle.

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Ross Webster – Robert Vaughn

Superman IV 1Superman IV PosterSuperman IV 2

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)

Superman does a lot in his newest adventure. Archvillain Lex Luthor, determined to make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man. The two super-powered foes clash in an explosive screen extranvaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, repulse a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna, rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China and perform many more spetactular feats.

Superman – Christopher Reeves

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

Nuclear Man – Mark Pillow

Superman Returns 1Superman Returns PosterSuperman Returns 2

Superman Returns (2006)

Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth in the epic action-adventure Superman Returns, a soaring new chapter in the saga of one of the world’s most beloved superheroes. While an old enemy plots to render him powerless once and for all, Superman faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Or has she? Superman’s bittersweet return challenges him to bridge the distance between them while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him. In an attempt to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction, Superman embarks on an epic journey of redemption that takes him from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space.

Superman – Brandon Routh

Lex Luther – Kevin Spacey

The first Superman film was directed by Richard Donner, who did a fantastic job of showing the character’s origin story as well as balanced between Clark Kent and Superman. The second film was directed by Richard Lester as well as in parts Richard Donner, who was replaced by Lester after Donner had some bad blood with the film’s producers, but the film did add General Zob and his followers who had the same power as Superman making the threat more real for the man of steel. The third film was directed by just Richard Lester and took a more comedic turn even casting Richard Pryor as a lead for comedic relief.  This was the first film not to have Lex Luther in it. Superman IV was directed by Sidney J. Furie and has Superman trying to get the world to get along. Superman was the # 2 movie in 1978 bringing in $134,218,018.00 and beat out such films as Animal House, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, Jaws 2, Revenge of the Pink Panther and Deer Hunter. Superman II in 1981 was # 3 and brought in a total of $108,185,706.00 and beat out such films as Stripes, Clash of the Titans, An American Werewolf In London, The Great Muppet Caper, Halloween II, The Howling, Friday The 13th Part II and Tarzan The Ape Man. In 1983 Superman III was # 12 and brought in $59,950,623.00 and bested films like Jaws 3-D, Scarface, Psycho II, Never Say Never Again, The Outsiders, Krull and Strange Brew. Superman IV in 1987 did not do well and brought in $15,681,020.00 and was # 69 but did beat out such films as Hellraiser, Creepshow 2, House II, Teen Wolf Too, Death Wish 4, Evil Dead 2 and Chipmunk Adventure. Superman Returns in 2006 was # 6 and brought in $200,081,192.00 and pulled ahead of such flicks as Casino Royale, Borat, Saw III, Rocky Balboa, Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning and Pans Labyrinth. So as you can see, the original Superman series had many ups and downs, but as I stated before, they were the original superhero films that made kids and the young at heart hyped to watch at their local theater. Now we should briefly talk about the ladies of Superman, and the lovely actresses who played them.  The most popular and the one who was in a total of 4 of the films is Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane and was not only a tough, smart and independent woman who was the Dailey Planet’s top reporter but was also a cute as a button! She is Superman’s love interest in two of the films, and he spends so much time saving her from dangers and battling his own judgement of telling her he is also Clark Kent. In Superman II, while Lois Lane was his main love interest, Sarah Douglas played Ursa, the goth looking tough woman who is part of General Zod’s trio of super villains.  While good looking, she does have a goddess complex as she looks down on normal man! In Superman III, Annette O’Toole plays Lana Lang, a small town girl who went to school with Clark Kent who he had a crush on.  She is a single mother, has a sweet heart and is amazingly good looking. Superman IV has Mariel Hemingway playing Lacy Warfield, the daughter of a mogul who buys the Daily Planet.  She is a nice woman who wants to do real journalism and has a crush on Clark. Kate Bosworth plays Lois Lane in Superman Returns, and the character is now a mom and is still strong minded and looks great but somehow got younger looking…odd. If I was Superman/Clark Kent and I had to date one of these women, I would choose Lana Lane hands down.  Not only is she beautiful, but she is also a kind and loving person. But all of these women are fine choices and all of them have their pluses to why they would be dateable.

margot kidder Superman The MovieUrsa_supermanannetteotoole2Lacy_Warfieldsuperman-returns-20060428000200918

The Superman films also sparked a tie-in film called Supergirl in 1984 and had Helen Slater play the title part, the cousin of Superman. The film’s plot is this (from IMDB): “After a power source for the community of Krypton survivors is accidentally whisked to earth, Kara-El, cousin to Superman and niece to Jor-El, chooses to go to earth to find it, and bring it back. Upon her arrival, she becomes just a powerful and Super as her cousin, but encounters dangerous battles and unexpected obstacles when a mean spirited woman who practices rituals of the occult takes the power source for herself, and uses it to cause destruction and attempt zenith human status..”  Although this was to be a new blockbuster franchise, it fizzled at the US Box Office, only bringing in $14,296,438.00, placing it at # 66 of the year. It did however beat out such films as Ice Pirates, The Evil That Men Do, Terror In The Aisles and Cloak And Dagger. 1997 saw the release of Steel, based around the character who was a major part of the aftermath of the Death of Superman storyline that was rocking the comic book world.  The main character Steel was played by NBA player Shaq and had this as its plot: “John Henry Irons designs weapons for the military. When his project to create weapons that harmlessly neutralize soldiers is sabotaged, he leaves in disgust. When he sees gangs are using his weapons on the street, he uses his brains and his Uncle Joe’s junkyard know-how to fight back, becoming a real man of “steel.”  The film was a total bomb at the box office, bringing in a total of $1,710,972.00 in the US making for the lowest money maker for the Superman series of films. Steel was # 178 for the year and beat out the likes of Kiss Or Kill, The Van and The Winter Guest. But I should also mention the first official Superman film was 1951’s Superman And The Mole-Men starring George Reeves as Superman who was also the man who played him on the hit TV Show The Adventures Of Superman. Say what you will, but even with two poorly received spin offs, Superman and his friends at least did what they could to entertain us at the movies.

Superman mole men PosterSUPERGIRL postersteel poster

Now before we go on, I know may of you readers are waiting to see if I mention the Superman film that was being worked on by Tim Burton and would have had Nicolas Cage playing Superman.  To answer your questions, of course I am going to cover it, but also some of the other Superman films that never came to light. “Superman V” or also called “Superman: The New Movie” was being developed by Cannon Films before Superman IV was even out in theaters and would have had Superman dying and coming back to life in a shrunken city called Kandor that was original on his home planet of Krypton.  The film was to be directed by Albert Pyun, who was the director of such films as Alien From L.A., Cyborg and Captain America and Christopher Reeve was slated to play Superman once more. But when Superman IV was not a super hit and Cannon Films went bankrupt, the plan for this film disappeared and was never meant to be, but as many people point out, this would have had the death and rebirth of Superman way before the comics did it. In early 1993 Warner Brothers wanted to cash in on the Death of Superman comic craze and came up with a film called “Superman Reborn,” a hip take on the character that would please the MTV Generation and would make great action figures for toy companies. The original idea was to have Superman die at the hands of Doomsday, but before Sups passed on he would have his life force go into Lois Lane and make her pregnant with a baby that would be the reborn him…yep….the second idea had Brainiac teaming up with Doomsday, Silver Banshee and Parasite to kill Superman who would later come back to be reborn. This film did not come about when Kevin Smith was hired to rewrite some of it, but he decided the film was too campy and he had ideas of his own. This lead to “Superman Lives,” a film that would have had Superman dying, a giant Spider and even Brainiac fighting polar bears! The film would have had Superman dying by the hands of Doomsday who was sent by Brainiac and Lex Luther, and Superman when coming back alive must find a way to over through his enemies. The film was offered to Robert Rodriguez, but he had to decline and the directing seat went to Tim Burton and the role of Superman went to Nicolas Cage, even though Smith wanted to hire his friend Ben Affleck. Burton, before filming, would bring in his own guys and would rewrite Smith’s script.  This was the beginning of the end as many actors were attached for roles and all of them came and went.  The film died when Burton left the film as well saying he wasted a year of his life working on it. Other would-be films came after like Batman vs. Superman, a movie that would have had Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent down on their luck and being set up to fight each other thanks to The Joker and Lex Luther as well as an origin film called Superman: Flyby! One things for sure, while none of these films made it to the big screen, I am sure some of the films that have been made in recent years have taken bits and pieces from these scrips. Below is Nicolas Cage in a version of the Superman suit, and I can 100% say that I wish this film would have been made as well as Superman V.

Nick Cage as Superman

Some of the best merchandise to come out of the Superman Movies has to be the doll action figures made by MEGO as well as MEGO’s 3 3/4” Pocket Hero figure line. Growing up, I sadly never had any of these figures as they were out of stores way before I was old enough to play with action figures, and when we found them at garage sales they were always way over priced for our Mom to buy us one. My brother Bryan, on the other hand, did have a Superman one that was his favorite toy for awhile.  He even swung it around a string once when he was a kid at my grandparents house and lost it on top of their roof! By the time he got the figure back, it was dirty and gross as it sat up there for awhile.  When they finally got it down, the figure was thrown away. Don’t be too sad for him, he got another many, many years later and it sits in his hallway in his house. When I was in my mid-twenties, I was able to track down and get a full set of the Pocket Hero Superman figuresm and I must say I really wished I had them when I was young as Zod would have made a perfect ally for Darth Vader in my Toy Wars!

Mego Superman Dolls

Collector drinking glasses were super popular for fast food joints and gas stations to give away or sell dirt cheap in the 60’s-80’s, and Taco Bell and Pepsi did just that with very cool Superman glasses in 1979! The series had six different glasses, and if you bought a medium soda and payed .69, you could get one with your meal, a very cool way to get customers into your restaurant to buy food as well as give them something to take home that they drink out of and will remind them of your food. While we never had one of these glasses, we did have a Pepsi Superman glass from the comic books that had him busting out of chains, and it was one of my favorite glasses to drink chocolate milk out of. Over the years I have seen these Taco Bell/Pepsi Superman glasses at Antique Stores and Flea markets, and they are on my list of glasses to get for my apartment. I wonder if Christopher Reeve ever drank tea or lemonade from a Superman glass?

