Over the years we all have enjoyed and sometimes hated the giant “epic” multi title crossovers and mini-series that are so damn popular these days. However some of my personal favorite comic book stories are short and sweet. They often times have nothing to do with the major story arc you’re currently reading in that title and especially back in the 70’s & 80’s these self contained stories that had a beginning and end to them all in one book were sometimes more heavy hitting than any crossover could ever be. So I’ll be showcasing some of my favorites and the first one that came to mind might be my favorite of them all.
Flash back to 1986 when X-Men #205 hit the shelves. This issue is easily one of the best Wolverine stories of all time, and it’s all in just one issue. A brilliant epic crafted by Chris Claremont and Barry Windsor Smith remains one of the darkest and most brutal issues of X-men to date. Let me clarify that this was during a time when Wolverine was rarely seen in solo adventures and the character was still deeply mysterious.
The story was called “Wounded Wolf” and featured Lady Deathstrike’s first appearance as a super freaky ass cyborg as well as her three Reaver mercenary minions. It also featured Katie Powers from the mutant kid team ‘Power Pack’ who during a snow storm encounters Wolverine who’s beaten to a pulp, covered in blood and nearly naked. Soon the two of them are both on the run from Lady Deathstrike and her cyborgs who’re out for bloody revenge. It reminds of a Wolverine movie storyboard Ridley Scott might have anticipated directing in the 80’s. Continue reading
I was lucky enough to be able to check out the latest 1980’s throwback monster movie ‘The Void’ at the Hollywood Theater here in Portland Oregon last night. I’m pretty fucking stoked that I’m so close to one of the coolest theaters in the country that’s constantly giving us here alternatives to the huge Hollywood blockbusters continuously cranked out. If you’re ever in Portland I highly suggest checking out this place as it always has several incredibly unique events and movies happening there. But I digress, The Void was definitely a thrill to see on the big screen!
I’ve been waiting for this one for quite a while and right now it’s showing all across the country at select theaters. If you’re a fan of classic 1980’s horror flicks like ‘The Thing’, ‘Reanimator’ & ‘Hellraiser’ you’re in for quite a treat. ‘The Void’ captures the look and feel of films like these with ease, similarly creating an incredibly unsettling sense of dread throughout. Seeing it at the particular venue I did intensified the experience, along with the fact I smoked some pot (hey it’s legal here now so get off my back!) before and I felt a little bit like I was transported back to simpler times when horror flicks were at the peak of their charm. It’s story is pretty simple at it’s surface, taking place almost entirely inside a lonely hospital during a graveyard shift. We meet a group of people whose quiet night soon becomes a descent into total madness as the hospital becomes surrounded by a weird ass masked cult dressed in white robes with black triangles displayed upon their hoods. Continue reading
I finally got a chance last night to check out the latest Mike Mendez (Big Ass Spider, The Gravedancers) ) horror movie starring none other than one of my fave 80’s action icons Mr. Dolph Lundgren! What we’ve got here is a pretty sweet lil’ horror / action hybrid that’s likely to please any fan of good ol’ Dolph. This one puts Jebidiah Woodley (Lundgren) front and center as grizzled demon hunter who strolls into a small town where a recent string of murders has got the folks in a panic. He tries to convince the local cops that something supernatural is afoot but of course they all just think he’s some crazy ass dude and end up locking him away for a night in jail. They soon figure out though Jebidiah ain’t all that crazy after all as they come face to face with a creepy possessed killer while he’s locked up. Lundgren is quickly freed and leads the police on a bit of a wild goose chase to find the pesky demonic killer.
It’s a nice simple plot, short and sweet. The movie’s barely 80 minutes long but packs a fair amount of excitingly gruesome scenes into it’s short run time. ‘Don’t kill It’ is a damn good time, it’s an old fashioned 80’s style movie that borrows a bit from the Denzel Washington/John Goodman horror thriller ‘Fallen’. Heck this one could almost be considered some sort of sequel despite the tonal differences of the two. Lundgren totally shines here and is utilized in exactly the way I hoped he’d be, more like an Ash type anti-hero who cracks his fair share of one liners while thoroughly kicking evil ass. He’s easily the best thing about this one and I’m already hoping that we see him return for a sequel that brings him into the fold of even more insane mayhem. The only real problem is that the movie maybe peaks a little to soon as it’s shining moment takes place about one third of the way through. A town hall meeting gone incredibly wrong becomes an insanely grotesque show of over the top action, comedy & gore. Continue reading
I’ve been seeing an increase of stories recently online & on social media about Marvel Comics and it’s continuing sales slump. Most of the articles bring up the hot topic of diversity, some say that Marvel’s record low sales of their comics books are simply because of rising cover prices & lack of fresh new ideas for their characters. Others say that it’s directly due to it’s attempt at diversifying it’s star characters by changing their race, gender & sexual orientation. Most of their popular character’s titles have had a bit of a revamp lately, for instance Wolverine is now female, so is Thor, so is Iron Man, Cap is black, the Hulk is now Korean-American etc. etc. You get the point. Could these changes really be the reason why sales are down? Do people just simply hate diversity in the Marvel Comics titles?
