Dream Come True (Part 2 )

MidsummersNightmareThat’s right! The Symbifan has officially come out of retirement to bring you not one, but two parts of the monumental storyline known as Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare! (In two articles that is. I’m  not a machine!) Umm…sorry about that. Now, where was I about six months ago? ….Ah yes! I was about to give my insights on the second installment of this titanic tale. (Talk about a long build-up! Sheesh!)

We last found ourselves with the “World’s Finest” as they were slowly beginning to regain their memories. It was decided that this new threat would require more than just the two of them this time. It would require a team with experience and abilities the likes of which the world has never seen before. (See how I did that? I just excited you with my words! You’re welcome.) Anyway, that said, we join a green alien child, presumably on Mars, scratching typical children’s artwork into the side of a cliff. The father calls to the child to rejoin him at the top. Being a good little Martian kid, she does so without hesitation. (Ahh. If only this worked so easily on Earth! Am I right, parents?! These kids today….) But I digress. As the girl meets up with her parents topside, there is a back and forth about alien worlds and the lifeforms or lack thereof that might inhabit them. It’s then that a lens falls from the father’s telescope thingy. As he drops to the bottom to retrieve it, he sees his child’s artwork. The symbols seemly oddly familiar to the martian!

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Meanwhile, back on Earth, we find ourselves in the Batcave where Batman and Superman decide their next move. It is still unknown exactly which villain they face, but they decide it would have to be a telepath of the highest order to affect the entire world so completely. As if the population of the planet were dreaming in unison. They then wonder where on Earth the Martian Manhunter could be. After all, who better to fight a telepath than another telepath? Batman brings up a list from his computer listing the whereabouts of the “big-hitters” in the superhero community. (Convenient, huh? I want a super-computer like that! Maybe if I’m a good little Symbifan this Christmas….Nah. you’d probably have to be an adult version of a spoiled rich kid to get toys like that. You know, the type that is in his thirties and still can’t cope with the deaths of his parents from age eight! I mean, come on, Bruce! Grow up! Oh, slam! I just insulted everyone’s fav “bat-guy”!) Well then, back to the story. The two decide to assume their civilian identities and seek out their super friends.

It should be noted here that the long-time Justice League villain known as Dr. Destiny is pictured sitting in a high-tech chair of some sort with several wires sticking out of his armored headpiece. He speaks to himself of growing quite full on the dreams of everyone the world over. But, he then speaks of another he calls “Know Man” who seems to be pulling even his strings! (Insert shocking/dramatic music here!)

RCO019_1467649047The first candidate on Bruce Wayne’s list for the most epic of superhero teams is Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman! Bruce, never being one for wasting any time, forcibly dunks Arthur’s head into his fishtank where, to Arthur’s amazement, he can breathe! This seems to do the trick and Aquaman returns to his senses. (Score one for being straight to the point, eh kiddies?!)

We then join Wally West as he tries to forcebly enter the apartment of Kyle Rayner. West begins shouting at Rayner that he hasn’t slept in weeks and that Kyle’s comic book, Green Lantern, has something to do with it. Kyle, thinking Wally to be a crazed fanboy, starts to get angry at this intrusion. (Ah. We’ve all been there, haven’t we, fellow fanboys?!) The situation grows heated until, to both of their amazement, a beam of green energy blasts from Kyle’s ring finger! Instinctively, Wally dodges this attack, but he does it at super speed! The Flash and Green Lantern have returned.

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Meanwhile, the world has gone completely nuts as everyday people the world over suddenly develop superpowers. This of course causes mayhem and carnage. As the news reports on this in all languages and networks, a strangely garbed man smiles. Yes, things are going completely as he has planned. While this is happening, Clark Kent pays a visit to Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman. Being Batman’s polar opposite, Superman takes a more peaceful approach to awakening Wonder Woman to her true identity. He simply shows her that she can fly like him. (See Bruce, things can be done nicely. Damn!)

 

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Anywho, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman meet up atop a skyscraper and discuss their present situation. They come to the common consensus that this all has to have been perpetrated by their old nemesis, Dr. Destiny, and that the Martian Manhunter will probably  be needed to defeat him. The only problem? No one can locate the green-skinned powerhouse! (Seriously, have you Googled Martian Manhunter’s list of powers?! It’s insane! I mean, Superman ain’t got nothin’ on this guy!) Just then, all hell breaks loose in the city streets below! Being that they are heroes, this gives them little choice but to help. They leap into action against some new superpowered humans and do what they do best! But the numbers are against them and they soon begin to falter. That is until The Flash and Green Lantern arrive on the scene! The soon-to-be-complete team makes short work of these super wannabes and take a moment to catch their collective breath. Just then, Superman shoots off into the sky. The others follow and soon discover the source of the Last Son of Krypton’s haste….he has found the Martian Manhunter!