Taco Bell Superman Glass 1Taco Bell Superman GlassTaco Bell Superman Glass 2

Another popular part of merchandising back in the day besides toys and glasses were trading cards.  Topps was the king company who not only made cards on sports but also movies and TV shows, and of course they made some for Superman 1-3! Besides the base card set, each series had a sticker set, and each pack came with a stick of bubble gum. Growing up, I did have lots of these trading cards for all these films as I was a trading card fiend and would buy all that I could new from places like UDF and would buy bags full from garage sales. One thing I should say also is that at Game Swap Kettering this year someone traded in a complete set of Superman: The Movie trading cards as well with the stickers and even a unopened pack.  It was lots of fun to flip through the base card set as each were so vintage and cool.  It makes me miss the days of classic Topps Trading cards as lots has changed in that world that includes not only the price per pack but also the quality of the cards themselves. But as always you can’t stop change, and those who collect cards I am sure have at least one of these films in their collection.

Topps Superman And Superman II Wax PacksTopps Superman III Wax Pack

I was going to cut this from my update as I didn’t have that much to say about it, but I think those who had one or wanted one would like to take a trip down memory lane so here it goes. Iron on T-shirts were super popular for some reason back in the day, and I can always remember hating them as the image on the shirt after a few washes would crack and peel away leaving the shirt looking like a mess, something even as a youngster I would not wear out in public. But for those who remember these, Superman II had an iron on transfer shirt that I am sure brought joy and happiness to those who had it.  I’m not sure if the terrible lack of quality these style shirts had makes any of my readers mad like it did me but for those things ruined my childhood by ruining my Skeletor and Star Wars shirts!

Superman II Iron On Transfer

While I was working on this update I was listening to the Superman: The Movie and Supergirl soundtracks and enjoying the epic nature of these themes as I remember my childhood of watching these films and reading Superman comics. The first film’s score was done by John Williams, and his theme is so iconic that whenever people think of Superman, that theme comes to mind.  Believe me, it was a great score to have playing in the background while I read the comics. Ken Thorne did the score for Superman II and is great just as the original and captures the vibe of the film and the mood of the John Williams score that came before it. Ken returned to score Part III and once more did a great job of capturing the action and comedy moments with his music. Superman IV’s score was done by Alexander Courage and is good, while not as iconic as the scores that came before it, this score still helped add to the film’s over all vibe. Superman Returns’ score was done by John Ottman and is a solid piece of work and was fitting for the film. For those wondering, Supergirl’s score was done by Jerry Goldsmith, Steel’s was done by Mervyn Warren and 2013’s Man of Steel’s was done by Hans Zimmer. While all have their own great tracks, I would say that if you’re a music score fan like me, I would suggest buying the John Williams score for Superman: The Movie on CD, cassette or vinyl and give it a listen some late evening, and yes, I play some of these scores on Alpha Rythems.

Superman The Movie SoundtrackSuperman II SoundtrackSuperman III Soundtrack

While no direct video game has been made around the Christopher Reeve Superman films, one was made for Superman Returns that was on Playstation 2 and Xbox 360. The one I remember is Superman for the Atari 2600, where you play Superman and must rebuild a bridge that Lex Luther blew up and all this is timed! Superman also had a game for Commodore 64 made by First Star and an arcade game made by Taito that I can remember playing at a video store that had the machine.  Years later, that same machine is now at Game Swap in Kettering ready to be played by shoppers! One game for Nintendo was released by Seika and was a game that not only made The Angry Video Game Nerd mad but me as well as the game was terrible and treated Superman like a bigheaded small weakling. Sega Genesis had Superman, a game released by Sunsoft, that was a side scrolling cheesy action game that was one of the first games I ever bought for our Genesis as I used by birthday money to buy it. This is just a drop in the hat on video games that are about or even star Superman.  A big rumor going around is that Rocksteady and WB Games, the same team who brought us the Batman Arkham games, are working on a new Superman game that will be out for PS4 and Xbox One.  So here is hoping that these rumors are true. If you’re a gamer and you can’t sleep this Christmas Eve night, maybe pick up a controller and play a Superman game while you wait for Santa.

Superman Atari 2600Superman C64Superman NESSuperman Genesis

So I think at this point in the update we are ready to take a look at the DC Comic adaptations of the Superman films.  For some reason DC Comics were late to the game and did not do adaptations for Superman: The Movie or Superman II, but they started at Superman III so that is where we will starts as well. Well maybe for fun I will throw in the Treasury Editions that breakdown the first two Superman movies! I want to thanks Game Swap Kettering, Lone Star Comics, Mavericks and Ebay for having these issues in stock and while you turn up the heater or throw another log on the fire, I want to remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I must say that just like last year’s Batman update I am really looking forward to reading these adaptations of Superman films and hope that like the Batman issues they do the films they are taken from justice.  So let’s look to the night sky and look for Santa..I mean Superman!

Superman The Movie Comic

Superman The Movie # 0  ***
Released in 1979    Cover Price $2.50    DC Comics    # 0 of 0

This book adds more to your Superman The Movie experience as it acts as a way to show the connections and differences between the movie and comics. It breaks down Krypton and Smallville, shows the layout of the Fortress of Solitude and speaks of the wonders of the Daily Planet and it’s workers. It also tells about Superman, Lex Luther and his fellow team of evil doers. One amazing thing is, it does a great job of showing the characters in the comic and how they look in the movies.  For some they did a fantastic job, while others they were close but not on the dot. It also gives you some history on much of the crew and makers of this film like the producer, director, costume and production designer and John Williams, the composer of the film’s soundtrack. It shares information on actors from the film from Christopher Reeve to Gene Hackman and in-between and shows some behind the scenes looks into how they made a scene. One cool thing is that they also show the two young kids who won DC Comics contest to get a cameo in the film and shows who they played. While most of this information could be looked up much quicker on the internet than fumbling through this over sized book, I still found this a fun read on a chilly night to spark the nostalgia of the film series in me.

Superman II Comic

Superman II # 0 **1/2
Released in 1981    Cover Price $2.95    DC Comics    # 0 of 0

This oversized Treasury Comic breaks down the film Superman II with a look at the actors, sets, characters and even filming elements like the films fight scenes! It covers lots of great stuff and even contains some amazing pictures of actress Sarah Douglas looking pretty hot in low cut shirts. It’s much like the first Superman: The Movie breakdown and really while entertaining, just makes you wish these were comic adaptations of the films instead of oversized magazines. So let’s move onto the real highlight of this update the DC Comics based on the rest of the Superman films.

Superman III Comic 1

Superman III # 1  **1/2
Released in 1983    Cover Price $1.00    DC Comics    #1 of 1

August “Gus” Gorman is a man down on his luck who has been on unemployment for over 36 weeks and might have found his break on the back of a pack of matches that leads him to become a computer programer for Archibald Data Processing and he does things that even his instructor never knew a computer could do! At the Dailey Planet editor Perry White lets Lois Lane take a vacation to Bermuda, Clark Kent go back to Smallville for his high school reunion and Jimmy Olsen go along to snap photos, but during the trip back home Clark must turn into Superman as a chemical plant has caught on fire and it houses the most dangerous acid in the world that could kill many if it gets too heated up! As Superman saves the lives of workers, he also must save Jimmy Olsen who breaks his leg trying to snap pictures and uses a nearby lake to put out the fire and save the day. With Jimmy Olsen having to go back to Metropolis, Clark goes to his reunion and runs back into Lana Lang, his crush who is now divorced and has a young son Ricky.  Lana is trying to dodge Brad, a drunk one time jock who is the jerk of town who wants to win her heart. Ross Webster has lost $85,000.00 from his company Webco Industries as someone embezzled it, and he know its Gorman, who he ropes into helping him take control of a satellite that can control the weather so that he can ruin all of Columbia’s coffee beans and can be the king of coffee. Meanwhile Clark in Smallville is becoming close to Lana and her son Ricky and must turn into Superman and save Ricky’s life after an accident in a field almost leaves him plant food! Gorman gets the satellite to work as bad weather unleashes itself on Columbia but is stopped by Superman who know becomes the target of Ross and his sister Vera and his girlfriend Lorelei who want to build a piece of kryptonite to use against and kill Superman! But they make a mistake, and the kryptonite does not kill Superman but turns him bad.  As the Man of Steel does evil things, Ross and Gorman set their sights on building a super computer and taking over the oil industry. Lana and Ricky move to Metropolis and find the Evil Superman.  The boy’s kind words leads to an inner fight and turns Superman good again.  He fixes all his wrongs and goes after Russ and his goon squad who have built the super computer and use it to fight The Man Of Steel! Gorman realizes that the computer is evil and tries to save Superman, but the computer is now working for itself and even turns Vera into a robotic droid of destruction! In the end, Superman uses the acid from the chemical lab and destroys the computer and takes Gorman to safety and lets the cops deal with Ross, Vera and Lorelei.

This comic adaptation is pretty dang good, but the odd thing is it takes lots of the film’s comedy aspects away.  While it’s still very light hearted, it’s by no means as goofy as the film. The plot has Superman going back to his hometown of Smallville, falling in love with his crush and trying to find a way to get her to move to Metropolis, all the while a con man named Gus is working for a big business man who wants to rule the world.  Superman must find away to stop them and their scary giant computer. The first thing that I noticed is that the comic has lots of changes like Lana in the end does not get a job with the Daily Planet nor does the fling go anywhere, also Brad, the sleazy one time jock is down played and is not nearly chasing Lana like he is in the film. All of Gorman’s slapstick over the top comedy is gone, and he is played more like a normal guy who, while a con man looking for a quick buck, is really just a nice guy. The worst part that was cut and happens to be my favorite part of the film is when Superman goes to Lana’s house for something to drink and the fake kryptonite starts to turn him bad and he gets all sleazy on her. Superman is as noble as ever and saves many lives and stops lots of disasters all the while doing so with a smile as he takes joy in helping out mankind. Superman, in this comic adaptation, is strong but seems slightly weaker than the comic book version but who really is looking at that aspect? Ross Webster and his sister Vera are rich snobs who thinks the world owes them everything because they have more money than you, are really snooty and are willing to kill Superman so that they can get more money. Gus Gorman is a man who as well is looking for quick cash, but while he will steal your cash, he by no means wants to kill or hurt someone to do so. Gus is almost a puppet to the evil Ross who is the puppeteer and is pulling his strings by using his own greed to get him to obey. Lana Lane and her son Ricky are great characters as they are used to show a human side to Superman who has a bond with the pair.  I really like Lana as well because unlike other lead female roles in these style of films, she is in no need of saving and can take care of herself. The cover is okay, but it’s odd they chose to use a blurry still of the film instead of drawing something original.  The artwork inside is done by Curt Swan & Sal Amendola and looks like a normal issue of Superman but the characters only slightly look like the actors who play them in the film.  That’s kind of a let down as I would have loved to have seen it look like Christopher Reeve and Annette O’Toole. To sum it up, while good, it does lose some of the charm of the film and is an okay adaptation of a classic superhero film I grew up watching. Below is some artwork from the issue that shows the inner battle between Clark Kent and the Evil Superman.

