Hello Legions of the Unspoken! Have a listen as Dean Compton welcomes newcomers Jesse Starcher and Chris Armstrong to the site to discuss the forgotten DC Comics gem of the early 1990s, The Hacker Files! It’s non-stop computer action in the DC Universe, and you can goddamn hear all about it right here, right now!!!
Greetings and salutations, loyal readers! Once again it is I, your sexy but humble Symbifan, returned to grant the wishes of my amazing fans (You two know who you are!) with yet another of my musings about the fun-filled 90’s! (I mean the comics and wrestling, of course. The music? Nah. I’m good.) So, sit back and relax as we journey back to 1991 and the world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Archie Comics! More specifically the beginning of the Mighty Mutanimals!
Our story begins on a seemingly ordinary beach where three far-from-ordinary humanoid animals, Dreadmon, Jaguar, and Manray, look on in astonishment at a meteor that crashes into the sands near them! They have little time to react as the meteor cracks open like a giant egg, spewing forth tons of strange caterpillar-like creatures! (Great start, huh? Imagine that on your McMuffin! That reminds me, I haven’t eaten breakfast…..)
We then shift our attention to deep space where the insectoid, Queen Maligna, calls for her prisoners, Stump and Sling, the plant-like alien owners of Stump Intergalactic Wrestling! (Don’t feel bad if you don’t know them. The prices for their network are outrageous! So hard to compete with the WWE these days.) Both are sentenced to be burned alive for interfering in her recent attempt to conquer the planet Earth! As they are dragged away, the guards are suddenly attacked by Leatherhead, a mutant crocodile from Earth, and Wingnut and Screwloose, the alien bat and mosquito duo from the world of Dexion V!
As Leatherhead makes short work of Maligna’s forces, Wingnut swoops down and grabs both Stump and Sling! They all then flee into the waiting mouth of Cudley the Cowlick, chosen transport for Stump Arena! (Yeah. I know. Who travels via a giant cow head’s mouth? As you giggle, might I remind you that Wonder Woman used to fly around in a see-through jet? Ponder that as I continue.) The giant bovine mouth closes and off they go, into the safety of space.
Back on Earth, the beaten and bound forms of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Master Splinter, April O’Neil, and Mondo Gecko are still trying to shake the cobwebs away from their recent defeat. The two insectoid bruisers guilty of this attack, Scul and Bean, are still in the room. Both are what you might consider emissaries of Queen Maligna’s hive/empire, on loan to a horned human named Null. Null recently helped Queen Maligna prepare for her upcoming invasion of Earth. (That just goes to show ya, never trust a horny guy! Uh….wait….) The three villains join one of their beaten comrades, a human called Kid Terra. After complaining about Terra’s loss and threatening their captives a bit, they all leave the Turtles to their own devices. Big mistake because Master Splinter has a plan of escape! (Go ninja! Go ninja! Go ninja! Go! Sorry. I just had a Vanilla Ice flashback.)
Meanwhile, safely on Stump Asteroid, Leatherhead and the other heroes discuss Maligna’s plans for Earth and decide to intervene. The only problem is how to reach Earth before the invasion begins. Luckily, Cudley offers his services for transport and away they go! Later, far out in open space, Cudley suddenly comes under heavy fire from enemy vessels! Unable to defend himself, the Cowlick and his passengers are shot down!
Back on Earth, our mutated heroes look on as the alien caterpillars not only devour the corpses of their stillborn dead, but begin to eat their way through the very rain forest! As a protector of Mother Earth, Jaguar will not stand for this! (That, and Archie Comics were big into environmentalism in the 90’s. Hence being printed on recycled paper. Go Captain Planet!) Enraged, Jaguar roars out in outrage! This, unfortunately, brings our heroes to the attention of the space insects! They begin to advance on their new prey!
Back to the Turtles. Master Splinter’s plan has come to fruition. Dozens of rats have answered his mental summons and gnaw through their bonds, freeing them instantly! Finding their weapons nearby, they arm themselves in the knick of time, as the villains return! The battle begins immediately as the two insectoid muscle-men smash into the room and attack! As the Turtles and Scul and Bean throw down with the Ninja Turtles, Null takes this time to belittle his human henchman, Kid Terra, on leaving the Turtles’ weapons so close. (Bosses! Am I right, kids?)
