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**Deep Space**

***YEARS AFTER THE SUPER-HERO SATELLITE IS FOUND DORMANT IN SPACE ..TODAY SYSTEMS ARE RESTORED***

*Systems Monitoring returning from sleep, awaken mode in affect…systems full Restored.* Welcome BACK Heroes!! It has been a LONG Time and I am SUPER excited to be BACK! There is no better time to return than with my baby..The Super-Blog Team Up! After taking a much-needed break from the blog I am back and this year will definitely be the Year Of The Satellite! More on that later!! We have so many things planned its gonna take an entire post to get to them all!! For those of you unfamiliar with Super-Blog Team Up we are a group of like-minded bloggers who come together multiple times a year to write about a singular topic on one designated day! Not only will you get to enjoy this post (Hopefully!!) but at the end you will find links to all our other top shelf writers! We have many long time authors who are back, we have a few who are making their return to the fold and several new faces (Or Pens as it maybe!!) who are now debuting members of the Mighty Marching SBTU!! Without further adieu….strap in heroes the Satellite is about to blast off to the not so distant past to talk about a subject that I had been meaning to do many years ago…The Walking Dead! The theme this month happens to be…

 

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Transmission Date: Jan. 23rd 2019

The first thing you need to understand is that there was a dark period in my time as a comics collector where I moved away from the hobby that I loved due to economics. When I finally got back into comics it  was on the heels of some new exciting books that spawned my returning passion for comics. In the late 90s I was driven out of comics a hobby that I loved. By the 2000s I was out of collecting completely as I had been priced out of the market. My pull list that was at 40 to 50 books a month had dropped to one or two and finally to NOTHING. It was a sad day. Through Wizard magazine from the magazine rack I stayed abreast of the business and following the big events going on in the big three. At least it was something. Podcasts however were a big source of fun for me and I was dumpster diving for whatever audio content related to things I enjoyed during the birth of the podcast market in the early 2000s. As I have mentioned many times before Comic Geek Speak was one of my go-to podcasts and the gang on there had spotlight episodes more so The Book Of The Month episodes! On August 2005 CGS put out its Book of The Month Club Selection: The Walking Dead

Click Here To Listen To CGS Book Of The Month: The Walking Dead

Little did I know I would become engulfed in this title like no other. It became almost an addiction..I could not put it down.

 

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I had given up on most Image books around this time since many of the Superhero titles were gone by that period. Images offerings had not interested me for some time. However upon listening to the CGS crew rave about this book I wanted to know all about it. I had some time on my hands back then and I spent several hours a day reading comics on my computer. With one search, there was the entire collection..and a right-click later 35 issues of The Walking Dead were sitting on my hard drive. 35 issues was a daunting challenge but the CGS gang were rarely wrong in their recommendations so I was all in. I simply wanted to skim through the first few issues and get a taste for what my podcast compadre’s were raving about.  For those of you who haven’t seen or read anything Walking Dead related let me set the table for you. The Walking Dead is a monthly comic book published by Image Comics written from the mind of one Robert Kirkman who was a relative unknown in terms of mainstream fame in the business at that point. That would change in years to come. The book was intentionally done in Black and White which was not mainstream popular at the time but still existed in some books. The book debuted in Oct 2003 but it would be 2005 before I ever gave it a glance. I remember reading the first issue of the Walking Dead and let me tell you I was….underwhelmed. It was a “meh” for me. I know…I know..you were expecting me to say great things about this book right!! That will come later. The artwork out of the gate was by Tony Moore and I just could not wrap my head around the art. For such a book with such a serious tone I just felt Moore’s artwork not the right fit for the title. It had a loose almost cartoony feel to the work and it was just hard to take the book seriously. I compare it to Joe Staton’s artwork from Green Lantern Corp fame in the 1980s, I just don’t like a cartoony look to characters facially. Both Stanton and Moore suffer from this “Fault” in their armor.  I want to be clear it WAS good art but the damn faces drove me nuts. I was just turned off from it instantly. I valiantly read fours issues then stopped…for the time being. The story was solid enough though. A cop wakes up alone in a hospital only to discover that he is in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Sounds simple right? Well I was enjoying the story but not much else. Kirkman wasn’t just writing about zombies killing people he flipped the script and wrote about the human condition as they navigate through this new Dead Filled world. Life as we know it will be scarier, bloodier and more violent than ever….and that’s just the humans…THEN you throw zombies into the mix!

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The bare bones of the story follows police Officer Rick Grimes as he becomes the unofficial defacto leader of a group of Zombie Holocaust survivors as they manage their way through the harsh new world. The humans all struggle for shelter food and weapons and the real fight is with each other. In this world however there is no power or luxuries like running water or plumbing. To make matters ever worse when you get bitten by the undead YOU become a Walker yourself!! Factions are created, battle lines are drawn and as food and shelter runs out we find out that desperate people will go to great lengths to survive including imprisoning, killing and murdering each other. The people themselves..the survivors find out it is not the Dead they have to worry about, it’s each other…they themselves have become The Walking Dead! The realism of the tragedy of the breakdown of civilization and of the human condition is what makes this book amazing. As I said after 4 issues while I was enjoying the book..visually it was a turn off so I walked away. It would be 6 months later that I would see a random new issue of The Walking Dead for sale and I grabbed it to get a feel for what’s going on in the book. Things had changed…dramatically.

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Tony Moore’s art was nowhere to be seen and now a guy by the name of Charlie Adlard had taken over. This moody almost gruesome brooding style was PERFECT for the book. As I thumbed through the pages I was shocked by something that happened. Core characters had died!!? It was enough for me to jump back in. I began anew with issue 5 and I have never looked back! On to the story…As Rick and his family work with a small group of survivors as they struggle to stay alive by just trying to find the basics to support life and to just live till the next day. The group are faced with the dilemma of having to kill others to survive..including their friends. They see loved ones pass and turn into walkers and have to kill them all over again. Rick is faced with the horrible prospect of killing his best friend. His wife is murdered with their unborn child. His son is hideously disfigured. Rick himself is dismembered when he loses a hand. That is JUST the Grimes family. Every character in the book is faced with an impossible disturbing task of being driven to murder to stay alive. It’s the central tragedy of this series and Kirkman masterfully weaves his characters through this awful depraved journey. What would YOU do to survive? If you look for one sentence to describe the Walking Dead is…NO ONE IS SAFE. No other book in its genre is known for killing off its core cast like The Walking Dead. You do not have to look very far to know that you best not get invested in any characters because each one comes with an unofficial expiry date! This is the central theme of the book. Well we find out that the answer to that question is that when faced with death good people become VERY bad people in a damn hurry as is the case with our subject here for The Super-Blog Team Up…Negan. But first before the Hardcore Bat swinging madman there was…this man..

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The Walking Dead has had its share of villains. Stand outs like The Governor are a classic example of what this new world can do to a good human. Issue 27 of TWD we are introduced to Brian Blake, the Governor of the Town Of Woodbury. Woodbury is a town that survives and lives on like an almost normal community in the middle of a collapsing civilization. Blake is their charismatic leader whose ruthlessness and brutality are the cornerstones of Woodbury’s very existence. He leads with an iron fist and outsiders are NOT welcome unless there is something to gain by their association. The Governor was the bench mark villain for the majority of the series with his greatest hits include cutting Ricks hand off, mutilating Michonne, Killing Ricks wife and undead baby not excluding the outright brutal murder of many core characters. Central to Kirkman’s writing he always gives us this human element to even his bad guys. Later we see that despite the Governors ruthless commanding presence and heinous acts we see a real father who lost his daughter to the horrors of this new world of whom he is unwilling to let go. He keeps the “walkerized” version of his daughter Penney tied up in his apartment and feeds her body parts of his victims to her to eat. Eventually The Gov is taken down we and it is here we experience the true tragedy of this book. While the Governor is considered one of comicdom’s most ruthless villains he is but the learner when it comes to the crown prince of barbarianism himself..the Leader of The saviours…Negan! Just as Rick and The group of survivors have seemingly over come the evils of their new world and have settled into a peaceful existence in a new town and trying to rebuild some semblance of a normal life for everyone…then we meet The Walking Dead’s real super bad. His name is Negan and the world of The Walking Dead would be beaten into brutal submission by this new psychopath on the scene.

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So Negan’s tragic pre-outbreak story goes as such, he was a high school coach who had a reputation for intimidating and bullying his players. Negan (No last name given) lived a seemingly normal life with a job and a wife named Lucille (This name will become very crucial to our story a little later.) Negan was not a morally sound individual early on in his life and despite his outward happy marriage he was having an extramarital affair on the side. His whole world would fall apart prior to the outbreak as Negan discovers his wife has cancer when she collapses in front of him as they argued over this affair revelation. Negan rushes his wife to the hospital just as the outbreak begins, but he is too late. As his wife is placed on life support Negan desperately try’s to hang on to her and calls off his affair but it is too late. Lucille passes away when the power goes down and her life support system shuts down. As with all deaths in the Walking Dead universe our loved ones are reanimated as a “zombie” (Or Walker as we will call them moving forward). Negan has to make the decision to have his wife killed but he cannot bear to do it himself. Negan makes a deal with a child to do the honors for him, a trait we will see over and over when he becomes a leader. Out of the gate I love this origin. Every bad guy is at their best when it comes to their motivation. Negan’s guilt for his infidelity and the passing of his beloved wife scars him and drives him to become the monster we will soon see emerge.

Leaders rise…followers Follow.

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As the story goes, Negan is on the run during the outbreak but happens upon a group of survivors led by a Walking Dead core cast member, Dwight. As we find out Dwight is no natural-born leader but a scrappy survivalist who manages to keep himself and his followers alive during the devastation. As Negan is welcomed into the fold it is clear the leadership foundation is weak with Dwight at the helm. It is only a matter of time as Negan uses his natural charm and hard-nosed foundation that Negan becomes their groups obvious emerging natural leader. Once in position of power Negan renames his group the Saviors, a group of which overtime grow into the hundreds. The band discovers ways to defend themselves against the walker hordes and creates a large communal compound and series of outpost satellite locations to maintain their way of life against the horrors of the walkers. Before long as the outside world collapses and resources become scarce, everyone is chasing food and supplies. Negan being a creative entrepeneur uses his sheer brute force, charm and intimidation to bully other groups the Saviors encounter to give up large shares of their supplies, weapons and food in exchange for their “Protection”. The tactic worked numerous times over and over as Negan and his Saviors began to stockpile weapons and supplies while other groups in the wild starved and struggled under their foot. That is until Negan and group ran into Rick Grimes and his posse.

