Friday, August 26, 2016

THE SHADOW #97: CRIME AT SEVEN OAKS

Knowing how much my friend Anthony Tollin loves dogs, I’m amazed it took his Sanctum Books this long to publish The Shadow’s adventure with a Great Dane by the name of Vulcan. The story and the dog were so popular that readers clamored for Vulcan to appear again. Alas, he never did.

The connecting link between the two Shadow novels reprinted in The Shadow #97: Crime at Seven Oaks & The Northdale Mystery [$14.95; June 2015] is the city of Northdale. Though it’s never explicitly stated, the city is probably in New Jersey, not far from our hero’s usually Manhattan haunts, and likely a stand-in for Westfield, New Jersey, the real-life city which other novels say in the home town of Lamont Cranston. One of author Walter B. Gibson’s brothers lived in Westfield.

Writing as Maxwell Grant, Gibson wrote both of these novels. Crime at Seven Oaks first appeared in The Shadow Magazine for August 1, 1940. Here’s the back cover blurb: The wail of the banshee signals Crime at Seven Oaks until The Shadow enlists a Great Dane to bring a killer to justice!

The Northdale Mystery is from The Shadow Magazine for May 1, 1942: Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane investigate a bizarre bank robbery and unravel The Northdale Mystery.

This volume also includes a historical essay by Will Murray and a  piece by Tollin on the 20,000-year-long centuries-old relationship between man and dog. The latter includes photographs of some of the award-winning dogs Tollin has raised.

Sanctum publishes great books. I recommend them all.

ISBN 978-1-60877-180-6

Keep reading the bloggy thing for more information on Sanctum Books publications.

© 2016 Tony Isabella


Thursday, August 25, 2016

THURSDAY THOUGHTS

So I’m reading a recent issue of New Avengers when I realized this sad truth: if my life depended on it, I could not tell you how many different Avengers teams are currently active in the current Marvel Universe. Or which heroes are on which team. Or how many Inhumans teams are currently active and who’s on them. Or how many teams of X-Men and who’s on them, though I suspect the number of X-Men teams will dwindle in the wake of Marvel’s ongoing hissy fits over not having movie rights to their merry mutants.

I do know how many Fantastic Four teams are currently active in the Marvel Universe. Do I get points for that?

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I have been mildly interested in the brouhaha over a Wizard World convention in Chicago having a gun dealer among their vendors and then not having a gun dealer among their vendors and then having a gun dealer among their vendors and then, apparently after said gun dealer began setting up at the show, not having him again. I have but a few thoughts...

I find it incredible that Wizard World, using some third party to fill their vendor booths, did not have some mechanism in place to vet the vendors before selling them space. Wizard World events are their own thing. They generally include lots of non-comics, non-fan booths. When Sainted Wife Barb attended last year’s Cleveland show, those booths were of interest to her. Me, I sort of like expanding the comics tent to include them because I relish the opportunities to bring new customers into the comics business. But, then again, I’m also one of those rare old farts who doesn’t whimper and moan because comic books aren’t exactly like they were when I was twelve years old.

The consternation of the ammo-sexuals in comics will be vocal. They see so many non-existent America-destroying liberal conspiracies at every turn that I fully expect them to mutter under their breaths about “Second Amendment solutions.” From my point of view, having a gun vendor at a comics convention in Chicago, a city plagued by gun violence, was insensitive.

Noting all of the above, I think Wizard World was wrong to renege on their agreement to allow the gun vendor to exhibit at the con. Third party involvement or not, they had a deal with him. As long as he adhered to the convention’s rules for exhibitors, he should have been allowed to set up. Wizard World should learn from this, then make whatever adjustments to their vendor policies they need to make to avoid such situations in the future.

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Unlicensed prints and products. Artists and other creators are now speaking out on this sort of thing, though, in truth, the artists mostly seem concerned about their own work being pirated and not with the copyright violations of characters they may have worked on but do not own. For me, it’s not a grey area.

Comic-book publishers have largely turned a blind eye to this sort of thing as a sort of perk to creators who work or have worked for them. That will certainly change because some of these pirate works present the creative properties in ways the owners would not and do not approve.

My own take on this is that legitimate comics creators - i.e., not those folks who sell prints based on the work of others - should  work with the copyright owners for the prints they sell at comics conventions. When I decided to create new products to sell at the conventions I’ll be attending in 2017 and beyond, I contacted the copyright owners to learn their policy. The meeting of our minds on this was cordial and painless.