The heroes soon gain the upper hand and, in desperation, the one known as Bean releases a rock from the top of his head, straight upwards! It explodes, leaving a thick gas, allowing the villains to escape in their spacecraft! As the smoke clears, Raphael and Mondo Gecko are found to be missing! They have stowed away upon the enemy craft!
Back in the rainforest, the heroic trio is trying desperately to come up with their collective hides from the worm onslaught when….It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a giant cow head from space! That’s right! Cudley crashes down right next to them! Holy cow! (Sorry. I had to.)
Our next installment on the formation of the Mighty Mutanimals begins with one of Queen Maligna’s insect soldiers/children cautiously approaching her with a mission report. He shares this via the hive mind they are connected through. Suddenly, after reading his thoughts, she exclaims with glee how pleased she is that her children have shot down poor Cudley the Cowlick. To reward her child for this wonderful news, she offers him a kiss. (I know! I can hear banjos playing too!) She leans forward toward the warrior’s neck and feeds! He drops dead soon after.
Back on Earth, Manray, Jaguar, and Dreadmon examine the enormous downed Cowlick with fascination and awe. As they do so, the recent passengers of said living vessel take the trio’s interest in their friend as hostile. (I smell a hero versus hero fight coming on!) It doesn’t take long before Leatherhead, Wingnut, and Screwloose come to his “rescue” with some hostility of their own! (Ha! Told you!)
The fight goes back and forth for quite awhile with neither side surrendering or gaining much ground until, sick of this mindless violence and suddenly aware of a more pressing threat, Cudley yells at all of them to halt and look. What they see chills them all to the very bone. The alien caterpillars have entered their cocoon stage!
Meanwhile, the man known only as Null sits in a spacecraft with Scul, Bean, and Kid Terra. He speaks to them about how his plans for expanding his company universally are all going according to plan. The two aliens remind him that as long as he keeps his word about assisting their queen loyally, their partnership will work out just fine. As the three continue their talk, Kid Terra spies something out of the corner of his eye. A skateboard? He secretly goes to investigate and discovers the two heroic stowaways, Raphael and Mondo Gecko! Surprisingly, he hands the skateboard back and motions for them to remain silent and well hidden. Just then, the ship arrives at it’s destination, the Hive World! Docking, they leave the ship behind and head off to greet Queen Maligna!
The two mutants emerge and take in their strange surroundings. Amazed, they see for the first time the severity of their situation. Wandering around the hive they happen upon some soldiers. Overpowering them quickly, they drag the unconscious aliens into a secluded room. It’s then that they discover the discarded exoskeletons of deceased insectoid soldiers! Suddenly struck with brilliance, they hastily fit the empty shells over their own reptilian skin to better blend in. (I know. Its pretty nasty. But how do you think cows feel when we pass by wearing leather? Jealous! That’s how they feel! Where was I? Oh yeah….) This works for only a short time however as their scents are picked up! They fight off more soldiers and drag them away. Yes, all is going exceedingly well. That is until they back quite literally into the evil queen herself!
We leave this horrific scene to return once again to another scene of terror, but this time within a rain forest on Earth. The mutated heroes examine the newly discovered alien cocoons. Their is much debate between Wingnut and Screwloose and the others on what to do with this discovery. Wingnut recommends burning them all alive while they slumber. Screwloose of course seconds this. The other heroes strongly argue that that would be murder. Words are spoken in anger and the duo fly away, angered at being outvoted.
Later, Manray, Dreadmon, and Jaguar do set a fire. But it is simply to warm themselves and get better acquainted. Origin stories are told. As it turns out, two of them aren’t even mutants in the traditional sense. Jaguar is the offspring of a jaguar god and a human female (Ewww! Well…I suppose if the jaguar god has a good personality….) and Dreadmon became what he is by stealing the totem of the Tasmanian wolf as a youth. Their bonding is interrupted, though, as the humanoid bat and mosquito return to the campsite! Wingnut shouts a warning and they all turn to see the alien soldiers tearing themselves from their cocoons!
