Friday, February 27, 2009

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Caliber Press, 1990)

I'm a long-time Rocky Horror fan, and I can remember ordering this from New England Comics way back in 1990. I believe it was published to tie-in somehow with the 15th anniversary of the film (which I believe was around the same time that RHPS made it's VHS debut). Anyways, the comic is a literal adaptation of the film itself.....including the song and dance numbers.

Trust me......musicals do not translate well to comic books.

And, now.....some pics of some really disturbing things hanging on the wall in one of my upstairs bedrooms....

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Rocky Horror Picture Show #1-#3 Sharefile Links

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sledge Hammer (Marvel Comics, 1987)

Y'know....the reason for the lateness of this (the most recent) entry of Who's Who...Cares? is due to just pure lack of motivation. Sure, I've been planning an expose of DC Comics' busty heroine Power Girl's seemingly ever-expanding busom (hey....don't place any blame on me...I blame the topic on the folks over at the Comic Geek Speak forums for starting this whole mess....), but the hassle of searching through scans, preparing the proper CBR files for sharing, and just finding the time, effort and inclination to do this has been a task as of late.....

But then, out of nowhere while digging through some old comics to read, I ran across the two issues of the 1987 Marvel Comics adaptation of the ABC television show, Sledge Hammer....

From Wikipedia:

Sledge Hammer! was a satirical police sitcom produced by New World Television that ran for two seasons on ABC from 1986 to 1988. The series was created by Alan Spencer and starred David Rasche as Inspector Sledge Hammer, a preposterous caricature of the standard "cop on the edge" character, with a name parodied from Mike Hammer.

Inspired by Clint Eastwood's no-nonsense approach to law enforcement in the Dirty Harry films, teenager Alan Spencer dreamed up the idea of a police officer whose approach was even more over-the-top, to the point of comical absurdity. At the age of sixteen, Spencer wrote a screenplay based on this idea. The script and the main character were both named "Sledge Hammer".

Spencer, who at his young age had already written for various standup comedians such as Rodney Dangerfield and television shows such as The Facts of Life and One Day at a Time, was unable to sell the script until the mid-1980s, when the release of the fourth Dirty Harry movie Sudden Impact and the popularity of NBC's Dirty Harry-inspired action series Hunter created demand for a satirical police television show. When HBO approached Leonard B. Stern, former producer of Get Smart, about developing such a show, Stern recommended Spencer's "Sledge Hammer!" idea.

Spencer quickly reworked his script for a half-hour television format. HBO executives did not like it, however, and suggested changes that Spencer found unacceptable, such as casting Dangerfield or Joe Piscopo in the lead role. Surprisingly, last-place ABC was willing to take a chance on the unorthodox script. ABC insisted that the violence be toned down for network television and that a laugh track be included (although it should be noted that some versions, such as that shown by ITV regions in the United Kingdom, do not have this track), but agreed to cast Spencer's first choice for the lead character, the classically trained actor David Rasche. Sledge Hammer! entered ABC's fall lineup in 1986.

Fortuitously, the pilot of Sledge Hammer! was completed just as Peter Gabriel's song "Sledgehammer" became a huge hit. ABC took advantage of this pleasant coincidence by using Gabriel's popular tune in television, radio and film advertisements for the show.

Inspector Sledge Hammer of the Los Angeles Police Department is a violent, sadistic, insensitive, yet oddly likable detective. His best friend is a .44 Magnum with a customized grip featuring a drawing of a sledgehammer. Hammer sleeps and showers with his gun, and even talks to it. Hammer believes in shooting first and asking questions never. In the pilot episode, he deals with a sniper on a roof by blowing up the entire building with a rocket launcher, then turns to the uniformed cops on scene and says "I think I got 'em"; he also mentions that his favorite charity is "Toy Guns for Tots". Hammers father was Jack Hammer, a legendary carnival trick shooter whose repetory of shooting tricks included catching a bullet in his teeth, which saved his son's life in one episode. His mothers name was Armin Hammer.

While purportedly a stickler for law and order, Hammer is rather lax when it comes to following police regulations. He enjoys roughing up suspected criminals, whom he frequently refers to as "brain-dead mutants", "yogurt-sucking creeps", and the like. He is often suspended from duty, and his police file literally requires a wheelbarrow to transport.

