Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I believe that I have already proven I have excellent taste in old comic books. Who else would buy a near complete run of Atari Force off Ebay? My love is especially telling since I actually own a complete run of Atari Force in storage.

Sexy, right?

Well, today is another example of my love. Today I am going to take you on a trip with Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!

First I would like to provide some personal background involving Captain Carrot.

When I was a wee lad I owned two grandmothers.

One grandmother picked me up after school and I stayed with her until my Mom got off work. This grandmother was kind enough to stop at the neighborhood market and gift me with the money to buy two comic books every day after school. Actually, she gave me a dollar and a dime. Fortunately, most comics at the time were only .50 cents. Pretty darn amazing. I am still thankful.

The second grandmother lived in the country. I didn't keep much in the way of good toys at her house. Everything at the country house was mostly seconds and broken stuff. I went to this grandmother's house almost every weekend. This grandmother was kind enough to take me to the Army Surplus Store and buy me a fistful of candy and a couple bucks worth of comics.

Between these two generous ladies I was able to read a variety of comic books. During the week it was mostly Marvel, but the weekend was meant for DC. One title that I picked up during this time was Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew.

I had just enough kid in me that I was willing to give a funny animal book a chance.

Although I would not realize it until later, there was another reason the book appealed to me. The creator, it would turn out, was one of my favorite creator/writers, Roy Thomas. I cannot begin to explain how much joy Roy Thomas has brought me over the years.

Scott Shaw!, an amazing artist and talent in his own right, might have helped co-created the characters. He definitely was the artist on the book for the run.
Captain Carrot first appeared in New Teen Titans #16 (Feb, 1982). This appearance led to a short lived series with the Zoo Crew. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew was published from 1982 to 1983.

The comic has the honor of being the last original funny animal property created by DC comics.

The Zoo Crew consists of animals versions of DC heroes, typically Justice League analogs. The heroes are: Captain Carrot (Superman), Alley-Kat-Abra (Zatanna), Fastback (Flash), Rubberduck (The Elongated Man), Little Cheese (Atom).

Two of the characters, Yankee Poodle and Pig Iron, are slight anomalies. Yankee Poodle has the power to shoot rays of attraction and repulsion.

Pig Iron gained his powers by falling into a vat of steel with a meteor. It turned him into a huge mass of living steel. While this does somewhat compare with Commander Steele, a DC character, Pig Iron's condition and attitude is similar to Marvel's The Thing.

Pig Iron's mannerism and vocal patterns differ from his non-powered alter-ego, Peter Porkchops.

Incidently, Peter Porkchops is the only Zoo Crew character to exist before 1982. Peter first appeared in Leading Comics #23 (February 1947). In 1949 Porkchops received his own title. The title Peter Porkchops lasted through #62, being canceled in 1960. That's a pretty good run for a funny animal.

Few comic writers can work a team like Roy Thomas, even when that team consists of so-called funny animals. The Zoo Crew characters all have their own personalities. I would like to add that these personalities are also different than their human hero counterparts. The stories are also unique; although one might say that Roy's ideas constitute a theme.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Today's Sucky Cinema Saturday movie is John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars.

It really hurts me to place this movie in this notorious position. I really wanted to like the movie. I remember smiling at the very beginning because it was so typical of Carpenter's previous work. I just knew that the movie was going to be bonzer. Unfortunately, it was anti-bonzer.

It had been a while since I watched Ghosts of Mars... actually, I went to the theater in 2001 and watched it, so... yeah. I am writing this in the year 2014. So, thirteen years have passed. I thought, maybe, deep in my heart, that I might have missed something and wanted to watch it again.

Candy Cane had some free time and wanted to watch it with me when she found out Jason Statham was one of the actors. She apparently has stopped going to the nail salon on a weekly basis because she wants to save money to buy the upcoming Daryl Dixon statue. This apparently requires her to commit several hours a week to the upkeep of her nails.

I'm not sure if 2 hours of breathing the fumes of Revlon's Eclipse Moon Candy aided or hindered the viewing of Ghosts of Mars.

Ghosts of Mars, if you haven't guessed by now, was written and directed by John Carpenter. It was released August 24, 2001. It was a critical and financial failure. The budget was $28 million and the box office returned only $14 million.

I mentioned that the opening refrain immediately made me smile. It had Carpenter's touch all over it. For the soundtrack Carpenter recorded his stylistic synthesizer music as well as hiring some top notch head hunter guitarists like Steve Vai, Buckethead, and Robin Finck. My problem with the music was that, while it was very much Carpenter, I guess the time for that mode of music had passed.

Carpenter revealed after Ghosts of Mars flopped that he was burnt out with movie making and decided to leave it all behind. He did not make another movie until 2010. In all reality he should have kept his word and rested on his laurels.

The film stars Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Clea DuVall, and Joanna Cassidy.

Michelle Yeoh and Famke Janssen were among the first choices for Melanie Ballard (Henstridge), but they (wisely) turned it down.

Courtney Love was cast but had to leave the movie after her ex-boyfriend ran over her foot. Love would have been interesting, but the movie would have still sucked. In fact, Natasha's frame was one of the highlights of the movie.

Note: She was 19 at the time and perfectly fine to view in the nude.
I had forgotten Clea DuVall was in the movie. Actually, I had forgotten about Clea DuVall. I will admit to pausing the movie and then having to explain to Candy Cane that I was looking on Mr. Skin's website to see if Clea DuVall had ever appeared nude.

When I saw the listing for a 1996 movie named Little Witches I decided to return to Ghosts of Mars for fear of alerting the authorities.

I should have been in Anaconda!

Jason Statham was originally cast to play Desolation Williams but the producers demanded star power, so they hired... Ice Cube.

Yeah, Statham had just come from some crappy movies like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch. You know, superlative, award winning movies.

Towards the end of the movie I mentioned to Candy Cane that this movie was just a sci-fi rehash of Carpenter's much better film Assault on Precinct 13.

Candy Cane had never heard of Assault on Precinct 13. I am guessing in a week she will have forgotten watching this movie. I hope I will be so lucky.

I've been really soft on Ghosts of Mars. I haven't ripped it apart like the past few Sucky Cinema Saturday films. I guess it's my respect and love for John Carpenter.

I could point out the terrible casting choice of Joanna Cassidy. But I won't.

I could point out the terrible plot hole about how when the ghosts of Mars die they take over human hosts... therefore killing them is the last thing you should do. But I won't.

Would I recommend this film? This is really a John Carpenter flop. The action is trite, the dialogue is stilted, and the overall movie is just weak and wilted. It is really obvious that Carpenter was ready to give up Hollywood about three minutes into this bomb.

The only real selling point for this movie is watching Natasha Henstridge. I know it's very crass and hetro male of me to suggest that a person might watch a movie just to see a bit of T and A, but really... that's the most Ghosts of Mars has to offer.

Natasha is a pretty woman and all of her parts are complimentary, however, if you really want to see her then you would just watch Species.

The most of Natasha you are going to see in Ghosts of Mars is... well, if you look to the left... that's it. Natasha and her functional military issue undies.

I've just saved you an hour and a half. Now go rent Species.

Good luck Candy Cane. This mofo goes for about 4 bills.