Ahhh yes I can still remember how stoked I was as a kid waaaay back in 1985 when John Byrne took over writing and drawing The Incredible Hulk for a far too short of a run. I was only 11 years old, but I seriously adored John Byrne, he was hands down my favorite comic book artist and The Hulk was my favorite comic book character. Byrne had been writing and drawing Alpha Flight, which of course I was a die hard fan of too, when he switched to full on Hulk mode with issue #314. I was thrilled!
I must have read that issue a hundred times and the cover itself couldn’t have been more awesome as it featured the Jade Giant in all of his Byrne-esque glory along with a gang of his deadliest villains behind him ready to start some shit. The Leader, Modok, The Rhino, Abomination & The Juggernaut! Byrne’s highly detailed artwork pushed The Hulk to new levels of awesomeness, the character was more massive than he’d ever been too. Though the villains on the cover end up being just part of Hulk’s over active imagination, the Byrne run fully made up for that with making Hulk-centric character Doc Samson one of, if not the main character of his short run. From that point in in Hulk history Doc Samson quickly became one of my favorite Marvel characters, the series also improved upon Doc’s costume, giving him a new one, ditching his classic but sorta awful lightning bolt suit he’d worn previously.
In the past we’d seen Samson tangle with the Hulk but never quite like this. I absolutely love how Byrne’s Hulk completely dwarf’s Samson in size like never before, yet he proves just how much of a bad ass the character really is with not only his brawn but also his brains. This issue is essentially one big fight between the two and begins with a more mindless version of the Hulk who’d been missing in another dimension called The Crossroads, exiled by Doctor Strange for over a year (those were great issues too!). Samson cleverly defeats The Hulk and makes Hulk history using his genius scientific intellect to actually separate Bruce Banner from The Hulk as two living breathing entities.
This was a great era of Hulk history and let’s face it John Byrne was easily one of the best comic book writers and artists of the 70’s & 80’s if not of all time. During this run he pumped out 8 issues, one being an awesome Marvel Fanfare where’s Byrne’s stunning artwork proved he was easily one of the best of all time when it came to drawing the jade giant. Another was The Hulk annual #14 which he wrote but master Hulk artist Sal Buscema drew. I love the Byrne era Hulk and apparently he’d had big plans for the series but was thwarted, there’s actually a great story about what went down here with the Byrne Hulk run for all of you Hulk-a-maniancs. Also check out ‘Incredible Hulk: Visionaries #1‘ Trade Paperback which features the whole output of Byrne 80’s Hulk. Ahhh those were the good ol’ days….
Hot Dayum! Here’s a rad ass kung fu movie I recently checked out that deserves some serious love yet remains all but forgotten by most here in the USA. If you dig comic books and kung fu I say you gotta take a moment to check out…
Operation Scorpio, aka The Scorpion King (1991)
This unique Hong Kong kung Fu movie from 1991 is barrel of zany fun. It’s jam packed with some truly stunning action and hyper-crazy early 1990’s Kung Fu mayhem!! This one’s got a ton of heart and a cool ass story about a comic book artist, Yu Shu, who’s got a wild ass imagination and spends his time daydreaming of being a real life superhero. It opens with a great sequence that perfectly sets the stage for the frantic charming martial arts extravaganza. His wild imagination gets the best of him when his ‘in class cartooning’ soon gets him expelled from medical school leaving him to help his Uncle’s buddy, Master Yat around his popular noodle restaurant. But Yu soon finds himself fully wrapped up in the evil web of a criminal prostitution ring, when going out on a limb, he helps a woman escape from their stronghold late one evening while walking about town. Now the duo are on the run and take shelter hiding out in Master Yat’s noodle house, they’ll eventually find a lot more than noodle’s in his bustling restaurant.
Shit gets pretty awesome as the movie constantly introduces us to a colorful cast of unique characters and the villain’s seemingly superhuman fighting abilities inspire our main character to take a stab at kung fu himself. He secretly heads off to local martial arts school that’s taught by one of the most bad ass, muscle bound kung fu experts I’ve ever seen in cinema. This dude rivals Bolo Yueng! The movie plays out a bit like a comic book version of “My Bodyguard” & “The Karate Kid” and it’s filled with comedy, romance and downright incredible martial arts sequences. Sonny, (The Scorpion King), the lanky villain of the movie, shows that size clearly doesn’t matter when it comes to superhuman kung fu and proves himself to be quite a cinematic threat to anyone who stands in his way. His “scorpion” style of fighting is a treat to see in action as well and one of the best action scenes is when Yu’s Hulking kung fu teacher decides to try and put an end to his problems himself. This truly epic and a bit of a heartbreaking confrontation is definitely not to be missed..
