SLASH MARAUD #2

“Damazons and the Family Unit”

Writer: Doug Moench

Artist: Paul Gulacy

Slash Maraud and Wild Blue are confronted by Commander Kargh and shapers while escaping. Slash manages to shoot off the lock to the mutant panda cage causing pandamonium. They escape to Blue’s motorcycle and shoot their way out of Las Vegas. Dr. X is supposed to be in Provo, so they head out that way. Only along the way they run into Angela and her Damazons. The Damazons are a gang of lesbians that hate men. Fortunately, Blue manages to tell them about their mission to find Dr. X and save the world. They decide to help out.

They later come on a group of the Family. The Family are nutjobs that worship serial killers and like to cut people up and use the parts for furniture. They capture one and finds out Dr. X has been captured. So, they go to their HQ which is a recreation of the Bate’s house from Psycho. They attack and make it to the dungeon where they are confronted by a guy in a leatherface mask and chainsaw. They find the body of the guy they were chasing, and Slash deduces the guy with the chainsaw is Dr. X.

Wow big tires on cars. Yes, this is definitely the eighties. This has got to be the most original story I have ever read. The kooky gangs are just nuts. I love this series so far. We find out that Slash hates people but hates the shapers even more and is an ultimate survivor. So that is why he decided to take on this mission. Wild Blue is a great companion to him, and the blue hair is definitely way before its time.

SLASH MARAUD #1

“Beautiful Blues!”

Writer: Doug Moench

Artist: Paul Gulacy

A guy on a motorcycle rescues a man from a dinosaur. Later at night over a campfire the two talk and we find out Earth has been conquered by aliens. They are now terraforming the Earth. The two get into an argument and the motorcycle guy ends up killing the guy he rescued. The guy on the cycle is Stash Maradovitch or as he is called Slash Maraud. He used to be a mercenary and bodyguard to the rich and famous. Now he is going to Las Vegas to see an old acquaintance. A woman named Blue who has blue hair and a zebra pattern jumpsuit.

Blue has a proposition for Slash. She knows of an alien scientist called Dr. X who wants to help reverse the terraforming. Slash will think it over and goes downstairs. While there, a new alien leader has come to replace the current commander. The current leader is bored and has let things go. After killing some of the humans for fun, this convinces Slash to take the job. Only Blue was an alien or shaper because they can shapeshift. Slash kills her and finds the real Blue tied up. The shots attract other shapers and the two blast a hole in the floor and fall on a cage of a giant mutant panda.

Wow is this a time capsule from the eighties. Mullets, Blade Runner trench coats, zebra patterned jumpsuits, big hair and Ray bans. The hero is your typical Snake Plissken type anti-hero. The aliens are shapeshifters that in their real form look like fuzzballs with big black eyes and a mouthful of teeth. We get introduced that these aliens had no problem taking over and did something to degrade the humans. Very few fight back and most seem to be content to wait around until the Earth is fully transformed and they die.

I really love this series. I saw an ad in an old comic issue and thought that it had potential. Surprised I missed it back in the day. A very original series and I look forward to finding out more of this crazy eighties’ future world.

HERCULES UNBOUND #12

“Chaos Among the Gods”

Writer: Cary Bates

Artist: Walter Simonson

Hercules finds out that the Anti-Ares was the one possessing Kevin. Anti-Ares pounds Hercules into the ground then joins with the other anti-gods. They form one being and go off to attack Olympus. Basil the dog hid away in the flying wing and helps Hercules dig out of the ground. Soon after the gods send lightning bolts to transport Hercules to Olympus. There he finds out the truth of why he was chained to the island for centuries. The gods of Olympus were making themselves perfect and in this they created anti-gods from all their negative energy. They imprisoned them in the island and needed Hercules strength to keep them there. So they drugged him and chained him to the island. Only he finally managed to break free. The anti-Ares possessed Kevin, waiting for the right time to strike.

Hercules is pissed about this and soon after the anti-gods show up. An epic battle ensues with neither getting the upper hand. Hercules uses the enchanted chains to start destroying Olympus. This brings together the gods and anti-gods, but they are powerless against the might of Hercules. The two groups working together merge them back to one. In gratitude for saving them, Zeus sends Hercules back. He finds Jennifer brought back to life and Basil waiting for him. The three head out to explore the post-apocalyptic world.

The final issue comes to a satisfying conclusion. We get the answer to why Hercules ended up chained on the island all those centuries. Why Kevin seemed a bit off. A big battle with Hercules being the one to save the day. Ends on a happy note with Jennifer brought back to life. Along with the dog Basil they can continue exploring the world. Sadly, we never hear again from Hercules and this cool post-WWIII world. DC created a fun idea with their version of Hercules and my favorite genre, post-WWIII. I am glad they managed to tie up the story and we get 12 quality issues to enjoy.