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The thing is, he is discovered not on Mars at all, but hidden within an Air Force base on Earth! The heroes are relieved to find their Martian friend and offer him freedom not only from military custody, but from this lie he has been living. There’s only one problem….he doesn’t want to be freed! Having lost his entire species once, he is unwilling to surrender to reality. Who can blame him? In this dream, he is a husband, a father again. Before the others have time to protest his decision, the base is attacked by superhuman terrorists. Springing into action, our heroes begin to prepare to battle. But, before much can happen, an explosion sounds throughout the base. Looking, all concerned see flames erupt from where the Martian family is housed! That’s right. Fire. The weakness of the Martian race! (And y’all thought a green rock was stupid for a Kryptonian!) All of them then hear an unearthly cry of anguish. Martian Manhunter holds the remains of his “family”.

He then turns to the attackers, enraged! He marches past his allies and demands who has done this. The superhumans not only don’t deny it, they proclaim credit proudly! Big mistake! With the addition of the Martian Manhunter, the Justice League stands united and ready for action!

TO BE CONCLUDED….

Dedicated to my sweetheart, Renee Grill, without who this article would never have been written. I love you and happy anniversary!

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Image @ 25 : The Savage Dragon

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In late 1991 a group of Marvel Comics’ hottest artists gave Marvel (and later DC Comics) the collective middle finger and struck out on their own to form Image Comics.  The following summer, Image took the comic book world by storm. I’m looking back at some of the books that changed the industry forever, starting with Erik Larsen’s The Savage Dragon.

In the summer of 1992, I was a couple years into collecting comics.  I started with the usual: Spider-Man, The Avengers, occasionally some DC stuff.  The comics industry was growing and publishers were bringing out countless new characters and concepts, throwing the proverbial crap at the wall to see what would stick.

Boy, was there a lot of crap.

But, hey, I’m not here to throw stones.  I’m here to throw some praise on what I love.  And I loved some of those new guys on the block.  I’m looking at you, Darkhawk!  This guy still loves ya, Sleepwalker!

Y’see, the great thing about the new guys was they were all mine.  I got in on the ground floor and was able to watch them grow from the beginning.  Spidey had been around for near 30 years at that point.  Batman was over 50!  Beat it, gramps, there’s some young blood here to take us into the next Millennium!

Speaking of Youngblood…

The feeling of “All New Heroes Just For Me” took a big leap in 1992 with the launch of Image Comics.  At the time, I was wholly unaware of the inner workings at any comics publisher and had only just begun to appreciate different writers and artists.  So when the much-ballyhooed Image split took place, I didn’t even know about it until I realized that the Youngblood comic was drawn by the guy who used to do X-Force, Rob Liefeld.

While I can’t remember specifically, I suspect it was Wizard Magazine that eventually gave me the scoop on Image and all the badass comics that would soon be coming my way with a bevy of all new characters from artists I loved.  Spawn, Shadowhawk, Cyber Force – they were all in my wheelhouse, and while Youngblood was initially my favorite Image book, it would be a green-skinned strong man with a badge that stood the test of time.

Erik Larsen had followed Todd MacFarlane on both Amazing Spider-Man and then Spider-Man before again following MacFarlane (along with Liefeld and several others) out the Marvel door and into forming Image Comics, the biggest game changer the industry had seen since the release of Watchmen in 1986.

Larsen separated himself from the Image pack right away with The Savage Dragon.  While many of the Image founders relied on what worked for them at Marvel and cribbed heavily from those characters and concepts, Larsen went waaay back to his roots and brought a boyhood creation into the spotlight.

At first glance, it was easy to dismiss Dragon as an obvious Hulk clone.  Upon further inspection, however, the similarities are almost entirely cosmetic.  Aside from the green skin and super strength, there wasn’t much to compare.  The Hulk has gone through countless changes in his decades of existence, but the core concept remains a Jekyll/Hyde dynamic, the brute having little interest in the world around him.

