Category Archives: 90s Indy Stuff

The Armageddon Agenda (part 1)

What immediately comes to mind when you think of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Is it brightly colored masks? The word: “Cowabunga”? Pizza? Vanilla Ice? (Don’t lie. It’s Vanilla Ice, isn’t it?) Well, I’m almost positive that it isn’t their titanic clash with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! Think I’m lying about that last one? Has your friendly, neighborhood Symbifan ever lied to you before? I guess seeing is believing. Prepare thyselves, Unspokenites! It’s about to get Biblical up in here…..

Our story unfolds as the Turtles, Splinter, and Ninjara enter the Earth’s atmosphere, returning home from yet another interstellar adventure. They sit within the moist, dark confines of Cudley the Cowlick’s large, bovine mouth. (A humongous, detached cow head that carries beings inside his mouth in order to transport them to the furthest reaches of space! My question is, who was smokin’ what when this character was imagined?) While on Earth, the Mutanimals lie defeated, victims of heavy lazer gunfire, fired from mechanized skeleton weaponry! Only Leatherhead and the changeling, Azazel, still stand to defend the others’ fallen forms! Leatherhead fires blast after blast from his own lazer rifle until the weapon runs out of ammo! Never one to surrender or flee from a fight, the aligator-man begins to fight with his bare hands! Azazel joins him but the two soon find themselves outnumbered! Leatherhead orders Azazel to transform and take flight to get help. Reluctantly, she shapeshifts into a bird and takes to the skies. Leatherhead then falls.

Atop a nearby hilltop, a well-dressed, bald man with small horns takes a long puff on his cigar. Laughing, he approaches the defeated Mutanimals. The robotic skeletons give him a wide berth. He is known only as Null, and he is the personification of all that is evil. (Well, maybe he’d lighten up if he had a baby kitten. Do these hero types ever stop to consider something as simple as that? Like, maybe the Joker wouldn’t be quite so demented if he had a cute puppy to take care of.) Null orders his skeletal warriors to take the unconscious Mutanimals into custody. This is interrupted, however, by the timely appearance of the Ninja Turtles! Raphael orders Null to freeze right where he is and to release his friends. This demand is met with Null pulling a lazer rifle of his own and opening fire! His minions follow suit without delay! The Turtles waste no time in throwing themselves into close combat against their enemy! The fight has truly begun now!

The combined attack of the Turtles, Splinter, and Ninjara does cut down the number of robotic skeletons, but they still run the risk of being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. A blast from Null is deflected by Leonardo’s blades. This stray shot wings one of the fallen Mutanimals, Man-Ray! Man-Ray springs to life and uses his muscular, aquatic body to help in the fight! His aid helps but not enough! But just as the battle seems lost, a barrage of lazer fire hits the skeletal warriors from the high ground! The enemy falls at last! The heroes look up to discover that the other Mutanimals are in fact their saviors! (Today’s lesson, kiddies? Never bring ninja weapons to a lazer gun fight! I now return you to your regularly scheduled article, already in progress.) But before the heroes can celebrate their victory, they see that not only is Null gone, but so is Azazel!

Null enters a secret door in the rocky terrain, far from the fighting, a beaten and unconscious Azazel thrown over his shoulder. Closing the door behind him, he enters the darkness of the cave. Null makes his way easily through the darkness until he comes face to face with a grinning skull, illuminated by torchlight. It appears that this skull is attached to a full, bone body and covered by a dark, hooded cloak. In its skeletal hands, it grips a long scythe! It is in fact Death himself! The Reaper asks Null for a report. The horned man replies that the heroes were too much for his army and that it’s up to Death and the others now. Three more sets of eyes appear in the darkness behind the Grim Reaper. The beings are ready. In fact, they seem almost excited to reveal themselves. (There you have it. Null went all out for recruiting frightening allies in this one! Are even the combined forces of the Ninja Turtles and Mighty Mutanimals enough to stop these villains? They’ll be fine. After all, the Turtles “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. Ha! I totally worked in a song title!)

It’s about this time that the two heroic groups discover that Cudley and Azazel are missing. Leonardo asks Man-Ray just what the situation here was. He replies that he and the other Mutanimals were searching for Jagwar’s missing human mother, Juntarra, when they discovered she was being held by a creature resembling the Grim Reaper. They located his stronghold, but were attacked by an army of skeleton robots when they approached. Jagwar adds that Azazel also told them that this barren land they stand upon was a tropical rainforest before this Reaper set up operations here! (Yeah. Let’s worry about the rainforests when you’re human mother is being held captive by Death himself! What’s that? How did a human woman give birth to a humanoid jaguar? Umm. Moving on…..) Just then, Ninjara picks up the scent of smoke. The group turns to see a nearby forest in flames! They rush to investigate.