Superman III Art 1

So from Superman III, it’s now time to take a look at DC Comics look at Superman IV: The Quest For Peace movie adaptation.  The question is, will it capture the cheesy magic of the film or will it fall a little behind like the Superman III did?

Superman IV Comic 1

Superman IV # 1  ***
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.00    DC Comics    # 1 of 1

In space, a Russian astronaut has an accident and is about to float away into space when Superman saves him.  Superman returns to earth and as Clark Kent has his family’s old farm house for sale in Smallville and finds a old message from his real father and a crystal that will act as a shot of power if he ever needs it. The next day on his way to work Superman saves a train full of passengers as the conductor suffers from a heart attack and when at work he gets news the Daily Planet has been bought out by tabloid tycoon David Warfield and his daughter Lacy who want to change the Planet into a trash paper. Lex Luther escapes from jail thanks to his nephew Lenny, and they steal a strand of Superman’s hair from the science museum and use radiation to create a dimwitted super guy who fights Superman in the street and is destroyed with ease by the man of steel. Jeremy is a young boy who is flown to Metropolis in order to talk to Superman as the child wants him to destroy all the nuclear weapons in the world, and Superman does just that as he flings the weapons into the sun. Lex Luther, with the help of some top war monger government army brass, sends a chemical human stew into the sun hidden into one of the missiles and so is born Nuclear Man, who feeds off the sun rays and is now out to destroy Superman on Lex Luther’s orders. The pair fight all around the world, and Nuclear Man lands a powerful blow that leaves Superman injured and oddly makes him start to age faster! While Superman/Clark Kent tries to nurse himself back to health, Nuclear Man decides he is in charge and turns on Luther and Lenny and also comes to the decision that Lacy Warfield will be his Queen, but before things get too bad Superman uses the crystal of power.  After a tough fight Superman beats Nuclear Man with the help of an eclipse and Lacy and puts the super baddy into a nuclear core where he will be drained of power and die! In the end Superman and youngster Jeremy teach all the people of the world we are all the same, and Perry White with the help of the banks buys the majority shares to become the owner of the Daily Planet.

The first thing that I must say is that all the flaws and moments of the film that make no sense are fixed and explained in this comic adaptation as no film editor took their scissors to the print to make a runtime. The plot is very simple: Lex Luther escapes jail as the world is in a nuclear weapon panic, Superman saves the day by ridding the world of all those nasty warheads and by doing so creates his own worst enemy in the Nuclear Man, all the while the Daily Planet is being taken over by a creepazoid smut news publisher. Throw in some love story with Lacy and Clark as well as Superman aging, and you have this cheesy comic storyline. While the film is a mess, I did find this comic adaptation to be lots of fun and better than part III. Superman in this comic is very noble and after fighting with his mind, listens to his heart and tries his best to rid the world of evil nuclear war weapons and truly embraces Earth as his home. Lois Lane is sassy, Jimmy Olsen is a background player, David Warfield is a scum bag, and Perry White is a man on a mission and saves his paper from being a tabloid magazine. Lacy Warfield is a rich woman who at least has some kindness in her heart as she wants to do the right thing and wants to win the heart of Clark Kent. Lex Luther once more is filled with pure revenge as world peace is not enough for him; he would rather risk that all for money and the death of Superman. Lenny is a goofball, as is the first Super clone, and Nuclear Man is a powerful narcissistic hothead who uses all his power for evil. The big things that are different from comic to film is that this comic shows the first attempt of the super clone as well as explains him getting sick when injured and turning old.  These scenes in the comic help make the whole thing make sense as some of these elements are left in the movie with no backstory. The art is really well done and is done by a handful of artists, and while they don’t look anything like the actors who play the characters in the film, it does hold the DC Comic charm and looks as if it could have been just a normal issue in the Action Comic series. So over all, this is a good comic adaptation done right by DC and really makes me wish they did ones based on the first film and Superman II, but we can’t change the past so before we move onto Superman: Returns, check out some art from Superman IV.

Superman IV Art 1

So from Nuclear Man to, you guessed it, more Lex Luther.  Let’s see how this more modern comic adaptation holds up, shall we? I should also note that while I don’t hate this film, I did find it to be just mediocre at best so it will be cool to see how this adaptation holds up to the film.

Superman Returns Comic 1

Superman Returns # 1  **
Released in 2006    Cover Price $6.99    DC Comics    #1 of 1

Superman has left Earth for over five years on a quest to find his home world in space and comes up empty handed.  He returns home to find his mother dating another man and wanting to sell the family farm to move away from Smallville. Lex Luther is out of jail and has dated an old sick rich woman who has just died and is now a millionaire and uses his new wealth to track down Superman’s Fortress of Solitude along with his girlfriend Kitty and his hired hand goons.  They learn all of the Man of Steel’s secrets. Clark Kent returns to work at the Daily Planet, and Superman returns in saving people as he saves a plane full of reporters that includes Lois Lane who is now a mom and engaged to Richard White, the nephew of Perry White. Lex Luther has found the the secret of Krypton is that the crystals can build land, and he has a plan to just do that as well sink America in the process, and along the way he kidnaps Lois Lane and her son Jason as they head out to sea. Lois is able to fax her location to the Daily Planet.  Richard takes the sea plan and Clark turns to Superman, and they both rush to the rescue. Luther has began creating land that is laced with Kryptonite, and this makes Superman weak as he is beat up by the likes of Luther and stabbed with a kryptonite dagger and thrown into the cold water. Lois and Jason was saved by Richard and in turn Lois saves Superman who lifts the newly made crystal land mass and leaves it into space, but this takes a lot out of Superman who falls to Earth and looks as if he could die! In the end Lex escapes, and Superman lives and makes peace with Lois even when he finds out Jason is his son.

First thing I have to say is I hate when DC Comics did the prestige binding for their adaptations of their films.  It just doesn’t feel like reading a comic as much as it feels like I am reading a book or a graphic novel, and sadly this was the only way you can get this issue. This adaptation is pretty good, but does suffer from what I felt dragged the film down and that’s a snail’s pace plot with not a lot of action. The plot of this comic is Superman returns to Earth after time away and must battle Lex Luther who wants to control land and also battle his feelings for Lois Lane who is now a mom. The story is not terrible, just a little weak and best of all Superman is a deadbeat dad as it’s shown Jason is his son and he has not taken care of him for over five years, and decides to not to do so even after he finds out! Superman in this issue is still noble for the most part but is not given much to do besides stop a plan crash, stop some robbers and lift a crystal land mass that really makes no sense as the Kryptonite should have left him weak as a baby. Clark Kent is not given much to do as Sup’s secret identity is more of a background player in this adaptation. Lois Lane is as snarky and strong willed as ever and while happy with her life, does still have feelings for the Man of Steel. Richard and Jason White are background players and serve a bigger purpose than Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. Lex Luther is such a so-so bad guy in this comic as I am sorry his main goal is to make new land to sell to nations as well as kill Superman…out of the the six Superman films Luther has been the bad guy in four and in this one he should have been given a rest.  It would have been nice to see Parasite or Doomsday. This comic follows the film pretty well and only has some changes like Jason killing one of Luther’s men with a piano is gone as is Kitty and Luther being stuck on a tiny island.  Not to mention that many parts also seem sped up and lose impact like Lois saving Superman goes by with a blink of an eye. The art in this adaptation is okay but is slightly sloppy and is done by Matt Haley.  This just adds to the boring nature of this adaptation. Over all while it was fun to read this adaptation, it is one that I am sure I would never read again. I would say that it was bland and boring! Check out the art below done by Haley for this adaptation.

Superman Returns Art 1

That marks the end of comic adaptations of Superman movies as none was made for Man of Steel, the film that came after Superman Returns.  So I figured why not take a look at Supergirl and Steel films that were spin offs of Superman! So up first is the Woman of Steel Supergirl!

Supergirl Comic 1

Supergirl # 1  **1/2
Released in 1985    Cover Price $1.25    DC Comics    #1 of 1

Argo City is in space and is the last of Krypton where Kara, the cousin of Superman lives.  An accident caused by artist Zaltar makes them lose the powerful and magical Omegahedron sphere as it’s sucked into space. Kara feels that she is also to blame and climbs aboard a tiny ship and follows it to Earth, during her travel she ages from a youngster to seventeen years of age and takes on the secret identity of Linda Lee and joins Midvale School. Meanwhile the Omegahedron has fallen into the hands of a witch named Selena who along with her roommate Beanca want to take over the world, all the while her one time mentor Nigel watches on trying to get his own hands on the powerful sphere. Linda has a roommate in school that is Lucy Lane, the sister of Lois, and who is dating Jimmy Olsen! Selena spots a lawn worker named Ethan and uses a love potion on him that backfires when he spots Linda Lee and he falls head over heels in love with her.  This leads to Selena trying to kill the pair on a carnival ride as well as sends an invisible monster to kill Linda Lee at school.  Both fail, and this sets the hatred up for Selena and Supergirl/Linda Lee. Later in rage, Selena kidnaps Ethan as well as Lucy Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Nigel and threatens to kill them as Supergirl comes to their rescue, but she is tricked and sent to the Phantom Zone and must use the help of Zaltar, who has been sent there for stealing the Omegahedron in the first place, to escape. When back on Earth Supergirl defeats Selena, frees her friends and heads back home to Argo City with the Omegahedron a new self confident woman.