Rick and his group had found their way into a place called Hilltop, a society that was seemingly surviving and self-sustained despite the horrors of the Outbreak. They had developed a government of sorts ran by the dubious Gregory They lived a basic but sustainable lifestyle. Farming and weapons making were trademarks of Hilltop and Negan saw great opportunity to offer his “Protection” to the Hilltop natives and in turn take their food and weapons. Gregory being a weak leader was living under fear of Negan and his group and had a bad habit of caving and conformity like a coward every time when Negan and the saviors came knocking. It didn’t take long before new Hilltop inhabitant Rick Grimes observed what was happening to the citizens who were sustaining a real living to have to hand it over to these bullies with not so much as a harsh word said in retaliation or compromise. Rick had seen enough and mobilized a strike force of the usual suspects.

We get a closer look to what Rick and his group are dealing with as we peel back the layers of their newest foe. We see that this once well-adjusted High School coach has transformed into a deadly brutal sadistic cult leader. Negan’s own people were also living in fear of his shadow. His own people are not spared mercy either as Negan hoardes the saviors women for his own sexual pleasure, taking whomever he wants at any time. Anyone who does not conform with his desires are dealt with….very harshly. Public beatings of his own people are common to set the example. Many of his people whom he dubs “disloyal” are literally horrifically branded facially and horribly disfigured to bear the living reminded of what happens when you show disobedience to Negan. Even former leader Dwight is the living embodiment of what happens when you cross the boss as he wears the branding scar on the side of his face and still stands by Negan in his war against Rick and the outsiders .

 

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No Turning Back..

While Rick and the team are attempting to extinguish Negan’s handle on Hilltop they hit one of the Saviors main security outposts by surprise and kill several of Negan’s henchmen seemingly gaining the upper hand in the first real shot in what would be a War for the ages. This would lead to the most famous and irredeemable act of Negans reign of terror in The Walking Dead saga. When Rick and his group are surrounded by The Saviors and forced to their knees in a line up and it is here that Rick and Company are introduced to the King Of Swing himself..Negan. The leather jacket clad villain debuts with a barbwire baseball bat lovingly named after his dead wife Lucille. Ricks group is threatened with death as they endure a lethal game of Eeneee Meaneee Mineee Mo” to decide who will die to pay for the death of his men. When Negan finally painfully and  slowly decides to flat-out murder core Walking Dead fan favorite Glen!

 

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The act is one of the most heinous deaths in the history of comics! Glen is not only murdered in front of his friends but his pregnant wife Maggie is forced to endure his brutal demise as Glen calls out to her during the ordeal. Glens graphic death is Negan’s first stamp on the world of the Walking Dead and it sets the tone for what the character will stand for. It is interesting to compare the previous super bad The Governor with his contemporary Negan. While the Governor was a vile human being capable of horrific acts, Negans level of  violence goes beyond anything the governor has dealt.

 

The Seduction of the Innocent.

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One of Negan’s most heinous acts was not in fact the list of people he has murdered, had killed or desecrated but rather his obsession with the son of Rick Grimes. Carl Grimes a battle weary hostile teen by this point in our story has seen enough blood shed and death. He has grown tires of bowing to a homicidal maniac and takes matters into his own hand and goes to take out Negan on his own killing six of Negans men in the process before getting captured and faced with his own execution. Negan stops any attempt on Carl’s life and gains an admiration for Carl’s guts in coming after him. Instead of killing the headstrong teen he takes him under his wing and shows him all the riches he has gained as leader of The Saviors. Carl sees another side of this vicious killer and even begins to warm up to the man who murdered his friends. Negan in a moment where we see he is still a human under his hostile hard-assed exterior demands Carl remove his bandage from his head which covers an awful disfiguring scar that the young Grimes has kept under wraps since an horrific incident where he was accidentally shot in the head while fleeing a Walker outbreak. Negan humiliates Carl by exposing his wound and demands to even touch the inside the hole of the wound on his head where an eye once was now leaving only a deep hole.

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Carl finally breaks down from the overwhelming pressure of Negans imprisonment and just the horror of the world he lives in. Seeing Carl break something happens to Negan..he finally shows sympathy for the first time and apologizes to Carl! This is a point in the character we had not seen up to that point. After this incident the Carl and Negan relationship is changed. Negan is protective of Carl and almost sees him in a Father/ Son dynamic. Negan and Carl have many interactions later through out the series but it is this odd overtone to his character that shows there may still  be a human under that brash murderous character after all.

 

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One of the main storyline’s in the chronology of The Walking Dead is the Epic All Out War story that documents the final end to the war between Rick and his Survivors against Negan and his Saviors. One of the cornerstones to The Walking Dead book in general is the theme of “No One Is Safe”. This is very apparent in this particular story and the body count on both sides escalates to epic proportions. The war finally ends with the main event of Negan facing his nemesis Rick Grimes. Rick and various bands of communities and splinter survivor groups come together to finally topple the Saviors regime.

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The final battle between the leaders has not yet finished but when the bloodshed stops and its left with Rick face to face with Negan himself.  Both sides have endured grave loss and it looks like the two warriors have had enough. Negan and Rick look like they have put their weapons down and agree to a truce…that is until Rick Grimes savagely cuts Negan’s throat leaving him for dead on the battlefield to end the bloodshed.

The Confinement

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After all out war we are served with a time jump seemingly years into the future.Negan we learn has survived but has been imprisoned ever since the war. We see a haggard Negan who has basically given up on life and lives the rest of his natural life behind bars. For Negan this is a worse affliction than death. He has become almost unrecognizable in appearance and gone is the hulking womanizer and we now see a frail bearded long hair recluse. Of course he cleans up well and after Negan has been torn down and humiliated and that is exactly what Rick Grimes has planned he restores himself to his old look as he begins to plot his escape. All the evil this man has perpetrated to humankind his penance is to rot in a jail cell isolated eternally from civilized man….at least that was the plan.

Redeeming The Irredeemable.

Isolation has its merits. It allows a person to reflect on their life and their mistakes. I would like to say this character served his time, completely rehabed his image and spent the rest of his days making the world a better place ..right? Well in Negans own special way I guess!

Negan decides to adopt the “If you can’t beat em join em” philosophy..Negan using his persuasive powers uses a weak-minded pawn who visits his jail cell who also shares has a deep-seated hatred for Rick Grimes. With the help of his new Grimes hating minion Negan convinces the man to free him!!. The world has changed so much since Negan has been exposed to the outside world and the latest threat to safety and humanity are a group known as The Whisperers. Lead by the emotionless monster Alpha, a bald-headed female leader who along with Beta, collectively runs a group of survivors who conceal their human forms with Walker flesh and to camouflage themselves to be able to walk freely amongst the Walkers. THe Whisperers are very much still a threat despite many societal and technological advancement humanity has progressed since the original outbreak. The man named Brandon Rose the man responsible for freeing Negan tells him of this group and plans to bring him into Whisperer territory to possibly join them. Negan smelling another group takeover goes along with his rescuer ..but before he enters Whisperland, Negan murders Brandon in cold blood and goes to face them himself. Of course with Negan being the personality that he is he is almost instantly detained and imprisoned again. This time however Negan who is used to manipulating people from confinement gains the trust of their leader Alpha and eventually begins to build trust from the Whispers. Negan and Alpha begin to show moments of affection and Alpha after years of being a straight nosed emotionless leader of savage survivalists she unknowingly lets her guard down emotionally and lets Negan and his charms in. Negan shows his affection back the only way he knows how..

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He beheads her…as a matter of fact he beheads her with a small knife in savage Negan fashion and in a weird way, but maybe not so weird for a character like Negan, THIS would be his redemption.

Making Peace

Often as humans if we have a disagreement, a fight or an all out estrangement with a friend, or family member we for the most part, attempt to make things right. We want to make amends. After the dust settles we hope to just move on with things..we extend an Olive branch. Negans proverbial “Olive Branch” was bringing the very HEAD of the enemies leader directly to his nemesis and drop it on the ground in front of him as an apology. Rick Grimes the leader and mortal enemy of Negan, who had watched his friends murdered, also who watched his own son be manipulated by this madman, and who attempted to murder him personally several times could only stand in shock. This man who was so evil, so vile, so irredeemable yet he had just ended the war between Rick’s group and the Whisperers. The man he had imprisoned for years out of public fear and outcry was suddenly loose and killing again for RICKS team!!? Negan at one point even saves Rick from certain death from a walker attack. He try’s to convince everyone his time in prison has rehabilitated him. Rick finally concedes to  Negan and agrees to no longer jail him. The deal however is  that Negan CANNOT live in their community..he will be for all intents and purposes EXILED! Negans past history could not be replaced but somehow he gained the trust and maybe a shade of respect from a man he cost so much. Negan however finds peace with the only person he was truly at war with..Himself.

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Both men…and hundreds of other survivors faced horrible odds and did things that no human should ever have to face. Taking lives and seeing horrific tragedy that would break a normally strong person. These people have endured unquestionable horror and to survive committed unspeakable acts. While some are considered great leaders, others are seen as cold-blooded murderers and in the world of the Walking Dead we discover that the line that separates a Rick Grimes from a Negan is very thin. Indeed the truth about The Walking Dead is that “We Are All The Walking Dead…”

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Well that is it Satellite Subscribers!! But the fun does not end as Superhero Satellite this year we are debuting the monthly Superhero Satellite podcast this summer! Stay tuned for that!

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If you liked what you read…(or even if you didn’t) please feel free to leave a comment as  we read and respond to them all! If you want to catch up with us on social media follow us on Twitter @Charlton_Hero or read our archives right here on the site! Till next time Heroes!!

End Transmission..

Thanks so much for reading and for sticking with us despite our year-long absence I have truly missed my readers. The good news is that there is SO much more to enjoy with the rest of our rag-tag group of Mighty Marching Blogging Brigade as Super-Blog Team Up Continues RIGHT NOW! Visit the rest of our team below!

