Monday, May 1, 2017

Brainglo #1

Brainglo #1 1987 $1.75 U.S. $2.50 Canada
PSI Comics Munroe Falls, Oh. by Michael Mallory and Mike Walters

   A muscular young man works on professional level exercise equipment while a mustached man watches closely, pocket watch in hand. The young man finishes his routine and towels off. 
   Just then an elderly butler looking fellow named Marcus enters the room and informs our main character, Brian, that it is time for another test. Brian seems as if he is weary of these "tests" but follows Marcus into a large room with some sort of high tech chair in the center.

   The kooky old scientist who seems to be in charge ushers Brian over to the chair and harnesses him in. The lab assistants silently mock how crazy the "Doc" is as they think this will be yet another failed test. But once they engage the power we soon see otherwise!
   But we suddenly cut to another planet entirely where a lone figure has just launched his ship. Some sort of malfunction is causing him to attempt to shut down the power... but too late!
   Back to Earth where the Doc is forced to shut down the test. Brian is carried outside where a helicopter awaits to take him to the hospital while the Doc stays behind to study the data generated by this latest test. Truth be told Doc seems not at all concerned for Brian's condition and instead completely enamored with the test results as they print out of the computer. 
   At the Metro General Hospital Brian is unconscious in his room. Mr. Drumm, the guy with the cool hair and moustache, is summoned out into the hallway by doctor to discuss Brian's condition. A nurse stays behind to monitor Brian. The doctor begins to inform Drumm of Brian's current state. Apparently he is in stable condition but they want to keep him for observation. Just then Mr. Drumm and the doctor notice a bright light emanating from Brian's room and rush in to see...

   Brian has manifested super powers! He is levitating above the bed and he somehow knows he can fly. He lands on the ground, excited and jumps out of the hospital window! But he begins to fall and Mr. Drumm yells at him to "Concentrate!!!" which Brian does and actually begins to fly! He soars around the city for a bit and stops to grab a cat out of a tree for a kid. The child inadvertently names our hero when he says, "Look Mommy, his brain glow!!"
   Brian flies back to the farmhouse where he apparently lives with Mr. Drumm and the Doc. He tests out his powers in their expansive backyard while the others look on with a mixture of amazement and trepidation. The Doc is excited by the latest results but Mr. Drumm thinks letting Brian use his powers without proper testing first could be dangerous!
   Well, ole mustache is soon proven right! Brian shoots one of his finger blasts into the sky ad it ends up disintegrating a Soviet satellite. The Soviets realize the source of the blast originated in the U.S. and enter a yellow alert! 

   A moment later that spaceship we talked about earlier is orbiting around Saturn. The pilot begins scanning for a nearby life supporting planet and realizes the only one in the vicinity is Earth. He teleports his ship next to Earth and ends up accidentally destroying another Soviet satellite in the process!

   The alien's computer conducts scans of Earth and informs the pilot that it has detected the presence of nuclear explosive devices on the planet. The alien seems distressed but decides to land...almost out of a sense of duty as opposed to a survival instinct. 
   Back on Earth the U.S. government, aware of the Soviet satellites' destruction, track the alien ship entering their airspace. They mistake it for a Russian air strike, assuming the Soviets are retaliating for the satellites that were obliterated by those mysterious blasts from the U.S.
   The U.S. launches missiles toward Russia and the Soviets in turn launch toward the U.S! 

   At the precise moment this is all going down the alien ship lands in the farmhouse yard where Brian is relaxing at an outdoor table. He sees the ship and yells for the Doc and Mr. Drumm to come outside and see for themselves! They rush out to check out what the commotion is all about and see the door to the spaceship open. And out walks the pilot!

   And that's how this one wraps up, ladies and gentlemen. I'm noticing a popular motif in these late '80's comics is a fear of impending nuclear holocaust. Both Brainglo and (last month's) New Beginning feature the launching of nuclear missiles in their premiere issue. Oh, how far we've come in the last forty years, right? Just today my phone showed me headlines about North Korea's nuclear weapons and the possibility of them being launched our way. I guess us humans are never going to learn anything about not trying to destroy one another. But before I go any further down that dreary path here is a drawing I did of our hero Brian "Brainglo"!

