Tag Archives: Science fiction

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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THE LOG OF THE FLYING FISH (1887): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Log of the Flying FishTHE LOG OF THE FLYING FISH: A STORY OF AERIAL AND SUBMARINE PERIL AND ADVENTURE (1887) – Written by Harry Collingwood (William J.C. Lancaster).

Professor Heinrich von Schalckenburg, a brilliant German scientist, is speaking at the Migrants’ Club, an organization of explorers and scientific pioneers. Von Schalckenburg dismisses lighter than air vessels and claims he will prove the success of heavier than air vessels with two of his most recent inventions.

One of those inventions is a crystal powder which can be used as an explosive and as a source of electricity and gas. The other is a new metal alloy that the professor has dubbed “aethereum”, a light but strong substance.

Von Schalckenburg says he is 100,000 British pounds short of being able to construct a craft capable of flying AND serving as a submarine. Mighty Jack, eat your heart out! Sir Reginald Elphinstone, a member of the Migrants’ Club, finances the professor’s project. 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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2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS (1982): MOVIE REVIEW

2020 texas gladiators 22020 TEXAS GLADIATORS (1982) – HAPPY NEW YEAR! Balladeer’s Blog’s Weirdness at the End of the World welcomes in the year 2020 with a look at what Texas will be like in a few months. There are changes coming your way, Texans!

Actually, it’s not really Texas and there are NO gladiators in this film but at least it is now officially 2020!

When reviewing other post-apocalypse movies I’ve often made references to 2020 Texas Gladiators. The fact that I call it my favorite bad post-apocalypse movie has often prompted readers of Balladeer’s Blog to ask why I hadn’t reviewed it yet. The answer was always that I was saving it up for New Year’s Day of 2020.

Just because this is my favorite bad post-apocalypse film does NOT mean I consider it to be the worst one. That designation would be reserved for unwatchable trash like Empire of Ash III and the like.

2020 Texas Gladiators is my favorite bad entry in the genre because of how it defeats itself at every turn, because of its lame attempts to pretend it’s being filmed in America instead of Italy and because of how joyously tasteless it is. Tell the Hekawi tribe from F-Troop to move over! They’ve been replaced as the fakest-looking Native Americans in entertainment history by the post-apocalypse Indians in this flick, portrayed by obvious Italian extras!

Mascot sword and pistolTheir black wigs with built-in headbands are one thing, their less than authentic vests are another thing, their Tonto way of speaking still another, but the POST-APOCALYPSE TEEPEES they live in will bring a smile to the lips of any true fan of really bad exploitation movies. 

Taking things from the top, Al D’Amato directed 2020 Texas Gladiators under one of his countless aliases. For all I know he may have even directed a film using MY name. The following year Warrior of the Lost World, another Italian ripoff of Mad Max, would reuse this movie’s Nazi-esque uniforms and riot shields for the bad guys and many of this flick’s supporting cast. Hell, the largest vehicle in 2020TG even shows up as Mega-Weapon in that same movie.    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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A JOURNEY WITH THE FLYING FISH “PROMETHEUS” (1870)

Prometheus aircraftMEMOIRS FROM A JOURNEY WITH THE FLYING FISH “PROMETHEUS” (1870) – Written by Danish author Vilhelm Bergsoe. I shortened the title in the heading for this blog post. Some editions shorten it even more, to just Flying Fish Prometheus

This story was originally serialized in three issues of Illustreret Tidende from January 9th to January 23rd of 1870. Memoirs … Prometheus is a piece of speculative science fiction set in the “far off year” 1969. William Stone is the main character and narrator of the tale.

Stone is Danish and works for a company digging an underwater tunnel connecting Sweden and Denmark. Our main character receives an invitation (as a professional courtesy) to fly to Panama to witness the opening of the Panama Canal. You have to smile when speculative sci-fi is actually pessimistic about how long certain accomplishments will take. Remember the Russian sci-fi story setting the first moon landing in the year 2017?

Mascot new lookWilliam’s American colleagues send the new airship Prometheus to fetch him. The Prometheus is cigar-shaped (like so many UFOs would be described decades later) and sports wings plus propellors. Our man Stone boards the airship in Koege, along with other passengers including his love interest Anna Blue.       Continue reading

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MAY OF 2019: THE BEST OF BALLADEER’S BLOG

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year review continues with this look at May’s Best:

Yellowhair and the Fortress of GoldYELLOWHAIR AND THE FORTRESS OF GOLD (1984) – A review of this movie’s attempt to cross Indiana Jones with Spaghetti Westerns. CLICK HERE

INTERVIEW WITH THE FOOL KILLER – It’s an Interview with the Vampire-style letter from the Fool Killer to Balladeer’s Blog. CLICK HERE and HERE

HOMBRE: SPAIN’S POST-APOCALYPSE HERO FROM THE 1980s – A look at the unjustly overlooked hero from Spain’s adult comic books. Mad Max meets The Walking Dead meets Wolverine in this riveting series. CLICK HERE

FLASHMAN OF ARABIA – Harry Paget Flashman’s adventure on the Arabian Peninsula alongside the famous explorer Richard Burton. CLICK HERE

Medal of Honor picEVEN MORE MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS FROM THE PHILIPPINE WAR (1899-1902) – Another installment of Medal of Honor winners from a forgotten war. CLICK HERE

TRANSGRESS WITH ME: MAY 3rd – Another journey into transgressive thoughts and ideas. CLICK HERE

FOOL KILLER: MAY INSTALLMENTS – For the O Henry and Joel Chandler Harris takes on the Fool Killer, CLICK HERE . For James L Pearson’s Fool-Killer, CLICK HERE , HERE , HERE , HERE

DEMOCRAT ATROCITY ROUNDUP: MAY 15th – The latest look at the historical and recent outrages from the infamous gang of white-collar criminals. CLICK HERE

All Star 22GOLDEN AGE JUSTICE SOCIETY – Reviews and recommended revisions to the 1940-1945 run of the very first superhero team in history: The Justice Society of America. CLICK HERE 

BALLADEER’S BLOG’S CLASH WITH THE TECHNO-FASCISTS – My own run-in with the zealous censors of Silicon Valley. CLICK HERE

Chancellor ManuscriptTHE CHANCELLOR MANUSCRIPT – My review of the Robert Ludlum novel. CLICK HERE

FOUR NEGLECTED MILITARY UNITS FROM AMERICAN WARS – A Memorial Day tribute to some overlooked units from assorted American wars. CLICK HERE Continue reading

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