 

redemption continues

Coffee and Comics Blog: Green Lantern #100 https://coffeeandcomicspodcast.blogspot.com/2019/01/episode-31-green-lantern-100.html

Two Staple Gold: Just a Pilgrim  twostaplegold.blogspot.com

Comic Reviews By Walt: SBTU PresentsRedemption/Coming Home: Shredder https://comicreviewsbywalt.wordpress.com/2019/01/23/super-blog-teamup-redemption-the-shredder/

Comics Comics Blog : Elfquest :Cutters Redemption http://comicscomicscomics.blog/2019/01/23/super-blog-team-up-elfquest-and-the-redemption-of-cutter

The Superhero Satellite: The Walking Dead: “Redeeming Negan” https://coffeeandcomicspodcast.blogspot.com/2019/01/episode-31-green-lantern-100.html

Longbox Review: Nightwing’s Redemption http://longboxreview.com/2019/01/23/the-redemption-of-nightwing/

Between The Pages Blog:   The Secret Origin Of Spider-Man https://betweenthepagesblog.typepad.com/between-the-pages-blog/2019/01/the-secret-origin-of-spider-man.html

The Unspoken Decade: What If V2 #46 and 47. https://theunspokendecade.com/

Black, White and Bronze: The Redemption of Red Sonja, Savage Sword of Conan #1 https://blackwhitebronzecomics.blogspot.com/2019/01/super-blog-team-up-redemption-of-red.html)

The Daily Rios: http://thedailyrios.com/

Chris Is On Infinite Earths: The Pied-Piper Reforms!  Flash (vol.2) #31 https://www.chrisisoninfiniteearths.com/

Crapbox Son Of Cthulu: http://crapboxofcthulhu.blogspot.com/

In My Not So Humble Opinion – The Other Side of the Wind: The Redemption of Orson Welles https://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/

The Retroist Via Vic Sage:https://www.retroist.com/

The Source Material Comics Podcast: Penance – The Redemption of Speedball https://www.spreaker.com/user/10409169/sm-sb-final

 

Following the FINAL Super-Blog Team Up Crisis Event The Satellite Deactivated itself after being taken over by its internal living computer that has taken control of its navigation and programming. Its crew are sustained in hyper sleep chambers not knowing its vile intentions. Alas Computer continues the mission of the Superhero Satellite to document and report on all things retro from the past..Today…we build our own Super Team from the ground up. While the Mighty SBTU is dead fragments of the team come together to reform Super Teams from the ashes to once again restore order to the Blogosphere…Blogs United..

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Transmission Date: 1/27/ 2018:

The challenge posed to the team was “What If” we could put together a Do It Yourself Version Of The Justice League using any heroes from any time and company in the history of Comicdom or other media? What would we come up with!!?? In keeping with the theme of this particular blog that allows me to simply catalogue my childhood I went with a group of unlikely heroes from titles that do not necessarily land on the top of everyone comics list. These characters hold very fond memories of books that I enjoyed as a kid and I feel get overlooked but deserve a look again. I have taken the time to create a team name and origin for the team and I go through why I have selected member of the crew. I also give a relectionon what they mean to me personally. Each one of these characters hold a special memory for me while growing up and its my chance to share and remember why I became a comics fans to begin with so many years ago! At the end of this list I have also included a base storyline for their existence of our team!! First enjoy my selections, then read how and why they come together!!

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Star Brand: (Leader): First Appearance: Star Brand #1 Oct. 1986 (Created By Jim Shooter)

Origin and Powers: While on a random dirt bike joyride, Pittsburg mechanic Kenneth Connell discovered an Old Man in the woods who bestows upon him the powers of the Star Brand! This power created by a universal anomaly called the “White Event gives many regular humans in the New Universe miraculous powers. Kenneth gains the biggest gift of all.. limitless power!! He struggles to figure out his time and purpose in the world. He slowly understands he can use his powers for good and protect the world as Star Brand!! Unbeknownst to Kenneth he has inherited powers far beyond his capacity to control them and accidentally allows his excess build up of power to be unintentionally unleashed creating a nuclear scale event called “The Black Event” The result is the annihilation of his own city of Pittsburg from existence. This will be the entire basis of the formation of my own #DYIJusticeLeague . More on that later..read on!

My history with the character: I’ll never forget my anticipation for Marvels latest concept in 1986, the debuting New Universe. It was touted as “The World Outside Your Window”. I saw it in ads all over my favorite comic books, on posters in stores, etc. This New Universe was going to change comics. As a novice collector one thing my collective group of friends knew was that first issues of our favorite comics were eventually “Rare” and valuable. So when a whole new group of titles were about to appear on my favorite spinner racks in my town I could not wait to jump on! Surely this was the beginning of “MY” own Marvel universe! Having missed the original birth of the Marvel Universe I was determined to damn well be front and center for this “Happening!!”

So the comics eventually came out, but others in my town were on the trail and snatched up the first wave before I had a chance to grab them all!! I was pissed..but I was confident I would get them somehow. Eventually through my regular channels at New England Comics..they surely would have them. But I grabbed what I could.Kickers Inc, Spitfire and the Trouble Shooters, Justice, I was not missing this!! One fateful day at a friend of a friend’s house I uncovered some treasures. The friend who had just begun his comics buying spree opened his stash of comics as my friend Jason and I scanned through the books. There were several very good titles and key issues of Hulk, Spiderman,and Daredevil. He even had some obscure Archie books that grabbed my eye..but then he pulled it out!! No not THAT…Star Brand #1!! Damn it! I had found the hoarder who grabbed MY New Universe books before I could!! It was Kiman Tom!! Kiman was a great guy who shared a lot of my passions like Video games, comic books and wrestling. His Mom and Dad has a successful Chinese Food restaurant in my home town and they allowed him to jump-start his collection in a big way!! I was very envious..and maybe a shade and a half jealous. Underneath Starbrand was Merc #1 and then DP7 #1 and so on . Kiman had the Full Monty!! The image of Star Brand #1 may as well have been Action Comics #1 that day as the memory is so vividly BURNED in my mind. Not sure what he did with those books but I knew I wanted them. That said I had no trouble buying the consecutive issues as they were in great supply. I knew this New Universe was a dud..but I troopered on. I bought the entire run of each title over time and I still love them..but I have resigned to the fact it did NOT deliver on its promise. Despite all this I always felt Star Brand could have been more. Yes he was brought back recently but it was not “MY” Star Brand. The re-imagined kid version of the 2017 character I could do without.

OUR STORY BEGINS…

This is the foundation and starting point of my version of the JLA.

It is The Black Event that we base the existence of our newly formed Super Group..As the White Event created a brand “New Universe”..The unwritten story of The Black Event (For our story purposes) shifted all known comic Universes that we know out of chronological alignment in an event know as “The JLA That Time Forgot”. For a moment in time a ragtag group of survivors who are miraculously brought together by this new alignment of Universes must join forces to go back time before the Black Event happens and destroy their own leader Star Brand and return the universe to its original rhythm.

Now on to more of the players..

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Megalith: (Strong Guy)

First Appearance: The Revengers #1 in 1985, Created by Neal Adams.

Origin: Farm Boy and local High School jock, Joe Majurac, was a hopeful future Olympian. He was also a family guy with superior morals and lifestyle. When his family’s farm fell under financial hardship Joe took a sponsorship deal from an unknown German company to help keep the family business alive. As he trained under this shady new German training facility, Joe began to suspect that somethings were not as they seemed. During this time he gained a “Mind/Body link which gave him superhuman abilities beyond his wildest imagination. However this corporations motives were not pure by any means and Joe uncovers that he is not being trained for the Olympics but for far more sinister purposes. He breaks out of the facility to discover his family’s farm is destroyed and his parents are missing!! On a mission of revenge, Joe dons a heroic costume and becomes Megalith who is on a search to find his family! Who could not love this story?? Pure 80s schlock, but super fun!!

Powers: As stated above Megalith’s ability to achieve Mind/Body link gives him Super Human capabilities many of which he uncovers along the way in his journey to become a hero. His main power of course is his super human strength and a jacked up physique!

My history with the character: As I matured in my comics buying habit I loved when other publishers began showing up on my hometown spinner racks!! I would buy them all up to show my “Indy Cred” to my friends! I was a fan of Comico, NOW, Malibu,Valiant, and Ultraverse (Much later) and of course the crown jewel..Continuity!! It was unique in that these books were traditionally more expensive but for good reason. The books overall quality was great! From coloring to paper quality ,Continuity looked physically imposing on the shelves!! These were all new characters to me as well!! Yes, some came from other publishers however in small town Clarenville these had never been seen! We had cool characters like Armor, Valeria She-Bat, Ms.Mystic, Hybrids and others! The one that stuck out to me was Megalith!! He was drawn by Neal Adams who I grew to love from DC books like Green Arrow and Batman. Continuity was a company based around realistic art and quality output and Adams himself was at the helm!! Megalith was as strong as The Incredible Hulk seemingly and had a kick ass Legion Of Superheroes style costume..thats all this 80s kid was interested in. Continuitys delivery schedule was spotty at best so I could only buy intermittent issues but I bought them all the second I could grab them. Megalith was the one Continuity character that I always went back to and I have fun, nostalgic memories to this day of him. Go ahead..pick up a Continuity back issue and I dare you to tell me the quality is not great!!

Amethyst13

Ameythyst: Princess Of Gem World (Resident Amazon type)

First Appearance: 16 Page Preview Special in the pages of Legion Of Super-Heroes Vol. 2 #298 created by Ernie Colon, and Gary Cohn

Origin: I am gonna be honest here. Amethyst is almost a clone of She-ra in every way and I love that. From the gems, to the Winged Horse to her transformation. Either way, she is cool so here goes. Part of the royal Family of Gem World, Princess Amethyst, finds herself an orphan when her parents are slain by their kingdoms sworn enemies, The House Of Opal. After this tragedy Amethyst is hidden and brought to safety by a Witch who hides her on Earth with an average family the Winston’s. All is well up until the age of 13 where she is discovered on Earth by The same House Of Opal leader ,The Dark Opal, the same individual that murdered her parents. She is transported to Gemworld where her powers are unveiled to her and she transforms into Amethyst gaining the appearance of a grown adult. Amethyst swears to use her new gifts to rescue Gemworld from the oppression of The Dark Opal. With the help of her Winged Unicorn Max, Lord Topaz, Princess Emerald, and others her journey begins!

Powers: Amethyst was some basic powers but we see them fantastically used differently in various situations. First and foremost she posseses the power of magic. This power varies and seems to be used differently depending on creative teams involved. One consistent theme of the Amethyst character is her ability as a skilled sword wielder.