   I liked this comic. It was a fun and enjoyable read and it had decent artwork as well. I would read a second issue of this book but sadly none exists. It seems all to often these intriguing books fold after only one issue...probably due to poor sales. Well, for any comic creators out there reading this, I say keep at it! Sales are important, it's true, as they pay for printing, art supplies, etc... but don't give up on your work if it's not an immediate success. Here it is thirty years after the publication of Brainglo #1 and we're checking it out for the first time! Who knows how many people out there would love to have seen it continue? If you have an idea then keep at it, folks! What else you gonna do?

   Well, that's it for this month's Bewildering post. Join me next month when we'll check out another lost gem of independent comics known as Shadow Warrior!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

New Beginning #1

New Beginning #1 August 1988 $1.50
Unicorn Comics Villa Park Illinois by Terry Kalkanian and Bruce White

   It's the fourth of July 1988 and Terry's mind begins to wander as he lifts weights in the rec room of his mansion. He's preparing to host his high school graduating class's ten year reunion. He lets his mind drift back to his teenage years when he wasn't the svelte hunk 'o man he is now. Instead he was an out of shape loser that everyone made fun of.
   He thinks about the time he was pushed into a swimming pool by Curtis, the boyfriend of his secret crush, Debbie Clark. Everybody laughed except for Debbie. She just scolded Curtis for being such a jerk. It was that day Terry decided to make some changes in his life if he ever hoped to win the heart of the angelic Debbie. He joined the army and got his ass in shape!
   Continuing his workout, Terry's mind flashes forward to one day in 1983 when he and his army buddy Al were in Grenada. They had gottten separated from their squad and happened upon an enemy patrol. Al and Terry opened fire and the patrol surrendered. Our boys decided to have some fun with their prisoners and made them get on their knees and pose for pictures... classic!  But one of the prisoners had enough of this humiliation and spit in Al's face.
   Al is kind of all Full Metal Jacket crazy so he opened fire on the guy, basically blowing his head clean off and then he turned his rifle the other prisoners and eventually toward his friend Terry. But luckily Terry shot first and Al's dead body hit the ground. 
   The government covered up the incident and Terry's time in the service passed. Just before his discharge he got news that his parents and grandparents were killed in a plane crash. 
   He and his brother Gerry each inherited eleven million dollars from Gramps.  Gerry took his money and disappeared. Terry used his part to build an eight million dollar mansion in the middle of the country. 
   We then flash forward to the present as Terry finishes working out. His guests are starting to arrive! The party gets going and boy can these white people dance!
   Terry, playing the good host, starts to mingle and asks around about Debbie. He finds out she married that jerk Curtis that pushed him into the pool all those years ago! As if on cue, Curtis and Debbie walk up to say hello to Terry. Curtis is already wasted and makes an ass of himself.
   Curtis goes to get another drink and Debbie apologizes for his rude behavior. Suddenly a news report cuts into the television program they're watching and informs them World War III has just started between the U.S. and Russia.

    Fearing impending annihilation might put a damper on the party, Terry takes a few of the guests aside and informs them he has a secret bunker under the house and they should follow him to safety. 
   Now, at this point I think this would be a much more awesome comic if we found out Terry had orchestrated this whole thing as a social experiment. Like, he paid some actor to read a fake news report in order to get some party goers to follow him down to the bomb shelter where he forced them to live with him under the ruse of a nuclear war happening above. Man, that would be an interesting comic series.
   But no, this shit is real. Terry's house has over two hundred guests but the bomb shelter can only harbor ten. So he discreetly leads a few guests to safety until this end of the world thing blows over. Unfortunately, Curtis the douche bag is the last one in the line and decides to sneak some booze from Terry's bar before he heads down into the shelter.
   Some other party goers see him and follow him to the opening of the shelter. They know! Suddenly a mob begins to rush the stairwell to the shelter, trying to force their way to safety. I don't know why Terry even invited Curtis into the shelter in the first place. Kind of a boneheaded move if he was hoping to steal Debbie away. If you're gonna be trapped in a bomb shelter with a girl you're trying to romance you should probably not invite her fella along. Just sayin.
   Anyway, Curtis smashes a bottle over one guy's head and leaves him there to bleed out on the stairs. The advancing mob tramples the poor bastard underfoot as they try to force their way into the shelter.
   Terry decides he's going to have to take control of the sitch and does what any of us would do... he grabs an automatic weapon and opens fire on all of the party goers as the come down the stairs!