Hammer drives a beat-up, bullet-riddled, lime green Dodge St. Regis with an "I ♥ VIOLENCE" bumper sticker. He prefers to wear cheap sports jackets, loud neckties, and dark sunglasses. He is divorced, and frequently makes jokes at the expense of his ex-wife (who makes an appearance in the final episode, played by Rasche's real-life wife, Heather Lupton).

Despite his irresponsibility and utter incompetence, Hammer always ends up getting his man (or woman), often through sheer luck or brute force. Hammer's unintentionally ironic motto is "Trust me. I know what I'm doing." (Disaster usually follows afterward.) Another expression he often utters is "Don't confuse me", typically in response to any remark that challenges his ridiculously one-dimensional worldview.

Hammer's partner is the beautiful Detective Dori Doreau (played by Anne-Marie Martin), who is competent, kind, sensitive, intelligent, and sophisticated—everything Sledge is not. Doreau is often shocked and offended by Hammer's crass behavior and obnoxious attitude, but she appears to see some redeeming qualities beneath his gruff exterior. (Indeed, it becomes apparent with time that she has some romantic feelings for Sledge.) Hammer's blatant male chauvinism is a running gag in his dialogues with Doreau:

Doreau: What, you think all women should be barefoot and pregnant?
Hammer: No, I encourage women to wear shoes.

Doreau's cautious and compassionate approach to law enforcement is a crucial counterpoint to Hammer's reckless and nihilistic quest for justice. Yet Doreau is a tough, agile cop who can handle a gun and deliver a well-timed karate kick when necessary. She frequently saves Hammer from the extraordinary predicaments he invariably gets himself into.

Hammer and Doreau are supervised by the chronically uptight, Pepto-Bismol-guzzling Captain Trunk, played by Harrison Page. Trunk spends most of his time yelling at Hammer for his incompetence or complaining about his migraine headaches brought on by Hammer's antics. If Trunk has any respect or fondness for Hammer, he hides it extremely well. In one episode ("Miss of the Spider Woman") Hammer is about to die from snake venom poisoning but is saved at the last minute when Trunk shows up with the antidote:

Hammer: How can I ever thank you?
Trunk: Don't drink it.

Despite critical acclaim, Sledge Hammer! struggled in the ratings. This was due in large part to its being scheduled in the Friday 9 p.m. timeslot (popularly known as the Friday night death slot), against CBS's Dallas and NBC's Miami Vice, two of the most popular shows on television at the time; in one episode, Hammer remarks that it must be bad to be between a man from Dallas and a man from Miami, an obvious reference to both shows. In his commentary on the first season DVDs, Alan Spencer remarks that the only series getting lower ratings than Sledge Hammer! was FOX's The Tracey Ullman Show. That actually applied to the second season.

In truth, Sledge Hammer! attracted weekly viewership of nineteen million viewers who followed the show religiously through its many time slot shifts. The fact that the series appealed to key target demographics also kept it on the schedule. Hammer! would invariably improve on any time slot the network placed it into.

Because ABC intended to cancel the series, the last episode of the first season ends with Hammer accidentally destroying the city when he attempts to disarm a stolen nuclear warhead; just before the explosion Hammer remarks on his infamous phrase "Trust Me....." . The last scene shows the "Beneath the Planet of the Apes"-style ruins of the city with Trunk's voice screaming "HAMMMMMMMER!", and a graphic flashed:

"To Be Continued... Next Season?"

However, this episode got much better than expected ratings, in large part because the network had moved the show to a better time slot. ABC changed its mind and renewed the show for a second season.

The first episode of the second season perfunctorily explained that it and following episodes were set "five years before" the explosion. Bill Bixby (of Incredible Hulk fame) was brought in to direct numerous episodes. Doreau is Sledge's partner in the second season, a glaring (and unexplained) inconsistency, as the two are portrayed as meeting for the first time in the pilot episode, which supposedly takes place years later (though, it is possible that the explosion takes place five years after the first season and the second season picks up where the show left off). This is more than likely a spoof of cop-out endings to season-ending cliffhangers (a notorious example is Dallas's season opener, where the previous season was revealed to be a dream). In the final moments of the final episode, Sledge asks Dori to marry him, but then claims he was only kidding. The viewer is left to imagine what happens next.