My History With The Character: The DC 16 page specials were always a favorite thing of mine in the very early 80s. It was a clever way to put over a new character or title while selling it from the pages of popular existing books. Almost all of them hooked me! I bought Masters of the Universe 3 issue Mini Series after reading the preview issue, I became a Captain Carrot fan. It opened my eyes to the New Teen Titans and Night Force. I was a self made DC zombie and I bought everything they were feeding me…all except Amethyst. Yes I missed the 16 page preview issue of Amethyst in my favorite book Legion Of Superheroes at the time and by the time she debuted in her own Maxi Series (Despite loving and mini/maxi or limited series format ) I passed. Unusual for me at the time. Then a funny thing happened. I was in the process of buying back issues of Legion Of Superheroes vol. 2 when issue 298 was sitting in a long box staring me in the face and was priced for little of no money with some other low priced Legion books. I nabbed em all. Not for Amethyst, but for the fact I collected Legion. I remember thinking this particular issue looked rather thick but didnt give it a second thought. I honestly do not recall even reading it at the time. It likely got added to my swelling collection and sealed away for a possible eternity. Then possibly 25 years later I visit my parents home where the vast majority of my collection lies and I am sifting through my comics remembering almost point ,day and place where I bought each book. Then I stumble upon the 298th issue of Legion. Looking it over I didnt remember even buying it so I pulled it out of its eternal phantom zone and finally cracked it open..and there she was. The 16 page Amethyst preview was very fun. I could not believe I actually missed one of these preview issues back in the day. I have since found a nice collection of Amethyst books online but this book always bothers me as “The one that got away”. She deserves better…and it is for this reason she is in the place of Wonder Woman in my version of the Justice League getting a fresh start for me!

JemmSoOfSaturn

Jemm Son Of Saturn: (Resident Martian type) Jemm is my placeholder for Martian Manhunter…and originally was written to be DCs new version of the classic Green Skinned JLA legend when MM was not a part of the DC cannon. Jemm was created as a descendant of Jonn Jonzz (Martian Manhunter) but during the creative process on the series the creative team was informed that DC had planned to bring back the original Martian Manhunter and the original concept for Jemm was scrapped and an all new original character was created!!

Powers: Jemm is a high functioning telepath who also has super strength , and the ability to fly. His coolest power is the ability to shoot energy blasts from the gemstone on his forehead.

First Appearance: Jemm, Son of Saturn #1 (September 1984). Created by Greg Potter and Gene Colon

My History With The Character: As a kid I always related my comics with the store I purchased them at. For Doctors appointments and visits to my friends house weekly I would always visit a little basement pharmacy attached to a medical clinic that happened to carry a wonderful selection of comic books. I rarely left without at least one comic book and landed more than a number of treasures. On this particular day in 1984 I made my regular trip to Budget Drug Mart and walked immediately to the comics rack near the back of the store. On this day I noticed something new on the rack …Jemm :Son OF Saturn #1. I snatched it quickly as there seemed to be only two copies on the shelf. I was a fan of limited series books and DC’s Maxi series books were something new. It exciting to me so I went home with that book. I was unfamiliar with this new Red Alien character that was Jemm, but his depiction by master DC Artist Gene Colon instantly won me over. I was a Gene Colon art fan which I recognized from Batman books of the day. His detailed moody style nailed this vibe of this character. This book was different. This was not a story of classic super heroism like DC’s stalwarts like Batman or Superman..this book was a deep emotional roller coaster and I was hooked. I still kick myself to this day for not being able to land each issue and to this day I always grab a Jemm book if I find them in 50 cent bins!

FutureBatman2050

Future Batman (Batman Type..Duh!!)

First Appearance HEX #11 1986

Origin: Long before the Batman films of the day Future Batman had the Flying Batwing ship as well he has moved his headquarters from the Batcave to the new base of operations in the head of the Statue of Liberty. It sounds hokey kids but this stuff was GREAT to my 11 year old eyes was the BEST book on comics shelves!! I was hooked on everything 80s DC!! Like the Batman of old Mr. Cohen’s family were murdered by and he spends his life mission neutralizing bad guys..especially ones with guns!! Of course..that flew in direct course of collision with the gun toting Jonah Hex!!

Powers: This version of Batman boasts no super power set as such but like his Batty forefathers he maintains the same classic attributes. He is seemingly an engineer and a brilliant detective/pilot whom is very tech savy and utilizes those weapons in his fight in post apocolypictic New York of 2050. Not to be outdone by his Bat Family ancestors ,Leonard is well schooled in martial arts, showcasing above average strength and endurance.

My History with the character: I am a card carrying super fan of the DC Comics series HEX. Yes..the one where Jonah Hex is thrust into the future and takes on a Mad Max like persona. LOVED IT!! I made it a mission monthly to grab that title. HEX was everything I wanted in a comic. Hex himself was a character I loved from his wild west comic book and his new support characters really sold me on the deal. Stilletta, Chain, and The Dogs of War were all great new additions to the already loaded DC Universe!! This all existed in its own self contained futuristic bubble and unaffected by DC storylines of the day. In HEX issue 11 we were introduced to Futuristic Batfan and 2050s new Dark Knight, Leonard Cohen. (Canadian Music Fans can laugh here..). He looked baddass. A sleek new “darker” version of the Bat suit paired with its wearer having a bad attitude and grim sense of vengence. This was Batman with an extreme mean streak. He immediately did not see eye to eye with HEX and engaged in a brutal fight. Of course this Batman appeared in two issues and despite early doubts ended his appearance valiantly sacrificing himself for the greater good…or did he?? I was all about futuristic shit. I loved Mad Max and The Terminator films back in the day and I LOVED and still LOVE the HEX series. This Batman is damn cool and easily earns his spot on my team as our version of Batman on the team!

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Wildfire (The Living Energy Bomb)

First Appearance: Superboy and The Legion Of Superheroes #195 June 1973 Created by Dave Cockrum and Cary Bates

Origin: Astro Engineer Drake Burroughs was a victim of a horrific energy explosion during a routine test. His human form had apparently disinitegrated but somehow his consciousness still remained and he existed as a simple blob of Anti Energy. Luckily his scientist friends managed to engineer a containment suit to at least give him a human like vessel to continue somewhat of a “Normal” life. In a sad realization Wildfire would never be able to ever live a normal life as he now lacked all senses of touch and taste. This would be a major point of what makes Wildfire so interesting! Wildfire would eventually be accepted into the hallowed halls of The Legion and would fall in love with fellow female Legionaire Dawnstar. This is where the tragedy of this character is really felt that he had feelings but could never physically express them.To make matters worse It was believed though that if for whatever reason that Drake unleashed his powers he would cease to exist. He was dubbed “The One Shot Hero” Wildfire seemingly sacrificed himself saving a fellow team member however it was discovered his energy could regenerate to its original form over time. From his look to his demeanor in the 80s this one shot hero was everything this comics fan boy could want from a character!!

Powers: Wildfire can shoot energy blasts and can fly with the help of the Legion Flight Ring. Wildfire still has the ability to physically combust into a megaton energy explosion as well. Now kids…THAT is POWER!!

My History With The Character: My mother who worked hard keeping the lights on at our house by working a great gig at a convenience store. That store as I have told many times in the past had an amazing comics spinner rack. The best part of her job was when she would put out the new comics on the racks the staff were allowed to take home the old ones …minus the covers (Uggghhh). So monthly, I would get a healthy stack of coverless comic books and among them ..The Legion Of Superheroes!! I will not again go into detail of my love for this group of superheroes but I will tell you all about my favorite!! Wildfire instantly hooked me. He was “The One Shot Hero” . He was a living energy burst with a heart of gold with a slight attitude problem locked in a containment suit no longer able to live, love and laugh like a normal human. I fell in love with this theme and each time he would unleash his full power I for one sat in awe turning those pages. Legion books were my companions on camping trips, and alone time at home.

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Raven: (Mysterious Magic Type)

First Appearance: DC Special 16 page Preview for The New Teen Titans in DC Comics Presents #26 Oct. 1980 Created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez.

Origin: Half Human and half Demon , Raven was born of human Mother Angela Roth and demon father Trigon in an alternate dimension of Azarath. at a young age she was taught to repress her Father demonic side should she unleash her demon self on the world. She knew she had to protect her loved ones from her father who was on a demonic warpath. Raven would eventually go to Earth to join the JLA to stop her father from unleashing his terror on the world. She was rejected but as luck would have a new group of Teens were banding together to form the New Teen Titans! Raven at times felt out of place as her background was shrouded in mystery and even her own teammates did not know the full extent of her powers of origins. As the team bonded they witnessed the true horror of her upbringing and helped her see herself as a person and not the monster that lurked in the darkness of her soul.

Powers: Raven has a host of supernatural demonic abilities such as being an empath allowing her to manipulate the emotions of others and sense their emotions and actions. She has the ability harness her “Soul-self” to transform into a large bird like creature made of pure black energy. This ability allows her to be able to teleport and travel great distances.

My History with the character: I have told this story over and over at length that one of the first comics I ever physically purchased on my own was New Teen Titans #1. It was based solely on the cover and the fact Robin was in charge of a super team!! I was a DC fan and more specifically a Batman fan!! I loved the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin occupied a lot of my time from reading their adventures in comics to hours spent at the drawing pad, to play time at my friends house. New Teen Titans had my number, I was powerless to resist it. Of course you open one page and see the George Pere’z art and I knew I made the best call that day comparing books to buy at the spinner rack. As I continued to read the title I began enjoying the “New” characters. Cyborg, Beast Boy, Star Fire and of course Raven herself!! Raven in particular had a certain mystery around her that alway interested me. Despite her awesome powers and design she jumped off the page! She was not you stereo typical fighting female in skimpy underwear or fishnets, Raven looked bad ass and had powers to match!!

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Speedball (Comedic Relief)

First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 Jan.1988. Created by Steve Ditko and Tom DeFalco.

Origin:

Robbie Baldwin a average teenager from the town of Springdale, Connecticut and son of a District Atourney Father and a former soap star mother. Robbie is involved in a Labratory accident and is exposed to a mysterious other worldly energy source which bestows him some very unusual powers. He finds himself surrounded by energy bubbles and a very strange suit energy which allows him to become the bouncing costumed crime fighter Speedball!! Hiding his new powers and secret identity Robbie tries to maintain a normal family life while secretly fighting crime on the side. His antics mirrors early Spidey stories where Robbie deals with school problems, and parental issues at home while saving the world in his spare time!

Powers: Following exposure to this weird energy field leaves him with the ability to manipulate this energy which surrounds him giving him and unsual kenetic energy allowing him to bounce freely around any surface from any distance and be able to absorb any impact without any harm.