This was a fun adaptation for a film that I grew up enjoying and owning on VHS and watched many times. I must say that growing up Helen Slater, who played Supergirl, was an actress I had a crush on and I am shocked that I did not own this comic as a kid. The comic does a good job on capturing the overall fun and silly nature of the film and while it makes some changes and rushes some others, it does not take away from the enjoyability of the comic.The plot is that Supergirl comes to earth to get back a powerful sphere that was lost from her home planet and must do battle with a sorceress who has the sphere. Throw in a love story and some friend characters who are connected to the Superman movies, and you have the story of this adaptation comic. Supergirl/Kara/Linda Lee is a gentle and sweet young woman who is not only strong on Earth like her cousin Superman but also has a very strong will and a sharp mind.  The way she rushes to her friends in need and stands up to any of the challenges thrown at her proves she truly is a hero. Lucy Lane is a nice side character as she is the sister of Lois Lane who she takes a lot of her personality from, and to top it all off she is dating Jimmy Olsen! Ethan is just a generic boyfriend character who falls for Supergirl thanks to a love potion, but his love breaks that magical spell as he truly just loves the seventeen year old Supergirl…wait he is out of school and works for lawn care…yeah, he’s a creeper! Selena is a wicked and selfish woman who is into black magic and treats her “friends” like trash as she clearly views them as lower than her. Not to mention she wants to murder a teenage girl over a man! The cover is pretty cool and shows Supergirl flying over the city, and the art inside is done by Gray Morrow.  While not my favorite style of art, it works well for this adaptation as the characters look enough like the actors who play them in the film. One nice addition to this comic are all the pinups of Helen Slater in her Supergirl outfit..very nice indeed! If you enjoyed this movie, put on the Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack for the film and give this adaptation a read.  Also check out the artwork below to see Morrow’s work.

Supergirl Movie Art 1

So Supergirl was not the only spin-off film to the Superman movies as in 1997 Warner Brothers hired Shaq to play Steel…let’s see if the comic is better than the movie, shall we?

Steel Comic 1

STEEL # 1  *1/2
Released in 1997    Cover Price $4.95    DC Comics    #1 of 1

John Henry Irons is part of a military group that tests and design new weapons that also includes Sparky, a cute and highly smart female solider, and Burke, a know it all hothead glory hog. During a presentation for a senator, an accident happens caused by Burke that leaves Sparky paralyzed and the senator dead, and Irons has to testify against his one time partner in military court. Irons quits the military when they allow Burke to walk away from the accident and he returns home to the streets of L.A. where is young brother and grandma try and avoid gang violence. After gangs on the streets have the high powered secret weapons of the military and Iron’s cop friend is hurt, he gets the help of Sparky as well as his Uncle Joe who runs a junkyard.  They make a metal suit, and so Irons become Steel and takes the fight to the gangs. Meanwhile Burke is the man behind the guns in the gang’s hand, and he is also using a video arcade store as his front and has Iron’s younger brother on his payroll! Burke sets up Steel with a bank robbery and outguns him and makes him look like a fool, and then sets him up with the cops and has Irons arrested on suspicion of being a gang member with illegal guns. Joe and Sparky trick the cops and get Irons free and he tracks down Burke and as Steel has a showdown with all the weapons and all Burkes men.  In the end Steel wins and saves the day by blowing up Burke in his super cannon powered truck.

This box office bomb made for one comic bomb as well as this was a dumb cheesy read that clearly was the worst of not only the Superman films, but also comic adaptations! The story is John Irons is a military weapons maker who quits after an accident and turns into a metal suited superhero when his home town streets are infected with gangs with high power weapons. John Henry Irons/Steel is a cool character who is super smart and very noble and risks his own life to try and get the weapons he help create off the streets. Uncle Joe and Sparky are great side characters who are very important in Steel’s quest as they do just as much as he does in order to rid the streets of the gang punks. Burke is a scumbag who wants to sell weapons to terrorists all over the world and doesn’t care how many people die in his quest for money.The thing that doesn’t work for this adaptation is that Steel has no connection to Superman.  In fact he is just a tall guy who is supposed to be this genius that’s bad at basketball, oh yeah they have to point out several times that he is smart and that he could never make it in the NBA…you get it… because Steel is played by Shaq…yeah, terrible. The art is okay and is done by the team of Jon Bogdanove & Dick Giordano.  This at least helps the comic to be a little better as at least characters look a little like the actors who played them. The reason this comic is so bad is because the source material was bad, and I feel like I have spent more time talking about this adaptation than the writers took to write the script so I think it’s time to end it. Check out a sample of the art below.

Steel Movie Art 1

Superman is not only a icon of comic books & the box office but he also rocked the world of comic adaptations.  While he might not have the impact he did on any of these the way he did when I was a kid, he still remains one of the most recognizable superheroes in the world. I really enjoyed taking a look back at the Superman movies and hope you had at least a small amount of good time reading this Christmas Eve update. I also hope you are having a great Christmas Eve that is filled with good times with loved ones and some great food. Our next update will be my best films of 2015 so that should be a great way to kick 2016 off! So if you’re reading this late in the evening, you should get yourself a warm glass of milk and head to bed as Santa Claus is on his way with his bag full of goodies! So have a great a safe Christmas and enjoy your time with friends and family, and I look forward to sharing 2016 with you all.

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The Marvel Lifeform Sickness..Has No Cure!

It’s a new update here on Rotten Ink.  It’s also wintertime and the update before my big Christmas Eve update, but also during this time of the year besides snow, toys and family comes that wonderful season of colds, flu and sickness! So this quick update will be about sickness and a virus that spread throughout Marvel Comics called Lifeform and had to be stopped by the likes of Hulk, Daredevil, Punisher and Silver Surfer before it was spread around the world. So let’s get some medicine, chicken noodle soup and a warm blanket and take a trip down Sick Blvd and try to avoid the germs and illness along the way.

Chicken Noodle Soup

While many of you might think that I am immortal like Hercules, I am here to break your heart because I am as mortal as you all.  Okay, well I am sure none of you thought this, but I felt like this was a good way to lead up to one of the worst times I was sick. In about 2008 or so I was working at a place called Hotel Liquidations.  I spent time unloading furniture trucks as well as loading pieces into customers’ cars, and while working there full time, I started to get a sore throat.  Instead of nursing it, I continued to work out in the cold weather and inhaling dust from the warehouse, and my throat got worse. Finally one day at work my throat hurt so bad that I could not talk or open my mouth without pain, and I bit the bullet and finally went to the doctor’s with the urging of my coworkers.  Before I went, I was not thinking and took a cough drop that was cherry flavored, and for those who don’t know, I am allergic to fake cherry flavoring as well as real cherries and this made me break out in massive hives.  So I had to bundle up in long sleeves with a hoodie to cover my face and looked as if I had the plague.  Thanks to my close friend and roommate at the time Patrick Neeley, I got to the doctors where I was diagnosed with having a terrible case of strep throat, one of the worse he had seen up to that point! So after getting my medications I was told that I was highly contagious and that I needed to be quarantined in my room so that I did not spread it to Patrick, my then girlfriend Jennifer and the rest of the world. For a little under two weeks, I sat in my room watching films like the original War of The Worlds, The Blob, IT! Terror From Beyond Space and many other sci-fi films. Patrick was nice enough to leave me pitchers of water by my door as well as cook me chicken and beef broth for that was all I could “eat” as I could not open my mouth much at all. Jennifer would come and visit for a short time but had to wear a mask, and she was nice enough to bring me comics to read as well as gave support and love. The pain in my throat was terrible and the swelling in my glands was out of control.  The medication I was taking was what would be called the size of a horse pill and was not pleasant to take. The days went by and slowly the medications started to help along with the sleep and drinking tons of water, and finally I was better and able to go back to work…and my first day back I got Scarlet Fever from the Strep Throat.  Yep, another pain in the ass sickness that lead to more missed days of work. While I really hate being sick I must say that the only plus side to having my throat swollen that badly was I got to re-watch many great classic science fiction films and I also saw how much my friends, family, co-workers and girlfriend really cared about me as they all went above and beyond to make sure that I was okay and had what I needed to get better. So with that, here is to good health to us all, and let’s say no to harmful germs this winter!

Just Say No To Winter Germs

I want to stroll away from sickness for a moment and take a look at a horror host that could have been a household name in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on KCRG hosting the show Saturday Nightmare.  Sadly he didn’t win the casting call as the host gig went to Dr. Morbius who hosted spooky movies from 1987-1988, but he host I am talking about would have been called Slime and was played by Eric Fournier. In August of 1987, KCRG did a call to arms for horror hosts to take the hosting gig for their new late night horror show.  42 hosts applied for the job, and only one got the honor. After some digging and looking around in many haunted houses and cemeteries, I am proud to say I have found Slime who was evil enough to answer 5 Questions for you my readers, making this the official 5 Questions With Slime!

Horror Host Slime

Me: Welcome to Rotten Ink Slime! My first question is how did you hear about the casting call to host Saturday Nightmare on channel 9?

Slime: Hello Matt, and thanks for taking the time to dig me up after all these years — although it’s spring now, and I would have come out of hibernation soon. Oddly enough, I was lying dormant for several decades when a construction crew in the area had inadvertently stumbled upon me. As it happened, it was just down the street from where the auditions had been held. Actually, my girlfriend was hounding me to get a job, so I saw that the local studio was looking for a host. I thought my looks were good enough to keep her interested, but apparently I was mistaken.

Me: Growing up did you have a favorite Horror Host that you use to watch? 

Slime: Frankly, I was hatched about 200 years ago, so by the time I’d discovered “The Acri Creature Feature” in the early 70’s, I was already quite mature. Like all kids and lizards back then, I was enthralled that anyone was so interested in the same kind of things I was, much less, would dedicate a show to it. Back in those days, there were only a handful of channels available, and none of them contained the kind of programming that would show movies that featured creatures like me. Like with so many other things, cable TV ruined that too. I remember making “Creep of the Week” several times through the 1970’s, and I didn’t even have to do any drawings. I just sent in some pics taken of me by some local kids, and I won the coveted “Creep” certificate about 4 times. I didn’t realize until later that it was actually sort of an insult. I went to take my revenge on 3 of the show’s goons, Vincent Hedges (the vampire), Emmett (the Hunchback guy), and Beauregard (the Werewolf), but the gang turned out to be so friendly, that I was content to just get their autographs.

Me: Tell us how you came up with the Host Character Slime, and a little about the character’s backstory?

