Tag Archives: Weirdness at the End of the World

MAD MAX (1979)

Mad MaxMAD MAX (1979) – Balladeer’s Blog’s “Weirdness at the End of the World” takes a look at one of the best movies in the best franchise in the crowded Post-Apocalypse sub-genre.

I recently re-watched this 1979 gem in the full 93 minute Aussie “language” version. Using the sub-titles to make sure I missed nothing from the heavy accents, I was struck once again by how part of the post-apocalyptic atmosphere is filled in via the full text of what the Main Force Patrol radio operators are saying AND by the news reports. Outside of those brief touches Mad Max perfectly embodies the cinematic principle of “show don’t tell.”  

In a dying world after a limited nuclear war over oil between world powers, Mad Max is set in a few Australian towns which escaped destruction presumably because they were safely away from strategic sites targeted by missiles. Supplies are tight and citizens are warned not to abuse their food rationing privileges.

Law and order have become very tenuous concepts amid this spreading societal collapse. There is no evidence of anyone except local authorities being in charge, including their law enforcement arm, the Main Force Patrol (MFP) which includes Max Rockatansky, brought to life by Mel Gibson. 

Mad Max BThough in real life this sense of no larger government having control may have been a function of the film’s low budget, I find it adds nicely to the uncertain atmosphere. In just a few years the American telefilm The Day After would come close to presenting that same air of confusion about the new state of affairs following a catastrophic war.

Who’s in charge? And who – if anyone – won? Like the opening song One of the Living in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome would later remind us, a very old saying pointed out that following a nuclear war the living would envy the dead.

Getting back to the Main Force Patrol, their “uniform” is the all-black outfit with thigh holsters for their shotguns that became Mad Max’s signature look. Their bronze badges are why the lawless element derisively refers to them as “the bronze.” Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TEN: THE DEATH BREEDERS

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.

Death BreedersAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #27 (November 1974)

Title: The Death Breeders

Synopsis: The narrative tells us it is now March of 2019 (lol) but you can just tell yourself that it’s March of 45 years from now, as it would have been to readers in 1974.

Since their clash with the Survivalists of Battle Creek, MI Killraven and his Freemen at some point commandeered an abandoned ice-ship. This craft is basically a traditional ship complete with sails but with runners on the bottom like a sleigh. The wind in the sails lets the ship “skate” across frozen Lake Erie on its ski-like runners.

Up in the ship’s crow’s nest the Native American Freeman called Hawk warns his comrades on the deck below (Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost and Carmilla’s creation Grok) that a pair of gigantic lampreys have sensed their vessel and have burst through the ice to attack them.

The lampreys are nearly Kaiju-sized, having been mutated over the years by pollution (the 1970s go-to explanation) and presumably the widespread after-effects of the biological warfare agents unleashed during the war against the Martian invaders.

REVISIONS: As always, I would have eliminated the tenuous connection to War of the Worlds and just had Earth’s conquerors be regular aliens, preferrably from Zeta Reticuli. In addition I would still have it be Deathlok as a Freeman instead of Grok. See previous installments for my justification.

Returning to the story, the Freemen battle the attacking lampreys – Killraven with his sword, photonuclear pistol and explosive star-grenades, M’Shulla with his crossbow and indestructible bolts, Hawk with his photonuclear rifle and Old Skull with his brute strength. Continue reading

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THE STRANGE MANUSCRIPT (1881): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Strange ManuscriptTHE STRANGE MANUSCRIPT BY _________ M.D. (1881) -Written by Alexander Pitts Bettersworth. The mock author, an M.D. who remains anonymous, upon learning that a comet will strike the Earth in 1883, stores supplies in Mammoth Cave with the help of his black servant Josh. With most of humanity dismissing the threat as a hoax or a mistake, the only other people who join them in the cave are a young woman named Ida and her black servant Chloe.  

The foursome survive the collision with the comet as well as the intense heat which causes some of the rock interior of the cave to melt. When the entrance to the cave indicates that the air temperature has cooled sufficiently the two couples – now romantically involved – venture forth to see what is left of our planet. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN NINE: SOMETHING WORTH DYING FOR

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. Marvel still rules current Pop Culture.

