Tag Archives: post-apocalypse

KILLRAVEN SEVEN: FOR HE’S A JOLLY DEAD REBEL

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

Killraven seven For he's a jolly dead rebelAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #24 (May 1974)

Title: FOR HE’S A JOLLY DEAD REBEL

Revised Title: The Legend Assassins. Since I would have saved the attempted execution of Killraven for this final part of this 3-part Washington DC story I would have used that title here instead of last issue.

Synopsis: Writer Don McGregor had not yet found his stride for Killraven’s post-apocalyptic adventures. This issue was more of the same with an escape, recapture, and escape AGAIN because the High Overlord of the Martian invaders fails to slay Killraven immediately but plans to make an example of him.

And yes, the helmet of the armored High Overlord looks like Darth Vader’s helmet but remember, the Killraven stories came YEARS BEFORE STAR WARS

Killraven cornerREVISION: Picking up on the cliffhanger from my revised storyline last time around, Killraven, Mint Julep, M’Shulla, Hawk, Old Skull, Deathlok and Carmilla Frost are using the breathing gear that scientist Carmilla built for them to explore the submerged ruins of the Library of Congress.

Killraven plans to salvage as much of the library as possible and preserve it for future generations, since Earth’s alien conquerors (ZETANS in my revision, not ridiculous Martians) keep conquered humanity ignorant and are trying to obliterate mankind’s cultural heritage from before the alien invasion.

In the winding hallways of the submerged ruins, the rebels were attacked by the mate of the huge extraterrestrial monster that killed the female rebel Arrow two issues back. As the battle goes on, Killraven winds up riding the injured creature’s back and his breathing apparatus gets torn off while trying to work his way to the monster’s mouth. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN SIX: THE LEGEND ASSASSINS

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

Killraven six legend assassinsAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #23 (March 1974)

Title: THE LEGEND ASSASSINS

Revised Title: Since I would save the attempted execution of Killraven for the next issue instead of this one, I would use For He’s A Jolly Dead Rebel as the title for this part and save The Legend Assassins for next time.

Synopsis: Killraven and his Freemen (M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Grok) continue to battle against hopeless odds at the Lincoln Memorial Slave Market, where the Martians buy and sell humans as either slave labor or to be used as food.

Battling at their side is their fellow rebel Mint Julep, the green-skinned plant/ human hybrid created by Martian science and her unnamed Freewomen. Both bands of guerillas have freed their comrades who were being auctioned off and are trying to fight their way free of the increasing numbers of Martians and their human quislings closing in on the area.

Killraven has no trouble killing the mob of actual Martians that he was thrown to at the end of last issue. Their sluggish movements in Earth’s greater gravity negated the advantage of their superior numbers and their many tentacles. KR fights his way clear with his sword and photo-nuclear pistol and the Martians slink away to shelter since, even now, they have only LIMITED immunity to Earth germs.

A pair of Tripods manage to snair Killraven and carry him off before the other rebels can free him. Mint Julep convinces KR’s Freemen to escape with her since she and her Freewomen have hidden lairs all around this territory of theirs.

Mint JulepREVISION: Writer Don McGregor had not yet hit his stride writing about Killraven’s adventures and I feel he messed up the story structure to this three-parter. I would have had ALL the Freemen – including KR – escape with Mint Julep and her band.

The quisling Sabre (no relation to the later Don McGregor figure) would, like in the real story, salute the fleeing Freemen with his sword, wishing he could be one of them. 

With Killraven using The Power to keep all of them undetected by the sensors and alarms of the aliens (Zetans in my revisions, NOT ridiculous Martians) the rebels all escape to the subterranean hideouts of Mint and her people. They follow abandoned subway lines to a sub-level of the Pentagon, one of their lairs.

Dialogue will make it clear that she and her Freewomen practically rule the comings and goings through the old subway system beneath the city because they know them inside-out and massacare any human quislings like Sabre and his men if they try to pursue them there. And, for reasons not known YET, the aliens themselves are too terrified to personally venture into the old subways OR the sub-levels of the Pentagon.     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN FIVE: WASHINGTON NIGHTMARE

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

Killraven five washington nightmareAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #22 (January 1974)

Title: WASHINGTON NIGHTMARE

Revised Title: Since this is Don McGregor writing, let’s go with something absurdly melodramatic like Reflections in a Night-Dark Mirror

NOTE: This story introduces the popular female rebel called Mint Julep. 

Synopsis: This issue begins an unknown number of days or weeks after the conclusion of the previous chapter. Killraven and his Freemen – M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Grok – are traveling along the Potomac in a boat they commandeered from human quislings sometime after the end of our previous story.