Slime: Truth be told, the whole thing was pretty impromptu. I had no time to prepare any bits, and as you can see in the video, I was still busy defoliating when I got the call to be on camera. The only backstory I suppose, was that I’d put so much emphasis on appearance, that I’d completely ignored what I might actually have done as the show’s host. Besides just sitting there looking pretty, I guess nothing but spout endless gobs of fun facts about the horror cinema I’d grown up loving so much. All I could do by way of any preparation was to regurgitate an old Karloff routine I’d committed to memory decades earlier.

Me: During the Audition did you see another Horror Host hopeful and think that they could take the hosting gig? 

Slime: I was running extremely late for the auditions. Like any other lizard, I was sunning myself on a rock for some energy reserves. By the time I got to the studio, most of the other audition people had fled — or at least they did when I showed up. Since I arrived so late, and was busy most of my time at the studio in a bathroom making myself look pretty, I missed most of the other would be hosts. I’d done some stand up stuff with Bruce Gantenbein, so when I’d heard that he’d auditioned earlier that day, I wasn’t surprised when he got the gig as the show’s permanent host, “Dr. Morbius.” I was saddened to hear that he has since passed away.

Me: In closing, since hosting Saturday Nightmare was not in the cards what did you go onto do in the world of entertainment?

Slime: Well, I’m happy to report that the surgery was a success, and I’ve made the transition from reptile to human being, more or less. As far as entertainment goes, I’ve done most of my work behind the camera as a videographer and documentarian. On occasion, I’ll turn up at one of the local comedy clubs and do whatever’s necessary to get some laughs. My love for the classic horror flicks hasn’t diminished, and I dabble in recreating some of them as digitally designed characters. Every now and then, I’ll still get the hankering to put on the old latex in a vain attempt to re-capture my former good looks. You see…I miss the scales!

Me: Thanks so much for your time and long live Slime! 

It was very cool to chat with Slime, and I for one really would love to see him become a full fledged host and make a show with a title like “Slime Time” or “Slimy Midnight Theater” and be shown on YouTube, DATV and The Kreepy Kastle! But here is to not only Slime, but the other 40 horror host hopefuls as well as Dr. Morbius who all entertained Iowa on that premiere episode of Saturday Nightmare. Also if you have any episodes of Saturday Nightmare hosted by Dr. Morbius, please contact me as I would love to see them and also do a Horror Host Icon for Morbius. So let’s get back to the sickness that’s about to infect the Marvel Comic Universe.

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It’s time to climb into our HAZMAT suits and take a look at the Progamma Virus that can change normal humans into lumpy flesh eating masses of goo and just hope that along our journey none of us come in contact with it. But before we enter the danger zone, I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock, and as always I must 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 as the rock band Disturbed says, let’s get down with the sickness!

Punisher Annual 3

Punisher: Annual  # 3  ***
Released in 1990   Cover Price $2.00   Marvel Comics #3 of 7

George is a masked man who is breaking into a lab to steal a bio-weapon that causes those affected to have hallucinations, become very violent and mutate, and worse for all of us, it spreads like a common cold! During the burglary George and a security guard get into a fight, and as the guard is killed, some of the bio weapon makes contact with George’s skin causing him to fall ill. The Punisher shows up at the lab as he had news that A.I.M. was trying to break in and makes contact with George who now looks like a zombie and is out for blood! The Punisher fends off George and finds out from an A.I.M worker that political hopeful Jethro Prufrock is the man who’s responsible for hiring them to steal the virus and that he also is stock pilling weapons for a war he thinks is coming. The Punisher escapes the lab with a crazed George following and makes it to the Prufrock residence where he overhears that George is Jethro’s son as he argues with his daughter over needing the virus and how important it is for his cause. The Punisher has heard enough, comes out of hiding, and is ready for the bust when George shows up in a wild rage looking even worse from the virus and kills his father and attacks his sister and The Punisher! Normal gun fire is only slowing George down so The Punisher finds a bazooka and blasts George away “killing” him and stopping the virus.  In the end, The Punisher learns that the Prufrock family was very much dysfunctional and that he saved the day from a highly contagious virus being spread around New York.

The origin of Lifeform explodes to life in this Punisher Annual, and this is just the start of the sickness that is sure to spread through the Marvel Universe. The plot is very simple and has a son trying to hard to impress his well to do father who takes a job robbing a place to impress him.  Things go wrong, the son is infected with a incurable virus and goes on a rampage that ends at his own house with the murder of his father. Throw in a superhero like The Punisher and the sick man’s sister, and you have the first segment in this mini series. The Punisher goes in thinking he is stopping a plot by A.I.M who is selling the bio-weapon to a presidential candidate but turns out having to fight a raged filled infectious killer who seems to be un-killable! The Punisher is cool and collected in fighting the killer even when blowing him up with a rocket launcher. George, the man who becomes the Lifeform, is by all accounts a failure who wants to impress his father but deep down hates his guts for the years of disappointment his father has had in him. When he becomes the killer, he becomes crazy and has the urge to kill those who are around him and no gun can stop him. His appearance is grotesque as his skin has turned bubbly and his features take on the appearance of melted cheese or a wet paper bag with boils all over it. I like the idea of something so simple like a robbery has sparked something that could spell doom for many people all over greed and fear. The comic has two other features that includes a look at The Punisher’s arsenal and a short adventure featuring Microchip, who is The Punishers close friend and business partner. The main story’s art is pretty well done and is done by Neil Hansen who has that very 90’s Marvel style. So far this is a nice start up to a pretty cool story that links some of Marvel’s biggest misfits of superheroing! Below is some of the artwork by Neil that shows what George looks like in this annual.  I should also note that for some reason George in this picture reminds me of the film Nightbreed and the characters called The Berserkers.

Art 1

I can’t wait to see how Daredevil will deal with this terror and how George infected with Lifeform will come back from being blown up so let’s not wait any longer.

Daredevil Annual 6

Daredevil: Annual  # 6  ***
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.00     Marvel Comics    # 6 of 10

Daily Bugle writer Ben Urich has gotten word about the theft at the lab and that some sort of creature was on the loose battling The Punisher, but while the accounts say the monster is dead, sightings have been reported and Ben wants to know what it was and why. Along the dock Lifeform George appears and is unharmed after being blown up, but his appearance has gotten more grotesque.  It seems as if the virus now has a new mission, to consume human flesh! So George hits the streets of Hell’s Kitchen and kills and eats anyone who gets in his way, but Daredevil gets wind of this and saves street crooks The Wildboys from being Lifeform’s lunch.  In the battle the monster looses an arm and disappears into the darkness. Crooked cops Hobbes and Robbins show up just in time, and not thinking Robbins touches the arm and becomes infected. Ben Urich gets a visit from a man named Lamar Kwait who claims he can make a cure for George and turn him back to normal if he could get a sample of Lifeform’s blood.  All things come to a head when Daredevil along with Hobbs, Urich and Lamar find Lifeform George and during the meeting Lamar’s spine is broken by Lifeform who is being shot by tranquilizers and turns into a pile of ooze ending his terror once more….for now!

This second part showcases Hell’s Kitchen in New York and has Lifeform going on the prowl to find human flesh to eat.  Reporter Ben Urich along with a doctor who’s looking for a cure, are on its trail but it’s really up to Daredevil to stop the sickness from spreading and save the lives of those who are on Lifeforms lunch menu. The issue has three really good side stories that has Lifeform trying to kill The Fat Boys, Robbins on his death bed and dying from being infected and also having a run in with Typhoid Mary in an ally. Poor George is looking very rough now and is more of a white glob of sickness and jelloed skin, and worse he seems to be having a battle in his own mind as the George side just wants to be cured and the Lifeform side wants to kill and spread the sickness. Daredevil is as noble as ever and wants to keep Hell’s Kitchen safe from crime and monsters. Darvedevil takes the opposite route of The Punisher and uses his fists to fight the monster and not guns. The crooked cops Hobbes and Robbins add some drama to the situation, and the nice extra story that shows Robbins dying from the virus also was a nice touch and shows you should never touch things when you’re not sure what they are. Ben Urich and Lamar Kwait also add to the story and the fury of Lamar wanting to inject Lifeform with the cure tranquilizers shows how focused he is, as well adds the question why does he want to do this so badly. Plus the issue makes good use of many other DD characters as Typhoid Mary, The Fat Boys and The Wildboys all have cameos and help add to the issue and storyline, and each are nice to see. The main story art is done by Cam Kennedy and is top notch early 90’s work.  I really dig the way he drew Daredevil and Lifeform as both are very well done.  Check out his Lifeform below.

Art 2

With Lifeform being a cannibal I really can’t wait to read this next issue as he takes on one of my all time favorite superheroes The Incredible Hulk!

Incredible Hulk Annual 16

Incredible Hulk: Annual  # 16  ***
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.00    Marvel Comic    #16 of 23

The Incredible Hulk is roaming the desert and is in a bad mood over loosing his job, women and friends in Vegas and goes nuts when he sees an army convoy driving by. Hulk does what he does best and that’s smash as he thinks they are after him, but he was wrong and after being embarrassed by the commanding officer, he leaps into the middle of nowhere and finds on old theater that used to house plays that’s now abandon and he decides to hang out for awhile. Ben Urich goes and visits Lamar in the hospital and finds out that he was not really trying to help George as he really needed him to find a cure for the virus that he is infected with as well.  You see, he was an A.I.M agent who was bitten by a test monkey that was infected with it and now he is dying. Mercy, who is a female with strange powers who does cruel things and acts as if they are acts of mercy, kills an old bum who is down on his luck and quickly finds out that just because people say they wish they were dead, it doesn’t mean they mean it thanks to an old woman who witnessed the act. Lifeform George is still alive and pulls himself back together and is looking for human flesh and sweet death.  When Mercy hears his plea for death, she decides that what she is going to do is grant him the gift of friendship and takes him to The Hulk who is still hiding out in the theater. This act of “kindness” from Mercy just upsets The Hulk who wanted to be left alone but now is being bothered by these two.  This causes Mercy to force The Hulk to come face to face with Bruce Banner as she makes him appear, and this makes Hulk even more mad and Lifeform hungry! The two monsters clash in a epic fight that leaves the theater on fire, Bruce Banner killed and Mercy sending Lifeform back to the docks and turning him human for short time in New York and Hulk coming to peace with no matter how much he hates Banner he needs him, as he finds out that Banner was really just Mercy in disguise. We also find out that Lamar is in the hospital with a hurt spine as well as infected with the virus as he was an A.I.M. clean up member and by accident came in contact with the virus that is killing him that is why he wanted to try and find a cure so bad. In the end the human George turns back into Lifeform and eats the dying Lamar to end his pain and suffering.