We’ve got a ton of cool shit going on in this one & one of the most entertainingly cheezy sequences of the movie involves the rigorous kung fu training endured by Yu as he masters martial arts through a full on noodle making work out. We’ve got some great twists and turns in the plot as well and just about everything in this movie is quirky enough to elevate this one to a level of it’s own in the ranks of late 80’s early 90’s martial arts movies. Cool sets, ultra colorful characters, superhuman kung fu, heart and unique little story drive this movie into territory I wasn’t even aware existed in the genre. Operation Scorpio, aka ‘The Scorpion King’ is a total treat for any comic book fan and it’s no wonder the flick was produced by the legendary Sammo Hung. It stands on it’s own and really deserves a lot more attention and notoriety for it’s pure charm and ultra endearing cheez factor it delivers. Seek this one out, as it really is a forgotten gem…
Here’s another installment of ‘Creepy Comic Book Covers’! This week as we grow closer to Halloween it’s only obvious we’d check out a odd battle that took place way back in 1977 between Iron Man and yeah…Frankenstein’s Monster!! As it states on the cover he’s “the most unexpected foe of the year” and I always loved it when Marvel would pit it’s classic superheroes up against classic monsters. This is an excellent cover that features Tony Stark in some deep shit as Frankenstein’s Monster just got done serving him his ass on a platter! What I really love are Frankenstein’s Monster’s weird ass little minions crowding around Iron Man armed with wooden clubs and out for blood! A great halloween flashback from comic book art legends Val Mayerick & Dave Cockrum!
Seems to me like after the “grand finale” series of the recent shared Marvel Netflix universe show, The Defenders, that Marvel’s lost some serious steam or should I say street cred?! Yeah, final verdict here on The Defenders…weak ass shit! Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t as bad as Iron Fist. BUT seeing the character of Iron Fist in the mix with The Defenders wasn’t really so bad in comparison to his other teammates. I realized that all of the shows are a bit stale when you take a step back and look at them. They all drag on too damn long and when they hit that lull they’re incredibly tedious, every now and again they’ve got their shining moments but they’re few & far between. I was initially pumped for a lean 8 episode, no BS Defenders series, however even 8 episodes felt a bit like a chore to sit through at times!
I wasn’t very impressed with The Defenders, as a longtime comic fan I think of all the ways the show should’ve been amazing and all the ways it was a bit of a let down. I’m tiring of the whole “uninteresting drama, for the sake of drama” these shows fill themselves with. I mean, does anyone really give a flying fuck about Foggy & Karen Page while they whine & worry over Matt Murdock’s Daredevil escapades anymore?! Was anyone captivated by Elektra & Matt Murdock’s “passionate” romance in the last season of Daredevil and this new Defenders series?! We certainly don’t feel anything real for Danny Rand & Colleen Wing! What about Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ supposed “love connection” anyone care about that? The whole “Jessica Jones is an alcoholic thing” is so by the numbers that every time she takes a drink I feel like rolling my eyes. Uggh it’s just all feeling a little plastic, this cookie cutter drama factor they keep trying to push, it’s just not very interesting. It takes up a LOT of the actual run time of these series.
Well how about the action? Aside from that hallway fight early on in the first Daredevil season I’m not feelin’ that these shows are setting any new action trends. The way I see it these shows should have really upped the ante in the way of action, especially when it comes to superhuman kung fu!! I’m thinking they should’ve been taking notes from movies like “Big Trouble in Little China” & mashing it up with say the likes of Tony Jaa’s “The Protector”. Compare The Defenders for a moment to something that is actually awesome like the movies I just mentioned. Take a moment and imagine if they would’ve slapped a blonde wig on Tony and had him do the action sequences for Iron Fist or even Daredevil, the Marvel shows should be striving to top action sequences like this one here:
Instead we get some seriously bland kung fu by people who’re supposedly superhuman heroes and villains. Heck imagine at the very least if Danny Rand was breaking bones left and right and seriously fucking people up with that iron fist? How much would that alone have changed the dynamic of things? The shows so far range from decent to barely passable, but they should be a serious spectacle to behold visually at the very least. Instead these shows are kinda lazy, no one’s willing to push the boundaries to give us something we wanna watch again and again. I enjoyed the first season of of Jessica Jones & Luke Cage….BUT…do I every really wanna revisit them? Honestly no. Do I wanna revisit say “Stranger Things”? Hell yeah!
I watched one of the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ episodes right before I started The Defenders. Not a good idea, The Defenders ended up feeling pretty cheap, the acting, action, even the sets felt very “made for TV”. Marvel’s got to make a few changes to it’s Netflix stuff. We need more inventive story telling, plot twists, better writing in general, far better action, actual interesting villains & more damn costumes!! Yeah put Iron Fist in his damn costume, that would at least make shit more fun. Give us some classic super powered villains rather than a gang of blah “bosses” and a bunch of faceless drone fighters for our heroes to do mediocre made for tv kung fu street fighting with. The time has come to start remembering where the roots of this shit came from, the comic books! Take notes on what made the last Wolverine movie “Logan” so good and give the fans what they really want!! I don’t have time to waste on more mediocre media Marvel, so get your shit together!