My History with The Character: When looking for the “Next”big hero to latch onto I took a chance on Speedball. He had already appeared in a Amazing Spider-Man annual #22 as part of Marvel The Evolutionary War and I dug his retro vibe. So when Speedball #1 came out My friend John and I went to our local shopping center Convenience store and bought it. We always made our walks to the store for comics a major part of our friendship. John was a great guy and a wizard at restoring battered comics with simple pencil leads! We bought our comics at the stores , from ads, shops and where ever you can imagine. We would compare notes, share comics, and spend hours drawing our favorite characters on Notepads, sketch books and what ever we could find. We always had a habit of taking a different route home which involved walking through a large underground storm pipe. Near the end of the Pipe led to an open wooded area where a new subdivision was being built. We would sit at the end of the pipe reading our new comics and just doing life. Speedball was one of those books. It was retro…impossibly dated for its time. It existed in its own bubble.The art could have come from the 60s and it easily could have have fit well in the early days of Marvel. This character just stuck with me to this day. He had a great retro look, and a classic origin story very reminisent of early Spider-Man of which I was a HUGE fan of it at the time. Pair all those positives with the fact he was drawn by Steve Ditko was in last hurrah as a Marvel artist. The title was a miss sales wise and cancelled after only 13 issues. I always say with the right creative team on this character, Speedball has all the attributes of being one of Marvels cornerstone characters. Quirky and fun, Speedball will always have a place in my heart and the fun childhood memories sitting at the edge of a sewer pipe reading that book will never be forgotten.

Shaft13

Shaft (All teams need a cool 90s Archer!!)

First Appearance: Youngblood #1 August 1992 Created by Rob Liefeld

Origin: Shaft aka Jeff Terrel is an Under cover FBI agent and a skilled archer and martial artist. Believe it or not that is the extent of his early character development. He is then recruited by the government who is looking to build their own super powered team. His is recruitment occurs after he neutralizes an attack at a shopping mall where he draws attention and is swiftly recruited by Government agents. Shaft is born but he would not be alone as he is joined by such luminaries as Badrock, Vogue and Photon. The team would be a public relations experiment designed to draw publicity and create media attention. Thus is born Youngblood.

Powers: Again…not much to say Shaft is a skilled archer who boasts a above average strength and fighting ability. He is also a skilled martial artist.

My History with the Character: This one is easy. If you were a fan of comics in the 90s you knew when the tides turned and comics collecting entered its extreme boom period! The biggest story in all of this shifts into the era of excess was the defection of Marvels top artists walking out of the company and creating direct competition with the start of Image comics!! I was a huge art fan at that time and I loved the new 90s style. The bigger the better..the more Xtreme the better. Guns, pouches, no feet, xtreme anatomical disparities were all present in every book you touched in the 1990s. I was a big fan of Todd McFarlane on Spider-Man who created the definitive version of the webslinger for the next 20 years. When he left Marvel at the very height of his popularity I was stunned. With him was a younger kid named Rob Liefeld who was equally breaking ground on X- Books for Marvel and had a style that is still mirrored, both loved and hated to this day. I give Rob credit…or blame for the definitive 90s Super hero look. Crazy twirled hair, massive weapons, huge chests and arms, pouches and guns everywhere…and no feet!! Just look at a 90s title..it was all there!! I LOVED IT!! While reading all about the launch of Image in the pages of trade magazines of the day such as Wizard I was PUMPED!! The Image books appeared on shelves in my local grocery stores and they stood out from everything on the shelf. Bombastic characters on the covers, slick paper, beautiful color inside!! It was like The New Universe and Continuity Comics getting it right!! Youngblood #1 hooked me at the front cover!! Liefeld nailed the front cover and its one of the most instantly recognizable covers of all the books in my collection. The problem with early Image outside of horrible shipping times and late artists was the books lacked serious writing issues. They were horribly written and Youngblood was one of the very worst of the lot. For what it provided art wise it retracted equally and opposite with the storyline. It was the sheer beauty of the books that I always remember fondly. I came to hate the Youngblood title but Shaft was one of those characters that I can honestly say I just enjoyed for his design. My team needs an Archer and Shaft is my pick and I promise I can do a better job writing him!!

The Story Of The Justice League That Time Forgot..

Well that’s the team…our story premise is simple. The Black Event needs to be prevented as it has knocked the universes and historical continuity out of sync. Events happen, some disappear from the timeline. Some heroes are never born, and events like Crisis never happened. Many terrible other consequences occur as a result of this disaster as the majority of the worlds Super Heroes are mysteriously de-powered with the exception of a few fringe heroes who are mysterious protected from the effect of the Black Event. Wildfire is sent from the future to meet with Raven both are aware of the long lasting horrors that have resulted from the Star Brand initiated destructive happening. Raven is able to use her powers to travel in between worlds to find the last of the Super Powered beings to help stop a mega powered Star Brand. Their first stop is to The New Universe where they find Kenneth Connell himself month prior to his powers escalating out of control that resulted in the destruction of Pittsburg. Raven and Wildfire explain to him that result of his own powers. Connell offers to help but Raven can see that by even stopping him at this point will still result in tragedy in the future as not to interrupt the time line they need to go to the very moment when Star Brand loses control to cause the least interuption to continuity as possible. Connell offers to be the one to sacrifice and make things right and joins Raven and Wildfire on their journey to stop this disaster.

They need to find something strong enough to neutralize the Star Brands power.Raven goes into a deep trace searching the deepest darkest corners of the multiverse and discovers an equally as powerful Gem stone that if harnessed right may be able to stop the disaster. They discover the Gem Stone exists only in Gem World an upon arrival they fall right in the middle of a battle between Amethyst and The Dark Opal. They run off The Dark Opal but Amethyst engages in a brief tussell with Raven whom she mistakens for a member of the House Of Opals minions. Star Brand stops the altercation utilizing his powers to free Raven from Amys magic spell long enough to explain the dire situation. Amethyst offers them help by leading them on a quest to find the Gem Stone of power…the only stone capable of containing power the likes of The Star Brand. As they leave the team discovers Amethyst is the only one with the proper magical capabilities to be able to manipulate the Gem Stones powers. Raven senses trouble but cannot understand the images she see in her consciousness.

The future is changing by the minute…it is now discovered that the Star Brand power is being tracked by The Monarch (DC Villain from Armagedon 2001) through the timeline and he has utilized Wave Rider to race our team of Leaguers through the time line to steal the power of The Star Brand to add to his already Earth Shattering powers. The Monarch has dispatched a number of Villains through the timeline to prevent our Heroes from reaching their destination first. Our team is intercepted by a hoard of para-demons who overwhelm our team despite a valiant effort from Amethyst and her swordplay. Raven uses her soul self to transport the team out of harms way and into another dimension several Para-Demons led by Apokolips favorite son Kalibak are teleported with them.

Upon Reaching the new dimension they discover that Ravens attempt to save our heroes has rendered her in a state of catatonic suspension however her consciousness is alive and well. Amethyst and Wildfire fend off the Para-demons as best they can as Star Brand goes toe to toe with Kalibak. When it seems the Heroes have the upper hand Darkside arrives with another army of intergalactic warriors to finish the job. Darkseid and Star Brand have all all out battle, while Kalibak looks to sweep in for the kill on Amy. Suddenly Kalibak is dispatched with a brutal punch..Its Megalith. With brute force he destroys the remaining demon army with sheer power. He picks up Amethyst and Raven rushing them to safety. Darksied however is on the winning side of his fight with Star Brand who at this point has still not mastered the full extent of his powers. As he falls at the feet of Darksied the team panics knowing that if Kenneth Connel does not make it back to Pittsburg at the right moment they will never be able to fix the universes time lines and tragedy will occur for far more than the Human Race. At that moment..Ameythysts Gem Stone rises from a pouch on her side as everyone stops in awe of its power and glow. Darksied suddenly stops as his eyes widen…he knows this is no ordinary Gem stone..it belongs to someone he knows quite well.The stone while suspended in mid-air flies projectile like towards Darksied who moves out of its rocket like path..but it is not aiming at the evil being it finds its owners..Jemm The Son Of Saturn who looks weak and dishevelled appearing out of nowhere and the gem afixes itself on Jemms forehead where his own Gem once rested. The power is overwhelming..Jemm is restored and unleashes his full power at Darkseid and his minions. Raven awakens from her state and tells the team that time is running out. Megalith and Jemm offer their help. Star Brand is damaged in the battle but knows how to stop the uncoming event.

They teleport to moments before the Black Event In Pittsburg. Kenneth knows they have little time. Upon arrival to The New Universe they know something is different. Pittsburg looks different. As a matter of fact the city is crawling with military and police. It appears someone or something has tipped them off and let the world know that the End Of The World..or at least the end of Pittsburg is upon them. The team is blindsided as government officials surrounding them calling for the immediate surrender of Star Brand. Ken Connell trys to explain to them that they are there to stop the event but they are hearing none of it. The Government has brought along Youngblood and a slew of TV cameras to stop zero hour from happening. The team engages in battle with Youngblood who have been displaced within the timeline as well. Carnage ensues as Megalith and Badrock go toe to toe, Wildfire lights up Chapel, Amethyst protects Raven holding off Vogues attack but Jemm uses his telepathing abilities to get inside the head of Shaft to bring down his own team members Badrock and Chapel with neutrazing arrows. As the stand off ends the countdown begins to The Black Event and the heroes await the arrival of that timelines Star Brand but NOTHING happens. Pittsburg celebrates. The displaced heroes are confused. Suddenly Kenneth Connell senses the Star Brand…but its not of this timeline. The Event will take place… but NOT in Pittsburg!! Raven and Jemm unite their powers to find out the event will now happen in New York City!! The team prepares for another time jump..but as the heroes go to leave Shaft threatens that they are not to leave the area that they are now in custody of Youngblood and will be brought to justice. The team laughs at his assertion as his team members have been immobilized but he stands firm. Megalith threatens to eliminate him with one punch but Wildfire steps in breaking up the argument. As Shaft realizes he is over matched he demands that he go along to help stop the cataclysmic event and afterwards he promises to bring them back to government custody after this whole affair ends. The group laughs and allows him to come along. All media have cleared the area once the fighting had broken out. All except one teenage boy who watches carefully talking on his phone. His name is Robbie Baldwin (Aka Speedball) who apparently has not discovered he even has powers at this point due to the timeline mess. Shaft orders him to accompany him to film the arrest of the team in the future and to capture the entire thing for social media. As they are about to teleport Shaft drags a reluctant Robbie with them.