This issue has two monsters fighting it out on a stage in an old theater, which adds great atmosphere to this twisted tale of an infected man. The plot for this annual has The Hulk making a mistake and attacking the military, and after doing so, he goes to lay low in an old abandoned theater.  Lifeform once more rises from the muck and meets Mercy who takes him to the Hulk as she thinks the two monsters can be friends, and this, of course, is a bad idea as they fight and burn the place down. To say sorry, she turns George back to human for a short time and when turning back to Lifeform he kills Lamar who is infected and has a damaged spine in what’s looked at as a mercy killing. Geroge/Lifeform is really split now as the human side wants to die and the virus side wants to live and spread sickness and eat human skin! The Hulk in this Annual is the grey mean-spirited one who comes out during the fullmoon, and his anger is out of control, as he once more just wants to be left alone but trouble seems to follow him. He also takes the Daredevil approach in fighting Lifeform and uses fists to try and stop this infected puss bag. Plus watching Hulk dress as a hunchback and delivering lines from the film Young Frankenstein is pretty amazing. Mercy is an odd bad guy as she thinks she is helping people who are depressed by killing them, but when she is told people say things they don’t mean like “I want to die” she decides to try and help Lifeform who’s George side is begging to be killed.  Plus its cool to see Hulk get annoyed just by the sight of her. In the story Mercy also takes the form of Bruce Banner to try and talk The Hulk into becoming Lifeform’s friend and its cool to see the two interact.  It’s also cool to see Lifeform look at the fake Bruce as dinner! This issue is filled with a monster vs. monster fight and brings a coolness factor out of this annual, as does the fact it’s being told by George who has been cured for a short time and is telling this story to Lamar before he eats him! The art of the issue is done by Angel Medina and is what I expected for Grey Hulk storyline and issue.  Check below for how Lifeform looks in this annual, which I must also note is my favorite look for him thus far in the mini series.

Art 3

From the brute force of The Hulk to the cosmic energy of The Silver Surfer is how we are going to end the sad saga of George Prufrock, a man who is becoming a walking virus Lifeform.

Silver Surfer Annual 3

Silver Surfer: Annual  # 3  ***
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.00    Marvel Comic    #3 of 9

The Silver Surfer returns to Earth from space to share news with Captain America that Thanos has been killed by his hands during their last battle. While at the hospital Lifeform goes on a rampage eating doctors, nurses and patients and keeps growing into a large blob of flesh and teeth that now wants to eat anyone it sees! Nick Fury of S.H.E.I.L.D. contacts Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four to check up on the hospital, and while doing so, Reed runs into Silver Surfer who agrees to help him on the massacre that they stumble onto. It’s chaos and death as Lifeform has made a path for the ocean and is now eating fish.  Reed and the Silver Surfer follow, and Lifeform springs from the water and knocks Reed senseless, then sets his sights on killing and eating the people watching from the docks. But Silver Surfer has seen enough and allows Lifeform to eat him and by doing so he uses his cosmic power to make Lifeform float into space and onto a planet this is void of life. The Silver Surfer bursts out of Lifeform and as he does so, the spirit of George once more comes through and he begs Surfer to kill him.  This is not what the Silver Surfer does, so he leaves Lifeform alone on a planet in space.

It takes cosmic power to put a stop the rampage of Lifeform who in this short mini series had killed many of people by infecting them as well as eating them! This issue’s plot has George losing all control and the virus Lifeform taking over causing him to grow into a grotesque blob creature who kills humans and sea life before being stopped by The Silver Surfer who takes him to space and leaves him on a planet that has no life, thus making the Earth safe and poor George stuck with his sickness and not finding the death he so greatly wants. Silver Surfer is a very powerful and noble hero who saves Earth even though he hates visiting here due to bad memories.  He understands that Lifeform is a major threat and removes him from Earth so he can no longer spread his sickness. The pure power and heart of Silver Surfer has always made him a very interesting character in the Marvel Universe. Lifeform in this issue is a pure killing machine who seems to not be able to get his fill of flesh, blood and bone as all he wants to do is eat and eat like me at a cookout serving steak. Lifeform, while very much evil, is also a very sad character as he almost has a Larry Talbot Wolfman appeal to him as his human side hates what the monster side does and would love nothing more than to find peace in death. It was nice to see Captain America, Nick Fury and Reed Richards in cameos, and one thing that made me smile is how useless Reed was in the battle as one hit knocks Mr. Fantastic out of the fight game worse than Marvis Frazier being knocked out my Mike Tyson in 30 seconds in the first round. While this was a great issue with lots of mayhem and action I still can’t help but feel a little cheated with the way Lifeform was beat.  While it’s cool that it has to stay in cold space on a planet that is lonely and bare for the rest of it’s life, I would have much rather seen Lifeform destroyed or kept in a cell and used again at a later date to fight the likes of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Man-Thing and Captain America in another annual mini series. The art for this one was done by Ron Lim and just like the others is top notch 90’s stuff.  Check out the final look for Lifeform George below and see what the fate of others could have been if it wasn’t stopped.

Art 4

So all along the virus of Lifeform could have been stopped early if only The Punisher would have shot him into space, think about all the lives that could have been saved if instead of a bazooka he used a rocket ship to stop George. But all kidding aside, I found myself really enjoying this weird little storyline that spanned many characters 1990 Annuals. I love how through out the series George grew more and more grotesque and with each transformation, his human side kept dying little by little and the virus ate away at his brain and soul. One thing that made me chuckle was how come The Punisher and Daredevil never contacted the virus as they both had run ins with him and both are mortal with super athletic abilities, but both had contact with a man who was a carrier for a very contiguous disease. I mean I understand how Hulk and Silver Surfer didn’t become infected, but DD and The Punisher by all accounts should have. It would have been nice to also seen this storyline be in the 1990 Annuals for Captain America and Spider-Man as both were in New York at the time of this outbreak and Cap even had a cameo in Silver Surfer showing that he was around. Marvel, to my knowledge, never did use Lifeform again and have left him in space since 1990, makes me wonder why they never brought him back because this time around he also could have been a carrier for a space born virus and finds away back to Earth via a rocket ship and now sets his sights on infecting mankind with his sickness and pain! It could have been a cool idea, but with Marvel in the comic world now not focusing on the past and “updating” things, I am sure Lifeform really is dead in space. Our next update will be Rotten Ink’s big Christmas Eve update, and once more we will be visiting the DC Comic Theater as we take a look at the film adaptations of Superman.  So make sure to comeback for that one! Until then, have a safe holiday, read a comic or three and as always support your local horror host.

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Starriors: The Robots Who Ruined Christmas

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

Me Christmas Morning 1990

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

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

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

Cinderella Band 1Cinderella Long Cold WinterCinderella Band 2

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

Bahia beast 1Bahia beastBahia beast 2

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

Corpse Cop Arctic Wolf Front 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starriors Hot Shot toyStarriors Character PosterSlaughter-Steelgrave toy

Before we get to the Marvel Comic mini series I would like for those readers who have had Starriors toys to reflect back to that time and remember all the adventures and battles you had with them during your youth…go on take a few moments, I don’t mind. So are you ready now to travel to a time when Earth is no longer man’s but that of machines that we left in charge? If so I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s see if Hot Shot can bring back man and if he can stop Steel Grave once and for all. I want to also thank Lone Star Comics and Dark Star Comics for having this mini series in stock.

Starriors 1

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

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

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

Starriors 2

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

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

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

Starriors 3

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

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

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

Starriors 4

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

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

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

Starriors art 1

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

Lifeform Logo

Walking In A Greasy McDonaldland

Welcome back!  I hope you all are having a fun and safe winter so far.  I used to love the winter when I was younger because there was always a chance of a snow day away from school, and if one did happen, that was a day spent playing Nintendo, reading a comic, watching a movie and playing toy wars! Of course this would also be a day of snow ball fights, that wonderful way to throw frozen ice balls at your friends face and pass it off as a fun time.  I remember having snow ball fights in Waynesville against my brother and friends like Mike Censsna, Bill Hamm, Brad Burns and so many more kids from the neighborhood.  This would also carry over to Kettering when I was working at Kroger as a teenager, and my pal Josh Weinberg and I would spend time throwing snowballs at each other while pulling carts. But one thing about winter always made me upset, the weather men who would predict snow and lots of it and poof, the next day not a flake had fallen.  Being a kid, I would stay up later the night before in my room reading comics or watching my little black and white TV and be grumpy the next day when I would find I would have to go to school. My brother Bryan and I use to always make fun of Carl Nichols, the weather man for Channel 2 who would predict “Winter Storms” and the next morning his reporting was wrong. But here is to winter and here is to all the fun memories that go along with this season, from building snowmen to sledding, this is a fun season to be a kid. Next update I will share a little more of my winter memories and fun times.

snow woods

Fast food restaurants were running wild in the 1980’s, and most of them were all trying to get the youth of America to choose their place to eat over the others and would use all types of things from kid meal prizes to cookies to get customers’ money. The thing the worked for me to choose a place to eat was the mascots and TV commercials that would show the adventures of these characters, acting as 30 second TV shows hyping the cheap food and fun idea of that place to eat. Most places had some sort of mascot. Burger King had The Burger King Kingdom with guys like Magical Burger King and Sir Shakes A Lot, and later they had the Burger King Kids Club. Wendy’s had Wendy, the cute red head with the pigtails; Captain D’s had Captain D’s, the sailor who loved history and seafood; Dominos Pizza had the Noid, a creepy little guy in a red costume and rabbit ears and so many more.  But the one that always stood out and was super popular for kids back in my time was Ronald McDonald and the rest of McDonald Land characters who were the mascots for the mega burger chain McDonald’s. Everyone in the world would say that when it comes to fast food burger joints, McDonald’s is king, and I for one grew up loving the place. Growing up in Waynesville, there were no fast food chains in downtown.  All we really had was The Hammel House, Dagwoods, Village Family Restaurant and The Dairy Corner, and all were very good and classic style small town restaurants. The Dairy Corner was a place my Mom would take us a lot, and I can remember always ordering a cheeseburger and fries and and enjoying sitting with my family and enjoying the food.  A few times over the years I would drive to Waynesville with girlfriends or friends, and we would eat at the Dairy Corner. Sadly it’s gone now and where once a fun ice cream shop that served food was alive, now sits a shell of a building. Why did it close up you ask.  Well one of the major reasons was the coming of McDonald’s, the first major fast food place to enter the small village of Waynesville and later came Subway. But while it’s gone, Dairy Corner will never be forgotten by this comic book reader.