Back to the Hive World, where Raphael and Mondo Gecko are locked in mortal combat with the evil Queen Maligna! To their credit, the two get their licks in but in the end, the insect queen proves to be too much for them! Defeated, she orders her henchmen to take them to a cell and begin fattening them up, since they will need meat for the coming celebration. The Earth is in view! And now for the final installment of the Mighty Mutanimals miniseries! (Say that ten times fast! I dare ya!)
When we last left our heroes, Raphael and Mondo Gecko had been defeated in combat by Queen Maligna and Manray, Jaguar, Dreadmon, Wingnut, and Screwloose and were being advanced upon by her insectoid army on Earth. No. Things didn’t look too good for the Turtles and their friends! As the troops advance ever closer, the heroes charge into battle! It’s during this that Screwloose lets loose important information about the enemy. If they’re not stopped, they won’t conquer the planet by usual means. They’ll terraform the Earth to suit their own needs while killing all life on it through the destruction of the ozone layer! They will actually kill the Earth! (Whoa! Talk about an evil empire! But that aside, Screwloose waited until issue 3 of a 3-part miniseries to decide and share this bit of info with his comrades?! It’s getting so you can’t even trust an alien humanoid mosquito these days! I blame junk food and the MTV.)
Back on Maligna’s mothership, poor Raphael and Mondo Gecko awaken to something almost as sinister, they’re being coated in and force fed honey to make them better celebratory meals! (Hey! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. That’s what Mama Symbifan always said.) That, and the mother ship has finally entered Earth’s atmosphere!
On the ground, the heroes make short work of their alien opponents as they battle side by side! As if they were truly meant for this, meant to be a team. Every time a villain is defeated, Cudley scoops them up and transports them far away in another dimension. Soon, the battle is over. The heroes are triumphant! Or are they…..? (Insert sinister music here, ended with a drum roll!) The mothership hovers directly above them! (Oh, it’s on now!)
The aliens waste little time! Sensing that her ground forces have all been defeated, Queen Maligna angrily calls for the all-out invasion to begin! While the warriors attack the rain forest inhabitants from above, the two generals, Scul and Bean, attack the heroes on the ground.
Meanwhile, Raphael and Mondo attempt to free themselves from what they now assume to be drugged honey. (I’m reminded of KFC and their biscuits here. Ever noticed how addictive they are? Ponder that for awhile.) They try and try to break free but to no avail until, from seemingly nowhere, shots ring out killing their guards! Kid Terra enters the room, smoking guns in both hands! He frees them and helps them to clean off the sticky substance.
On the ground, Scul orders his brother, Bean, to launch an explosive rock from his head to end the fight. The inspector monster attempts this but Wingnut is ready. He drops another stone into the open orifice from above, blocking the explosive! The result is an explosion within the head of one of Queen Maligna’s two most trusted soldiers! One down, one to go! But, upon the mothership, the evil queen continues ordering her children telepathically through the hive mind until Kid Terra and the two mutants burst into her chambers! Kid Terra fires a single shot, blasting off one of her antennae! Now, barely able to control her children and with a threat to finish the job, she is forced to call a full retreat!
With their Queen disabled and in custody, the insect army quickly complies. The Earth is safe once again. Later in space, Queen Maligna vows that the heroes of Earth will rue this day. This isn’t over by a long shot. The evil human known as Null disappears to threaten the planet another day. Kid Terra leaves soon after as well. The heroes, now joined by Raphael and Mondo Gecko, set a campfire and relax. They’ve earned it. Raphael would soon rejoin his brothers and the others would band together to form a team of their own. From the chaos of an alien invasion, the Mighty Mutanimals were born!
This article is dedicated to the father of the Unspoken Decade, Dean Compton. He is not only my understanding editor and partner on this site, but a trusted cherished friend. Cheers to the King of 90’s Comics! Much love.
Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken! Dean Compton is back with you here to delve into some more 90’s goodness. I am excited that spring is finally sprung, baseball is in full swing, and that some small indie film called Avengers: Infinity War has dropped. You probably haven’t heard of it because it’s so obscure and there’s been almost no build-up.
