Monday, April 27, 2009

The Fantastic Four Radio Show (1975)

• 01 - Fantastic Four meets the Mole Man
• 02 - Menace of the Miracleman
• 03 - Coming of the Submariner
• 04 - Dreaded Dr Doom
• 05 - Prisoners of the Puppet Master
• 06 - Fantastic Four meet the Incredible Hulk

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FF Radio Show Ep. 1-6

• 07 - Spell of the Hate Monger
• 08 - Return of Dr Doom
• 09 - In the Clutches of Dr Doom
• 10 - Super Skrull Walks Among Us
• 11 - At the Mercy of the Red Ghost
• 12 - Menace of the Red Ghost
• 13 - Submariner Strikes

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(Link down....coming back soon)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Conquerer (Dell Movie Classics #690, 1956)

WTF?!? John Wayne as Genghis Khan?!? UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY GOLDMINE! Plus, the backstory and the aftermath of the filming is a priceless bit of madness...

Take it away, Wikipedia:

The Conqueror is a 1956 CinemaScope epic film produced by Howard Hughes and starring John Wayne as the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan. Other performers included Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and Pedro Armendáriz. The picture was directed by actor/director Dick Powell. The film was principally shot near St. George, Utah.

The picture was a critical and commercial failure (often ranked as one of the worst films of the 1950s), which is remarkable given the stature of the cast. Wayne, who was at the height of his career, had lobbied for the role after seeing the script and was widely believed to have been grossly miscast. (He was so "honored" by The Golden Turkey Awards.)

Reportedly, Howard Hughes felt guilty about his decisions regarding the film's production (see Cancer controversy below) and kept the film from view until 1974 when it was first broadcast on TV. The Conqueror, along with Ice Station Zebra, is said to be one of the films Hughes watched endlessly during his last years.

The exterior scenes were shot on location near St. George, Utah, 137 miles downwind of the United States government's Nevada Test Site, Operation Upshot-Knothole, where extensive above-ground nuclear weapons testing occurred during the 1950s. The cast and crew spent many difficult weeks on the site. In addition, Hughes later shipped 60 tons of dirt back to Hollywood for re-shoots. The cast and crew knew about the nuclear tests, there are pictures of Wayne holding a Geiger counter during production, but the link between exposure to radioactive fallout and cancer was poorly understood then.

Powell died of cancer in January 1963, only a few years after the picture's completion. Hayward, Wayne, and Moorehead all died of cancer in the mid to late 1970s. Cast member actor John Hoyt died of lung cancer in 1991. Pedro Armendáriz was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1960 and committed suicide after he learned it was terminal. Skeptics point to other factors such as the wide use of tobacco— Wayne and Moorehead in particular were heavy smokers — and the notion that cancer resulting from radiation exposure does not have such a long incubation period. The cast and crew totaled 220. 91 developed some form of cancer by 1981 and 46 had died of it by then. Dr. Robert Pendleton, professor of biology at the University of Utah, stated, "With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic. The connection between fallout radiation and cancer in individual cases has been practically impossible to prove conclusively. But in a group this size you'd expect only 30 some cancers to develop...I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up in a court of law."

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Dell Movie Classics #690 CBR file

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pulp Heroes: Justice, Inc. (DC Comics)

I've held a long-time fascination with the pulp and radio heroes of the 1930s and '40s, for which I have my paternal grandmother and aunt to blame for. Now, hindsight is probably heavily embellished, so forgive any discrepancies that might follow, but as a small child with both parents working...I spent several afternoons with the two above-mentioned women pre-kindergarten in a household that still held to the values that the television was a device that shouldn't be turned on until 6 p.m. at the least. Hell, the first color set my grandmother ever owned was purchased by my father after my grandfather's 1991.

So, to keep me occupied as a wee lad, my grandmother, who was a HUGE fan of radio drama during it's hey-dey, would literally (and remember what I said earlier about hindsight) verbally relate episodes of her favorite shows to me, verbatim. It wasn't until I was probably around the age of 6 or 7 that I came to the realization that The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Fibber McGee (and Molly), Amos n' Andy, and a whole slew of fictional characters were just that: fictional. I just thought they were folks that grandma knew....

So, when I came to discover that there were comic books produced about these heroes, it's a no-brainer I would take an interest. One of the first I came to discover during those early years of collecting in the early 1980s was what would become quite possibly one of my favorite DC Comics series of all time, Denny O'Neil and Mike Kaluta's excellent interpretation of The Shadow.

At some point later, while in high school, I would disocver Walter Gibson's other work, The Avenger, via ancient Bantam paperback reprints from the early 1970s and the short-lived DC Comics series Justice, Inc.....

I lucked into an entire run of the 1970s DC title around that time. I actually like the latter half of the book in which Jack Kirby was handed the reigns on the character...

Around this time, in the early 1990s, DC revisited the character (for much the same reasons they did took any interest the first time: they were experiencing some success with a new book based upon the more popular Lamont Cranston, The Shadow) in a two issue prestige format mini-series illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Kyle Baker. This take learns more towards the Avenger being involved in shadowy covert operations during the Cold War, but is still an interesting read...

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Justice Inc #1-#4 (first series) RAR file

Justice Inc #1-#2 (second series) RAR file

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Lone Ranger and Tonto (Topps Comics, 1994)

After receiving some decent critical praise for their work on DC's western property Jonah Hex for the Vertigo imprint, Joe R. Lansdale and Tim Truman attempted to apply the same sensibilities to The Lone Ranger over at now-defunct Topps Comics.

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The Lone Ranger and Tonto (Topps Comics) #1-#4 RAR file

Monday, April 6, 2009

G.I. Joe- Sgt. Savage & His Screaming Eagles (Hasbro 1994)

In 1994, as the 3 3/4th inch line was reaching the end of it's first wave of popularity, Hasbro attempted this short-lived line, featuring character designs and mini-comic work by Joe Kubert. Packaged within the initial (only) wave of this action figure line was a VHS cassette featuring a failed "pilot" of sorts for an animated Sgt. Savage project entitled, "Old Soldiers Never Die", whose plot detailed Savage's origin story, which is equal parts Sgt. Fury, Capt. America, and crap.

I actually purchased a few of these things on clearance way back in 1995 from a now defunct K-Mart store....

Also packaged with some of the figures were mini-comics illustrated by none other than Joe Kubert, the comic book industry's answer to Bill Mauldin....which I've decided to share here today, along with the animated fiasco....

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Sgt. Savage and His Screaming Eagles- "Old Soldiers Never Die" AVI file
Sgt. Savage Mini-Comic #1
Sgt. Savage Mini-Comic #2