Tag Archives: superheroes

KILLRAVEN TWENTY-SIX: COCOA BEACH BLUES

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 farewellKILLRAVEN GRAPHIC NOVEL (1983)

Chapter Two: Cocoa Beach Blues

SYNOPSIS: Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors. It’s February 2020, or “37 years in the future” as it would have been to 1983 readers. As we ended Chapter One last time around, an older but not quite elderly woman with a plasma-ray rifle entered the camp from which the Freemen were planning their assault on the alien-updated Cape Canaveral. She identified herself as a surviving astronaut from the era before the alien invasion 19 years earlier.   Continue reading

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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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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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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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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-ONE: RED DUST LEGACY

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 Red Dust LegacyAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #36 (May 1976)

Title: Red Dust Legacy

Synopsis: Windsor Forest, GA. December, 43 years in the future. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors – Zetans in my revisions, Martians in the original, just because of the tenuous War of the Worlds connection.

NOTE: The cover reaches DC levels of deception with its depiction of Carmilla Frost, the scientist of the Freemen, trying to slay Killraven while he is restrained by the tentacles of some of the aliens. You’ll see what really happens below.

Synopsis: IN THIS STORY KILLRAVEN AND HIS REBELS INFLICT THEIR GREATEST BLOW AGAINST THE ALIENS SINCE DEATH-BIRTH. December, 43 years in the future. Killraven kneels in the red dust of the alien homeworld of Earth’s conquerors. Craig Russell’s art is incredible, and Don McGregor’s narration starts us off with:

“He had touched the blade of grass … and it turned into red dust beneath his hands. The sand sifts through his fingers now, and Killraven knows for a certainty that the desert he kneels upon is located on the homeworld of his alien foes. He is alone with that truth, and the truth is staggering! But not as staggering as the events yet to occur.” Continue reading

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