Dragon was always Dragon. He took great interest in his world, which had a large supporting cast, including many he called friend.  Dragon was a Chicago cop committed to the job.  He was a thinker with a strong sense of right and wrong.  He had no patience for ignorance or cruelty.  He was a fully developed character from nearly the beginning, despite having no knowledge of his own origins.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before diving into the early Dragon years, I want to take a quick look at the first issue of The Savage Dragon mini-series.  Most of the Image guys launched their new books as a mini-series, before starting again with a new #1 (Savage Dragon, Cyber Force) or just continuing on with the numbering once the series was proven to be sustainable (WildC.A.T.s).

Savage Dragon #1 was released in the summer of 1992 (July is the listed month, so it likely was released in May), and I had already been enthralled by Image thanks to Youngblood and Spawn’s debut issues.  I had pretty much decided to get every Image title I could afford, and thankfully my older brother was buying up Image books in speculator fashion, so what I couldn’t get for myself, I still had access to.

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The cover is a bit plain but still dynamic, right?  The Dragon, all muscled up, leaping at the reader, fangs bared.  And TWO TAGLINES!  A lot of early 90’s comics seem to have that going.  “1st BRUTAL ISSUE!” was an effective hook for a 12-year-old, I’ll tell you.  Wisely, Larsen’s name is prominent on the cover, which was rare before Image.  The creators were the draw, not the characters themselves, so it was a smart move.

The fin on his head was a bit of a mystery.  I don’t think I had ever seen the likes of it before.  Mohawks were not cool in this era, but given Larsen had dreamt Dragon up years prior, maybe that was an influence.  Regardless, it helped distinguish Dragon from ‘ol purple pants at Marvel.

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Page one starts us out right in the middle of the action, Dragon leaping at a ridiculously 90s bad guy.  Cutthroat, how I love thee.  A black dude with dreads, an eye patch, absolutely covered in spikes and skulls and knives and knives with skulls on the hilts.  Not only that, but poor Cutthroat is an amputee, missing his right arm from the elbow down!  “Don’t worry, just slap a giant-ass sickle on there, doc!”  Did he cut his own arm off so he could do that?  I think he might have!  I need to know!

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Cutthroat also has the standard scantily clad henchwoman, or partner, who goes by Glowbug.  She never uses her powers, if she has any, but does get clocked by Dragon one good time and is down for the count.  I don’t recall Glowbug ever showing back up again, but I can’t guarantee it.

Dragon gets sliced up pretty badly, but still makes short work of the two losers.  As he escorts them outside, a fellow cop asks if it’s a rough day, to which Dragon replies, “I’ve had worse.”  This leads to a flashback sequence with Dragon lying in a burning field, naked and unconscious.

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When Dragon wakes, Lt. Frank Darling interviews him and we discover Dragon suffers selective amnesia.  Weirdly, Dragon seems to know everything, from who the President is to who won the ’45 World Series, but has no knowledge of his own past.  Early on, he doesn’t know why he’s green and super strong, or even the extent of his powers.

Frank sets him up with a job, and the reader is soon shown how dire the crime situation is in Chicago.  The whole city is pretty much at the mercy of The Vicious Circle, a mob of “Super Freaks” who do as they please because the police force just doesn’t have the firepower to combat them.  Frank asks Dragon to help him out, but Dragon turns him away at first.

Looking at these pages, you can get a sense of Larsen’s writing style.  I think he’s great at dialogue, even if sometimes things get overly talky.  It’s obvious how much Robert Kirkman is influenced by Larsen (a fact Kirkman freely admits).

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It’s just a matter of time before Dragon sees how bad the Super Freaks can be.  A couple of them (including the aptly named Skullface) give his boss some shit, and Dragon has to smack them around.  Look at Skullface, by the way.  LOOK AT HIM!  Red and gold armor, a crazy demon skull, and he’s a ginger to boot!  He’s beautiful.

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Soon enough Dragon is on the force, kicking all kinds of Super Freak butt and even handling the normies when need be.  Take a look at some of these panels in this shootout.  So much energy in the artwork.  I still appreciate it now, but as a 12-year-old?  There was no way I could keep from salivating when I read this stuff.

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Issue #1 ends with Dragon promising the public he’ll deal with the Super Freak problem while the head of The Vicious Circle (unnamed here) gives his lackeys permission to take the fight to Dragon.

Much of the first three issues focus on flashbacks to Dragon’s early days after waking up in the field, mingled with the present day.  It flows smoothly enough, but later Larsen would put everything in chronological order for the trade paperback.

