Category Archives: Superheroes

KILLRAVEN TWENTY-FIVE: THE 1983 GRAPHIC NOVEL

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven in his glory daysKILLRAVEN: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL (1983) – Killraven and his Freemen continued their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors. In the 7th of its official line of graphic novels, Marvel Comics let writer Don McGregor and artist Craig Russell wrap up some of the storylines left dangling by the cancellation of the 1973-1976 series of Killraven stories. In the previous post I detailed how McGregor had, in the meantime, transferred many of the Killraven story elements and time period to his independent 1978 graphic novel Sabre.

In the meantime Eclipse Comics had signed McGregor to write a regularly published Sabre comic book series. In late 1982 the original black & white graphic novel was colorized and reprinted in serialized form in the first few issues of the new Sabre series. Unfortunately for Killraven fans that immediately made our red-headed rebel leader into the proverbial red-headed step-child among McGregor’s works.  

Understandably – and fairly obviously – Don McGregor was already saving up his best ideas for his own Sabre title, reducing this last chance for closure on the Killraven saga to a rushed, mundane, unsatisfying mess devoid of much of what had made the original series worthwhile. Even the dialogue, despite a few flashes of the old KR style here and there, was lackluster and pedestrian.    

Killraven and his Freemen seemed like pale imitations being handled by a fill-in writer as Don McGregor virtually Rian Johnson’ed his own characters. I’ll examine that in detail as we move along, but first let’s look at some of the changes necessitated by real-world events in the years between 1976 and 1983.

Killraven 2*** First, through no fault of Don McGregor or the original Killraven artists, Darth Vader became a huge pop culture figure in 1977. KR’s main alien villain, the High Overlord (introduced in 1974), had worn full-body armor and a Japanese feudal helmet like the kind Darth Vader went on to wear in Star Wars. Obviously, Star Wars was so much better known than the canceled Killraven series that this 1983 graphic novel dropped the helmet for the High Overlord to avoid looking like their villain was a ripoff of Vader, despite the fact that the High Overlord predated Star Wars

              That alteration to the look of the High Overlord was far from fatal, but became another of the distracting elements undermining this continuation of the KR story. Those other elements: Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-FOUR: KR, SABRE AND “SLOW FADE OF AN ENDANGERED SPECIES”

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven cornerIt’s no secret that when the original 1973-1976 run of the Killraven series was canceled, writer Don McGregor transferred many of the story elements he had set up for Killraven over to his independent post-apocalypse comic book Sabre

The original, self-contained Sabre volume came out in 1978, the same year as Will Eisner’s pioneering graphic novel A Contract With God. That format would find expanded life in recent years as independent comic book geniuses like Ethan Van Sciver, Richard C Meyer and Jon Malin would use it to pursue their creative vision outside the toxic corporate environment of the Big Two comic book publishers.

Sabre was hyped under the description “It’s the kind of comic novel you’d choose … If they GAVE you a choice.” That is definitely in the spirit of maverick publications like Jawbreakers, Cyber Frog and Graveyard Shift, the amazing creations of Van Sciver, Meyer and Malin. (NOT a law firm.)  

Sabre 1978 coverThe original Sabre graphic novel was in black & white to accommodate its graphic violence, sexual themes and its female toplessness. When McGregor brought back the character Sabre in a continuing, full-color comic book series at Eclipse Comics in late 1982 the original Sabre tale became more popularly known by its subtitle Slow Fade of an Endangered Species. Human beings were that endangered species, of course.

Before I review McGregor’s Killraven graphic novel from 1983 I must first examine the 1978 Sabre story since – in altered form – it continued and in some cases resolved assorted subplots set up in the 1973-1976 run of Killraven stories.

Let’s have fun with it:

Sabre pics*** Killraven wielded a sword, a photo-nuclear pistol and explosive throwing-stars along with his possession of The Power, a pre-Star Wars (as in 1973) version of The Force.

*** Sabre wielded a sword and a “flintlock laser” – a futuristic example of a trend toward exploiting nostalgia by packaging high-tech weaponry in old-fashioned, even historical, casings.  

*** Killraven’s 1973-1976 series saw him leading his Freemen in a guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors. That series ended with KR and company in Florida in the year 2020 (which was 44 years in the future at the time).

*** Sabre’s 1978 graphic novel began in Florida in the year 2020. He was rebelling against an authoritarian regime which had risen to power in the aftermath of a global apocalypse caused by poverty, famine, disease, nuclear accidents and periodic terrorist attacks.        Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-THREE: THE MORNING AFTER MOURNING PREY

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below. 

Killraven mourning preyAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #39 (November 1976)

Title: The Morning After Mourning Prey

NOTE: I’m using the title that writer Don McGregor said would be used in the letters page of the previous issue, rather than the shortened title Mourning Prey that was actually used. The Morning After Mourning Prey has more of a Don McGregorish feel to it so I wish he and artist Craig Russell had stuck to it.

Killraven farewellIt is now January 2020, but we can just call it “44 years from now” as it would have been to 1976 readers. The setting is the Okefenokee Swamp, an unknown number of days after the previous issue’s New Year’s Eve celebration between Killraven and his Freemen and Brother Axe and his military-uniformed rebel colony.  