I’m new to this print stuff, but hope to release up to ten limited edition prints for sale at my 2017 convention appearances. All of them would feature characters on which I’ve worked. Some will be covers of stuff I wrote, some will be original prints. I’ve already signed up the artists for two of the latter and will be talking to other artists in the near future.

I take copyrights pretty seriously. Yes, I have and will continue to take advantage of fair usage laws. Even the cover at the top of today’s bloggy is a case of fair usage.

There’s no way I could or would claim “fair usage” when producing prints for sale to the fans at conventions. I am delighted to work with copyright holders to meet their requirements in this area. I think this should be the standard operating policy for the comics industry.

This is an art form and a business. We should treat both aspects of it with the same integrity and regard.

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Kudos to Action Lab Entertainment for combining several creator-owned characters into a six-issue Actionverse crossover. Not every one of the issues was a hit. I feel the conclusion of the overall story damaged the integrity of one of my favorite characters. But every one was, at the very least, readable and entertaining. The series was worth the readers’ investment in price and reading time. I like to see creators and publishers reach.

Besides...how can I not love a company called Action Lab who will be publishing a comic book called Action Lab: Dog of Wonder about a heroic Labrador Retriever? It has a cover by Neal Adams and, yes, I plan on buying it.

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Not all hero crossovers are created equal. Over at Dynamite, they have two pretty dismal ones going. The first is Gold Key Alliance featuring Doctor Solar, Mighty Samson, Magnus, Turok and one of two other characters originally published by Gold Key/Western Comics in the 1950s and 1960s. The other is King’s Quest which continues the seemingly endless teaming of Flash Gordon, the Phantom, Mandrake, Prince Valiant and Jungle Jim. Both are tedious exercises in...oh, heck if I know.

I could accept nostalgic treatments of these classic characters. I could accept and quite possibly enjoy well-conceived updating of these characters. These two series are muddled middle ground. They are not well-written and merely adequately drawn. I’m struggling to get through the last issues of these things.

Dynamite loves to acquire licensed properties. Nothing wrong with that. But their record with these properties is less than splendid. Some have been terrific. Some have been just good but entertaining. Too many have been awful. They should slow down on these acquisitions until they can do justice to all of them.

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On the other hand, I read and enjoyed the first two issues of DC’s Future Quest [$3.99 each]. This series is teaming up a boatload of Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon adventure heroes. Written by Jeff Parker with art by Evan Shaner, Steve Rude, Ron Randall and Jonathan Case, these issues dazzled me.

Confession. Outside of Johnny Quest, which I watched religiously, I didn’t watch most of the original cartoons these characters come from. I probably watched more episodes of Space Ghost and Birdman than the others, but, once the comics writing bug hit me, I would more likely to spend my Saturday mornings working on my own super-heroes than watching cartoons. I know Johnny Quest well and have, at best, a passing familiarity with the others.

Parker and crew have nailed the Johnny Quest characters. Birdman, Space Ghost and others seem right to me as well. This is a series I’ll continue to look forward to and read. When this series reaches its end, I hope we see spinoffs of some of the heroes.

I also want to write a Ruff and Reddy comic book. Can you hear me, Dan Didio?

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One last note. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’m enjoying Marvel’s Hyperion by Chuck Wendig with artist Nik Virella. Basically, this hero from another world is trying to find his place in this world, a place which might not include the super-hero stuff. Yet, because he’s a pretty good guy, he can’t not help people.

There’s an internal monologue in which Hyperion is thinking of all the events that led him to his current status. He is unsure of the rightness of his past actions. He is unsure of what he needs to be doing...and then he thinks these thoughts.

Then I met her. Doll. And I thought, maybe I don’t have to help everyone. Maybe I can help just one human at a time.

That’s more than just some pretty good writing. That could be the starting point of a great ongoing super-hero series.
 
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I’m taking time off from the bloggy thing while I finish my first comic-book script in years, but I’ll be back soon with more stuff. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 84

The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 84th installment in that series.
 
The Rawhide Kid #98 [April 1971] has a cover drawn by Larry Lieber with Bill Everett inks. Inside the issue, Lieber’s “The Gun and the Arrow” (14 pages) is one of his very best Rawhide Kid stories. It’s inked by George Roussos. I like this issue’s tale so much that I’m going to tell you as little as possible about it.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD


The story opens with three bushwhackers killing two Apache braves. They don’t spot a third brave who heads to their camp to tell the tribe what has happened.