(Disclaimer: I’m not an artist, and have no knowledge of how to properly criticize art, so I won’t.  I just know what I like and what I don’t.)

Larsen’s art seems to be divisive, and I’m firmly on the pro side.  His balls-out action scenes are great, but he can handle the little moments too.  In the bedside interview, he nails some facial expressions, and the lightning effects from the storm outside are a great touch.

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In the back of the first issue is a page-length letter from Larsen to the readers, and it may be the contents of this page that cemented Larsen as one of my heroes.  He goes on at length about how he grew up making his own comics and how Dragon was his favorite boyhood creation, one he would re-invent on occasion but always keep focus on.  Now he was getting the opportunity to publish Dragon professionally, and through Image he would own everything he published.

As time went on, other characters and storylines from the comics he produced as a kid made their way into the regular Savage Dragon series.  Erik Larsen was (and still is) literally living his dream, and I think that’s amazing.  There would be many Savage Dragon spin-offs and ancillary series, but every issue of The Savage Dragon has been written and drawn by the man himself. (Although Jim Lee did Issue #13 as part of the Image X Month event, Larsen later went back and produced his own Issue #13).  He’s still putting the book out to this day with Issue #225 on sale now.

In preparation for this article, I went back through all my Savage Dragon trades and re-read the first 11 volumes, which covered up through Issue #58 of the regular series.  Volume 2 starts out with Dragon sporting a wicked sleeveless trench coat, Fu Manchu stache, and some lame-ass spectacles, with the tone and artwork getting extra dark and violent.  The job is proving too much for one Super Freak to handle and some other super powered folks join the department for a short while, but it doesn’t last.

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The next few volumes are a tour de force of insane action and outlandish characters.  Aside from a couple epic tussles with Vicious Circle head Overlord, he confronts one of the most unique rogues’ galleries in comics history.  A shark man (Mako), an ape with Hitler’s brain (Brainiape), and a chicken-headed powerhouse (uh, Powerhouse) to name a few.

Also among the superfreak villains Dragon faces on the job: Dung, who utilizes giant shit-cannons and Heavy Flo, who… um… well, here’s a picture.

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After several years of working as a cop, a few team-ups with the Ninja Turtles, a trip to Hell and back, defending the earth from a Martian invasion, and fathering a child with his super-powered girlfriend, Larsen eventually transitions Dragon into an actual superhero, costume and everything, around Issue #40.  In this role, as part of a government-sponsored team of heroes, he gets caught up in inter-dimensional travels and battles with the gods of legend.

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Also, one time Dragon beat a dude with his own severed arm.

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In the mid-90’s there was even a short-lived Savage Dragon cartoon on USA Network, but it’s…not great.

The trade paperbacks make for generally swift reads, but Larsen made the decision early on to let the characters (at least the ones who survive long enough) age in real time.  As a year passes in what we have to settle for as reality, a year also passes in Savage Dragon land.

My Savage Dragon collection has some holes.  In the early 00’s I lost interest for a bit, partially because Larsen’s art style seemed to change slightly in a way I wasn’t thrilled with, and partially because my local shop wasn’t consistent in getting the issues in.

As years passed, the status quo and cast of characters took on drastic changes, Dragon’s origin story was eventually revealed in the Image 10th anniversary book, and Dragon’s son Malcolm grew up and took center stage as the star of the book.  While I’m not as big a fan of Malcolm, the fact that Larsen is able to do this is so satisfying.  I’m collecting the title now, but while I’m current on buying them, I’ve only read up to Issue #208.

For a number of reasons, the book now is not on par with its heyday of the early to mid-90’s, but I admit nostalgia may well be coloring that opinion.  The focus on Malcolm and more space-faring, dimension-hopping adventures aren’t as appealing to me as the semi-grounded beat cop approach of the early days.  Even still, the book is fun as hell.

Erik Larsen also has always been a fan of drawing well-endowed, scantily clad females, and he made no secret of it.  He likes big, bodacious boobies on his babes and giant, rippling muscles on his dudes.  That’s part of the appeal of his art, overly exaggerated proportions on the men and the women. As time went on, more and more sexuality made its way into the book, including some occasional nudity.  There’s been some press lately about Larsen’s decision to start including some, for lack of a better word, pornographic material in the book.  I actually don’t like it, but it’s Erik Larsen’s book, and I whole-heartedly support him doing whatever he wants with it.  He won’t lose me as a reader over it.