Synopsis: Our heroes continue their guerilla uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost (and her father Deathlok in my revisions) are being guided through the swamp toward a “seer” at “an enchanted village” which is obviously intended to be Disney World as surely as the Golden Arch several issues back was intended to be from a futuristic McDonald’s. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-TWO: ARENA KILL

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven Arena KillAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #37 (July 1976)

Title: Arena Kill  

Synopsis: NEW YEAR’S EVE, 2019 into 2020, which is why I held off the extra day or two to post this review, since I wanted it to actually appear on the REAL December 31st, 2019.

Northern Florida, in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge along the Suwanee River. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. They have encountered another of the pitifully few bands of humans who also defy the aliens.  

We jump right into the middle of some action, as Killraven is pitting his sword against the two battle axes wielded by Brother Axe, the leader of this rebel colony. Brother Axe’s dozens of followers and Killraven’s own Freemen stand in a large circle around the combatants, watching the battle.

Killraven 2The cause of the conflict soon becomes clear – Brother Axe is skeptical that Killraven really is THE Killraven, the world-famous scourge of Earth’s alien conquerors. He suspects KR and his band may be fakers trying to bamboozle him or – even worse – undercover human quislings trying to pinpoint the location of Brother Axe’s rebel band so they can betray the band to their alien masters.     Continue reading

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BEST OF AUGUST 2019

Balladeer’s Blog’s end-of-year retrospective continues with this look at August’s best. Enjoy your Christmas leftovers of 11 + Sauce and read:

Son of SupermindDELL SUPERHERO PANTHEON – From World War Two to the Cold War, a look at the Dell Comics pantheon of superheroes. CLICK HERE  

DAVID J HARRIS, JR – Looking at yet Another Martin Luther King Person of Courage. CLICK HERE

hammett 2HAMMETT (1982) – A review of the movie depicting Dashiell Hammett mixed-up in a murder investigation. CLICK HERE

TOP MYTHOLOGICAL PANTHEONS COVERED HERE AT BALLADEER’S BLOG – My look at the gods of the Vietnamese, Ainu, Navajo, Hawaiian, Inuit and more. CLICK HERE

FACULTY LOUNGE FASCIST ROUNDUP – The August 24th edition HERE

Ethan Van SciverETHAN VAN SCIVER: THE FUTURE KING OF ALL MEDIA? – A look at the mad genius Ethan Van Sciver and his YT shows about pop culture. This man is a MUST watch. CLICK HERE

ANCIENT GREEK COMEDY: COTHURNUS (circa 405 B.C.) – An examination of the comedy by Philonides. CLICK HERE Continue reading

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A LUKE CAGE CHRISTMAS CAROL (1973)

Yes, it’s a Marvel Comics crossover with Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon! With all of the Marvel superheroes conquering the big and small screens here’s an action-packed Christmas Carol adaptation from the 1970s.  

luke-cage-christmas-carolJingle Bombs was the real title of this holiday tale which pitted superhero Luke Cage aka Hero for Hire aka Power Man against the one-off supervillain called Marley. Like a Guest Villain from the Adam West Batman show Marley uses a campy Christmas Carol motif for his nefarious plan … yet, oddly the story is kind of quaint.  

On Christmas Eve, Luke Cage is hanging out with his then-girlfriend Claire Temple, a nurse who worked at a clinic in the New York ghetto. Later on in the series Claire would be the center of a romantic triangle between Luke Cage and another of Marvel’s black superheroes – Black Goliath, Hank Pym’s former lab assistant who used Pym’s inventions to turn to giant-size and back. 

As night approaches Luke sees a ruckus outside the clinic: a man in Dickensian 1800s clothing is using his walking stick to beat a little handicapped boy named Timmy. Our hero goes out to save the little boy and is attacked by the strange man, who identifies himself as “Marley.”   Continue reading

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BEST OF JUNE 2019

Balladeer’s Blog’s year-end retrospective continues with this look at June’s best:

Dark ShadowsDARK SHADOWS: A review of the Phoenix storyline from Dark Shadows HERE plus the Leviathan Cult and more HERE 

THE CHOICE OF THE WORKING CLASS AND THE POOR – The title says it all. CLICK HERE

FLASHMAN’S GUIANA – Harry Flashman on the hunt for gold in the part of British Guiana being fought over by Great Britain and Venezuela. CLICK HERE

Killraven 1KILLRAVEN: WAR OF THE WORLDS – The first part of my ongoing look at the 1973-1976 Marvel Comics science fiction series about heroic rebels fighting Earth’s alien conquerors. CLICK HERE  

FACULTY LOUNGE FASCIST ROUNDUP: JUNE 6th – Another look at the Theater of the Absurd called the American “educational” system. CLICK HERE

Gladiator 2GLADIATOR: AN OPERA VERSION OF THE 1930 PHILIP WYLIE NOVEL  – An opera about a man granted paranormal abilities by science. CLICK HERE 

FIRST BATTLE OF MACHIAS – A forgotten Revolutionary War action. CLICK HERE

HARRISON FLOYD: A MARTIN LUTHER KING PERSON OF COURAGE – A courageous iconoclast. CLICK HERE Continue reading

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