The eternally wandering Rawhide Kid has also seen the murders and takes matters into his own hands. His plan to turn the bushwhackers over to the law changes when they draw on him. It’s the last thing they will ever do before heading to Hell.

Other Apaches come across the scene and, not having heard from the third brave, open fire on Rawhide. They don’t kill him, but he is in bad shape.

The Apaches bring the Kid to Iron Wolf, chief of their tribe. That third brave from before, who apparently lingered long enough to see Rawhide avenge his fellows, shows up in time to confirm our young hero’s innocence.

Iron Wolf turns Rawhide over to his sister Bright Fawn for healing. Romance blossoms and the Kid begins to think he has at last found the peace he has always sought.

But there are bad white men in town who would profit from a war between the Apaches and the white townspeople. They’re more than willing to take extreme measures to make that happen.

MILD SPOILERS OVER
MILD SPOILERS OVER
MILD SPOILERS OVER


This story has it all. Action, romance, tragedy and, at the heart of it, some profound social commentary. Though the setting is the Old West, the same bigotry and fears and rush to judgment espoused by the likes of Donald Trump are with us today. Sadly, those foul attitudes have even more potential to bring harm to the innocents than they do in this classic Rawhide Kid story.

I think the time is well overdue for Marvel Comics to publish The Best of the Rawhide Kid by Larry Lieber. My pal remains one of the best and most underrated writers of the 1960s and 1970s. His work deserves to be seen by modern readers.

I urge you to track down this issue for yourself. “The Gun and the Arrow” is also reprinted in The Rawhide Kid #150 [March 1979] with a cover by Tony Dezuniga.
                                                                                 

Two four-page stories from the 1950s follow the cover story. Red Hawkins and Tall Feather - two travelers who apparently had their own series - appear in “The Wild Beast” with art by Syd Shores. The story first appeared in Apache Kid #53 [December 1950]. The second story is “Back Down Or Die!” by Stan Lee and Doug Wildey from The Ringo Kid Western #16 [February 1957].

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


Red Hawkins and Tall Feather are a rather bland duo. Red bets Tall a plugged nickel that his friend can’t capture a wild horse, then heads to town alone.

Tall feather does succeed, only to be ambushed by a couple of horse thieves. The wild horse helps him fight them off and, in gratitude, he frees the animal. Yawn!

“Back Down and Die!” is one of those Stan Lee stories that combine a surprise ending with a moral. Town tough guy Bull Morgan has told everyone that he plans to marry the new schoolteacher. The teacher arrives...and he’s a man.

Bull is mocked and takes it out on the schoolteacher. He tells the man to draw, but the teacher is unarmed. Bull tells the teacher to get out of town by dawn or he’ll throw him out.

The teacher isn’t about to leave:

I was sent here to set up a school for children! No brawling bully can deprive the youngsters of this town of an education.

A townsman tells the teacher he’ll have to back down or die. This is usually where we learn the teacher is a former Texas Ranger or something. Stan spins that.

The teacher is just a teacher. But he’s a teacher with a shotgun. He tells Bull he’s got a 50-50 chance to shoot him before the bully dies. No matter how fast he is, Bull doesn’t like those odds. He refuses to draw and leaves town, vowing to go to another state, change his name and become a rancher:

I’ll never be able to look at a gun again...

The teacher gets the last speech:

Well, that takes care of the first lesson I’ve taught...the best way to beat a bully is to stand up to him on your own terms. And now...it’s time for school!

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


“Back Down and Die!” gave me an idea for a short western story of mine own. I’m not sure if I’ll write it as a prose tale or a comics script. But it’s on the list for later this year.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page is back this issue with an apology for its absence in recent issues and four missives from readers.

Jim Rubino of Hollywood, Florida praises issue #94 for portraying what he thought was the first black man in a western comic book and for its strong stance against bigotry. In all fairness, Dell’s Lobo, which starred a black cowboy, only lasted two issues before it was cancelled due to poor sales. Unfortunately, the poor sales were caused by local distributors refusing to deliver the title to the newsstands they serviced. That was still a concern when Marvel launched Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.
Greg Puryear of Charlotte, North Carolina wants longer Rawhide Kid stories, more new stories with new characters in Marvel’s western comics and the return of the Scorpion. The Rawhide Kid foe and not the Spider-Man villain. The unknown Marvel person answering these letters states Larry is most comfortable with the current length of his stories.

Ben McLeod of Glen Arm, Maryland has a question about the Kid’s real name and a complaint that Kid Colt’s clothes are ridiculous. For the record, Rawhide’s real name is Johnny Clay, but, as he was raised by Ben Bart, many people knew him as Johnny Bart.