OR IT’S THE BIGGEST FILM MARVEL HAS BROUGHT US YET! WHICHEVER!
We’re all very excited. Those of us who braved the speculation crashes of the 90’s have been waiting for this movie for around twenty-five years. If you had told me then that one day there’d be a movie based on Thanos’s exploits with the Infinity Gems, I would have thought you were Mephisto, prince of lies. Or at least Zarathos or maybe one of those weird demons from Hellblazer or something. Alas, here we are, though, on the precipice of what is hopefully a monumental moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
‘Round these parts we are more interested in the then, than the now, and one of the things that really interested me as I first started my deep dive into comic books some 27 years ago (it’s mega unfair that it has been that long) was the entire Infinity Gauntlet saga. My first big exposure to superheroes outside of cartoons was the Impel Marvel Trading Cards, series 2 in particular, and the Infinity Gauntlet card captured my attention. There was Thanos, basking in all the glory that comes with omnipotence. I didn’t know what had happened, and sadly, I was too late to keep up with the original saga month to month. Lucky me, though, as The Infinity War was about to break out!
One of the things that attracted me to Infinity War was the epic gatefold covers, many of which depicted the mightiest heroes in the Marvel Universe in a tumultuous struggle with sharp-toothed doppelgangers that looked like they had stepped out of a mirror universe from Tales from the Darkside or something. What appealed to me even more was that the saga was so large that it burst out of the mini-series like the insides of a tomato hitting the ground, spilling out into almost every other Marvel title! Most of you will brush this off as a lame sales grab, and, well, it was definitely a sales grab, but it was a sales grab in the best way!
Did you want to see more of Wonder Man’s inner struggle during the Infinity War? How would Sue Richards deal with the seeming death of her husband? Perhaps you wanted to see what happened to Sleepwalker during this struggle? (Based on sales, you probably didn’t.) The crossovers meant you could, and they meant that you could try out other titles you hadn’t really given a shot to before. I know we’re all tired of them now, but this was still a new concept to me then. Sort of how when I was 16 I was like, “GODDAMN, I CAN’T WAIT TO DRIVE!” but fuck, now I’d almost rather do anything else besides drive, like, y’know, writing crappy articles like this.
One team that I hadn’t gotten a handle on from the Marvel Cards I had seen was the Guardians of the Galaxy. I don’t recall seeing any of the GOTG (yes, I’m lazy – this article is free, y’all) in the Marvel Universe Series 2 set (cue up dude in the comments proving me wrong), so when I saw the Infinity War crossover issues, I was intrigued. Who were these guys? They’re from the future? Why does that Rambo-looking dude have Captain America’s shield? (For those of you coming in here who aren’t big pads, big guns, no feet 90’s comic book fans, the GOTG were originally a super-team from a possible Marvel Universe future that eventually diverged. You’ll see no Star-Lord, Gamora, or Rocket Raccoon here. Get ready for Major Victory, Nikki, Charlie-27, Starhawk, and more!)
I had already picked up a GOTG issue where they fought a street gang of folks based on The Punisher (which is just as awesome as it sounds), but these issues got me very interested. An added bonus is this is one of my first experiences with The Inhumans, one of the most underrated superhero groups of all time!
The issue takes off with Major Victory, the leader of the GOTG, berating the rest of the team for heading into the past on a mission of pure genocide against the Badoon. The Badoon are the raison detre for the GOTG, as their attack on our solar system basically wiped out humanity, so the original GOTG united against them and their tyranny! Somewhere along the way, though, Starhawk convinced them to go back in time and destroy the Badoon before they can destroy humanity. Major Victory, being the guy with Cap’s shield, doesn’t think too much of this plan, but before he can thoroughly chew the team out, their newest member, Talon, stumbles in. I’d say he seems sick as a dog, but he’s sort of a cat, so that seems wrong.
Talon collapses as the team tries to take him to sick bay, but as he does, he tells them to get him to the moon. Specifically, he wants to go to Attilan, which is the secret city that is home to none other than the Inhumans and their royal family!