Dairy Corner

In 1940 Richard and Maurice McDonald opened up a restaurant that was a BBQ place, but in 1948 they changed into a hamburger joint and started to use drive-thru service, paving the way of “Fast Food” along side White Castle. In 1955, Ray Kroc became a partner in the company and later bought out the brothers to become the owner of McDonald’s, and he turned it into the The King of Fast Food with changes in how the company ran and franchises it supported.  But the buyout was not a smooth one as Kroc and the brothers feuded over the business, and this went on for years. Kroc won the battle, and McDonalds expanded outside the United States and has restaurants all over the world. The restaurant is known for selling hamburgers, chicken nuggets, milkshakes, fish sandwiches and McRibs and has expanded its menu to cafe-style drinks, chicken wings and gourmet salads. McDonald’s also was a pioneer in kids meals when they introduced The Happy Meal in 1979 that had food placed in a box or bag that came with a toy.  Growing up, I loved to a Happy Meal and eat the tasty food and also collect toys based on the likes of The Muppet Babies, Barensteen Bears or Charlie Brown. McDonald’s is still the top fast food joint in the world and it continues to evolve and stay on top by doing so.

Mcdonalds logo

I don’t eat McDonald’s very often, but I still do enjoy it from time to time.  The charm of the place has been lost to me once they cut back on using Ronald McDonald and phased out the rest of the McDonald Land characters. But when I do go, I have a order that is a must for me and consists of the same items I have ordered for a very long time:  two cheeseburgers (sometimes a double cheese burger), a large french fries and a medium orange Hi-C.  The fries for me are the highlight of the meal, and I would say out of all the fast food places they have the best french fries followed by Burger King. I know some people will trash the food and spew out the same gargage that Morgan Spurlock did in his documentary Super Size Me, but if you don’t eat the food every day in extra-large portions, then you’ll be all right. I say if you’re out and are looking for a cheap burger, get yourself a Big Mac and enjoy it!

Mcdonalds CheeseburgerMcdonald FriesMcdonalds Orange Hi-C

In 2013 McDonald’s unleashed on the market their own take on chicken wings when they put out Mighty Wings! My girlfriend and I love chicken wings and have tried every major wing place in our area.  For me, the four best have to be Roosters, Wing Zone, Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3s) and Fricker’s.  So when McDonald’s said they were getting into the wing game, I knew I had to try them. I was working hard on editing a Baron Von Porkchop episode and needed to take a break for lunch.  So I called up my Mom, and we decided to go to McDonald’s to get a quick bite to eat.  In the drive thru I saw the advertisement for Mighty Wings and ordered a 5 pack. I ate them before I touched my fries or took a drink from the Hi-C, and I must say they were pretty good.  They had a nice spice level, and the meat, while a little fatty, was very juicy and flavorful. The downside to them is price at almost a dollar a wing, and the meduim size of each wing makes you really wonder just how much you overpaid. But if you like wings and are looking for a snack, a 5 pack of Mighty Wings might just hit the spot.

Mcdonalds Mighty Wings

Growing up I have many memories of McDonalds and many of them have to do with the whole McDonald land characters and merchandise. I can remember going to the local McDonald’s and pestering my Mom and Dad to get me a Happy Meal so that I could get the Baby Fozzie from the Muppet Babies on his rocking horse and they did! It always felt magical to open up the Happy Meal box with all the cool artwork around it and pulling out your food and seeing what prize you got this time. It’s a shame that nowadays they have switched meals to putting them in a paper bag and put less time pushing these meals. Another thing that always stuck in my mind was The Apple Pie Tree statue that was placed inside the stores and also outside in the playground area.  The giant grinning face also made you as a kid feel welcome. I can remember climbing all over the Tree with my brother and cousin Norman.  The Tree is burned into my memories and if I ever get a house in the country like I want, a McDonald’s Tree will for sure be in the backyard. Another memory has to be the birthday parties that McDonald’s would have.  I can remember going to one for my cousin Norman and having a fun time on the playground and being around my family. I remember the cake not being all that great but thinking it was cool to see all the McDonaldland characters on it, but to be honest I dislike cake and am not a fan of it at all. So there you have it, Ronald McDonald and his magic fast food are apart of my youth, and I am okay with that.

McDonalds Happy MealMcDonalds TreeMcDonalds Birthday Cake

McDonaldland pull back racers aka Fast Macs were a hit with me and my brother Bryan.  I can remember getting them and turning our kitchen in Waynesville into a drag strip as my brother and I would race them. He had gotten the Hamburgler in a slick red dragster built for speed and tricks, while I had Officer Big Mac in a bulky yet fast police car. We spent awhile racing them, and most the time they would crash into the kitchen table or get caught up on the walls.  I can remember losing a lot in the races, but I am sure that my brother bent the rules in his favor by saying things like “if I pop a wheelie, I win the race.” Later on we got Ronald McDonald in his yellow car of doom and Birdie in her pink race car. Over all these were great cheap toys that delivered a lot of fun for the Brassfield Brothers.

Fast Mac HamburglerFast Mac Officer Big Mac

Besides the Fast Macs and The Muppet Babies toys, I also remember liking the Changeables aka McRobots who were generic style Transformers that would change from food items into simple robots. I had a few of these growing up and would use them in toy war and even had them get crushed many times by Transformers and GoBots. The simpleness of these changing robots was their charm, and the fact that McDonalds jumped on the popular 80’s robot boom was a given. My favorite was the Big Mac one because my brother and cousins all use to say he was the leader of the others much like Optimus Prime and Leader One were in charge of their robot friends. The second best one was the milk shake one who in my mind was like the right hand man and the fighter of the group. The store I am the manager of has an Amazon store, and I have sold many of these McRobots to the masses! I am sure many of you readers have a smile on your face as you are now thinking back on these generic transforming robots.

McRobots

Not only were robots and fast food places big in the 80’s but so were collector glasses that restaurants, pop companies and even gas stations would sell and give out. Growing up I remember drinking Coke out of a Superman glass or strawberry milk from a Bugs Bunny one. Even as an adult as I am writing this I am drinking water from a Rocky The Squirrel glass put out by Pepsi. I know many of these glasses used lead paint so maybe that explains why I still love to read Star Comics. Some of the cool ones that were put out at this time were the 1977 McDonaldland character glasses.  You could choose from Ronald McDonald, Mayor McCheese, Officer Big Mac, Captain Crook and the others! Collector glasses are awesome and always helped add to a bland meal at home.  Sitting at the kitchen table and having to eat spinach chicken and peas was always a terrible time, but add in a Batman glass filled with Kool-Aid and the meal is still bad but a little easier to have to deal with. I have many of the McDonaldland glasses as well as many other character glasses and these are a super fun and cool way to make drinking fun. You can find these cool glasses on Ebay, Thrift Stores and Flea Markets.

Grimace GlassMayor McCheese GlassCaptain Crook Glass

Now that I have given you all a rundown on some of the cool stuff about McDonald’s we should now get to the main course of this mind meal and take a look at all the characters that made up the magical Mcdonaldland. Before we get into the main cast, let’s take a small look at three that did not make it to the land.

Speedee

Speedee

Speedee is a hamburger headed chief who was the mascot for McDonalds from 1948-1962. Speedee’s main purpose was to show how fast your food would get to you after you placed your order. Speedee sadly never caught on and was phased out and replaced by the 1st Ronald McDonald in 1962. While gone for many years now, Speedee will never be forgotten by fans and historians of the fast food burger place he promoted.

Original Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald # 1 

The original Ronald McDonald is nothing like the one we all know and love.  He was dubbed The Ham-Burger Happy Clown and wore a tray on his head, a magic tray belt that kept him supplied with hamburgers and a paper cup on his noise. This original Ronald was slightly creepy, and his voice was deeper and kind of menacing. He really loved to push hamburgers and tried to befriend kids to follow him back to McDonalds…wait, doen’t this kind of sound like Pennywise the Clown from the Stephen King Novel IT? Years later his look was changed and became the more iconic version of the character we all know and love. To me this first version was like the modern’s weird and crazy brother who later was locked up in the McDonaldland Asylum of Mental Health. I should note that Willard Scott played the original Ronald McDonald on TV in the D.C. area, who is known for being a weatherman on NBC, and this version started in 1962.

Mac Tonight

Mac Tonight

McDonald’s was going to start staying open late nights via the drive-thru and needed a way to let people know.  So enter the moon headed, sunglasses wearing, piano playing Ray Charles style Mac Tonight. Mac Tonight started in 1986 and was a smooth operator and gained a following with young and old and became a main stay of McDonald’s ads. Mac Tonight was so big that his image was used for over 20 commercials, was made into Happy Meal Toys and was used to great customers along side Ronald McDonald. But the moon headed man’s fun ended in 2007 when he got a CGI make over and started to be used less and less. While his image can still be seen on signs at McDonald’s, this jazz loving moon man’s popularity has dropped. Here’s hoping at some point he will rise to the charts of mascot history and be used properly once more.

So with this let’s get into the cast of characters that made up McDonaldLand! I will try and make these brief and just give you a little background of each iconic mascot.

ronald mcdonald

Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald is a fun loving clown who loves to bring joy and food to his friends thanks to McDonalds. Ronald is the ring leader of all the characters in McDonaldland and has many friends all over the world and even on other planets. Ronald is also very active and likes to go out a play sports and enjoy nature making him a very energetic. Ronald is always in a good mood and makes the mood of any room rise and turns frowns upside down. He is also the face of McDonald’s and is so popular his image has been made into toys, shirts, comics, video games, and he even had a cameo in the movie “MAC AND ME” . Ronald McDonald is more recognizable to children than JFK, Abe Lincoln, Magical Burger King and many more famous people and mascots from around the world. Ronald is the man and remains one of the most iconic characters of all time. 