Shock would be an understatement for what the heroes feel when they witness what’s causing the mayhem. An entire village of people is setting the forests ablaze by the use of torches. But the most shocking part is that the people are zombies! The slow-moving undead stand no chance against the combined might of the Ninja Turtles and Mighty Mutanimals! They dispatch the zombified villagers quickly. (I’m not kidding here at all. They didn’t even see if these poor people could maybe be healed! They just slashed them to pieces! Talk about bloodthirsty! The most appalling part to me is that they didn’t really show the gore in the comic. You just have to use your imagination. What? So I love slasher flicks. Sue me.) But before they can take a breath, they notice three figures approaching them through the inferno. Three of the Four Horsemen have arrived!

To be continued.

This article is dedicated to my brother, Eric James Miller. Though he never got into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as much as I did, it was our love for all things supernatural that bonded us for life. And what could be more supernatural than the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I ask you? (Plus, he’s tolerated me spouting off Ninja Turtle trivia long enough to at least deserve an article dedicated to him.) Love ya, bro!

And so it was written….part 6

Finally! We’ve reached the end of the road! It’s certainly been an adventure too, hasn’t it, Unspokenites? As we’ve joined John Prophet on his quest to stop an apocalyptic Earth from ever coming into being, we have all been dealing with the very real and frightening world that now surrounds us in 2020. Though it isn’t a machine-ruled Hell-on-Earth, it is scary. And you know what? We’ve survived. In our own way, we’re warriors, not unlike Prophet. And though we don’t have his power or his sophisticated weaponry, in many ways, we’re stronger. Stronger because we keep on living our lives, despite our fear. (Well, now. That was an actually heartfelt paragraph! Where’s the action? Where’s the lame jokes? Fear not. For the time is nigh!)

We begin our final chapter with Prophet and Kirby sifting through the rubble of Youngblood’s headquarters. What happened, you ask? Crypt happened. Kirby senses something alive beneath a downed pillar. Using his enhanced strength, Prophet lifts it free, revealing the battered and broken forms of the members of Youngblood! The two men leap to action, carefully removing the heroes from the debris. While Prophet continues this, Kirby discovers a bloody shuriken. He hands it to Prophet and comments how he himself fashioned his throwing star long ago. But then how does Crypt have it in his arsenal? (Curious. Not how Crypt had the weapon in his possession, rather how Kirby could tell it was of his creation! Did he leave his damn initials on a throwing star? Who does that?)

Moving on. This moment is interrupted as the hollow corpse of a hero drops from the ceiling, suspended by a long chain! At the other end of the chain, holding the body up, stands the messenger, Crypt himself! (No, I don’t know who the hero is! I’m normally a DC and Marvel guy! Gimme a break!) Prophet turns and stares at his monstrous adversary. As their eyes lock, Crypt uses a type of telepathy. He shows Prophet a glimpse of all of the horrors he’s committed in his long lifetime. When this fades away, a sense of revelation suddenly hits the hero. He bellows, “I know who you are!”

Prophet prepares to attack his enemy but Kirby stops him. The old man reveals that he’s with the warrior for the long haul and that he considers him not as just a friend, but his son. (Sorry. I had to pause here. There was something in my eye. I’m not crying! It was dust, I swear! Can’t a guy have allergies? Geez!) Prophet gives his heartfelt thanks and the two heroes rush off to battle! Sadly, the fight only lasts minutes. Crypt aims a powerful, energy gun at Kirby and pulls the trigger! All that is left is ash! (Damn, more dust!)

Shock quickly becomes rage and Prophet roars like a mighty lion, striking at his nemesis! The two men savagely beat one another to bloody pulps, neither gaining the distinct advantage! Finally, Prophet manages to knock Crypt down and pins the beast to the ground! He knocks the bloodied battleaxe out of reach and tears the hood from his enemy’s face, revealing his own face beneath! Though the hero knew the truth in his heart, seeing the truth face to face shocked him nonetheless. (Didn’t see that coming, huh? Kinda like when Vader was revealed to be Luke’s father! What’s that? You saw this coming a mile away? Umm. So did I. Way too simple to figure out really….damn kids today….)