Finally, Daniel Snyder of Baltimore, Maryland wants to see Rawhide travel all over the world. Marvel’s response:

Frankly, Dan, the idea doesn’t hit us quite right. Kinda seems that anyone named the Rawhide Kid would look a little out of place in Buckingham Palace. But what do we know? We’ll toss this our for the fans to decide, too. It’s great bein an editor when you don’t have to make decisions...

That’s it for this edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TONY'S TIPS #171

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...This Magazine is Haunted Volume One; Is This Tomorrow: America Under Communism and DC's New Super-Man #1 by writer Gene Luen Yang with artists Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard Friend
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CITIZEN TONY: THE RIGHT TO VOTE

Donald Trump has implied that, if he loses the presidential race,  it’s because the election was rigged. If he does lose, as I hope he does, I think it’ll be because he’s Donald Trump, with all the many  negatives that implies. But he’s not entirely incorrect saying the election is rigged. Just not in the ways he or his supporters are likely to understand, much less accept.

The right to vote is perhaps the most important right we Americans have. To our discredit, it was not a right granted to all Americans citizens for many years. Even today, it is a right under attack on multiple fronts.

Let’s start with redistricting, a process that has been misused by both parties but which the Republicans have mastered to a degree never before seen. The winners of state elections get to draw the districts for the next elections. They draw them to benefit their future candidates, creating elongated districts of odd shapes that make no logical sense other than to insure the victories of their candidates. This is why in recent years, though more citizens vote for Democrats, the Republicans command so many state legislatures, command state houses and have achieved such dominating control of the House of Representatives. It’s because the districts are drawn that way - rigged that way - to insure that success.

Redistricting should never be in the hands of politicians. To me, it would be like baseball/football/basketball players being their own umpires and referees. Imagine a batter being the one who gets to determine if a pitch was a ball or a strike. Imagine that pass receiver being the judge of whether or not he caught the football in bounds. While the games might be more interesting on some level, they would be become meaningless. Just like huge parts of our state and local governments.

Redistricting should be a matter for non-partisan geographers and mathematicians. You divide a state into however many districts of “x” number of people. If your state has a million residents and ten districts, then each district would have a hundred thousand people in it. Simple math.

The geographers would then divide those ten districts into shapes as close to rectangles as humanly possible. No snake-like districts that slither across ridiculously long lengths. No districts curling around other districts like a python crushing its prey. Just simple rectangles and squares.

In the past, there have been arguments districts should be drawn to reflect the people who live in them. That rural folks have much different needs than city folks. That farmers and manufacturers and construction workers and white collar workers are so different from one another they need their own state and federal representatives. If that ever made sense - and maybe it did when our country was in its infancy - it doesn’t make sense in 2016.

We are all Americans. The issues which face us concern all of us. We have more in common than not, despite the fear-mongering rants of those who benefit from our divisions. For our nation to be truly representative of its people, redistricting must be taken away from those who profit from it. It should never again be a political perk of winning an election.

Our right to vote is challenged and threatened on other fronts as well. I’ll be continuing this discussion in the next installment of “Citizen Tony.”

I’ll be back tomorrow with different stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Monday, August 22, 2016

MONDAY MOVIE MADNESS

I’ve watched a number of horror/monster/science fiction movies in recent weeks. I’ll start with the one I enjoyed the most and then do the others in chronological order of release.

Sharkenstein [2016] is another low-budget entertainment from Mark Polonia and Wild Eye Releasing. I ordered it from Amazon [$19.95} as soon as I hear about it because, come on, look at that amazing title. How could I resist?

Polonia is the director and producer of this and 36 other movies of this nature. The only one I recall seeing is Jurassic Prey [2015], which I didn’t like nearly as much as I liked this one. If I still have that one, I should watch it again. Polonia also co-produced Queen Crab [2015], which helps his credibility with me.

First-time writer J.K. Farlew did a decent job here. Since he had nothing to do with the budget, I’ll give him points for a hilarious premise and a decent script.

The actors? You’ve probably never heard of any of them. I’ll name the interesting ones in the course of this review.

Here’s the IMDb summary of the film:

In the final days of World War II, a secret experiment to weaponize sharks is shut down and destroyed by the Third Reich. But now 60 years later, a small ocean town is plagued by a bloodthirsty, mysterious creature, one built and reanimated using parts of the greatest killers to ever inhabit in the sea - the Sharkenstein monster!