HERCULES UNBOUND #11

“The Darkside of the Gods”

Writer: Cary Bates

Artist: Walter Simonson

Hercules gets a new suit of armor thanks to the Atomic Knights. In an old car factory, they smelt the alloy. Then it is off to the Knight’s HQ on the western shore of Lake Ontario. Flying the flying wing, Kevin suddenly gets possessed by an evil force and attacks his friends. Hercules and the Knights are thrown out of the plane. Hercules stops Kevin by tossing a large rock into the lake which short circuits the plane.

While this happens, the gods on Olympus watch and wonder about their predicament. Some evil force has trapped Olympus in a temporal storm. Only Hercules can save them, and they shoot a bolt to Earth. It takes over Jennifer and she is now possessed by Athena. She starts to warn Hercules but a giant fire-breathing dragon forms from the campfire. It strikes down Jennifer before Hercules can destroy it. Jennifer is now dead, and Hercules decides to release Kevin from his chains since he thinks the evil is destroyed.

Only Kevin is once again possessed and jumps into the flying wing. Hercules grabs on and the wing crashes in the Mediterranean off the island that Hercules was chained to. Kevin is fully taken over by Ares who brags that he will release the Anti-Gods from the rock that Hercules was chained to.

A lot of stuff happens in this issue. The big event is Jennifer dying which is a surprise. I really liked this character and a brave move to kill her off. The other is Kevin being possessed by Ares. The letters page already informed us this title was being cancelled. So, they set up a big final ending which should give us all the answers for this series.

HERCULES UNBOUND #10

“Water, Water, Neverwhere!”

Writer: Cary Bates

Artists: Walt Simonson & Bob Layton

Hercules and his friends bury their former companion Dave Rigg at a cemetery in London. Soon after a big explosion of water spouts out of the ground. Hercules manages to throw a streetlamp that cuts a huge trench into the ground and stops the water. They find a survivor that tells he was conducting an experiment on a substance found by the Great Lakes in America. The group decides to go there and warn people about the substance’s danger. Fortunately, some guys at the nearby museum offer to give them a flying wing. Even more fortunately, Kevin can fly it using some power of his that manipulates energy.

The group arrives at Lake Ontario and find it bone dry. They also find some giant Dalmatians and two guys in armor. After a brief tussle they make peace, and we find out about these knights. They are the Atomic Knights and were investigating the compressed molecules of the water that an evil scientist named Scuba created. They arrive at their camp unknowing that their companion was taken over by an alien energy being. This being needs the compressed water to power itself. This creature takes off to grab the big block and Hercules pursues. At the block it draws immense power and beats up Hercules. Hercules grabs the water block and stuffs it into the helmet. This block blows and destroys the alien and restores the water to Lake Ontario.

A new writer with Cary. Lots of stuff happens. Dave Riggs apparently died, and this makes sense since he didn’t really fit into the group. A goofy compressed water causes trouble. Convenient plot points get the group to America. We get introduced to the Atomic Knights. While never having a series of their own, they were regulars in an anthology series from the fifties and sixties. Also Dr. Skuba was something from the Omac series. So, they have now successfully integrated the Atomic Knights and Omac into the Kamandi universe. I really love these old issues with their goofy science and outrageous plots.

HERCULES UNBOUND #9

“Finale”

Writers: David Michelinie and Walt Simonson

Artists: Walt Simonson and Bob Layton

Hercules and friends are confronted by their former companion David Riggs who has been connected to the island’s computer. David sends a horde of robots to attack. He also activates a giant electromagnet that destroys the female robots on Hercules side. This also knocks out Jennifer. Hercules, Kevin and Basil manage to escape but forget to take Jennifer. This works out since when Jennifer recovers, she goes wandering off and finds a control room to bust up. This manages to free David from control of the computer. Unfortunately, he launches nuclear missiles. Hercules manages to destroy all but one. Jennifer finds a button that sets off the auto destruct. Hercules and friends manage to make it to a boat before the whole island goes up in a nuclear explosion. They go back to Agatha’s complex and find it still standing. She opened a portal in time that the one missile went through. It was to Greece in October 1986. Kevin gets really angry because that is where WWIII started.

This was a fun issue. First, we find out that David was captured and taken over by the computer because a fail-safe required a human to launch nuclear weapons. Jennifer was actually the real hero of this issue. She manages to conveniently find the big red self-destruct button that destroys the whole computer complex. Nuclear bombs all over the place. At the end we find out the date for WWIII. Funny I don’t remember a war back in 1986. A cool reveal of how the war started.

STAR-SPANGLED WAR STORIES MADEMOISELLE MARIE ONE SHOT

“Vivre Libre Ou Mourir!”

Writer: Billy Tucci

Artists: Justiniano and Tom Derenick and Andrew Mangum

Occupied France in the Spring of 1944. Someone parachutes in. She is Mademoiselle Marie a beautiful woman in the French resistance. She brings money to buy explosives to blow bridges and railways for the upcoming Allied invasion. With a local Maqui group she manages to buy explosives hidden in barrels of cognac. Only a beautiful woman betrays the group to the Milice, the Vichy French collaborationist militia. Marie manages to escape in the truck with explosives but two German Messerschmidts blow up the truck.