If you’re a fan of comics (especially the outrageous 90’s variety) and haven’t ever read The Savage Dragon, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  The early back issues and trade paperbacks are inexpensive and fairly easy to find.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.  If you dig it like I do, consider adding the title to your pull list at your local comic shop. Independent comics always need support.

Comics is a shrinking medium, but 25 years in, Erik Larsen’s The Savage Dragon has soldiered on.  Here’s to 25 more…

Slash Fiction: Jason vs. Leatherface

Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken!

Ol’ Dean Compton is back, and I do apologize for having been away so long.  Life has separated me from the 90’s comics I dearly love and treasure, and it has also separated me from all of you, but that shall happen no more!  We hope to be back on track around here in time for early summer, and my portion starts right here with the rather fun (and gory) Jason vs. Leatherface from Topps Comics!

I’ve been obsessed with Jason Voorhees (although not as obsessed as I am with some things) ever since I was about 4 or 5 years old.  I don’t recall which Friday the 13th movie it was, but one Saturday morning in the middle of the serenity that only Saturday morning cartoons can bring a youngster, the slasher invaded.  This had to be a mistake on the part of the station, but all of a sudden I was seeing a commercial for a Friday The 13th flick!  I was so scared that I had nightmares about it later.

Whether this had anything to do with it or not, movies like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were banned in my house growing up.  The only Jason stuff that ever made its way into ComptonSpace was the NES game.  Ask Emily or anyone who knows me: I am goddamn obsessed with NES Jason and will purchase just about anything to do with him, from NECA figures to Funko customs.  For me, that game was Jason, in all of his purple and neon blue glory.  Later, as a teenager, I’d be able to watch some Friday the 13th movies, and whole some of them are scary, most are just funny and a blast to watch.

I didn’t have the same affinity for Leatherface.  I never got to play the Atari Texas Chainsaw Massacre game, although I am pretty obsessed with it now, to the point of having bought a NECA Atari Leatherface.  (I bet you’re starting to think NECA paid me to put them in here, but nah, they just have great stuff.  Of course, should they want to sponsor the site, come on, fellas!) I didn’t see Texas Chainsaw Massacre until I was 22.  It’s a good movie, but I always sort of thought of Leatherface as the least of the slashers until recently.  Thanks to various action figures, I have started to really dig Leatherface, so when I learned of this mini-series, I Just had to see how these two horror icons did against one another.

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The covers to this mini-series are excellently done by Simon Bisley, who displays from the get-go why he was the perfect artist for such a task.  Also, Jason’s machete sort of looks like the one he uses in Jason X, making this even more badass.

Published in the waning days of Topps Comics, Jason vs. Leatherface had a very low print run, making it highly desirable these days.  From what I can tell from my research (which is done on little sleep and a shoestring budget, so please correct me if I am wrong), this is the only time in any medium that Jason and Leatherface squared off in an “official” manner.  That sort of makes it sound like they had some sort of government sanctioned duel.  That is decidedly not the case; this is much, much more fun.

Nancy Collins writes a fun story in which Jason is caught up in corporate malfeasance.  A corporation has been using Crystal Lake (the perpetual home of Jason’s massacres) to dump toxic waste.  They are moving on from the area, and the EPA has confirmed that something must be done about the waste.  The CEO decided to just drain and dredge the lake and then use the land to build high-priced development housing.  AND THEY SAY JASON VOORHEES IS THE BAD GUY!

Of course, Jason is at the bottom of the lake from the end of one of his last massacres, and he’s just waiting for something or someone to free him.

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Remember that Southern Rock compilation CD “Going South”?  I bet Jason hates it.

The man in charge of the dredging makes it clear to all involved that he is not a nice man and that he is there because he works cheap.  While they are in the process of dredging the lake, a local arrives and warns them of the danger that is Jason Voorhees, but the contractor laughs it off.  Of course, as he is scoffing at the idea that a crazed and unstoppable maniac is at the bottom of the lake, what does his crew pull up with a large crate of toxic dirt?  If you guessed anything but Jason, turn in your badge; you’re off the force.

The dirt gets hauled to a train where it takes off for the desert. Joining the dirt on this journey is a hobo and his dog, and being honest, these are the most likeable characters in the entire book.  Sadly, Jason kills them rather quickly, and this is the moment that really reminded me that while we all like Jason, we really shouldn’t  He murders harmless and defenseless people for no good reason.  This hobo offers him some booze, which is like money to hobos in pop culture, and Jason hacks his arm off.