Grimace

Grimace

1971 was the year kids were introduced to a giant purple character named Evil Grimace with four arms who loved soda and milkshakes and would steal them! In 1972/74 two arms disappeared, and Evil was dropped from his name and the lovable dimwitted Grimace became a well loved mascot for McDonald’s. Grimace acts as the comic relief of McDonaldland and is Ronald’s best friend. Even after turning good, Grimace still loved a good milkshake and soda as does his uncle known as O’Grimacey who loved the St. Patricks Day themed Shamrock Shake. Sadly Grimace was put into mascot retirement in 2011. Grimace in his prime had his image used for toys, cartoons, video games and even cookie cutters. Grimace is one of my favorite characters of McDonald’s. 

Birdie the Early Bird

Birdie The Early Bird

In 1980 an egg fell in McDonaldland. Ronald showed it love and it hatched to be Birdie a yellow female bird who is a terrible flyer and loves breakfast food! Birdie is much like Grimace and is very clumsy and is the first official female character mascot for McDonald’s. Over the years and many different forms of media Birdie has learned karate and even try to find aliens. Birdie has been used to sell toys, video games and dolls. Biride sadly was sent to the Mascot retirement home in 2011 alongside other characters from McDonald’s. 

hamburglar

The Hamburglar

In 1971, a pint size thief entered McDonaldland, and he had one thing on his mind: to steal hamburgers!  When first seen by viewers, he was older with a big nose and was called The Lone Jogger.  In the 1980’s he was transformed into a younger guy who while bad, became friends with all the other characters. Hamburglar spoke gibberish and his catch phrase was “Robble Robble” and was the second major villain to be introduced in the commercials. During the 80’s I always remember him being one of the most popular characters with kids wanting to collect his toys that were in Happy Meals. Sadly like Birdie and Grimace, he joined them in the mascot retirement home in 2011. 

mayor mccheese

Mayor McCheese

In 1971 Mayor McCheese was the silly cheeseburger headed Mayor of McDonaldLand, who tried so hard but was a little dimwitted and relied on the help of Ronald and the rest of the gang. The Mayor spoke with a giggly voice and was mostly a background character for the company. The Mayor was voted out of power in 2008 as McDonald’s sent him to the mascot retirement home. Mayor McCheese remains a popular character and has become a pop culture icon thanks to the internet and shows like Family Guy.

Big Mac

Officer Big Mac

Law and Order was brought to McDonladland in 1970 as Officer Big Mac was on the case to bust the likes of The Hamnurglar and Captain Crook! Officer Big Mac was a by the book character who was the main source of law in the land, also making him one of the good guys. Big Mac was phased out in the 1980’s and made a small appearance in 2008 before being sent to that sad place known as mascot retirement. While remembered, Officer Big Mac did not gain cult status like his fellow hamburger headed friend Mayor McCheese. 

Captain Crook

Captain Crook

Starting in 1970, the people of McDonaldland’s Filet-O-Fish were in big trouble as a pirate named Captain Crook took to the waterways and began stealing this sandwich, making him the first official bad guy of the land. Captain Crook was close friends to The Hamburglar and would translate his mumbles. Crook also spent a lot of time trying not to be captured by Officer Big Mac who always had his eyes on the beady eyed pirate.In the 1980’s  Captain Crook started to be phased out, and in 1999 he was sent to that retirement home for mascots. 

the professor

The Professor 

1971 was the year that a grey haired old man known simply as The Professor also made his mark in McDonaldland and was the inventor for the magical land. At first he was just a minor character, and later he became a major one that was given even a lightbulb hat. But like many other of his friends he was set to the retirement home for good in 2001 but not before being in a few cartoons and a video game. 

Happy Meal GangHamburger PatchMcNuggetsMcDonald's Characters

Happy Meal Gang/Hamburger Patch/McNugget Buddies/Fry Guys

The Happy Meal Gang was a group of talking food items such as a hamburger, fries and a cold drink who were all friends of Ronald and brought joy to customers. They were introduced in 1984 and were later joined in 1989 by the McNugget Buddies who later would replace the Happy Meal Gang altogether. In 1973 The Hamburger Patch was the main talking food and were hamburgers that grew on plants and were picked to be eaten by Ronald and customers.  They were phased out in the mid 80’s. The Fry Guys were odd colored short shaggy creatures who like to steal and eat french fries who were introduced in 1972.  They were so popular that they were used all the way till 2008. So many fun and odd talking food characters!

Cosmc

CosMc

In 1980-1985 Ronald McDonald and his gang of friends also befriended an alien from space who had many arms and wore a giant round space suit! He was a kind character who always wanted to trade McDonald’s food and wanted to share the great taste of the food with his people. CosMc was not a mainstay character and was used only a handful of times.  He did however make it into a video game and animated series based on the characters of the restaurant. I should also note he spoke like a surfer dude.

So there was a very quick rundown of some of the amazing McDonaldland characters.  I tried to make them all brief for if we broke them down too much, we would be here for another few pages of who epic and amazing they are! So now you know a little about them and your mind is recharged with memories of these characters making it time for the comic reviews that were free give aways and were called McDonaldLand Comics! I just want you all to remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial, and I would like to think Mile High Comics and Amazon for having these comics in stock.

McDonaldland Comics 101

McDonaldland Comics  # 101  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price FREE   McDonald Corp. Comics   #101 of 102

It’s America’s 200th birthday, and Mayor McCheese has gotten an invitation to be a guest at the country’s huge birthday party! The Mayor invites Ronald, Officer Big Mac, The Professor and Grimace to go along with him on a magical train, and they decide to leave Captain Crook and Hamburglar back in McDonaldland to watch after things. Crook and Hamburglar sneak aboard the train, and they all take a tour of the amazing sites of America. But along the way the Captain Crook falls from the flying train and could be lost as they arrive at the party! The second small story in the issue is about The Hamburglar who is giving up stealing hamburgers, but now is stealing things that begin with the letter H!

The first story is a silly adventure that is a way for Ronald McDonald to teach the readers American history.  So while you as a youngster read this, you were also learning! It’s odd how in this issue the bad guys of the land, Hamburglar and Captain Crook, are supposed to be the ones left behind to watch over things.  Now don’t they like to steal and cause panic…so why would they want to leave them behind? Plus Officer Big Mac seems to be a one trick pony in the issue and repeats about the railroad being too bumpy and about arresting people.  Ronald is clearly the ringleader of the group as his word is law, and at one point he is being questioned by a cop and escapes without showing his ID so he won’t be late for the party! The story is short and ends with a cliffhanger as they get to the party but Captain Crook has fallen from the train that is flying now, so did he die? The next issue I hope will explain this. The second back up story of Hamburglar stealing things that start with an H is just a cheesy joke as the rest of the comic is filled with puzzles and such. The artwork is great and has that classic 70’s kid comic look and each character looks like they should. The cover is also pretty cool, and I am sure in 1976 kids picked up this free issue like crazy! So over all this is a fun and average free restaurant comic that was worth a read. I am going to say that the best character in this first issue would have to be Ronald McDonald himself followed by Captain Crook.  So with this let’s move onto issue 2!

McDonaldland Comics 102

McDonaldland Comics  # 102  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price FREE   McDonald Corp. Comics   #102 of 102

The McDonaldland gang is gearing up for a silly version of the Olympics that include pogo stick jumps, and hamburger dashes! The gang that includes Ronald, Captain Crook, Hamburglar and Grimace are going up against The Fry Guys! But late the night before the event, a short man named Sneak-Snoop Snoggly of the Sneak-Snoop race who live in the hills comes to town and causes mischief and pranks on all the group! The pranks leave Mayor McCheese falling down a hole, Grimace squashing a giant tomato and Ronald’s pogo stick spring being so tight that he bounces up way to high and smacks into a bird! In the end they confront Snoggly who in turns falls of a high dive board and wins a medal that puts a smile on his face and all is well again in McDonaldland. The second mini story of this issue is about The Professor taking the gang around again on the flying train to see historic sites from around the USA and uses a machine that lets them see the past in the spots they are visiting.

The McDonaldland Olympic Games are filled with silly things that kids would have fun doing, pogo sticks and bouncing, sounds like Field Day events to me! This time around a trickster is causing issues in the fast food land and almost leads to Ronald’s and a bird’s death as they collide in the air and both are stunned. It’s clear that Captain Crook must have lived after his fall in issue one as he is in the Olympic Games, though they should have some how worked in how it all worked out. This main story as well only really highlights Ronald as the rest of them all take back seats, and this is to be expected as Ronald is the main mascot for the company. The second story seems a little lacking and is just more history lesson left over from the first issue.  While very informative, I wish they would have not repeated the American History lesson. The rest of the comic issue is filled with puzzles and such and I am sure had kids of the time entertained. Over all the first story is pretty fun though I wish had a little more to it.  The second story is just okay, making this issue another average issue but well worth the read, and the price it coast when it was released…FREE. 

One has to wonder why McDonaldland Comics only lasted two issues when Big Boy and Captain D’s both had comic series going at the time and years after even. One has to wonder if the cost of making the free comic just didn’t outweigh the payout of making kids have a collectors item based around their mascots. I for one would have loved to have gotten comics for free based on these characters in the 80’s and would have looked forward to getting an issue anytime we ate there. The comic series really focused on Ronald and that makes sense with the surprise two characters that seemed to get a lot of panel time being The Professor and Captain Crook. Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese and Officer Big Mac all had solid roles to play in the two issues, and Grimace was almost a second thought and offered very little to the story lines, and that’s a shame cause he would have been a perfect character for a kids comic. The art, as I stated before, is great and would have been right at home if Star Comics was going in 1976.  The covers were both very well done and eye catching and better than any other free restaurant comic cover. I wish that McDonald’s would bring back all these classic characters for this modern generation who are lacking the fun wonders of mascots.  I also wish they would bring back free comic books based on these characters, and I also wish they would stop being the target of parent groups and TV “chefs” who want to make a name for themselves by attacking the worlds largest burgar chain. Well the chill in the air is telling me it’s time to go, but before we do I must tell you readers that next update will be on Christmas Eve and will be all about Thundercats! So make sure to come back and give it a read! Till then, have a great holiday season, read a comic or two and eat a Big Mac.Thundercats Logo