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


Jeff Kirkendall plays the mad scientist who, now that his patchwork shark is functional and obedient, moves onto the next phase of his plan to create a Fourth Reich. He wants to transplant the immortal brain and heart of the Frankenstein Monster into his badly-animated shark. I love this concept and think it should be carried over into a series of sequels: Squirrelenstein, Cowenstein, Cosbyenstein, Trumpenstein, the possibilities are endless.

Ken Van Sant plays the competent local lawman. I liked how he got irritated at the idiots and the insanity he had to deal with here.

The most irritating characters might be the three teenagers who have come to the town on vacation. One of the two male “teens” looks to be in his 30s, the other in his 20s.

Greta Volkova is the third of the “teens.” She looks like a mid-20s call girl role-playing as a pig-tailed schoolgirl, but she’s cute and fun to watch, especially when she rattles off the titles of all the Frankenstein movies made by Universal and Hammer to the lawman. They have this older man/younger woman who wants to jump his bones thing going for them.

There’s also am entertaining mob of angry townspeople who, after Sharkenstein evolves into a creature who can move on land, hunt him with pitchforks and machine guns. This made me laugh.

Kathryn Sue Young plays minor character Bonnie Boom Boom, a former porn star who looks to be in her 50s or 60s. She has the one scene in the movie that took me out of the movie. After Sharkenstein eats her photographer, the creature rapes Bonnie. That’s not acceptable in a movie like this. Not remotely.

The thing is...up to that moment, I thought Young’s character was fun. Me, I would have had Bonnie attracted to the monster and be the aggressor. Afterwards, Sharkenstein would spare her and lumber off. Bonnie would complain that he’ll probably never call him. Men are all monsters.

The last scene of the movie is dumb. It’s a last scene you’ve seen many times. Even low-budget films can do better.

SPOILERS OVER      
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
      

I can’t stress enough that this is a low-budget movie. But I got a kick out of it and, on that basis, recommend it to you.      
 
                                                                           

2 Lava 2 Lantula! [2016] premiered on the SyFy Channel on August 6 of this year. Here’s the IMDb summary:

Colton West must defeat the lavalantulas once again.
 
Before long, I was rooting for the lavalantulas. That’s on either Steve Guttenberg, who plays aging action hero West, or director Nick Simon. Whichever one of them decided Guttenberg should speak in the kind of stupid growl voice used in the recent Batman movies. Every time he opened his mouth, my ears hurt.

That was the most prominent flaw in this movie, but it had plenty of company. Writers Neil Elman and Ashley O'Neil filled the script with “look at me” homages to other movies and repeat shockers from the original Lavalantula. They also made the familial relationships in the movie hopeless complicated. The source of the movie’s title, a line of dialogue seen in the trailers, feels forced.

Michael Winslow and Marion Ramsey, Police Academy alumnae who shone in the first Lavalantula, show little enthusiasm for this by-the-numbers sequel. By the time, Martin Love’s military character gets ready to nuke Florida - like in most every movie involving kaiju in the city - I’m thinking it might have been worth it if it meant that there would not be a Lavalantula 3.

Yes, I am being hard on this movie. Because, unlike Sharkenstein, it had a decent budget. It could and should have been better than this seemingly slapped-together mess. I won’t be buying the DVD and I won’t be watching it again.
                                                                               

Nurse 3-D [Lionsgate; 2013] is a slasher movie that I got from my local library and watched sans 3-D, which was apparently added via CGI after the movie was filmed because it was cheaper. The film was fun to watch because of the haunting and over-the-top performance of Paz de la Huerta as murderous nurse Abby Russell. Everything you need to know about Abby is in de la Huerta’s opening monologue:

My name is Abigail Russell. I look like a slut. But don't be fooled, this is merely a disguise to lure the dangerous predators who walk among us. This is their jungle. Their breeding ground. And tonight I'm on the hunt. These are the cheaters - the married lying scum. They are like diseased cells, cultured in alcoholic petri dishes, but destroy unsuspecting families, and infect millions of innocent vaginas. There is not cure for the married cock. Only me, the Nurse.

There are decent performances by Katrina Bowden and Corbin Bleu as a young nurse and her paramedic boyfriend. Abby desires the nurse, but, when rejected, tries to frame Bowden for her murders. We get several chilling and gory deaths, culminating in a chase through a hospital. The movie earns its “R” rating, but the rising body count always serves the plot.