Of course, what will really get to most folks is when Jason hacks the dog right in half.

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Of course, the hobo was just telling his dog about how happy he was that they had been riding the rails together, which meant they were about to die.  Being happy in a horror comic or movie means instant death.

Jason proceeds to kill everyone on the train. Even without being an engineer,  I know a train can’t run without one, and it doesn’t take long before the train, toxic dirt and all, blows up with our favorite maniac walking away from the carnage.

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IS HIS MACHETE ON FIRE?  JASON IS THE COOLEST.

Jason’s train has crashed in Texas.  Sawyerville, Texas, to be exact, which just happens to be the home of Leatherface and family.  Jason comes upon one of their intended victims trying to escape.  The victim implores Jason for assistance, which is sort of like asking a demon for assistance with the devil.  Leatherface and family quickly make their way onto the scene, desperate to hold onto their meat.  The victim is terrified as Jason and Leatherface make first contact!

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The moment you have been waiting for since you read the title.

Jason and Leatherface square off in a slash clash of terror titans!  Jason manages to overpower Leatherface and force the aberration to lose his grip on his famous chainsaw, but then rather than killing Leatherface and his kin, Jason kills their intended victim and then hands Leatherface his chainsaw.  Leatherface’s kin introduces himself to Jason as Hitchhiker, and he convinces a confused Jason to join them back at their house for supper.  Jason has never felt anything but hate and anger, even at that awesome hobo who just wanted to get him drunk, so the fact that he doesn’t want to kill these people immediately is foreign to him.

He goes along with them, and after being introduced to Cook and the rest of the family, he finds himself feeling a kinship with Leatherface.  The rest of the family, especially Hitchhiker, picks on Leatherface the way Jason was picked on.  Upon arriving at the house, Hitchhiker immediately makes fun of Leatherface for losing his saw to Jason, which is really not anything to be ashamed of, what with Jason’s super-strength and all. (It’s like a baby losing an arm wrestling match to Hulk Hogan.  That’s just how it is gonna go down.) The taunt leads Leatherface to run away to his upstairs bedroom and fling himself on the bed in the way that teenage girls do in sitcoms, although Leatherface has decidedly fewer posters of boy bands and kittens on his walls.  (He does have a sweet poster of what seems to be Conan or Franzetta’s Death Dealer above his bed.) Jason’s kinship with Leatherface grows, and he heads upstairs to offer his friendship and understanding.  Jason was tormented too, and seeing Leatherface in anguish is reminding Jason of his own torment and somehow making him show empathy and sympathy for another human being.

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This is the beginning of a very ugly friendship.

Cook tells Jason that he is glad that he and Leatherface have started to become pals, and he introduces Jason to the rest of the family.  Jason, being mute, reaches back into his memories and finds a way to reveal his name to his new “family”.

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For someone who gets a rap as being mindless, that’s not awful blood penmanship from Jason Voorhees.

The second issue centers around the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family settling in with Jason and Jason settling in with them.  Cook opens up to Jason about his desire to one day own a fancy restaurant (that I presume would serve people) while he just rakes in the cash and lives in a doublewide trailer.  Hitchhiker shows Jason his dog, which Hitchhiker killed but still keeps on a chain.  Hitchhiker doesn’t care for Jason for lots of reasons, including that he has taken up for Leatherface, but it seems to me that what bothers Hitchhiker the most is that Jason doesn’t eat.  This scene meanders back and forth between what seems like Hitchhiker trying to get to like Jason and Hitchhiker trying to intimidate Jason.  It makes little difference, as Hitchhiker has to head for the gas station where the family makes its income and meat.

A lost couple stops in for gas, and after Hitchhiker makes sure they won’t get far, Hitchhiker and Jason (at Cook’s request and Leatherface’s reluctance) set out to murder the couple when the car breaks down.  Hitchhiker loves the game aspect of this, but Jason is just brutally efficient.  After choking the wife in the couple to death, Jason gets chastised by Hitchhiker for not taking enough time.  Hitchhiker is somehow the most despised character in this book, as his love of sadism means that he wants to hear his victims scream and beg before he kills them.

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You’d think that in a comic book full of cannibals and mass murderers that you’d have trouble picking the one you hate the most, but it’s surprisingly easy.  Hitchhiker is the worst.