   He then seals off the entrance and locks up all the weapons except for his own. He grabs Curtis and slaps him around, telling him it's all his fault that he had to kill two hundred people in his own house. Terry threatens him that if he does anything else out of line he's kill him too! They turn on the television set and see that bombs are falling. Everything's fucked.
   Months pass and tensions mount. I mean, seriously... these people showed up for a party and ended up trapped in an underground shelter with the guy that just killed ninety percent of their graduating class. Awkward!
   So there's no sign of life on the radio. They just sit down there playing cards or whatnot for months hoping Terry won't snap and kill them all. Then one night Curtis gets an idea. He sneaks up on Terry and steals his gun! I'm actually okay with this move. If it was me I'd be way more scared of Terry than Curtis. I mean, they're both assholes, clearly, but Terry is a trigger happy musclebound psycho and Curtis is just a fuckin' drunk. 
   Curtis tells Debbie to grab the stockpile of food so they can take it and leave the others to die. She says she won't do it, and Curtis lays the smack down.
   She agrees to his plan but instead of grabbing the food she snatches a pistol and blasts Curtis in the chest. Go Debbie! I love the following panel. Reminds me of Raymond Pettibon artwork.
      So Terry says the danger in the shelter is over, but they'll have to venture out soon as they will need to restock on provisions of they expect to survive much longer in the shelter. In the coming weeks the radiation levels seem to have dropped and it is assumed that it will be safe to venture outside! Terry and another dude decide to peek their heads out and see what they see.
   But when they do they find a pack of bloodthirsty dogs chewing on the remains of the party goers Terry murdered all those months ago. Gross.
   And that's the end of issue one! Wow. Insane! So, I did this drawing of Curtis grabbing some of Terry's booze. Curtis is a terrible person but I gotta admit I'd have nabbed some hooch too if I thought I was going to have to live underground for months while the world was ending outside. So here's my pinup of good ole Curtis the drunk!
   That was certainly the most violent thing I've reviewed thus far. But honestly not a bad first issue to a series and I'd probably read more. And as luck would have it, I can! I have issue two of this thing! I haven't read it yet but here's a preview from the back cover of issue one:
   I hope you've enjoyed this one and that you'll come back next month for another wonderfully bewildering comic. Join me for...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tales of the Techno Mutant Warriors #1

Tales of the Techno Mutant Warriors #1 1987 $2.00 U.S. $2.50 Canada
XL Studios Publications Ontario, Canada by Ray Dell and Bill Cooper

   Okay, so I'm going to be completely honest here. I bought this comic because there's a lady with four titties on the cover. That's one more than that lady from Total Recall.

   That's awesome.

   Pretty much any comic with a cover featuring a lady possessing three or more titties is going to end up in my collection (regardless of whether or not she's holding a lightsaber or standing in front of a planet as it explodes). I mean, just look at that cover. It's got it all!

   And please don't misunderstand. This is not a sexist thing. Any comic cover featuring a dude with a couple of extra penises is going into my collection just as quick. Possibly quicker. 

   But I digress...

   Our story:

   The planet Syunn has seen better days. 200 years ago its twin moons fell victim to that persistent bastard known as gravity, and crashed into each other in a massive destructive moment that rained meteorites down on Syunn. This resulted in the planet's atmosphere being inundated with horrible chemicals, not to mention shifting Syunn's orbit to skirt dangerously close to the sun. All of this leaving a large portion of the population to be born as strange looking mutants. Those not born as mutants built cities at the poles to start a new life away from these genetic anomalies. 

    Now we're introduced to the lady from the cover. Ajora is her name. A healer mutant who's just taking a bath out in the river while her friends Linx and Drej are out searching for useful supplies.

   This all seems great until Ajora spots a nasty looking wolf approaching! The wolf lunges into the water and Ajora tries to run... but the wolf seeks other prey! He leaps right past our lady of mammillary opulence to sink his teeth into a shadowy figure lurking in the water behind her. 
   Ajora realizes she's surrounded by mutant hunters and tries to swim to safety. The hunters try to shoot her but only manage to blast the wolf and one of their own men (my guess... they were distracted by all those titties). All of a sudden a wolf man descends from the trees above, making quick work of the mutant hunters!
   This mysterious figure picks up the injured wolf and takes it ashore where Ajora is getting dressed. He introduces himself as Aard the Predator and tells her the wolf is a friend of his named Ruk, Aard asks her to help heal poor Ruk and she complies. Dear lord, someone teach Aard how to trim that happy trail!
    While they're healing Ruk we cut to Ajora's pals Linx and Drej on their search for supplies. I wonder if either of them have extra penises?