Nurse is directed by Douglas Aarniokoski, whose directed episodes of several TV series, including Limitless, Arrow, Criminal Minds, The Flash and Sleepy Hollow. Co-written by Aarniokoski and David Loughery, this film deserves a sequel.

Abigail Russell deserves a chance to become an iconic horror movie slasher killer. Especially if she’s again played by the fascinating and scary sexy de la Huerta.    
                                                                            

I watched The Vortex [2012] - aka The Vortex: Gate to Armageddon - without knowing I was watching it. I had watched Big Bad Bugs on Amazon Prime, not learning until I started researching it that it was actually a movie I owned on DVD but had never gotten around to watching. Here’s the IMDb summary:

After a convoy of American soldiers disappears, a special ops team is deployed to rescue them. They soon encounter an army of gigantic scorpions, spiders and snakes that have come to Earth from another dimension.

This is your basic worth-watching-once movie. It gives us a giant scorpion attacking American soldiers from the get-go, but takes its time before it rolls out alien spiders, more scorpions, what looks like a cardboard hornet and some really big snakes.

Good performances by Jack Plotnick and Ted Jonas as an odd couple super-scientist and military tough guy. Sarah Lieving plays a combo scientist/high-ranking military officer who was married to Plotnick and is engaged to Jonas. She’s okay in the role, but the bromance between the romantic rivals is choice.

Camden Toy chews up the scenery as a mad scientist who wants to see the world swallowed by an other-dimensional wormhole. He faces off with Jonas in a goofy climatic battle that leads to another one of those unsatisfying endings horror movies thrive on. I swear these things need a double-shot of originality.

                                                                                 

One more for today. Here’s everything you need to know about Time of the Apes [1987} and it comes to you via Wikipedia...

Saru no Gundan (Army of the Apes) is a Japanese science fiction series from 1974 based on Pierre Boulle's La Plan├Ęte Des Singes ("The Planet Of Apes"). Produced by Tsuburaya Productions, the series ran for 26 episodes and followed a female scientist and two young children who travel through time to a future ruled by apes. The trio struggle to find a way to get back home to the 20th century.

In 1987, television producer Sandy Frank edited together several episodes of the series, including the first and last episodes, into a movie called Time of the Apes. Syndicated to broadcast and cable outlets, this compilation film was also released on home video in mid-1988.

The movie was then featured twice on Mystery Science Theater 3000, originally on KTMA in 1989, and then later as part of season 3 in 1991 on Comedy Central.


It’s hard to judge the TV series from this compilation movie that seems to consist of the first and last episodes with some passing scenes from in-between episodes. It’s even harder to judge when the only version I was able to find was the chopped-up mess brought to us by those rude and unfunny jerks of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s brilliant comedy. It’s like sitting in an actual theater with oh-so-clever friends. I’ve heard it all before. Here’s the truth:

You’re all wrong. Every last one of you is wrong. It’s a horrible program with pathetically dismal skits. I’d rather watch even the worst of the (uncut) movies they mock than this show.

That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for another installment of Citizen Tony.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Sunday, August 21, 2016

DOC SAVAGE #82: THE BOSS OF TERROR

Here’s the word on another Sanctum Books classic...

Doc Savage #82: The Boss of Terror and The Magic Forest [June 2015; $14.95] reprints two novels by Lester Dent and William G. Bogart (writing as Kenneth Robeson) that literally take Doc from one end of the country to the other.

Dent’s The Boss of Terror first appeared in the May 1940 issue of Doc Savage Magazine. The adventure is set in the Main wilderness. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Eerie bolts of blue lightning electrocute wealthy men whose only connection is their last name, in an expanded novel featuring restored text from Lester Dent’s original manuscript.

Bogart’s The Magic Forest is set in Alaska, well before it became a state. It’s from the April 1942 issue of Doc Savage Magazine. The back cover blurb:

Doc Savage searches for The Magic Forest after Renny’s plane vanishes.

Renny is, of course, one of Doc Savage’s five friends who share his love of adventure and his commitment to fight evil and help people.

Noted historian Will Murray’s “Intermission” gives the background on these Doc Savage stories. Publisher Anthony Tollin contributes essays on America’s Air Ace “Bill Barnes” and “The Men Behind Doc Savage.”

This book also reprints the five-page Bill Barnes comic-book story from the second issue of Shadow Comics.     
As with other Sanctum Books editions - The Black Bat, The Shadow and others - these Doc Savage novels are entertaining journeys into the heroic fiction of the pulp era.  They’re wonderfully made books and I regularly despair I might never get around to reading all of them. More to come.

© 2016 Tony Isabella