Tag Archives: Weirdness at the End of the World

KILLRAVEN TWENTY-NINE: THE END – K.R., SABRE AND AN EXPLOITATION OF EVERYTHING DEAR

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 cornerKILLRAVEN: THE END

My final Killraven post will look at the last few story elements that writer Don McGregor transferred from KR’s canceled Marvel series over to his independent Sabre series at Eclipse Comics. For my detailed look at how McGregor used many Killraven elements in the 1978 Sabre graphic novel click HERE .

Regular readers know I give Don McGregor a lot of praise for his work on Panther’s Rage and on the Killraven stories at Marvel, at least until his half-assed, rushed and unsatisfying KR graphic novel in 1983 (see previous installment). Unfortunately the 1983-1985 Sabre series at Eclipse Comics represented McGregor’s writing at its worst.

With hindsight we readers can see that, back at Marvel, the editors clearly reined in Don’s tendency toward self-indulgent and pretentious rambling. Over at Eclipse there were no such constraints on him, making the 1983-1985 Sabre stories unbearable to read. The series went from bi-monthly to quarterly to “whenever” and was mercifully axed with its 14th issue.

Sabre 5This final Killraven installment will deal with just two issues of Sabre. One that reflects what KR and his band of Freemen would have faced had they reached their Yellowstone Park destination before their 1973-1976 series was canceled, and one that reflects another adventure that the rebellious Freemen might have faced on their long odyssey to Yellowstone.

A. AN EXPLOITATION OF EVERYTHING DEAR – Part Two (March 1983)

As the overall title for this Sabre story would indicate, any sense of subtlety was now beyond Don McGregor. If further proof is needed, the main villain in this tale is named Joyful Slaughter. Seriously.       Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-EIGHT: LET IT DIE LIKE IT’S THE FOURTH OF JULY

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 GRAPHIC NOVEL (1983)

Chapter Four: Let It Die Like It’s The Fourth Of July

SYNOPSIS: February, 2020, or 37 years in the future, like it would have been to readers in 1983. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors.

Their current target, as this four-chapter story comes to a close, is Cape Canaveral. The site has been upgraded with alien tech and serves as both a fortress for the aliens and as a hub of the High Overlord’s Project Regenesis. The High Overlord himself is currently inside the Cape personally overseeing the final stages of this project.

With him is Keeper Saunders, the human quisling who separated Killraven (Jonathan Raven) from his brother Joshua Raven when they were children.     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWENTY-SEVEN: BLOOD AND PASSION

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 2KILLRAVEN GRAPHIC NOVEL (1983) 

Chapter Three: BLOOD AND PASSION

SYNOPSIS: February, 37 years in the future. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla uprising against Earth’s alien conquerors. We left off last time with Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost and their new ally Jenette approaching the alien-upgraded Cape Canaveral. Their mission is to inflict enough damage to thwart the High Overlord’s Project Regenesis.

REVISION: My usual revisions would apply – Deathlok, my substitute for Grok, would still be one of the Freemen, as would Didymus, the two-headed, four-armed, androgynous being who was my substitute for Huey and Louie. Plus the pre-invasion astronaut Jenette Miller would instead be McGregor’s Melissa Siren, newly-returned to Earth after a decades-long chryo-sleep mission in space and horrified to find Earth in the clutches of alien dictators who feed on human flesh.

On their way to the Cape Canaveral fortress of the aliens, Don McGregor’s slapdash writing showed again since he had one foot out the door to move on to his new Sabre series over at Eclipse Comics. Carmilla Frost, the scientist of the group, chose that moment to tell M’Shulla she was pregnant with his child.

While the pair engaged in bland Soap Opera dialogue on the subject, Old Skull, Killraven and the enamored Jenette encountered a moustachioed man being attacked by a bland menace: a larger-than normal wolf. Yes, after all the inventive creatures and villains the Freemen had fought in the original series we’re stuck with a lame large wolf, since McGregor was clearly saving his best ideas for Sabre at this point.  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 “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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