The GOTG speed off in that direction, but they have no way of knowing that one of the first blows of The Infinity War has been stuck. The headquarters of The Fantastic Four (notably good pals of The Inhumans and in particular the royal family), Four Freedoms Plaza, has been blown up by unknown forces, and the fate of the FF and many other superheroes there is unknown! So to say the least, it really isn’t the best time for a group of superhumans that The Inhumans have no idea exists to teleport into Attilan. I know this is gonna shock you, but that’s exactly what the GOTG do! Of course, The Innumans act calmly when Major Victory tries to explain their presence.
The Inhumans and the GOTG punch on each other a bit while telling each other their names, which is legit my favorite kind of fight. Major Victory is aware the fight is usless, though, and he unleashes a mighty psychokinetic blast that somehow convinces Black Bolt that the GOTG are the good guys.
The Inhumans take Talon to the Randac Medcal Center, which, honestly, is what all medical centers should be called henceforth. As he gets the care he needs, the other Inhumans explain to the GOTG about the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza, and how they don’t have any idea what may have caused this tragedy.
The two superhero squads (See what I did there? Now that theme is stuck in your head.) don’t have a lot of time to discuss the explosion because just as the conversation starts, an array of doppelgangers of both the Inhumans and the Guardians rudely interrupts them.
These doppelgangers from the Infinity War are great. The razor teeth look genuinely creeped me out back in the day, and to be honest, that look is still sort of unnerving now. The Infinity War doppelgangers look like the people that are just like us that live on the other side of mirrors. You can say they’re fake, but let’s be honest — deep down, we all believe in that world on the other side of the mirror, and it sprang to life in the Marvel Universe during the Infinity War.
The good news for the Inhumans and the Guardians is that these doppelgangers go down easy for now. After Talon reveals a big secret about the future of the Inhumans to the Royal Family, the Guardians split for Avengers Mansion on Earth. Major Victory has no recollection of these events, and if something has happened to The Avengers, then the Guardians are going to get to the bottom of it!
While the Guardians are teleporting down from Attilan, Doctor Octopus has assembled a ragtag group of villains together in the wake of the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza. Doc Ock has information that not only did Four Freedoms Plaza explode, but that nearly every superhero in the city was inside the building when it blew up! He suggests the group (consisting of Doc Ock, Powderkeg, Jackhammer, Oddball, Titania, the Abosrbing Man, and Yellowjacket [Rita Demara]) attack and loot Avengers Mansion while the heroes are away. Of course, he is just using these folks, and the good bad doctor plans to abscond with all of the advanced Avengers technology himself!
As this meeting is happening, the Guardians arrive at Avengers mansion, only to be met by the fiercest resistance possible from a slightly out of shape butler and his vacuum cleaner!
Jarvis opens up to the Guardians that the explosion at Four Freedoms Plaza didn’t kill the assembled superheroes and that a task force of heroes has left Earth via mystic means. Other heroes remain behind for now. Charlie-27 suggests that the Guardians head that way, when a member of Avengers Mansion security bursts in to alert the Guardians and Jarvis about Doc Ock’s villain team just outside the mansion! The Avengers security team beefs up with some weaponry while the Guardians of the Galaxy face off with what Jarvis is calling another incarnation of the Masters of Evil! Talon points out this is a dumb name, but he’s a cat dude named after a bird’s foot, so I dunno that he is in a position to hurl that sort of insult. Then again, Absorbing Man just calls his group that on the next page, so I guess it’s all fair game.
The Guardians spring into action with only Charlie-27 really having a lot of problems. Since he had to take care of the Masters’ most powerful member, I suppose we have to cut him a bit of slack. Nikki has no issues with Yellowjacket, and she notes that Yellowjacket’s heart didn’t really seem to be in the fight. There’s a lot of struggle elsewhere, and while the fracas is going on, Doc Ock sneaks off to engage in a contingency plan. Starhawk, meanwhile, is being confronted by his doppelganger, and in what’s only a minor league asshole move for the guy if you have read a lot of GOTG, is looking forward to being absorbed by his doppelganger until he realizes that by doing so his own free will would be subverted.