Crypt uses this moment to kick Prophet far from him. He then leaps, weapon raised for a killing strike! Prophet finds the battleaxe from earlier. When Crypt gets near, he strikes, beheading the monstrous copy! The threat has ended. Prophet turns away from the quickly disintegrating corpse. No sense of relief envelops him. This is just the beginning. Now John Prophet must live every waking moment of the rest of his life in fear. Fear of what he may become one day. (Deep huh? Poor guy. He needs a hug. I mean, I wouldn’t personally want to do it. Dude’s covered in gore and has to smell of B.O.! Nah. I’m good.)

Meanwhile, Philip Omen enters a secret chamber beneath his heavily-fortified complex. He seals the door behind him and turns. Within a tube of fluid floats a cloned body! The body of Jonathan Taylor Prophet! Omen whispers to the body that until the time is right, this copy will have to slumber. Slumber within his building’s CRYPT! (Cue the maniacal laughter and climactic music!)

Well, that’s it. The end of my six part look back at the first volume of Image Comics’ Prophet. I have to admit, this was a royal pain in the ass! But, overall I’m glad I did it. I feel a sense of completion and finality. It’s a good feeling and I have you, the fans who wanted more, to thank for all of it. This is dedicated to all of you! Until next we meet, take care. Much love. -Symbifan

“And So It Was Written….” Part 5

prophet-4-variant-nm-5-1-1The filthy, inhuman creature crawls from its dark, dank hole. Squinting its eyes, it tries to adjust to the sudden bright light, wasting little time as it knows that the light is fleeting. It quickly bathes, takes in nourishment, and performs any other duties that require proper eyesight. It then attempts the final test. Breathing slowly, it flips the switch to its tablet…success! Internet connection has been established! So now I’m writing my newest article! Yes, fellow Unspoken-ites, your dear Symbifan resides in Iowa and was without power for over a week. This was due to a horrible storm that struck here called a “derecho.” (Insert Dora the Explorer saying, “Can you say ‘derecho’?” here.)

But now I’ve returned, refreshed and ready to continue with my series of articles pertaining to the first volume of Image Comics’ Prophet! So, without even further delay, let’s jump right back into the story…

RCO003_1583525712-1The man, known as Jonathan Taylor Prophet, is always at his best when he’s in the midst of a bloodbath. Deep down, he wants to be a man of God. But men of God don’t kill with such grim satisfaction. Do they? He ponders this as he battles. The combatant’s name is Bloodstrike, and first blood was spilled quite some time ago. Both men are bleeding profusely and are injured beyond mortal standards. Yet they continue. The battleground seems to be a filthy sewer, but the rush of water hardly slows either warrior down. Prophet strikes suddenly with a blade. He is met with a kick that connects under his jaw. Never slowing, Prophet hurls the weapon as he’s in motion. It hits home, impaling his enemy in the chest! When Bloodstrike recovers enough, he sees that Prophet is gone. However, he has left a rather easy blood trail to follow. The search begins. (Daaaaaaamn! I haven’t ever seen a battle this bloody in a comic before! And I’ve even read issues where Archie cheated on Betty! Sheesh!)

RCO009_1583525712-1Bloodstrike nurses his many wounds as he follows the trail of his enemy’s blood. He enters another tunnel and immediately spies his prey. Wasting no time, he springs at the seemingly unconscious warrior. Prophet moves with lightning speed, thrusting upward with a long spear! He impales Bloodstrike through his abdomen, hardly slowing the enraged man down. He grabs Prophet and rams the other end of the spear through his chest! Both combatants are now face to face. All that separates them is the weapon that is jammed through both of their broken bodies! (Holy crap! Someone call a damn medic! These guys are real men! I sob and seek comfort when I break a fingernail!)

Shockingly enough, both continue! That is until both are blasted with a stun rifle by an unseen man. He orders others to load them up. (Now, why were these two so intent on murdering one another? Why are they being loaded up for transport by a mystery man? If you really need to know, you’ll have to read the comics these events crossed into. For the purpose of this narrative, I’ll only be covering the Prophet title and the events contained therein. Plus, I’m feeling especially lazy. It’s the late nights and my advanced age I fear. *sob* Goodbye, teenage years. I remember thee fondly.)