Killraven nine something worth dying forAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #26 (September 1974)

Title: SOMETHING WORTH DYING FOR

Synopsis: Writer Don McGregor took one step forward in quality last time around, now it’s two steps BACK with this story that is so bad even the people at DC’s Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth might have rejected it. 

Near Battle Creek, MI, Killraven and his Freemen (M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and her creation Grok) have landed in their  Dyna-Glider. 

Killraven is busy trying to break one of the pinkish-crimson horses with serpent scales and forked tongues which were caused by the biological warfare agents unleashed 18 years earlier in mankind’s futile war to stop the alien invasion.

While time goes by and the Freemen reflect on KR’s stubbornness, dialogue tells us it has been well over a month and a half since the battle in Indianapolis last issue. (This makes no sense since they are flying, which is why my revision last issue made a point of having their Dyna-Glider destroyed by Skar. Hell, they could have WALKED from Indianapolis to Battle Creek several times over in a month and a half.) 

Killraven 2The dialogue also tells us Killraven has not had any of his Visions courtesy of The Power since the encounter with Martians and human Quislings at the Indianapolis Speedway. NOTE: At this point KR and his Freemen have not yet pieced together the fact that his “visions” are really him mentally invading the minds of Martians. Since they have encountered no Martians in the past month and a half, THAT’s why he has had no visions recently.

REVISION: Rather than have the main action focus on KR trying to “break” the serpent-stallion like he’s in a rodeo while dialogue covers important topics, I would have had KR already astride the horse while his Freemen were riding the mutated hybrid animals they would be riding a few issues down the road.

While Killraven and his Freemen – with Deathlok replacing Grok in my revisions – engage in a running battle with human Quislings pursuing them in various land-vehicles, dialogue and narration would let us readers know they’ve been on the run like this for weeks since the clash in Indianapolis.  Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN EIGHT: THE DEVIL’S MARAUDER

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. Marvel still rules current Pop Culture. 

Killraven eight devils marauderAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #25 (July 1974)

Title: THE DEVIL’S MARAUDER

Synopsis: Don McGregor is beginning to really click as the writer for this post-apocalypse series, so my revisions will be very limited this time around. Rich Buckler is the new artist, further improving the series compared to the past few issues.

Somewhere in the ruins of Indiana, like most of the Earth, nearly leveled in the war against the alien invaders 18 years earlier, a stolen Dyna-Glider flies through the skies. Aboard are Killraven and his Freemen: Hawk, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost, her creation Grok and M’Shulla, who pilots the craft.

REVISION: My Freemen roster is the same except for Grok, who would instead be Deathlok, Carmilla Frost’s creation. I would have Carmilla piloting the aircraft since she is the scientist of the group.

The Freemen spot a Martian tripod pursuing a human who fled their enslavement at the nearby Martian testing grounds/ proving grounds for their war machines: the old Indianapolis Speedway. Piloting the Tripod is Skar, a mysterious inhuman figure who works for Earth’s alien conquerors but who makes it clear he is neither human nor Martian. (NOTE: His exact nature will be revealed during a future clash with the Freemen.)

REVISION: As always, I would have dropped the ridiculous Martian angle along with the tenuous War of the Worlds connection and just had it be regular aliens – Zetans in my revisions – who had conquered the Earth. Skar is such a bland name I would have livened it up a little as “Warscar” or “Battlescar” or something similar.

Killraven foolishly leaps from the Dyna-Glider to attack Skar’s Tripod. He is defeated and left for dead, since Skar considers all humans beneath contempt. He pilots his Tripod back to the converted Indianapolis Speedway.  

REVISION: I would, as ever, have the Tripods really be Triphibian craft and the Dyna-Glider would have been shot down by Warscar/ Battlescar after he thought he killed Killraven. The explosion in the distance would make him assume all hands were dead and he would return to the Speedway.    Continue reading

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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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