The second season suffered from another extremely undesirable time slot (this time against The Cosby Show), a reduced budget, and lowered filming standard (down to 16 mm film from the previous season's 35 mm). It was not renewed for a third season.

I thought that this show was one of the funniest things in existence when it first aired, and treasure my copies of the DVD releases of the entire series.....they just don't make fun television like this anymore, IMO.

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Sledge Hammer! #1 CBR file

Sledge Hammer! #2 CBR file

Monday, February 16, 2009

Defenders of the Earth #1-4 (Star Comics 1987)

I've been fascinated with any and all interpretations of the King Features Syndicate alumni of superheroes since becoming a fan of the 1980 Dino DeLaurentis-produced Flash Gordon film, and this incarnation of those franchises was a favorite of mine as a kid.

From Wikipedia:

Defenders of the Earth is an animated television series produced in the mid 1980s, featuring characters from three comic strips distributed by King Features SyndicateFlash Gordon, the Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician—battling the Flash Gordon villain Ming the Merciless in the year 2015. Supporting characters include their children Rick Gordon, Jedda Walker (daughter of the Phantom), Kshin (adopted son of Mandrake), Mandrake's assistant Lothar, and Lothar's son L.J. The show lasted for 65 episodes; there was also a short-lived comic book series published by Star Comics (an imprint of Marvel Comics). The closing credits credit Rob Walsh and Tony Pastor for the main title music, and Stan Lee for the lyrics.

In 1987, Star Comics (Marvel Comics' children's imprint) published a comic book series which only lasted four issues. It was written by Stan Lee (#1) and Michael Higgins (#2-4) with art by Alex Saviuk. The last issue featured a "next issue" caption but, #5 was never published.

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Defenders of the Earth #1- #4 CBR files

Monday, February 2, 2009

WCW World Championship Wrestling #1 (April 1992, Marvel)

Remember the good ol' days when comic book properties themselves weren't looked at as potential seeds for multimedia franchises? Back when the big publishers would license nearly anything, hoping to catch some of the backend cashflow from whatever might just happen to become the next big fad or trend? Well, this book is yet another casualty of that by-gone era, and one of the more enjoyable "WTF?!?" moments of 1990s Marvel (and there were alot of those).

Now, I'm a HUGE fan of old-school wrasslin', steeped heavy in the seemingly long-gone practice of kayfabe...and was a HUGE fan of this particular promotion, which was a natural evolution of my childhood love of the southern promotions involved in the "sport" (i.e., the AWA, NWA, USWA, Smokey Mountain Wrestlin, etc.,....). During the "Monday Night War" (the last time I took an active interest in professional wrestling), I was a member of the WCW side of the battle.

What I really enjoy is going back a re-watching the pre Monday Nitro (pre-1995) WCW, back when it was just a programming filler on Saturday nights on TBS, back when it was still knee-deep in kayfabe and some of the really....interesting....gimmicks and acts were being pawned off on the viewers.

This book is ridiculously corny, but chock to the brim with unitentional humor and just, mean REALLY BAD artwork and scripts. It lasted 12 issues, and trust me, it's murder to try and make er way through 'em.

Which is why they're perfect fodder for inflicting pain on my readers.....

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WCW World Championship Wrestling #1 CBR file

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Silver & Beyond: Captain Action

I am sadly just slightly too young to have enjoyed the good Captain during his hey-day of the mid-to-late 1960s, but was familiar with the toy from the numerous ads that ran inside Silver Age comics I would have the luck to happen across in my youth...

A little bit of history, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Captain Action was an action figure, from 1966, equipped with a wardrobe of costumes allowing him to become Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America, Aquaman, the Phantom, The Lone Ranger (and Tonto), Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Sgt. Fury, Steve Canyon, and the Green Hornet. Captain Action was the Ideal Toy Company's answer to Hasbro's GI Joe — although the protagonist dolls of both toy lines were created and designed by the same toy- and idea-man, Stan Weston.