RCO006_1583668647-1The next issue, Prophet stands upon a mighty cliff side. Garbed in a flowing red cloak, he surveys the land around him. Without warning, a mechanical transport hovers overhead. Enemies leap from it, intent on the warriors blood! He expects them to be disciples, but they are demons! Unfazed, Prophet draws his weapons. He slays the creatures with little effort, advancing on their ship. He leaps aboard. Slowly rising to his feet, he sees a figure looming over him wearing a cloak similar to his own. The man slowly reveals his face. Prophet expects to see his own face, as his visions usually end this way. Instead it is the hooded face of Crypt. Prophet jolts awake, crying to the heavens! (I love these vision scenes! So cool! The most “vision-like” experience I’ve ever had while asleep was the time I saw myself peeing and awoke to a wet bed. Not sure why I just shared that with you….)

RCO007_1583668647-1Kirby bursts into the room, concerned for his friend’s welfare. Prophet quickly describes the vision to Kirby. He tells him that this was a sign. A sign that he must confront the monstrous Crypt. Kirby scoffs. They’re being hunted by agents of Ragnarok and the U.S. military alike! They should be laying low, not hunting a beast like Crypt all because of a dream! But finally, the small man gives in and the two hit the open road. (Can you imagine having a pal like Kirby? I mean, say you dream about Twinkies and wake up and tell your friend that you’ve had a vision. You are destined to devour these sweet little cakes. And your friend agrees?! That’s a true friend right there. Or he has the munchies too. Either way, though…)

RCO009_1583668647-1We then change our focus to Ragnarok HQ. Deep within the bowels of this sinister complex, Omen has given the order to pack up everything for immediate relocation. Too many know of this “secret” base now, and measures must be taken. As the soldiers follow their orders, Omen descends to a small subbasement. He muses to himself  about how his disciple units will take over the world and he will rule it as a messiah. To do this, he will need a general. A loyal soldier to aid in accomplishing his dark dream. Within the tube floats a growing piece of flesh! (Cue the spooky music! Why do these supervillains always want to take over the world anyway? Talk about stress! Ugh! Your blood pressure would be through the roof in days! Guaranteed!)

Meanwhile, our heroes find themselves being pursued by armored soldiers within a heavily-armed vehicle! The reprogrammed disciple unit and Prophet return fire, but the enemy seems to have the advantage of numbers on their side. Kirby suddenly conceives a dangerous plan. He enters the tunnel at high speed. The soldiers are delighted. Their prey is trapped! When the soldiers enter the tunnel themselves, they’re met with a grisly surprise. The disciple self-destructs! Kirby and Prophet race to freedom through the opposite end.

RCO021_1583668647Later, the heroes take refuge in a church. As Kirby chats with the priest, an old friend of his, Prophet kneels before a large crucifix, secured on the wall behind the altar. There he thinks of his father, a man of the cloth that was murdered by Nazis long ago. Prophet remembers that he once swore to be a just man like his father, a man of God. He then realizes that perhaps that isn’t his path after all. He is a warrior, a killer. Lost in thought, he barely notices the sound of flapping metallic wings overhead. Judas strikes! (Man, seems kinda wrong to attack a man mid-prayer. And in a church no less! Oh well. She has great legs, so we’ll allow it. But just this once.)

As the two battle, Judas reveals that she is from a grim future where the disciples rule. When she was only five years old, Prophet liberated her from a camp. She learned hope that day. He raised her, loved her like a daughter. But sadly this was not to last. She was retaken by the disciples and reimprisoned. For a long time she held out hope that he would come, like a knight on a white steed, and free her once again. He never came. Her hope turned to hatred for him in time. She became a willing servant of her mechanical masters in the hopes of getting her revenge. Now, in this era, she would have it! (Um. Never mind what I said earlier. Chick is loco! I can’t believe she attacked him in a church! The nerve…)

RCO022_1583668647-1Just when it seems that Judas’ dream of vengeance will be realized, Prophets now badly-damaged, reprogrammed disciple makes its presence known! It grabs onto Judas and counts down! Prophet and the others run as their cybernetic savior explodes behind them! Far away, Crypt remarks with disgust how Judas has failed him. It seems that if you want something done right, you must do it yourself.

To be concluded!

RCO027_1583668647-1This article is dedicated to my son, James Christian Miller. His birthday was this month and I promised him I’d dedicate my next article to him. Here it is, buddy. I hope you like it. This article hardly covers the amount of love and pride I feel when you’re around me. Nothing can. This is my best try. Love, Dad.