I really doubt that it’s really that simple, though rising cover prices and lack of fresh ideas definitely doesn’t help their low sales. What I see personally happening is a bit of a trend within Marvel Comics that feels a bit insincere. I honestly don’t really mind that the traditional characters have been replaced but I do feel Marvel’s move to make all these changes to their most popular titles feels as if they’ve been exploiting diversity to make a quick buck. What I’m saying is that it feels like Marvel is just trying way too hard to be current on these topics rather than crafting interesting stories. I don’t believe you can simply take all of your money maker superhero titles, simply change their identities and expect them all to suddenly bring you boatloads of cash because you finally decided to make them more diverse. It’s just not that simple folks. Continue reading
Here’s a cool new comic book from ‘Black Mask’ that packs a visually stunning slice of dirty raw color to the space pirate genre. From page one I’ll admit for this one it really didn’t matter how solid the plot would be for ‘Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality’, the first page showcases some awesome artwork that’s a breath of fresh air in the current comics spectrum. Black Mask has been putting out some pretty impressive shit for quite some time now. Space Riders #1 continues that trend with a solid debut that could possibly be more fun to look at than read. This is apparently a sequel series, but it’s new to me and I’ll have to take a moment to hunt down the first trade. So if you’re late to the party like myself, I don’t think it really matters all that much. We’re given a cast of outrageous characters from the get go, some crazy space bikers, weaving through the stars, wreaking havok on a refugee ship full of aliens. It doesn’t take long for the giant floating skull space craft, with our main characters aboard to vaporize the scavengers dead in their tracks. This sets the tone for the type of crazy shit visually and plot wise that’s on the horizon.
I totally dig it, it’s a straight forward story so far filled with some insanely colorful characters that harken back to classic vintage style space voyage that would’ve fit nicely in the pages of ‘Heavy Metal’ magazine. We’ve got the gruff wise guy Captain Peligro, a tuff guy baboon human hyrid co-pilot, cyborg babes, bat people, marauding space bikers, galactic maidens and cool space vagina portals. It’s a damn fun first issue that’s jam packed with eye candy galore and just a ton of weirdo oddball landscapes & evil aliens. I like these kind of stories sometimes that don’t rely too much on paying attention to crazy details and more so on just having a good old fashion ruff around the collar space adventure. This is the perfect book to roll a joint, kick & absorb the madness of it all.
Now the problem here I gotta say is that Space Riders takes about five minutes to read. I’m not exaggerating either it’s filled with a ton of huge panels and splash pages. While those can all be cool to look at I’ve said before comic books these days need to make some changes for readers who’re expected to throw down four bucks per issue for five minutes of story. Too many books out there don’t seem to give us enough bang for our buck. What do you think? Can you afford the rising prices of comic books? Well if you can I recommend Space Riders #1 it’s got a unique look and it bound to go to some pretty cool ass places…
I recently picked up an obscure 80’s flick called ‘Wild Thing’ (aka Asphalt Kid) on VHS and to my surprise it was quite an enjoyable little oddball ‘superhero’ flick. Yeah, ‘Wild Thing’ is the alias of the homeless hippie hero who’s parents were killed by a crooked cop in 1969 when he was just a toddler. His parents were full on flower children too, as the opening scene shows them looking like members of the Grateful Dead driving around in an old VW van around the big city. Instead of living with his aunt and uncle after this tragic event the lil’ dude is chased down by the cops and leaps into a nearby river. He finds shelter with a homeless lady who takes him in as her own. Over the years he learns the ways of the streets, hunts pigeons with a tennis racquet for food, mimics a martial arts master who practices in the park, learns to speak from radio disc jockeys and figures out ways to communicate with alley cats. Yep Wild Thing is a bit of a “Jack of ALL trades”.
Wild Thing grows up a bit and by the late 80’s he’s become somewhat of a local legend and protector of the streets, rumored to have superhuman abilities. He’s a full on hippie vigilante who roams the rooftops looking for trouble. This one’s got quite a plot. Things get interesting when a woman from Wisconsin named Jane (Kathleen Quinlan) moves into the area to work at a priest’s half way home. Sure enough she arrives for the job late at night and is attacked by some crazy local hoodlums, well guess who arrives to save her? Continue reading
Back in the 1980’s there were some pretty awesome indie books out there. If you were looking for something different than what the “big two” had to offer there were some unique ones out there, one I was quite intrigued with was ‘Roachmill’! What? You say you never heard of Roachmill? Well this ultra oddball superhero came on the scene in 1986. He was a professional futuristic exterminator, a killer for hire and he was bad to the bone.
He also had two bizarre cockroach arms that extended from his body making it easier for him to kick the living tar outta people and shoot guns a’ plenty . The series was set in New York City during a time when there were hoards of aliens from other planets moving to Earth. Apparently this caused a lot of crime and chaos in the city and they needed badasses like Roachmill to keep humans and aliens alike in line.
This rad indie series was written and drawn by Rich Hedden & Tom McWeeney and had a heroic dose of grit & comedy evenly bound within it’s pages. I’d really like to revisit it soon to see how it holds up in 2017 and being part of my comic book cover of the week posts Roachmill stuck with me all these years as having some totally excellent cover art. In the late 80’s it got picked up by Dark Horse Comics. I totally dig these weird offbeat 80’s series, hey who knows maybe Roachmill will make a return?!