   They notice a transport on the horizon and decide to take a closer look. Jumping onto the passing transport like a couple of pirates, they quickly throw everyone out of the vehicle to the grisly demise of tumbling off a cliff into the rocks below!
   Meanwhile, Ajora and Aard see another transport approaching. Ajora mistakenly assumes it's her buddies but unfortunately it's the dreaded Torag, a feared mutant slaver and an army of his troopers! Three vehicles in his fleet surround our heroes and attempt to capture Ajora...
   But Aard shoots an explosive arrow at one of the transports, blowing it to smithereens! He and Ajora start kickig all kinds of ass... but there are just too many troopers to kick all their asses, so they decide to run. The troopers shoot them with some sort of stun gun, knocking them out cold.
   Togar commands his troopers to load them onto the transport. As he stands over their unconscious bodies he pauses to think to himself, "Hmm... this wolfman looks familiar. I wonder..." What does Torag wonder? Does he recognize Aard? I would think if you see a happy trail like that you're not gonna forget it anytime soon.

   We abruptly cut to the transport driver that Drej threw off the cliff earlier in the story. He awakens and wobbles to his feet, vowing to get revenge against the mutants! What a tough son of a gun!
   Man, this was a crazy fun comic! And the art is kind of amazing, even if I can't tell what's happening in some of the action scenes. It's really weird and detailed and I like the way it looks. Kind of reminds me of early Vince Locke or Guy Davis. Perfect tonal fit with the story!
   And as if this twenty page story wasn't enough, we have a four page back up story called 'Milk Runner' about a smuggler of illegal milk (Whattup Doogie!) crashing his small craft into the side of a mountain. 
   The outlaw pilot stumbles from the wreckage to check on his contraband and sighs with relief to discover the canisters are undamaged... but a rock teeters atop the rock wall he's just slammed into and it suddenly falls (like from a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoon) onto the milk runner's ship cracking the canister of moo juice which spews everywhere! 

   The end!

   What an odd and wonderful comic book! Thanks Ray and Bill. You guys rule!

   So, of course I had to draw the amazing Ajora! Here she is with Ruk the injured wolf.

   Please join me again next month when we take a look at a comic I've been eager to read since I started this blog. New Beginning #1! Go ahead... feast your eyes upon it's beauty!!!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Night Masters #1

The Night Masters #1 1985 $1.50 Custom Pic Comics
by Bruce Patnaude

You never know where you're going to find a micro press gem you've never seen before. This one I actually found while digging through the dollar boxes at my very own place of work, Maverick's Cards and Comics! Just how long had this treasure been waiting to be unearthed, right there under my very nose? It's impossible to say. But right now I can tell you my thoughts on this month's bewildering book...The Night Masters!

It's the 27th century, and we're thrown right into the action as a death dealing duo roams the Tabos Embassy, slaughtering the Unisec Guards. We don't really find out who exactly the Tabos are or why they're being exterminated by these bad ass villains. Suffice it to say these two dudes have been contracted to do some killing, and that's what they do for a couple of pages until they're called away by their mysterious bossman.
Here they are, Metal and Sky, killing some dude on the title page!
Sky (the one on the right in the above panel) tells Metal that he shouldn't have killed that last guy as they could've gotten paid handsomely for a live body by the C.I.E.P. (Corporate Industralist Extraction Plant). 
Okay... before we go on... that's kind of a thing with this comic. There are TONS of acronyms for various organizations that readers have to familiarize themselves with as they keep getting mentioned throughout the book. Other than the C.I.E.P. there are the U.S.F. (Univeral Security Force), The O.H. (Old House), The C.I. (Corporate Industrialists) and the I.B.P. (Industry For A Better Poplace). It gets a little confusing. You really almost need a reference chart in the back of the comic to flip to as you read.