After returning from what they call “getting groceries,” Hitchhiker decides to show Jason his hobby, which isn’t collecting baseball cards or Pogs, you 90’s kids, but instead, he has this odd fascination with making things out of body parts. I guess that really isn’t too odd, seeing as how he is batshit crazy and a murderous cannibal, but you know for folks like you and me, we’re not so enamored with such things.  This fascinates his brother Leatherface, who is hiding among the macabre creations as Jason and Hitchhiker chat.  He tries to sit in a bone chair, and when he breaks it, he is discovered.  Hitchhiker goes to abuse Leatherface over this transgression, only for Jason to recall his own past as an abused youngster, and he also recalls when his mom cut his dad’s head in two with a machete, leading to a lifelong (and deathlong, I suppose) obsession with murder and violence for Jason.  This abuse, though, isn’t a pleasant memory for the Crystal Lake killer, and he decides to step in and spare Leatherface any more abuse.

Jason Vs Leatherface #2 of 3_Jason_Vs_Leatherface_2_p22
Jason knows that mass murdering icons gotta stick together.

After Jason’s siding with Leatherface, Hitchhiker gets really mad.  Like, 1990’s Nine Inch Nails Mad.  He then says he doesn’t care that Jason has taken sides with Leatherface (who Hitchhiker often refers to as a “retard” among other things.  In addition to being a homicidal cannibal, Hitchhiker just isn’t very nice.)  because Hitchhiker believes he cannot be hurt.  He demonstrates this to Jason and Leatherface by driving a pocketknife through his hand without wincing or grimacing.  Rather, as would befit the stature of such a madman, he just talked about he is invincible and how nothing can stop him.  Jason, never one to turn down a challenge, picks up a sharp piece of bone and decides to find out just how invincible Hitchhiker really is.  He picks Hitchhiker up by the throat and goes to stab him, only to be stopped by Leatherface.  Out of respect for Leatherface, Jason decides not to murder Hitchhiker.

Jason Vs Leatherface #2 of 3_Jason_Vs_Leatherface_2_p24
This is the first time in his life that Hitchhiker has known fear.

Hitchhiker thanks Jason by calling him chicken and then letting Leatherface know that he doesn’t care.  Things are building to a head between the members of the family that aren’t Leatherface and Jason, and Cook attempts to try and soothe matters by apologizing on behalf of Hitchhiker, but Jason’s newfound patience is just about at an end.  The third issue has Hitchhiker getting angry with Leatherface again, this time for reading his comics and leading fingerprints on them.  Of course, many comic book fans have felt rage over this, but Hitchhiker lashes out at Leatherface and slices his arm with a pocketknife.  I’ve been angry at my family for ruining comic books of mine, but I have never sliced anyone over them.

Jason’s had enough, and he tosses Hitchhiker across the room.  Now Hitchhiker has had enough, and despite Cook’s protestations that this conflict not occur at the dinner table, Hitchhiker stabs Jason in the heart with the pocketknife, which has about as much affect on Jason as a BB Gun would have on a tank. Cook defends his brother with a meat cleaver, but no one can now save Cook and Hitchhiker from Jason’s wrath…except Leatherface.

Jason Vs Leatherface #3 (of 3) - Page 10
CHAINSAW VS. MACHETE!

The family is able to overpower Jason due to their numbers and take him out temporarily.  Rather than eating him, they dump him in a lake.  Jason recovers and makes his way to the surface.  Rather than going to kill them, he decides to go home, as he’s had enough of the world outside of Crystal Lake.

This is a fun mini-series.  I wish there had been more of Leatherface and Jason actually fighting, but three issues of this was probably a risk at that time anyhow, and to get anymore fighting we’d have needed a fourth issue.  Nancy Collins tells a fun tale that actually is much deeper than anything one could have expected with this title, and the covers alone are worth the price of admission.  Simon Bisley does a great job.

The worst thing about the series is that it shows us how fun Topps Comics was, publishing everything from this to X-Files to the Kirbyverse (covered here and here, and we also look at another Jason appearance here) with a large number of really good comics that drew from all sorts of source material.  It’s a shame that Topps didn’t survive to do sequels to this or to keep their other great titles going.  Alas, such is the fate of many a comic book company, especially during the 90’s.

Hope you have had a great time reading about two maniacs trying to kill each other!  We’ve got more great stuff around the bend here at The Unspoken Decade, so stick around!!

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