REVISION: In my revision Killraven’s band of Freemen consist of M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Deathlok – replacing Grok but still a creation of Carmilla’s – and Arrow, a female member. Like KR, M’Shulla, Hawk and Old Skull, Arrow is a former gladiator from the arena circuit run by Earth’s alien conquerors.

Just like Dagger – the female Freeman killed off last issue – Arrow was one of the bland, faceless Freemen introduced in the first two parts of Killraven’s comic book run. Arrow and Dagger were just dropped from the narrative with no explanation so I made them both female to add some variety to the Freemen. Just as Dagger was killed last time around, so Arrow will be killed this time, but at least in my revision their characters will have had some impact on the story AND emphasized the danger of Killraven’s rebellion.

Killraven cornerBack to the story: Rising up from the Potomac to attack the boat is a monstrous subaquatic lifeform – one of the many creatures brought to Earth by the Martians. Our heroes battle the tentacled creature, eventually killing it, but their boat is trashed upon the rocks and is now useless.

REVISION: In my revision the underwater creature kills Arrow during the fight, before our heroes succeed in killing it, furious over the death of their comrade.

Back to the story: Sabre, a Hispanic quisling servant of the Martians (no relation to Don McGregor’s later, more famous character Sabre), attacks the Freemen with his own band of followers. While the battle rages, dialogue makes it clear that Sabre and his men are among the many groups of quislings who round up other human beings for the Martians, who feed on human flesh.

Sabre relishes facing targets who can actually fight back, instead of the usually easily-subdued humans he captures for his Martian masters. After Grok in particular manages to wipe out a large number of Sabre’s men he and his remaining troops retreat with Hawk and Old Skull as their captives.  Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN FOUR: THE MUTANT SLAYERS

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

Killraven four mutant slayersAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 # 21 (November 1973)

Title: THE MUTANT SLAYERS (Revised Title: DEATHLOK, THE DEMOLISHER)

Synopsis: Another issue means ANOTHER change in creative team for this promising but star-crossed series. This fourth change in four issues gives us Don McGregor as the writer and Herb Trimpe as the artist.

McGregor will stay and will handily develop the flowery prose that also characterized his run on the 13-part Black Panther story Panther’s Rage, previously reviewed here at Balladeer’s Blog. Unfortunately, Don’s writing in this issue is as hopelessly lame and “comic bookish” as Herb Trimpe’s artwork.

We are told that the Martians had their human quislings – in this case led by a human cyborg called the Warlord – transport Killraven and his Freemen, who were ambushed and captured last issue amid the ruins of LaGuardia Airport, to this new underground base. The base’s location is undisclosed for now.

REVISION: Given Riker’s Island’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport I would have made THAT the location that the captive Freemen were transported to. And given the island’s use as a prison before the alien conquest of Earth it would be ideal for my revised storyline.

I would make the Warlord be specifically Warlord RYKER as in Simon Ryker (no relation to the island’s namesake). Simon Ryker was, of course, the main villain in Deathlok (sic) the Demolisher, another of Marvel’s promising but short-lived sci-fi comic books of the 1970s.

DeathlokI’m combining Deathlok’s story with Killraven’s in a sort of Ultimate Killraven way, since Marvel in recent years had KR, Deathlok and other figures from their canceled post-apocalypse titles get thrown together as a team due to time anomalies, etc ANYWAY.

Warlord Ryker would still hate Killraven for causing the loss and cybernetic replacement of his (Ryker’s) arm and eye during his escape from the gladiatorial pens a few years earlier.

Back to the real story, the Warlord and his fellow quisling Carmilla Frost (in her first-ever appearance) are watching several waves of guards struggling to shepherd Killraven along to join his Freemen in their new prison cells. Expository dialogue makes it clear that Keeper Frost is a molecular biologist and, like all the other Keepers, she is a scientist who sold out her fellow Earth people in exchange for privileges. Mostly, access to the Martians’ advanced science to continue their work.

The Warlord rants a great deal about how he warned the Martians to execute Killraven years ago, but he was such a good fighter in their gladiatorial games that they kept him alive for sport. Eventually the Warlord knocks out KR from behind.

REVISION: As always, I’d have jettisoned the tenuous War of the Worlds connection by getting rid of the ridiculous Martians and just made it regular aliens – say from the Zeta Reticuli area of space – who had conquered Earth.

Carmilla FrostInstead of watching Killraven struggle against guards I would have Warlord Ryker and Carmilla Frost watching and taking notes as other Keepers subject the rebel leader to various tests – many of them painful, of course – to determine the nature and origin of his paranormal abilities called simply The Power in the first two issues. (This was 4 years BEFORE Star Wars, so The Power is NOT a ripoff of The Force.)     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN THREE: THE WARLORD STRIKES

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

Killraven WarlordAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #20 (September 1973)

Title: THE WARLORD STRIKES

Synopsis: We pick up an unspecified number of days after the end of the previous story. We also have yet ANOTHER change in creative team. This issue we have Marv Wolfman writing and Herb Trimpe doing the artwork.