The figure itself had a rather sad and worried expression, a strange shaped head (so the masks of the various heroes would better stay in place over it) and a more detailed musculature than G.I. Joe's. The original Ideal base for the line was Captain Action in his blue and black uniform, with lightning sword and ray gun included in the box. Separate Superman, Batman, Lone Ranger, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Captain America, Sgt Fury, Steve Canyon and Aquaman costumes (with accessories) were available; the next wave (1967) added Spider-Man, Buck Rogers, the Green Hornet, and Tonto, with a Blue Lone Ranger variation (matching the still popular Clayton Moore series) and collectible flicker rings in each box.

In 1967, Captain Action proved popular enough to expand the line, adding a partner, Action Boy, and an enemy, Dr. Evil, a blue skinned alien with large bug eyes and an exposed brain, wearing a modified Nehru suit and sandals. Also, a vehicle called the "Silver Streak," a two foot long amphibian car with missile launchers, was added, large enough for both the Captain and sidekick. Several sets meant to be used by Captain Action in his Captain Action identity was designed for the character as well: a four foot working parachute, a jet mortar, a jet pack, weapons arsenal, and several other secret weapons to add to the Action Cave, which the special box for the Streak could convert into. Both the Captain and Dr. Evil received "secret lairs," which doubled as carrying cases for the figures, but which are now quite rare. All this was an attempt by Ideal to build the "Action" line and focus on Captain Action as a hero in his own right, rather than just a base figure for other heroes.

National Periodical (DC Comics) licensed the character from Ideal and published five issues of Captain Action in 1968, illustrated at first by Wally Wood, then by Gil Kane. The scripts were by Jim Shooter and Gil Kane. The comic book story line had little to do with the toy concept, as some of the heroes licenced for use as costumes for the Captain Action doll were not owned and published by DC (Spider-Man and Captain America for example, were Marvel Comics characters), therefore the ability to change into different characters was entirely dropped. Instead, Captain Action came to possess magical coins, each of which provided him with a spectacular power from a Greek, Roman, or Norse mythological god (in a similar way to the original Captain Marvel). Captain Action was given a real name of his own, Clive Arno, and was identified as a widowed archaeologist and museum curator, and was described as having located "the coins of power" in a buried city. Action Boy's comic-book alter-ego was Carl Arno, son of Clive. Dr. Evil was given a back-story too, having been Captain Action's father-in-law, then going mad in a mishap.

I actually really dig the DC series alot, simply for the great Wally Wood artwork the earlier issues contain. Plus, the later issues are from a period at which Gil Kane was at the height of his DC career in my opinion.

Anyways, also from Wikipedia:

After 30 years off the market, Captain Action was revived in 1998, by retro toy company Playing Mantis. Captain Action as the Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon (with a new figure, Ming the Merciless), Green Hornet, and new to the line Kato returned along with Dr Evil. The line met with lackluster sales, and a retooling had the costumes issued separately, along with a revived Action Boy (now called Kid Action, due to Hasbro owning the rights to the name Action Man) and the addition of retro long box packaging. It made little difference in the general sales and the line was discontinued. The second coming of Captain Action ended in 2000.

I actually ran across and purchased one of the Kay-Bee exclusive Playing Mantis Green Hornet sets at a Toy Liquidators location that used to be in the area for around 10 bucks a few years back (Man, I really miss that store), and then about a year or so later lucked into one of the Kato outfits at a local Odd Lots for around 3 bucks (pictured above)...I'd love to get the Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless sets, which would be f***ing awesome.

In recent times, publisher Moonstone Graphics has acquired the Captain Action license from the current owners, CA Enterprises (whose website:, is actually kinda fun) and have begun producing new Captain Action comic book material.

I love the above Paul Gulacy (one of my favorite artists as a kid on Marvel's Master of Kung Fu) cover for the preview issue of the new book, Captain Action #0. The new series avoids any of the licensed "disguises" Cap used to use, instead replacing them with generic versions of folks like Superman and such, and it's tone seem to be a darker one, involving the now adult Action Boy taking up the mantle, but so far it's been a fairly interesting read.

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Captain Action (DC Comics 1967) #1-#5 RAR file

Captain Action #0 (Moonstone) CBR file