It seems Black Mask is at it again, releasing cool comic books! Yep ‘Last Song’ is out July 12th and it’s yet another excellent debut issue. There’s a lot of heart pumped into the story of Last Song and if you’ve ever played music and especially ever been in a band this one should really resonate. I spent a good portion of my life so far playing in bands, touring and dreaming at times of hitting it big. This awesome 64 page debut follows two guys who grow up together, learn to play music together and eventually attempt to give the rock n’ roll lifestyle a serious whirl. The two main characters Drew and Nicky have done pretty much everything together and decide to move out to L.A. in search of adventure instead of heading off to college to sign up for the mundane working grind. Nicky worries about his future, never being a kid again and states “I want to like what I’m doing so much that money doesn’t matter” as a teenager in the 80’s. He also lost his father at a young age to suicide which is sure to make this journey a bit more difficult down the road.
We follow the pair through high school and into their twenties as they finally attempt to patiently put together the perfect band. What I love about this book so far is how they portray the often epic journey of forming a band. I’ve seen comic books in the past try to hit the right notes on the topic but it’s never truly felt authentic in the approach. This however is a highly relatable story and it makes me wonder if writer Holly Interlandi has experience herself? It showcases the highs and lows of attempting a band, which is nearly identical to being in a one on one relationship with a lover. In the beginning it’s filled with excitement and passion but often times those initial feelings are hit with the realities of the world. Egos and personalities collide as time marches on.
This one captures the feelings of being in a band when the world is your oyster or at least that’s what we believed. It starts off giving us a look at what appears to be the band in the aftermath of a nasty break up. How could these two inseparable best friends have gotten to such a negative space in life? Well the first issue gives us a glimpse into the trouble that likely lies ahead and does so with a strong sense of melancholic urgency on the sidelines. There’s a lot to digest here as we get a pretty strong look into the characters hopes, dreams & impending fears.
‘Last Song’ has some serious substance to it, yeah I enjoyed the book’s extended length (ah..if only all single issue comic books were this long and meaningful), simply because I’m a bit tired of reading a new comic book that literally takes 5 minutes to breeze through that costs 4-5 bucks. It’s also got some excellent black & white artwork from Sally Cantirino as well that fit’s the book’s vibe immaculately. You get your money’s worth. I’m totally eager to check out what happens next here, to me a band breaking up can be just as devastating and heartbreaking as a split between lovers. So I’m curious where this all goes and just exactly what goes down. Check it out, even if you’ve never tried to rock your life away in a band, but if you have it’ll most definitely strike a familiar chord. A great read….the only bad thing about this is now I really wanna hear what their band sounds like!!!
I’ve expressed my interest in lucid dreaming here at Universal Dork a couple times in the past and today I thought I’d take a moment to talk about ‘astral projection’. First though, if you’re not quite sure what lucid dreaming is let me make it simple, it’s when you have a very vivid dream and something within the dream triggers you to become aware that you are dreaming (movies like Inception & Dreamscape are good examples). In many of these cases often with a little practice and focus you can learn to have them quite regularly. To be honest it makes movies like ‘Inception’ feel pretty boring. It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve experienced and anyone can do it with a little effort.
There’s another practice that’s linked to lucid dreaming called ‘astral projection‘, also known as an ‘out of body experience’ or OBE. I’ve worked a ton on different methods to experience this phenomenon with various degrees of success. I can tell you with honesty that it’s lead to the most bizarre & unexplainable experiences of my existence. I’m to this day a bit uncertain exactly what astral projection really is at it’s core, some believe it’s just an elaborate lucid dream while others believe it’s the complete separation of consciousness from the physical body. I intend to find out for myself what the truth really is behind it. Thus far I’ve had several unexplainable experiences that have lead me to believe that perhaps there’s abilities humans have that involve being able to enter into different dimensions of existence that are not of our physical material world. It’s also made me question heavily my beliefs on life after death. Perhaps there’s more to us than just our bodies of flesh and bone? Continue reading
There was a time when zombies were fucking awesome & not like how they are “awesome” today. That time was way back in the 70’s & 80’s before everyone and their mom and dad were watching ‘The Walking Dead’. Today the zombie craze has brought us countless shitty zombie movies, comic books & merch but back in the 80’s all of the zombie mayhem was quite a bit more underground. I was watching Frank Henenlotter’s ‘Brain Damage’ last night with a group of people and noticed someone in the movie was reading ‘Deadworld’. I was surprised that no one in the group had ever even heard of the comic book. I’ve blogged several times in the past about the book which still remains my favorite zombie comic of all time (at least the first 12 issues or so). Deadworld is punk as fuck and featured some truly stunning undead art from the gore master Vincent Locke who’s done artwork for bands like Cannibal Corpse. The 1986 book featured a prominent villain simply referred to as ‘King Zombie’ and his gang of undead who’ve developed intelligence while still lusting for flesh. He was a total badass who cruised around on his motorcycle and terrorized a gang of teens who’s bus broke down on a desolate highway. The books a treasure trove of totally amazing, legit zombie tattoo designs by the way. There’s been a collection done pretty recently of all of the old issues and they even tried to reboot it a some years back. I suggest hunting those down, they’re a unique read and embody the dirty grit of grindhouse 80’s style zombie flick to perfection. This was the issue featured in ‘Brain Damage’ it remains today one of my favorite pieces of zombie art to date!
And of course here’s ‘King Zombie’…..