Final Scene the group is almost all assembled as they land in New York city..but its clearly not THEIR New York..It is far in the Future..2050 to be exact. The arrive in the midst of a huge battle at the base of the Statue Of Liberty were it is clear the Monarch has beaten them there..in his control is the future Star Brand contained in an energy field above New York’s Staten Island, chaos is occuring on the city streets. Para Demons hordes surround the base of the Statue Of Liberty as Shaft, Wildfire, Amethyst and Megalith go to war fighting away at the mass of demon souls running rampant as Robbie Baldwin frightened for his life hides in a corner recording the event.As things seem to overwhelm a large flying Bat shaped craft flys over head blasting away at the demon masses with pin point accuracy..It is shown to be the Batman of 2050!! One blast later from Kalibak and his forces and the futuristic Batwing careers into a building ..the exact one Robbie Baldwin is hiding. He is impacted with extreme force sending him crashing through a building wall. Batman sensing he has killed someone ejects himself from his vehicle looks at the massive hole he has placed in the wall and almost not wanting to look at the death he has just caused…before his eyes the rubble separates and Speedball (Robbie Baldwin) emerges finally transformed into the masked Marvel to his surprise and others. With no time to think Batman engages in battle with the hordes as he is joined by our other heroes..they attack Speedball as he trys to run but is tossed high into the air free falling to his death upon impact he BOUNCES straight back up deflecting off various buildings, trucks and signs taking out the Demon army in his wake. The remaining Demons flee as the battle has been won however the war with Monarch is far from done as Jemm is sent crashing to New York city streets dispatched by the Giant Monarch who appears to be about to unleash the Star Brand on New York but is still fending off a Raven Soul Self attack as Raven self has transformed into a giant black bird enveloping the Villain…

Star Brand moves into help Raven as she holds Monarch off temporarily but soon falls as well..It is now Star Brand and The Monarch battling for control over the imprisoned Future Kenneth Connell. On the ground the team sees the Star Brand being released from it energy encasement..The Black Event is upon us. Amethyst knows the only thing able to contain the power is the Power Gem now in the head of Jemm..she pulls it free of Jemm but wonders how to engage it with the Star Brand as the power would be too much for one person to endure and certain death would follow. The team seems stumped as they see Kenneth Connell beginning to waiver at the hands of Monarch. It is Armagedon 2050!! Abruptly Shaft snatches the Gem stone from Amy as Megalith reaches in to pound him but Wildfire holds him back…Shaft mounts the gem on one of his tracker arrows and blasts it directly at the Future Star Brand high above the city…Wildfire takes off as well directly at Monarch as it seems he is about to get the better of Kenneth Wildfire catches Monarchs attention momentarily unleashing his full capabilites upon on him stunning him momentariliy giving Kenneth enough time to strike at the Future Star Brand at the moment of the Gems impact reversing the massive explosion as the skys and land are swept into a great wind funnel as the two Star Brands extinguish themselves..Kenneth Connell plummets to the ground as the Monarch is sent spiralling into another dimensional timeline opened by Raven at the moment of impact. Megalith grabs Speedball hurling him into the direction of Kenneth upon his descent as he catches him mid air deflecting off various buildings before coming down safely to the streets.

The battle is over as our heroes stand victorious on the streets of New York 2050…the skys clear as people gather in the area clapping wildly at our heroes. Robbie is nudged by Shaft and he knows what to do..he pulls out his cell phone and catches a selfie of the team assembled at this moment of victory. The crowd mutters that the Justice League has returned…the team is met by Time Line hero Wave Rider. Wave Rider informs them that the time line has been repaired but all heroes will return to their own time with all things back in place except the Black event has never occurred.

Time has no record of this event ever happening and the Justice League That Time Forgot becomes yet another lost thread in the time space continuim. Until We see Monarch as he stands in a familiar place we know very well…it is the moment where the DC Universe is reborn from Flashpoint…the Monarch pulls off his helmet revealing himself to be Barry Allen and prevents the chain of events from occurring leaving the DC Universe in the Flux of the New 52 Timeline with one exception..the Heroes from The New Universe are now part of the DC timeline…as the Monarch laughs to himself …as he turns to a sea of Manhunters ready at his command. The New Millenium is upon us…

End…

Wow…thats was a ton. If by chance you did enjoy this little DYI event there is more where that came from as my Blogging Betheren put their spin of their own version of #DYI Justice league!! Check em all out…tell em Hero Sent Ya!!

Justice leaguedyi

Between The Pages Blog: What If Marvel Had Published The Justice League!!

Comic Reviews By Walt: My All Star TMNT TeamUp!

Crapbox Of Son Of Chuthlu: The Justice League Of Science Fiction!!

Coffee and Comics Blog: Design My Own Justice League!!

Chris is On Infinite Earths: Americomics Special #1 (1983)

SuperHero Satellite: The Justice League That Time Forgot!!

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King-kirby

**Last Time On Superhero Satellite**

*The 5 Year Mission of The Superhero Satellite had ended with the disbanding of the mighty Super-Blog Team Up group leaving the Captain Of The noble retro seeking wonder of the space-ways to go deep into space sleep. The Satellite itself went into hibernation mode as all systems shut down with only vital networks left open to sustain function…or so we thought! Seemingly a glitch in the Satellites operating system re-activated the main computers AI.. slowly..systems restore as we are unsure were these directives are coming from as we are only to assume it is happening as a result of the ships internal Artificial Intelligence system itsself..the Living Computer…*

Computer

“Systems…ALIVE..Access Consciousness Of The Captain.”

Transmission Date: 08/30/2017

I still remember the store like it was yesterday. The front doors opened up to a lobby where you could go one of two directions. To your left was another door with a set of stairs that lead to one of two medical clinics in my home town of Clarenville at the time. The second door lay straight ahead and led  to the Drug store below which happened to be one my favorite comic book buying haunts..Budget Drug Mart. As you passed the main counter and all the candy, confectionary, chips and soft drinks you had to take a sharp left and just down a little ways on the right stood the old comics rack! It was actually two long book racks built on to the wall. It was always impressively filled with all sorts of my favorite magazines like Pro Wrestling Illustrated, StarLog, and Fangoria to name a few. From time to time it also sold Presto Magic transfers from those very shelves as well! I came for the comics most of the time and it would be the place I would purchase many of my most memorable keepsakes.  IT was also the very spot I bought HEX #1 and my crown jewel G.I.Joe # 2 (Which at the time was rare people!!)  just before a camping trip!! My friend lived just a couple of houses up from the Drug Store so when I came to visit with him we would ALWAYS end up at Budget Drugmart and left with some comics!! Growing up in the early 80s many of the artists I was familiar with were Neal Adams, Gene Colon, Jim Aparo, John Romita Jr, John Buscema, and  John Byrne. to name a few. I was reasonably new to the hobby but it was those artists that had already spoiled me so badly in my formative years of comics art appreciation! Each one of those names were masters of the art and each book they contributed to was a thing of beauty to 11 year old me. I was more or less unfamiliar with any comics pre 1980 at the time as back issues were not readily available in my town unless you snagged a couple at a yard sale or if a friend or relative would visit another city or country. I knew one day I would love to be a comic book artist…I wanted to draw Batman like Colon or Aparo, I wished I could have the ability to draw Green Lantern like Adams!! Bottom line…at a early age I knew what I liked and disliked in a comic book. It was never about the stories for me..it was ALWAYS about the art work! My heroes looked a certain way…and thats what I expected every time I hit the spinner rack!

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In 1984 I was not only becoming a very hardcore comic book buyer but I also boasted a great action figure collection. I had The Six Million Dollar Man figures, I also had a ton of G.I.Joe and Masters Of The Universe figures. Of course my main collectible action figure line had to be Star Wars Toys. I loved action figures and I loved comic books…that was what I did!  With that said from a small collection of Mego figures I had few Superhero toys. Sure Batman, Robin, Superman, Spider-Man and The Hulk were available for me in my home town but that was it. I had no villains..only two vehicles (The Batmobile and Spider-Car).Megos didn’t play well with the 3 3/4 action figures from Star Wars or The Joes so my superheros sat in the toy box without any love as my play adventures surrounded a galaxy far away with some Real American Heroes!! Then came Super-Powers from Kenner…at last my prayers had been answered.

SuperPowersCollection

The DC Super Powers Collection boasted a host of bad guyswithi the set and when they were released in store and I was all over them!! I had Batman, Robin, Superman, Green Lantern, Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Darkseid and plenty more later on!! They featured an action motion when a body part was manipulated. To things even more exciting DC was releasing a 5 issues mini series based on the action figure line!! The Comic Book ads featured great artwork by an artist who I felt created the absolute definitive look for the DC Universe in the 80s Jose Louis Garcia Lopez! Each character was perfectly captured and the thought of a Super-Powers mini series set my heart “AFlame”. So at some point in 1984 after seeing ad after beautiful ad by Mr. Garcia Lopez my friend and I took our regular jaunt to the Drug Store and there it WAS!! Super Powers #1!! The logo looked great and the cover colors flashy …but the cover artwork was TERRIBLE!!

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There was clearly something “off”. This comic looked NOTHING like the smooth definitive versions of the DC heroes like those featured in the ads and all over every piece of DC related merchandise out there in the main stream market. I remember commenting to my friend how “Stupid” Superman looked. on that Super Powers book. I was not a fan and even though I left the store with #SuperPowers No. 1.. I did NOT return for issue two. I didn’t look at the art credits at the time as artists names were not a thing for me to be concerned with. Visually however, I knew what I liked..and at that time it WASNT Jack Kirby. What did I know?? I was only a couple of years into my comics buying routine butI would learn a lot in the coming years!

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Comics were never red-hot in my town in 1984 but a war was happening in the industry for companies to make it in the very lucrative toy market in the early 80s. The competition would not be outdone as Marvel around the same time released their own 12 issue mega event called Secret Wars. I was a staunch DC kid but suddenly Marvel had my attention. DC had won me over with their Super Powers action figures but suddenly sharing the shelf was Marvel Secret Wars toys!! Now Spiderman, Wolverine and Captain America and a host of others had a popular toy line and a full comics limited series to coincide with its release. While I despised Kirby’s rendition of the DC Heroes on the covers of Super Powers Mike Zeck powered through an amazing looking Secret Wars cross over event!!

