Friday, December 29, 2017

Existing Earth #1

Existing Earth #1 1987
Wind Wolf Graphics Saskatoon, Saskatchewan by Colin Oleksyn
and Brent Butt

Where I picked up this book I honestly can't remember but I do know it was the striking cover by Terry Gilecki that was the deciding factor. Such a cool '80's airbrushed cover... love it!

Our story opens in 1186 B.C. as the city of Troy attempts to withstand the onslaught of the Greeks' attacks that has lasted an astonishing nine years. Slain soldiers lie dying as naked bodies and helmets are dragged by Greek chariots in a horrific display of conquest.

The king cries in despair for his son Hector who has been killed by that heel Achilles.

His other son Paris is apparently unloved (and obviously disrespected) by the king. He decides to take out his frustrations by beating up on one of his own guards and then picking a fight with his woman, Helen of Troy.

She taunts and insults Paris to the point that he almost strikes her.

Stopping short he decides to walk away instead heading through the streets of the kingdom. He begs Apollo for the strength to do what he must to end this unending war. On his walk he sees the death and despair of his people and remarks how the Gods care not for the fate of mortals. 

But suddenly he is snatched into a dark corner by a shadowed foe!

We then are transported to a realm unknown as a ball of light speaks to shrouded figures who seem to be sleeping on a slab of stone floating through outer space.

The light begins to lead them to their task at hand. The light narrates the tale of the existing Earth and its origins. Earth was created for mortals by the God Ora who then created man to live there and guard the planet from interference by other Gods. Wanting to see man multiply, Ora plucked one of the man's ribs and from it created woman.

The remainder of this powerful rib was given to a group of Ora's favorites to protect it. This rib was the only means that other Gods could use to create other mortals to do their bidding on Earth.

But the other Gods created a dark alliance to devise a plan to gain control of the all powerful rib.

Luther, the God of trickery, suggested they use it to create parallel Earths so they would each have a world to rule over!

They loved the idea and sent Luther in the guise of one of Ora's sentinels to swipe the relic. Luther smashed the case it was held in and used a Ring of Conveyance to transport himself away from the other sentinels.

When news of the theft reached Ora a war of good verses evil began. The battle raged on and on. The rib was eventually recaptured by the forces of good but the dark alliance managed to enslave the powerful Ora.

With the final bit of the rib the forces of good created two warriors to fight for the light. These two were Tempest and Arian, two females imbued with the complete knowledge of weaponry and the consummate skills of battle.

With these abilities they are expected to champion the Gods of light and destroy the dark alliance once and for all. 

We're then treated to a great scene of the two warriors suiting up for battle reminiscent of the montage scene from the classic television show "T and T" starring Alex Amini and Mr. T!

We cut back to that dark alley where Paris is being bullied by those shadowy fiends from earlier.

Suddenly the biggest of the villains arm is chopped off by an unseen avenger.

It is Tempest and Arian come to fight for the forces of light!

And that is how the issue ends. 

Torn between drawing the crying king and the God of trickery Luther, I chose the latter as seen below.

Overall this comic was a little boring but I did enjoy some of the scenes and characters and would definitely read issue two if I happened upon it (especially with its sweet cover of evil hands wringing the blood from a heart as it spills down upon a sword again airbrushed by Gilecki).

Don't miss next month's exciting selection Martian Summers #1!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Savage Ninja #1

Savage Ninja #1 1985 
Cadillac Comics Schaumburg, Il. by Edward M. Mandel and Michael Carr

   Our comic opens with a splash page immediately following a ninja battle. The image of a ninja kneeling amongst a field littered with bodies. The same image, in fact, that appears on the cover of the book. Which, I have to say, is a little lazy.

   Michael Savage is the kneeling ninja who is attempting to gather his power to survive after the injuries he has sustained in battle. His mind wanders and rests on a childhood memory. His mother is dropping him off to study Tai Chi with the Sensei. Although Michael is awed by the swords and dragons on the walls he is also very afraid and begins to cry.

   So, I want to say right off the bat, I think it would've been more interesting to see more panels of the big ninja battle (there is only one) and a few less of a child crying as he walks around a Tai Chi center with his mom (there are thirteen). Maybe I'm crazy.

   Like most kids who cry a lot Michael is eager to learn to fight, but the Sensei informs him he must first learn about his relationship with Mother Nature. He also suggests learning some creative pastimes and introduces Michael to his son David. 

   We then are treated to six more panels of Michael looking sad as his mom finally decides to leave him at the Tai Chi center. Apparently it's for a long time, not just the afternoon.

   Lee, the man servant, prepares a lunch for them all and they sit down to talk about life at the center.
But first Michael mentions how he and his mother have never been separated and looks sad again.

   Seriously, I've heard Morrissey albums with less whining then this comic ABOUT FREAKING NINJAS.