Next we meet two of the Night Masters. It's Roger Aqua and Max!
They're talking about The O.H.'s grip on government funds and how Damon (the other Night Master on the front cover that dresses exactly like Roger Aqua) is meeting with a potential client right now.

Cut to that very meeting! Damon is talking to Diana Lockly, who wants to know more about the death of her brother , an ambassador for the I.B.P. who was killed by a professional death squad known as The Seed while he was on a peace keeping mission in Bolaria. Damon takes the case! But suddenly, the door to Diana's apartment blows open and who should it be but our old friends Metal and Sky! Metal blasts Damon in the chest and he goes down faster than my interest in this comic! He then slaps Diana unconscious and throws her over his shoulder as they leave. 

When Damon awakes he summons his Night Master buddies to help!
Shortly, Roger and Max show up guns a blazin'! Roger almost shoots Damon right in the face! Damon calms his buddies down, telling them the bad guys have already absconded with Diana. They discuss their next move.
While they're figuring this out, we jump to a meeting with the slimy Lincoln Pace (guy with an eye patch) and our favorite thugs Metal and Sky. They're at the base for the I.B.P. (remember who that is? Yeah, me neither) as Metal strong arms their public relations man.
Meanwhile, the Night Masters (why don't we just call them The N.M.s from here on out?) change into costume as they speed along in their rover to meet up with someone named Nathan. 

Out of nowhere their ride is hit by some kind of explosive blast and they screech to a  halt!
It's the Neutralizer!
The N.M.s hop out and try to fight this guy! But ole Neuty fries Max with an internal electrical fusion jolt from his wrist bands! Both of them pass out and the Neutralizer's unconscious body is mysteriously teleported away!

We then cut to Lincoln Pace having a meeting with a real nasty s.o.b. named Stargull where Lincoln explains how they don't have I.B.P. support. Stargull says that The Seed will proceed as planned! 
Fuck yeah, Seed. Don't take none of that shit from the I.B.P. (whoever that is again).

Then we suddenly cut to an abandoned mineral mining space station where an alien named Manuel Apex tells his robotic subordinate to keep an eye on Lincoln Pace and to kill him if he makes one wrong move! Watch out L.P.!
Back on Earth, Max is recovering from the battle and the N.M.s are standing in the street discussing their next move when they're blasted again by The Neutralizer! He's back!
He rips up a piece of the pavement and slings it at Max, knocking him out. Man, poor Max just keeps getting neutralized by this guy... holy shit! His name is super appropriate!!

Then Neuty blasts Damon with his solar flares, knocking him to the ground. Roger shoots their foe with his crazy future gun but Neuty is only stunned! He quickly recovers and blasts at Roger...or maybe it's Damon, I don't know. They both look exactly alike in their costumes. Whoever it is, Neuty is standing right over him ready to deliver the death blow as the book ends with this dramatic (if not slightly erotic) splash page!
This was definitely not my favorite book I've reviewed so far. It just wasn't very much fun and there were lots of confusing organization names and characters who look very similar to keep up with. 

It certainly wasn't awful and I've read much worse first issues by professional comics creators. I just wish it would've cut back on the confusion and wordiness and unleashed the weird fun that it had the potential for.

On a positive note, I do see this book as ahead of its time. It definitely reminds me of a lot of early '90's Image team books that came out seven years later and sold millions of copies. His character designs totally remind me of something Rob Liefeld would come up with in the years to follow. The artwork might be amateurish, but it's obvious Bruce Patnaude has a lot of heart and is trying to do his best work. 

So for that, my hat's off to the effort! Also, it's the only book I've reviewed so far that actually made it past issue one. There are six issues of this thing! I truly respect that he kept on cranking his work out and am curious if it gets better as it goes along. 

I actually recently found issues 2 - 4 in a cheap bin at a comics convention and picked them up.
If I can find issues 5 and 6 I'll finish up the series and give an update on our friends the Night Masters somewhere down the line!
Until then, here's a sweet pin-up of Max by Bruce Patnaude from the comic!
And if you like pin ups, here's my version of Sky, one of the bad guys from issue one whose design looks right out of an early '90's Image comic!

Thanks for joining me to check out the Night Masters and be sure to come back next month for Tales of the Techno Mutant Warriors! The cover has a lady with four titties on it so I already know it's gonna rule.