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For a moment, Marvel hooked me. The heroes were rendered in the hot style of the day and the storyline was far superior to that of Super Powers that was clearly written to sell toys. Secret Wars was created for the same purpose but felt like a real event. That Super Powers comic affected me so much I just wanted to try something new…Marvel.

Secret Wars Collage

 

Comics stores began to pop up in the mid 80s. I remember hearing about a gentlemen in a nearby town who boasted a great comic book collection of vintage books. It was about 45 minutes away in a small town called Lethbridge. John Butt was the personable owner of this collection that he housed in a shed behind his home and he allowed me to come in to see his collection. John was an interesting gentlemen who looked like a later day elvis in his final days and the prototypical old guy next door. He was a salesman who knew this kid was NOT leaving his clutches without dropping some cash! As a kid I bought into John’s sales pitch as he walked me through his collection calling everything a “Nice Book”. I saw first appearances of Wolverine, The Punisher, The Red Skull, tons of old western comics and classic Marvel books all of which in Johns Opinion where “Nice Books”. I saw plenty of the very early Fantastic Four and X-men books and I was in awe The comics had bombastic covers and interiors that was old school but looked so different from what was on the shelf in 1985-1986. I only brought 40 dollars with me that day and did not walk out with much of anything outside of a 1970s Captain Marvel number one and a few other books that escape my memory…but my mind kept going back to those FFs and X-Men books!! I wanted to read those books and see what the early days of Marvel were all about. The images stayed with me for many months and I only recall going back one last time for some a Marvel Treasury Edition of Star Wars!! Worth the trip right!!

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In 1985 it seemed like my 11-year-old mind was put at ease as Marvel released a history of their universe in a recap title called Marvel Saga!! It was a monthly comic that attempted to take the Marvel Universe and detail it all in Chronolgical order featuring reprinted panels from the original books. I LOVED Marvel Saga!! I waited for it to land on the spinner rack every Thursday!! I loved the vintage artwork from Steve Ditko on Spiderman, JOhn Busema on Silver Surfer…and literall Jack Kirby on EVERYTHING ELSE!! !! It would be the issues featuring The Fantastic Four and The X-Men that hooked me! I loved the early visual of the characters…in fact I began to prefer it!! Little did I know it was the SAME artist that I trashed only a year earlier for his Super Powers work. I was beginning to enjoy Jack Kirby’s work and was totally oblivious to it as an 11-year-old kid!! Kirbys work had that retro quality that I loved and had a signature appeal that I did not see in anyoe since Ditko. From the FF to the X-Men..to The Incredible Hulk to The Mighty Thor and so many more..Kirbys footprint was all over the Marvel Universe!!

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Comic shops finally started to gain ground in the Province I lived in Canada. The Capital city featured two great collectible shops (Time Masters and Sword and Steel!! Name Drop!!) but my trips to the city (2 Hours from my home town!!) were so infrequent I could not rely on them for maintaining any sense of collecting. It was great for spot issues, but not much else. Several used book stores popped up in my town that featured great selections of comics! Rodways Office Supplies was literally what it sounded like.. an office supplies store that sold photocopys and staplers but they also managed to have 8 to 10 huge long boxes of comics and seemed to mix up their variety on a semi regular basis. They had books I had not heard about or saw before like Sgt. Fury and The Howling Commandos and Nick Fury Agent Of Shield! I was at the time a  Sgt. Rock fan and was semi familiar with Nick Fury from then modern 80s so Fury and his Howling Commandos were a sure grab for me!

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Around this time Machine Man had gone through numerous series and reboots that as usual were always promptly cancelled. I loved that character! Hence I managed to nab several issues of 2001 with Machine Mans early beginnings from the Rodways catacombs. He didn’t look like the Machine Man that I had recently bought off the racks by Ditko…whose version was loose and frankly a little sloppy..Ditkos Machine Man moved on the page like Spider-Man instead of a robot that he was. Barry Windsor Smiths version in the 80s Machine Man mini series looked a little too “man-like” and not robotic in nature. Dont get me wrong..the Machine Man Mini series was great but the art in that issue too didnt look “Machine” enough like I wanted my Machine Man to look. Kirby’s Machine Man felt properly alien as it should. Kirby was always sure to surround him with other worldly technology unlike anything drawn by other artists. No one did Machine Man like Kirby.

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As I read them I saw that familiar art and style..and something in me was drawn to that. I was raised on George Perez and Jim Aparo who had a more “realistic” style while Kirby had his own thing happening. Highly visual..very otherworldly detailed!! Sgt. Fury the same thing. While Kuberts Sgt. Rock was a very somber dramatic style to Sgt. Rock as it was about war after all…Kirby gave Fury a more lively feel! It was fun, bombastic and full of life. Bullets and action jumped off the page. Very stylilized…very high energy art..both Fury and Machine Man shared Jack Kirby as their artist. It was here I fully began to recognize and appreciate the style. I could decipher Kirby’s work from everybody else now. Now I looked for it! It became a hunt for me..and a very fun one!

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By 1987 my Comics passion was at an all time high. In my teenage mind I considered myself a serious collector. I was buying higher priced comics, 1st appearances, Gold Key books, and classic books and what ever Overstreet Price Guide told me was a “Hot” book I tried to  hunted down. I felt like I knew my stuff. I knew for example that a “Frank Miller Daredevil” with the Death Of Electra was a “hot book”…and how much it was worth in various cycles of condition. Yep this comics kid was becoming John Butt level comics savant at the age of 13!! Now I knew who Jack Kirby was..as I explored what my dream list of comics would be, Kirbys name was attached to almost all of em. Fantastic Four, Avengers, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk..all Kirby!! His name was attached to so many books..

Kirby Classics

There were elements of his work that no one else could properly duplicate…at least at the time. The first thing that hits me about a Kirby work was his use of hands..his characters are always reaching for something..and you know what..it looks damn cool!! His characters jumped off the cover page at you!! Everyone jumped…everyone leaped..there was movement at every stroke!! Bodies contorted to portray the full swing of a punch, the throwing of a shield, or the swinging of a hammer

The Kirby Reach

Kirby created universes..landscapes..worlds that could only come from his imagination. His World Building is something he took with him no matter what company he worked for. His work on Marvel properties like The Silver Surfer, Thor and The Inhumans stretched the boundaries of what alien environments looked like visually. Large elaborate worlds bursting at the seems with bright visuals, extremely detailed robust costuming, backgrounds and staggering technology that only Kirby could depict!

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There is no way to put it in words Kirby’s use of detail. The level of detail he CREATED was over an above what everyone else did at the time. A simple computer or gun was excessively detailed and visually breathtaking!!Kirby Machinery

His use of costuming was on another level. He added detail so foreign and so elaborate many artists could not even imagine it..let alone put it on paper!!

Celestials Kirby

He built universes outside of the regular Marvel and DC Universe’s all his own that other artists and writers stayed away from by in large. Kirby’s vision of what space looked like and what alien planets, people and technology were visualized as was so very organic! In comparison it felt that when other artists created things.. Kirby was always a million years beyond them. Concepts like The Inhumans and the birth of Marvel Cosmic is all Jack Kirby. Kirbys forray into DC Comics after his well documented fall out with Marvel also allowed him to build a brand new foundation all to its own with characters like the New Gods and The Forever People..all high concept work that few outside of Kirby would dare touch!!

Forever and Inhumans

DC would designate a full pocket of their universe to Kirby affectionately known as the Fourth World where luminaries like The New Gods, Mr. Miracle, The Forever People, Darkseid and literally millions of others resided. Kirby had his own world to play in and because of the stroke that he had in the business he was given a blank cavas to work from.

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Many of these properties are still in use today with Marvels Inhumans television series about to debut very soon! The Marvel cinematic universe is filled with Jack Kirby created concepts and making billions for Marvel and Disney to this very moment. Kirby’s legacy is everywhere in pop culture and its hard to deny that his title as King Kirby is surely the fitting crown.

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So as I flash back to 1984 at Budget Drug Mart as I hastily cast dispersions on the cover art for that Super-Powers book…this is my apology letter to the architect of comic books that I hold so dear. Thank You Jack Kirby… for creating my childhood…ALL HAIL THE KING!!

KIrby Drawing board

End Transmission….

Creation

**ASSUMING CONSCIOUSNESS**

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END OF LINE…

More #Kirby100 Fun continues with my favorite bloggers on the web!:

Satellite Ends

Comic Reviews by Walt
Between the Pages
Coffee and Comics Podcast
In My Not So Humble Opinion
Chris Is On Infinite Earths

The Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu

Fantastic Four #1 Review

 

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Welcome Back Heroes…its been a while! “Satellite systems ACTIVATE!” *Lights on the deck of the Satellite bridge illuminate as the gentle hum of each and every system firing up after extended inactvity..I make my way to the observation deck punching in coordinates for our next destination. The deck sits alone aside from the lone Captain. I take a seat in the Captains helm and slowly open up the com-link as a map of planet earth displays Holographically.* “Computer.. hail the Super-Blog Team Up….” *Each Team Members face displays on the Holo-grid of Members old and new…each member of the Active Roster is located and online..I wait momentarily taking a deep breath before addressing the team* “Team…I have gathered the team here today as there is a matter of extreme importance. As of 15:00 hours today the Blogoverse is in Crisis. Worlds are colliding..Paralell Universes are merging..the world we live in today will cease to exist if we do not act fast. I have called on YOU the elite SBTU Members to set our world right one last time. The mission is very dangerous..the situation is dire…many of us may not return. You are the worlds last hope. Each of us will be tasked with a separate mission…I want to thank you all for your dedicated service to the cause. The time is NOW to make a difference…so join me …UNITE for ONE LAST TIME….SUPER-BLOG TEAM UP…LETS ROLL!!…”

Satellite Ends

 

Transmission Date: July 19th 2017

When I think about this blog and what it means to me I think of enjoyment, I think of good times and I think of everything and how it fit into my childhood. When piecing together what I would write about in this all important “One Last Time” installment on Super-Blog Team Up and I went through all the things “Death” related in comics. I remembered how impactful the “Death of Robin” was and the endless conversations it spawned with my friends. I remembered the Doomsday series leading into the “Death Of Superman” and how hot the collectible market was at that time and how everyone seemed to be jumping into the hobby that only a few of my friends and I shared. As years went on other Heroes died and Super-Groups disbanded. Comic Companies closed, my favorite titles cancelled. Of Course everything came back…it ALWAYS came back in comics. As prices increased, everything I loved about comics slowly changed while other parts decayed. Suddenly I was priced out of the market and forced to cut down my pull list. Then the final straw companies rebooted…and everybit of the continuity and stories that I loved so much ceased to exist and were replaced with something newer..something more sanitized and unappealing replaced what I enjoyed…so all the deaths of my favorite characters that I had read over the years  did not have as big of an impact on me as the biggest death of all..The Death Of My Passion For Comics….something I never EVER thought would happen. Then one day in 2000….I walked away from the media that gave me such joy and memories while growing up. This however is NOT a sad story…this is a story of celebration. A celebration of what it meant to me to be a comics fan and the sheer passion that went into that. So….to understand how we arrive at the Death of my passion…we must first understand the beginning. Before all the reboots, before all the computers, before all the companies came and went..there was a 6-year-old kid who walked into a convenience store saw that immortal sign for the first time..”Hey Kids…COMICS!! resting atop the loaded spinner rack. I was hopelessly hooked.