Even more of the sophisticated promise of the first two installments is stripped away as Wolfman & Trimpe serve up a story so bland it would fit right into any given issue of DC Comics’ Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth. The only positive development is that it is at last established that Killraven and M’Shulla, the black member of the rebel band, are the closest of friends. 

Killraven and M’Shulla are being pursued by several human quislings who are trying to bring in K.R. alive for their Martian masters. They fail to say why, but we readers can guess that it’s because the Martians want to know how much Killraven was told by the dying Keeper Whitman back in part one. Or because they want to study K.R. in order to understand the mysterious “Power” that grants him certain abilities.

Killraven cornerOf course, since this issue doesn’t mention EITHER Keeper Whitman OR “The Power” (a pre-Star Wars variation of The Force) it’s also possible Marv Wolfman was planning to write out those aspects. The way this issue is written it COULD be that the quislings have orders to take Killraven alive just so he can be taken before the Warlord, whom we learn has a vendetta against our main character.

REVISION: To maintain continuity I would have made it so that it was definitively stated that K.R. was wanted alive precisely to be studied because of his paranormal powers and to learn how much the late Keeper Whitman told him about the true nature of Earth’s conquerors: namely that they are aliens and not the demons that conquered, superstitious humanity considers them to be.

And, as always, I’d have eliminated the tenuous War of the Worlds connection and made Earth’s conquerors regular aliens and not ridiculous “Martians.” 

As the running fight goes on and on, no mention is made of the forced abandonment of the Freemens’ previous hideout on Staten Island, now known to the Martians.     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWO: THE SIRENS OF SEVENTH AVENUE

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

Killraven Sirens of 7th AveAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #19 (July 1973)

Title: THE SIRENS OF SEVENTH AVENUE

Synopsis: Killraven, wielder of a mysterious force called The Power, continues to lead his Freemen/ Rebel Alliance against Earth’s conquerors, led by the armored badass Abraxas, the High Overlord. (1973 means this was BEFORE Star Wars, so don’t leave comments claiming this ripped off that film series)

We pick up where we left off – Killraven, still reeling from some of the shocking information that the late Keeper Whitman just relayed to him about Earth’s alien conquerors, has just realized that his escape rout from Whitman’s underground lab has been blocked by three beautiful Sirens.

Those Sirens are Earth women scientifically modified to be irresistible to men through their physical perfection and presumably through pheromone enhancements. We learned last time around that these Sirens have been very successful at flushing out for capture many of the rebel bands scattered throughout post-apocalypse New York and New Jersey. Now they plan to bring in Killraven, leader of the most successful group of Freemen. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN ONE: WAR OF THE WORLDS

masc graveyard newIn the realm of pop culture it continues to be Marvel Comics’ world! Over the past few years Balladeer’s Blog has been reviewing some old, old, OLD Marvel stories from decades ago. From the research I’ve done, I feel the late 1960s through mid-1970s were Marvel’s creative height, with only the Uncanny X-Men title retaining consistent art and story-telling quality beyond that time period.

I’ve covered The Celestial Madonna Saga (1973-1975), which also contained The Avengers/ Defenders War and the original Thanos War within its own storyline. I’ve examined the 13-part Black Panther story titled Panther’s Rage (1973-1975), the original Kree-Skrull War (1970-1971) and, most recently, the 7-part Adam Warlock tale The Magus (1975-1976). 

Readers requested more Marvel, so, since these are fun and light time-passers, here comes Killraven, the Warrior of the Worlds.  

KillravenWAR OF THE WORLDS/ WARRIOR OF THE WORLDS/ KILLRAVEN: In the early 1970s Marvel was experimenting with hybrid titles combining the old and the new by fusing licensed properties with unique Marvel twists.

The most famous and longest-lasting example was Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu. In 1974 Marvel licensed the use of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu plus other characters from the Fu Manchu tales. Rather than just churn out a Fu Manchu comic book series “the House of Ideas” instead combined it with the Kung Fu craze of the time and created Shang Chi, the son of Fu Manchu.

Shang Chi, as a surrogate Bruce Lee, and Sir Denis Nayland-Smith, as a surrogate Braithwaite from Enter: The Dragon, were the core of the new series. Shang Chi started out as an operative of his evil father Fu Manchu, but realized the error of his ways and threw in with Sir Denis and his team to battle his father’s malevolent schemes.

The previous year – 1973 (so BEFORE Star Wars) Marvel had worked similar “synergy” by taking their license to do a comic book series based on H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and combining it with sci-fi post-apocalypse action. The main character was Jonathan Raven, aka Killraven, a charismatic rebel leading an uprising against Earth’s 21st Century Martian conquerors.