The Guardians take out the Masters of Evil, although they need the help of Yellowjacket’s face turn to get the job done. Nikki and Yellowjacket take off during the battle for the inside of Avengers Mansion, and when the other Guardians finally catch up to them, they’ve been overcome by Doc Ock and a few members of the Masters of Evil we hadn’t seen yet!
With that it’s on to Guardians of the Galaxy #29 to wrap up the Guardians involvement in the Infinity War, and this time the war comes home! And by the war coming home, I mean a bunch of doppelgangers of both the Guardians and the Masters of Evil are gonna be such a big deal in the last part of this story that they are the only fucking thing on the cover.
Also, while we are looking at this cover, how could you even tell which one of those Shockers is the doppelganger? Both have weird looking eyes, and neither have those sharp ass teeth that should have clued Starhawk in that merging with the doppelgangers is a bad idea.
Another bad idea would be to turn your back on any member of the GOTG, even one who you had previously thought defeated. Doc Ock has no knowledge of the Guardians, so he and the other Masters of Evil are surprised when Nikki and Yellowjacket come back from their unconscious state and turn the tables on the Masters of Evil!
Both teams soon have bigger problems on their hands, and I mean this literally as Gargantua’s doppelganger teleports onto the scene. Other doppelgangers of both the Guardians and the Masters of Evil start arriving left and right, leaving Doc Ock and Major Victory no choice but to have their teams join forces to attempt to repel these ungodly abominations, although Gargantua needs no encouragement to take the fight right to the razor toothed mirror men!
The fight seems endless, as more and more doppelgangers pour out of portals, threatening to overwhelm hero and villain alike. Due to the actions of Galactus in another comic book, the doppelgangers all disappear like a bad memory. Really, though, shouldn’t that be a good memory? We forget the good stuff all the time, while we continue to torture ourselves with the bad memories late at night when we should be sleeping. All apologies for that; it’s a tad morose to be in an article highlighted by an evil giant punching through the chest of his more evil doppelganger. I won’t let it happen again, folks
Anyhow, with the day saved, Doc Ock is of the mindset that the Masters of Evil should take out the Guardians and resume with their plan to take over Avengers Mansion. The Masters of Evil treat Doc Ock the way you treat your pal who just doesn’t know when the party’s over and turn on him faster than a new superhero universe popped up in the early 90’s!
All’s well that ends well, and if the bad guys are gonna chase themselves off, I reckon it doesn’t get much better than that. Yellowjacket also stays behind, and soon she’ll head back to the future with the Guardians and even join the team! Before she gets to bask in the glory of being in Marvel’s premiere 31st century super hero squad, there’s just one more task to complete. Jarvis takes his duties seriously, and he insists that the Guardians of the Galaxy become the Custodians of the Castle as Jarvis walks right up to them and demands they take part in repairs and cleanup!
Jarvis getting the Guardians to clean up Avengers Mansion might be the greatest moment in the history of the Marvel Universe. Fight me if you disagree. Or better yet, fight my evil doppelganger. The one with the teeth.
Hope everyone enjoyed this look back at Infinity War! It’s definitely a fun part of the larger crossover, although it could have used a bit of Thanos or Warlock to really spruce things up and make it feel more like a part of the larger crossover. It would have been nice, but it wasn’t really needed. Other than that minor oversight, this is a great example of how a larger crossover should spill into a book. No one who just read this felt ripped off because some of the events wrap up elsewhere. If you were a regular reader of Guardians of the Galaxy, it developed characters further (some of which aren’t mentioned in this write-up. Go read the book, people!) These three issues also did a great job displaying the Guardians to a non-regular reader. All in all, for all the flak that 90’s crossovers get (some of which is deserved), this shows you how that 90’s mega-epic could work in a spin-off crossover if done right!
Everyone, enjoy the movie. It’s amazing that we’re gonna get to see this, right? Just try and remember being a teenager in 1992, eyes wide open over Thanos’s shenanigans in the Marvel Universe then, and try and think about that young person would feel if they knew what they were gonna see. We’ve got our tickets for Saturday! I can’t wait!