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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

UNDA DA SEA: A Look Back at KAMANDI #22 (Oct. 1974)

Let me tell you about KAMANDI #22 (Oct. 1974), specifically a sub-plot that emotionally wrecked the nine-year-old me. 

Having followed the post-apocalyptic adventures of Kamandi, "the last boy on Earth," for a while, I had come to expect a lot of weirdness from his world which did the then super-popular PLANET OF THE APES series one better by making ALL of the world's animal's talking sentients. Therefore, I found it quite amusing when Kamandi found himself on the receiving end of the sffections/crush of Teela, a sweet female dolphin from a high-tech undersea city of cetaceans.

Kamandi, of course, lets her admiration go to his head and he soon acts like a complete and utter asshole when Teela tells him she's applied for a permit to make him her "squire." The dolphins of her world employ trained humans — who have low-level intelligence after the apocalypse, a la PLANET OF THE APES — as the active hunter half of a team in which the dolphin pulls them along on water skis as they engage their mortal enemies, sadistic killer whales who also can speak. Kamandi arrogantly tells her she had no right to apply for such a permit, but Teela explains that it's not a master/servant arrangement, but rather a partnership of great trust and intimacy, and a great honor. Kamandi dresses her down with an overblown "no means no" speech, and the stunning art of Jack Kirby perfectly conveys the exact moment when Teela's heart breaks and she turns away so he won't see her cry. 
Then — and here's the devastating bit — Teela is suddenly and without warning brutally murdered when she is speared with two harpoons fired by the squire of an enemy killer whale. We see her body penetrated by the spears (but no blood, thus leaving it to our young imaginations, which only made it that much more horrifying) and hear hear scream of pain and terror, at which point we cut back to a distraught and horrified Kamandi, whose previous bluster was now revealed to be an obvious act, losing his shit over Teela's murder. The issue ends with a vengeance-fueled Kamandi vowing to avenge her death by teaming up with another dolphin and taking the fight to her killer, the infamous "Red Baron," the lethal human hunting dog of the killer whales. And you had damned well better believe that Teela was avenged...BIG. TIME.

The cover to the subsequent issue: One of the rare times in the '70's when an awesome cover was not let down by lackluster material inside the issue.
KAMANDI #22 was the middle chapter of what is perhaps my favorite arc from Kriby's run on the series, and while his entire time on the book has my highest esteem, those three issues were sheer storytelling perfection that were among the four-color yarns that made me a comics fan for life. KAMANDI #22 gets my highest recommendation and ranks among the Top 20 best comics I've ever read. A+

IN DEFENSE OF BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997)

Time to commit credibility suicide: I have recently come to the horrifying realization that I actually like Joel Schumacher's much-reviled BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997). 

Yes, BATMAN AND ROBIN is bad, even terrible, but my reason for coming to like it following the shock of seeing it in the theater during its initial release has everything to do with the film simply not giving a fuck and operating on five-year-old "kid logic." It's pretty much a Batman movie that I would have made if I were five years old, had a collection of colorful Batman toys, and a camera. The dialogue is ludicrous, the plot equally so, the visuals look like a fever dream as tempered (or not) by heavy doses of illegal Jamaican cough medicine, and the performances are like what you'd likely get if the aforementioned toys came to life and emoted. It's a child's skewed vision of adventures in Gotham city and god damn me if I don't find it as charming as a particularly dumb and lovable puppy. 

Perhaps sitting through it a number of times in the hilarious version with the Rifftrax commentary broke me, but maybe not. I've seen all three of the STAR WARS prequels several times with the Rifftrax treatment and I would rather take shotgun blasts to the kneecaps than sith through any of those ever again in their straight versions, but I can sit through BATMAN AND ROBIN and enjoy it as a goofy live-action cartoon. Again, I know with absolute clarity that it's crap, but...

Monday, July 10, 2017

GRADY WILSON: MEN'S TOILETRIES ENTREPRENEUR

While on my way to a late Indian buffet lunch, I was stopped on the street by an incredibly scurvy-looking black dude who was like something out of a KKK propaganda flier brought to vivid, crusty, smelly life. He approached me and said "Say, my brutha! You use cologne? I gots all kindza cologne!!!" To emphasize his statement, he held up two tattered plastic shopping bags that were indeed filled with assorted bottles of manly scents. I politely declined while pondering whether there was anyone on the streets of tony Park Slope who would purchase toiletries from the resuscitated corpse of Whitman Mayo.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

4th of July Patriotism at the Alamo Drafthouse's Screening of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON

When it came out in 1981, I saw AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON three nights in a row in the theater, and my love for the film has only grown in the succeeding decades. It's a heartfelt and sometimes tonally-jarring fusion of comedy and outright horror that formed the second half of that year's one-two knockout punch of instant-classic werewolf movies (the other being THE HOWLING). It was a landmark of practical special effects and boasts a full-body, agonizing transformation scene that made my eight-yearold niece Aurora cry when she saw it. (Not because it was simply scary, but because it looked so fucking painful.) And over the years, the film also inspired the eventual unleashing of my alter-ego, lycanthropic man-about-town and bon vivant Bunchewolf, and on the night of this year's July 4th celebrations, Bunchewolf and a number of friends ventured for to Brooklyn's branch of the legendary Alamo Drafthouse movie shrine to see a rare 35mm print of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. As one of only a tiny handful of legitimate classics chronicling the lycanthropic experience, respect had to be paid.

Bunchewolf, enjoying a hard cider before the screening of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. It would be the first time he'd seen the film projected in over thirty years.

Representing for all Lycanthrope-Americans (and Peppers).

When the poster shapeshifted, it became BLAZING AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, a film in which Bunchewolf would have been quite please to star in.

And, for the record, Bunchewolf cites the following as the only truly important or classic werewolf movies ever made:
THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935)
THE WOLF MAN (1941)
I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957)
THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961)
THE HOWLING (1981)
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
WOLF (1997)
GINGER SNAPS (2000)
DOG SOLDIERS (2002)

Bunchewolf snagged this for me when he met the star of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, David Naughton.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

"AMERICA...FUCK, YEAH!!!"

Happy 4th of July! At Lexi's, drinkin' America out of a can. THE WAY IT SHOULD BE!!! What's you commie pussies' excuse? (cue Milo Tremley's "Kick Ass USA")