   David changes the subject and says Lee is like an older brother to him. Lee seems cool.

   They talk for awhile and then the Sensei informs them it is time to retire for the night. He tells David to lead Michael to his room.

   You'll never believe this but on the way to his room Michael thinks to himself about how much he misses his mother. Dear Lord.

   David shows him to his room and tells Michael that he welcomes his friendship. But Michael says he is tired. Tired and...(sigh) that he misses his mom.

   But night passes and in the morning Michael is treated to a beautiful view from his window.

   Maybe a good night's sleep is all Michael needed to snap out of being such a wuss because we're now treated to a montage splash page of him kicking ass! As time at the center passes Michael becomes quite the fighter and by the end of the page he's knocking guys into the next panel! Who's crying for their mommy now?!?

   This memory brings us back to the present where Michael is waking up from the haze of the injuries of battle. He realizes he's got some broken ribs and torn muscles but being the bad ass ninja he is he decides to walk it off!

   If only his mom was here to pick him up. Nevertheless... Michael staggers through the darkness and up a flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs is a door which opens to reveal... Lee! Lee takes him inside for medical treatment and then cleans the stairs.

   While Michael's wounds heal David does some detective work. He discovers who lead the group of ninjas that almost killed Michael. The two men decide Michael has healed enough from his wounds and decide to track down their new nemesis, Fantu. They make it to their enemy's lair and climb stealthily over the gates. Inside the yard they are attached by Fantu's Doberman but they kill him and bust in through a window. They then throw ninja stars and daggers into the faces of the thugs inside!

   Finally, some ninja action!!!

But Fantu lands a heavy blow of his sword into David!

   Michael, seeing his friend's injury, lashes out against Fantu and rips open his chest cavity with his poison laced clawed glove! Fantu lies there dying but manages to whisper one last decree...

   Michael looks at the hand written directive Fantu has handed him and thinks how familiar the handwriting looks. Michael picks up David's unconscious body and takes him back to the Tai Chi center to treat his wounds. The next morning Lee has prepared breakfast and is serving it in the garden when an unknown assailant attacks, throwing a shuriken right at Michael Savage!

   The End! Next issue The White Slaves of Tokyo! Hot Dog! Was this the first full color comic we've talked about here at The Bewildering? I think it might've been... how cool!

   Another cool thing about this comic is that it is sponsored by a company called East West Markets Exchange Inc. that makes all kinds of sweet ninja clothing ware and equipment! There are a couple of ads for them in the book. Here's the one on the back cover!

And here is my depiction of the man servant Lee as an '80's action figure:

   According to Savage Ninja never reached issue #2 so we may never know who Fantu was working for. But I for one hope it's Michael's mom. That it's her handwriting he recognizes on that document that Fantu gave him. She got so sick of him constantly crying when she stepped out of his sight for a minute that she decided to teach him a lesson by becoming his ninja nemesis! I don't know. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was Lee! Kind of convenient that he was just a short walk away from Michael when he was beaten to a pulp earlier in the story. Or...perhaps it is Michael's father. At the beginning of the comic it was revealed he was an old friend of the Sensei. Either way, pretty fun comic, flawed as it was.

In addition to story by Edward M. Mandel and art by Michael Carr the lettering was by R. Hansen and colors by Mark Smith. Good job fellas! 

Let's hope next month's book is just as exciting. Won't you come back and join me for...
Existing Earth!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Stormbringer #1

Stormbringer #1 1987 $1.50
August Comics Harrison, Tennessee by William Sutton

   Johnny stands on a deserted bridge considering the situation. He goes over it in his mind to try to make sense of the events of the last two weeks. And what a doozy of a fortnight he's had!
    It all started when Johnny left the movie theater. As he was heading to his car he was struck by lightning and given amazing abilities... the abilities of Stormbringer!  He now possessed the powers of strength, flight and the most amazing power of all... the ability to light matches with his mind!
That could come in handy when camping.

   Yesterday Colonel Sinclair showed up at his apartment and asked him to go to Washington, D.C. to meet with someone important. Who could that be? Maybe Johnny's girlfriend Tammy will know!

   But Tammy has no idea. She just wants to get her rocks off. And she gets her wish! There are a few awkward panels of her posturing lewdly before the inevitable sex scene.

   Johnny, freshly spent, flies to D.C. to meet this mysterious figure. As it turns out... it's President Reagan! The Gipper informs Johnny there is a whole program of super powered folk called Man-Plus and that he will be its newest member.

   They fly Johnny out to New Mexico to their secret underground training base. 

      There they will test his powers to make sure he can be a part of the team. Good luck Johnny!

Johnny impresses them with his display of strength! He truly is a tough son of a gun...

   But the scientists need to make sure he can also "take a punch" so they have him stand in the middle of the desert... and they drop a frickin' nuke on him!