Marie escapes and makes her way to the Milice HQ. She plants explosives, ties up the traitor and local Gestapo guy. Then takes the money and sets the explosives off, killing all inside. She then plans on using the money to buy guns for the resistance.

Back in 2010, DC was putting out these one-shots of old classic war issues from the sixties to eighties. Stuff that I grew up on. Star-Spangled War Stories used to showcase the Unknown Soldier before he got his own title. Mademoiselle Marie was the beautiful red beret wearing idealized version of the French resistance fighter. She never had her own title but made regular appearances in the various WWII titles.

I loved this issue. It brings a lot of nostalgia back for me. The artwork is beautiful with Marie just looking incredible. Oh, and the title translates from French as Live Free or Die.

HERCULES UNBOUND #8

“Game!”

Writer: David Michelinie

Artists: Walt Simonson & Wally Wood

Hercules and friends are on a raft in the Irish sea. They get attacked by four ME-262 fighter jets. David drowns but the others get to shore. There Hercules tosses rocks at the jets and destroys three out of four. The fourth is damaged and they follow it to some strange complex. They are then attacked by a horde of women robots. A voice then apologizes and thought that they were part of constructs from an opponent.

They find an old woman running everything hooked up to a machine. She was hit by a jeep and while in coma developed advanced intelligence. She built this complex and after the war started playing what she thinks is a game with another complex located on the Isle of Man. She gets Hercules and friends to join in her game by promising to cure Kevin’s blindness. Meanwhile, David didn’t drown but washes ashore and is captured by a robot. Hercules and friends attack the opposing complex and finds their friend David hooked into the machine running the complex.

So, the writer and artist that were to temporarily take over decided to stay on. They had so much fun with this series they wanted to stay, and it shows. This was a fun issue. Filled with crazy old woman who can pull WWII stuff from time and bring it into the future. She is playing some kooky game with another mysterious base. I thought at first, they were getting rid of David. I was OK with this since he didn’t seem to really fit with the group. Although I thought it was a bit cold hearted to have him so casually killed off. Yet he is still alive and part of the story. Will reserve judgement on this character to see where the writer takes him. The series is really hitting its stride.

HERCULES UNBOUND #7

“To Slay a Legend!”

Writer: David Michelinie

Artists: Walt Simonson and Wally Wood

Hercules and gang are in Scotland. They visit the famous Loch Ness and are greeted by some beautiful women. They are invited to dinner. Only the wine was drugged, and the gang wake up tied up. The leader is an old guy named Casper Zedd. He was searching for the Loch Ness Monster when WWIII happened. Soon after a huge creature appeared and gave him a staff. He used this to gather survivors to worship the giant creature. Zedd plans to sacrifice Kevin to it.

The creature appears and Hercules recognizes it. It is Oceana a Titan that he defeated long ago. Oceana was drawn from the Underworld by WWIII. He is just using Zedd to gain power until it can destroy the world and take over. Hercules breaks his bonds and with his friends go to the nearby dam. Only the lightning of Zeus can defeat Oceana. They rig up the dam to produce lightning which Hercules uses to destroy Oceana. Zedd’s staff blows up and his followers abandon him.

A new writer and artist. MIchelinie is a temporary fill in as a new writer will come in next issue. Garcia is on vacation and will be back for the next issue. Both guys did an excellent job of keeping up the standard of quality established. David Riggs has joined the group while Simon decided to stay in London. A fun issue with Hercules having to battle a Titan. Hints at some special power from Kevin. That he has some type of essence that Oceana needed. Another mystery to be explored in future issues.

HERCULES UNBOUND #6

“Even a God May Die!”

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artists: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez & Wally Wood

Hercules and friends have just defeated Hunter Blood when they are attacked by soldiers of Ares. Hercules and Duroy and his animal-men manage to defeat them. Hercules then tells that he thinks Ares can resurrect the dog, Basil. Long ago Hercules witnessed Ares bring back his pet falcon. They then get a visit from one of their friends who managed to escape from Ares. He says that he is located at Stonehenge.

Hercules and friends go there and confront Ares. Hercules call out Ares as being a coward and gets him a one-on-one fight. Hercules collapses Stonehenge and traps Ares. One of Ares men use a tank to shoot Hercules, but the shell harmlessly explodes on his chest. Hercules agrees to let Ares go if he will bring back Basil which he does. Then Ares and his men ride off with Hercules promising that if they meet again, one will not survive. Something that Ares has no problem with.

This was an exciting issue. A big fight with the main opponent Ares. We find out a lot about Ares. For one he seems too not like being immortal. He craves death which is why he is always causing these wars. An interesting motive that I didn’t see coming. Also, we find out that he has jealously issues with his brother. Feels that Zeus loved him more. Apparently, a tank shell hardly fazes Herc. Ends with Basil getting brought back to life. A good happy ending since I don’t like seeing people’s dogs die. Promises a new direction for the series at the end. Very interested to find out what that is.