Killraven sword and gunKillraven’s use of a sword AND futuristic firearms in action set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop also brought a little John Carter of Mars appeal into the series. By 1976 the promising saga was canceled due to poor sales but gained a cult following in the decades since then.

Killraven’s influence could be seen in the original 1980s mini-series V, especially the element of humans being used as food by our alien overlords and the sentimental “heroic freedom fighters versus evil tyrants” appeal. Killraven writer Don McGregor incorporated similarly themed stories and characters into Sabre, his other post-apocalypse comic book series. 

Even Star Wars reflected some aspects of Killraven’s tales: the Rebel Alliance against the bad guys, the armored badass (The High Overlord in Killraven’s case) and, of course, the way Killraven wielded enigmatic, more than human abilities called simply “the Power” in K.R.’s series. (PLEASE NOTE: Killraven’s use of The Power came years before Star Wars and The Force.) The young sword-wielding hero was slowly mastering the Power as the series went along, but cancellation cut short his development of his paranormal gifts.

Killraven stampAnd yes, I know that both Killraven and Star Wars drew on the same vast inheritance of sci-fi tropes but the close proximity of K.R. (1973-1976) to Luke Skywalker (1977 onward) makes the comparisons inevitable. 

About fifteen years back, Tom Cruise was set to star as Killraven but eventually all K.R. elements were dropped from the project and Cruise starred in simply another remake of War of the Worlds instead. You have to wonder if the Marvel name would have motivated the filmmakers to keep the Killraven angle if the movie had been done AFTER Marvel became the dominant source for cinematic blockbusters that it is now.

At any rate, let’s dive into the very first appearance of Killraven in 1973: Continue reading

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HOMBRE (1981): SPAIN’S POST-APOCALYPSE HERO

HombreAT THE END OF THE RIVER – More Weirdness at the End of the World, this time with an adventure featuring Spain’s answer to Mad Max: Hombre himself. This character was created by Antonio Segura and Jose Ortiz in 1981 in the Spanish publication Cimoc. Hombre went on to appear in notably “adult” comic books and magazines around the world, including reprints in Heavy Metal here in America.    

In this age of non-stop comic book adaptations for movies and television I’m amazed that the excellent Hombre series hasn’t been tackled in some form. The adult sexuality, graphic violence, Alien-style mutated life-forms, relentlessly grim storylines and gratuitous nudity are tailor-made for a cable series or R-rated films.

Hombre 2The title character Hombre roams our post-apocalypse planet armed to the teeth and ready to kill or be killed on a daily basis. His first-person narration echoes the best aspects of hard-boiled Film Noir detective stories while the action and mis en scene combine the best elements of Spaghetti Westerns, Post-Apocalypse movies and Martial Arts flicks. Think Six-String Samurai but without the rock and roll samurai.

There is no optimism in the world inhabited by Hombre. Antonio Segura’s writing features often tragic endings which must have put 1980s readers in mind of the downbeat stories on Hill Street Blues and Saint Elsewhere.

Hombre 3Segura mostly avoided easy narratives and my least favorite storyline involved Atila, the badass woman warrior. The character was great, but the tale seemed very UN-Segura-like to me. I probably would have liked her in her own spin-off story but having two such nigh-indestructible figures in one tale put things too far into the realm of upbeat fictional tropes to me. I’m virtually alone on that, by the way, since most fans LOVE the Atila story.

AT THE END OF THE RIVER – Back to the main topic of this blog post, one of the Hombre tales that best exemplifies the series’ aesthetic sensibilities. Our protagonist is the best there is at what he does, but in a much grimmer and more adult way than Wolverine ever managed.  Continue reading

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RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER (2017) – GUILTY PLEASURE

Resident EvilHere at Balladeer’s Blog I’ve always had a soft spot for the Resident Evil movies. I’m not implying that they’re good by any means, but as guilty pleasures I consider them pretty watchable in a Spaghetti Western sense. You don’t expect logic or well-maintained continuity in the original Django or Sartana series any more than you do from the Stranger or Hallelujah flicks or any of the other lower-level pulp series of Italo-Westerns.

To me the six Resident Evil movies (2002 – 2017) can be viewed the same way – as unpretentious B-movies with a kind of relaxing sameness and stories that are so unchallenging you can chit-chat with friends or loved ones while they’re on.

Resident Evil ApocalypseSeventies chop-socky films are another example. You might watch them but you sure as hell can’t defend them from criticism.

Milla Jovovich’s Alice is, to me, the main reason to watch these films. She’s believable in the action scenes and deserves recognition for the way she kicks post-apocalyptic butt in SIX movies as the same character. No other leading female figure has matched that feat in THEATRICAL RELEASE, English-language films. Not Lara Croft and not even Ellen Ripley. Continue reading

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