If he doesn't have the strength of Superman it'll be bedtime for Bonzo for sure!
   As luck would have it, he survives so they fit him with a new costume. He poses sexily.

   Johnny is introduced to The Seer, the protein based sentient computer that will be giving him orders during missions. In a creepy moment, Seer whispers "Help me Johnny..." as he is led away from the computer. Foreshadowing!

   But soon Johnny finds himself on a mission to stop a Russian submarine from attacking the U.S.S. Carl S. Vincent air craft carrier. This is maybe the weirdest part of the comic where several panels contain actual photographs of jets and helicopters instead of drawings of them. It's off-putting.

   Johnny refuses his orders to destroy the sub full of Russians and instead grabs it from the water and gently sets it to rest on the Carl Vincent like a mosquito on the lid of a Frito Lay cheese dip floating in the bathtub. He hopes that Man-Plus will forgive him for not following orders.

   He decides to fly back to Chattanooga, Tennessee to see his lady. But when he walks in it seems that there has been a struggle in Tammy's apartment. That or she's a terrible housekeeper!

   Has Tammy been kidnapped? Can Man-Plus possibly be behind this shocking turn of events? Maybe we can find out in issue two! According to the internet there are three issues total of Stormbringer out there so dive into those discount bins when you can!

   This wasn't a bad book, really. I expected it to be terrible for some reason but the worst criticism I can give it is that I've read lots of comics like this which came later but were perhaps way better. "Adult" super hero stories full of sex and introspection. Not typically my favorite genre, by the way. I prefer it when the sex and the introspection are kept seperately.

   That said, it was actually a well paced enjoyable read with decent artwork. So, good job William! I will definitely pick up the other two issues if I find them while scouring dollar boxes in the future.

   I didn't feel inspired to draw Johnny for some reason (maybe because it seemed too obvious to do so) so here is my depiction of our 40th president.

   So, this post marks the one year anniversary of The Bewildering! Thanks for joining me on this adventure into the world of obscure comics. Hopefully you'll stick with me as I really enjoy doing it!

   My apologies for the lateness of this post (for those of you keeping a close eye) but I assure you another review is right around the corner. Join me back here soon and share in the glory of...
Savage Ninja!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Blow #1

Blow #1 2005 $?
Robert Swinton

This book is all kinds of special. Firstly, because I met the guy who did it. Robert was at S.P.A.C.E. (The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo) in Columbus, Ohio in 2005 selling copies of Blow and I purchased one from him there. As you can see in the above image he autographed it to me with the quote "Keep on keeping on". Damn good advice if you ask me.
So, I love this cover. It's what attracted me to the book in the first place. I have always had a fondness for black and white artwork and this image of Big 'Fro Brown cooly scoping out the scene that is playing out in front of him is a great one.
Once I began reading this comic it quickly became clear that it's not your regular story. It's very reliant on imagery that connects in odd ways and has a habit of showcasing images of people playing horns and trumpets and firing pistols in an odd back and forth way that seems to work for some reason. I've never thought of guns and instruments as at all similar (one I love and one I hate) until I read this comic.

So, there are four short stories in this comic all featuring our main character Big 'Fro Brown. The first one 'Playin' Between the Lines' is just a three page introduction that gives us a peek into his world. It's all guns and jazz, card games and dames. A jazzy noir, if that doesn't sound too pretentious. 
The second tale, '61-49 Mississippi Ave' just seems like an homage to the music Robert loves with nods to Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and Robert Johnson. It's not really a story so much as a poem and a love letter to jazz and blues.

'Sketches of Darkness' is our third tale and the one with the most action. It involves a shadowy figure who follows our hero Big 'Fro in the rain and tries to gun him down in the streets. Big 'Fro finds refuge with one of his women who has an apartment over the Onyx Inn. He lays low with her for awhile and then when he is again accosted by the shadowy figure he manages to escape by simply stepping out of the panel, leaving the mysterious gunman alone and confused.

In the final tale, 'Disonant Notes', Big 'Fro speaks about the music on his mind as we're treated to imagery of women and jazz clubs. Another poem style comic instead of a linear story.
Even though I usually prefer a story in comics I believe this one works a bit better than most abstract or artsy comics I've read simply because of the jazz theme. I have been a fan of jazz, particularly Miles Davis, since my friend Terry Means first played 'Live Evil' and 'Bitches Brew' for me back in the late nineties. Jazz is an odd genre of music in that it has a start and a finish but the way it gets you from one point to another is often done in unexpected and unique ways. Blow does the same thing in the form of comics and I think it works.
Below is my portrait of Big 'Fro Brown (done while listening to John Coltrane's 'Lush Life' and 
'Big Fun' by Miles Davis)
I enjoyed this comic and have no idea if  Robert made any more. I can't find anything about him or this book online. Let's hope he's still keeping on!
Join me next time for what looks to be a real treat...