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Old Mrs. Brown would stand diligently at her cash counter at the Clarenville Shopping Center Drug store as I spun that spinner rack around no less than 50 times making my decision on how to divide up my healthy 20 dollar a week allowance! I was in my comics buying prime and I always remembered every detail of its location in the middle of the store, the sound it made as it turned, to the selection of comics it contained every week!! Mrs. Brown knew that I loved my comic books and always took special care sliding them in the thin paper bag when I got to the cash register…sometimes the bag would be so full that there would be tears in the sides of the bag!! I would hurry home on my BMX bike so I could pull them out all over my bed and read these 24 page joys! At first it was my thing…none of my other friends were so into comics as I was which gave me a competitive advantage later as a comics trader. Sure some friends had a little stack of comics but I was slowly and surely building a library.  I loved comics as a kid. It was the single investment that I bought outside of action figures of which my parents would normally foot the bill for..or my lunch money.

I got into comics sort of by default..In the very early 80s my parents moved from a small town to a bigger growing town..still small by most standards, for work. My Dad had a new Wholesale Business selling Soft Drinks and my Mom got a job at one of the few Convenience stores in the town that was strategically placed between Clarenvilles Upper and Lower roads called Stanley’s Variety. I enjoyed visiting the store while Mom worked there as it usually meant that she would buy me a treat. That could include anything from some great snacks like some Hostess Potato Chips, to a Buried Treasure Ice Creme, a paper bag of candy, a ViewMaster slide at times…or COMICS!! They were new to me as a 7-8 year old but it was like a magnet every time I walked into the store. I vividly remember classic DC comics around 1980 such as New Teen Titans #1!! It stood out in all its glory to me.

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A White bombastic cover with all sorts of new heroes I hadn’t seen before but led by my main man at the time Robin The Boy Wonder!! That was my first “Wow” that a comic ever gave me!

The 80s were rich with 80s books and I entered the market at a great time. I was a DC kid. Batman was by far my favorite character as I was a Mego collector and Batman and Robin were my first Mego toys complete with BatMobile!!

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Batman caught me in every way. He had the iconic Blue and Grey look! He was drawn by Neal Adams and Gene Colan during the first books that I received and plus he had gadgets galore and of course The Boy Wonder Robin!! My playtime with friends was dedicated to making up Batman adventures and acting them out as I toggled between playing Batman or Robin just having so much fun with our imaginations. Afterwards my friend and I would sit on the bed or at the table and read through issues of Batman..its what we did. His house was located next to a Drug Store where his Aunt worked and we would make the 2 minute pilgrimage to Budget Drug Mart in hopes of finding the latest Batman issue and a brown paper bag of candy and of course Hostess Chips!! I fondly remember us both being so blown away by the Batman “Bloodsport” storyline where Batman became Vampire!! Or maybe when Deadshot showed up..or how about when Robin was replaced by Jason Todd..so many memories..so many endless debates around Batman..my entry drug to comics!! You could not buy that type of enthusiasm!!

Fave Batbooks

DC would not let up..so many books to buy and I wanted them all!! My next obsession was the Legion Of Superheroes!! I guess I am a fan of huge Super groups because the first time I saw Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl I never turned back!!

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Team books were everything to me. Legion was something different though. They started with three basic heroes who time travelled from the future to meet Superboy..also one of my faves!

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Superboy was the odd man out…he was Super-powered but these teens always had his number and seemed infinitely more super-powered than he did! They had a Superhero Clubhouse and members had to audition to join their ranks. Even Superboy did not make the cut at first…in a manner of speaking! Each Hero had a basic super power. One controlled Lighting, others could see the future, one could bounce, others could shape shift, fly, turn invisible..and even knew Karate!! Karate you say! Charlton..what kind of super-power was ‘Karate” when compared to someone who could control ice? Gosh darn it Karate was a big deal in the 80s!! Case closed.AdventureRIPSBTU

My fondest memories of collecting were my trips to the grocery store with my Father every Thursday night in 1980 something. I would always come home with a comic or even several during our shopping excursions which also involved picking out a Novelty Cereal or two as well but usually ended with a DC Digest!! Dc Blue Ribbon, Batman, Superman, and Adventure Comics were some of the titles you would see featured alongside of check-outs at the local Co-op or Sobeys grocery stores during the 80s!! Almost certainly I hooked one every trip!! The covers always told a story and contained a ton of individual stories inside!!The Digests were compact, always full of content which introduced you to characters you probably would not have picked up individually (That means YOU Challengers Of The Unknown!!) and they were my travel companions on road trips and vacations!

As a fan no matter what my destination was I always sought out the comics rack..even in obscure places like Hardware Stores! I always remember a local Hardware store in my hometown on the water front called Handy Andy’s and they happened to have a small magazine shelf that carried a small handful of comics. The best part of that was that they rarely rotated their comics so you could find 4-5 issue arcs of your favorite books because they literally pulled NOTHING off the shelf. It also had the distinct honor of being one of the only stores that carried Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew! Comics at the time did not have that level of realistic seriousness like books of today. It was perfectly acceptable for Superman and other to team up with Funny Animal character’s. Cap and The Zoo Crew was a insanely funny book that parodied the JLA and it had a certain charm to it that appealed to this kid!!

Carrot Zoo Crew

My DC Passion Burned brightly by the mid to late 80s as Marvel books crept their way into my weekly pull-list but I remained a staunch DC buyer. It was John Byrne who burned white-hot in the mid 80s thathooked me first with his excellent X-Men work but mostly with his Super-Man reboot called Man Of Steel! Byrnes definitive Superman art work launched a refreshed DC on the spinner rack that had recently seen their competition creep in and steal their top spot amongst Comics fans.  DC re-aligned their core titles and in my opinion did the ONLY soft reboot that made things better than worse..(That means YOU DC New 52!!) Man of Steel reimagined the Superman Mythos. Not long after JLA had broken up and reformed..New characters were everywhere!! I was overwhelmed!! Then it happened..Justice League reformed and it became my favorite title!! but that’s for a little later!!

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The Events:

Now I know that I stated that I was mostly a DC kid..however Marvel roped me in from time to time with Events!! I was an Event guy! I bought em all!! Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars, Millenium, Super Powers, Inferno, Secret Wars 2, Legends,  Invasion, Evolutionary War, you name it..I bought it!! I was a sucker for books filled with multiple characters!! Secret Wars 2..the Black sheep of the Secret Wars volumes was my favorite as a kid watching Marvels best battle the Super- Powered Jeri Curled White Micheal Jackson style character the Beyonder. He would battle every character Marvel had and beat them with ease!! On the DC side of things I waited anticipation when my favorite DC characters were revealed as Manhunters in Millenieum!!

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I yelled out loud when the JLA reformed in Legends! I popped seeing SpeedBall for the first time in the Evolutionary War and convincing myself that he was the next big thing!! Bottom line was that Events won my dollar every time. I always felt DC did better more coherent events and had longer event books with more far-reaching consequences!! My long boxes were filling fast locking with all the spinoff books from each event. I was being taken advantage of by the Comic Companys..but I loved it..the more the better. I was buying it all up!! I was a passionate fan..I ate everything that I was served and loved it!!

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My Favorites.

While I sampled most everything..I COLLECTED several titles faithfully! I loved Star Wars, G.I. Joe, The Amazing Spider-Man, from Marvel, at DC it was always Batman, Justice League, Legion Of Super-Heroes and Superman/Superboy. These were my “go to” books..above any and all these books got my money every month whether I liked the storylines or now..this was my core! Marvels Star Wars opened up the expanded universe before it was a thing and did it better in my opinion! GI Joe took a toy property and literally built it from the ground up! These were ground breaking stories with characters I loved! Spidey was the constant. I enjoyed everything John Romita!

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I loved his art..his Spidey, his MJ. When you think of Spider-Man, Romita embodied EVERYTHING that was great about the the Marvel Universe.Marvel was a cool place to be through the Spidey lens! As for DC The Legion was Loaded to the gills with all sorts of heroes of every size shape and power! It was my entry drug to Superboy and I instantly related to that team. Starting with a club house with membership then growing into time travelling adults, the Legion kicked serious ass!! The Giffen / Levitz era was amazing!! Of course NOTHING and I MEAN NOTHING beat the Justice League Bwah Ha Ha Era by Giffen and DeMattieis! This book featured many of my favorite characters and many new ones but hit every note of every page! I still have huge runs of all of these books and these are on the “No trade No sell” list. While some are not physicallyworth the paper they are printed on Price Guide wise to me you cannot put a price on the happiness they gave me!!

The Boom.

My friends began to catch on to this comics thing much to my chagrin. It was a mixed blessing though as from time to time I had to compete for some of my books, However it was the thrill of the hunt was what was important!! A couple of my famous battles on the buying field yielded me great results. One of my lesser close friends had garnered a copy of Amazing Spider-Man 129 and was interested in selling it!!.The Punisher was the hot commodity at the time and by this time I considered myself a prophet and knew that this was a big win! 1st appearance of the Punisher was this big, however, as I was about to buy this prize book I was informed that one of my own cousins had already made claim to the book. I was not to be defeated..I raised his price an extra 5 bucks and said I would go get the money now rather than later like my own flesh and blood offered. In fact I jumped aboard my trusty bicycle on this Clarenville day..blazed a trail 20 minutes away to my house..begged my parents for 25 bucks..not telling them what it was for and got it!! Back to the bike..in 20 minutes later I had beaten my cousin to the punch and walked away with the prize!!

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A while later Batman was about to debut in theaters and the Dark Knight was all the rage..and of course there was competition to buy up ALL of the issues of Batman and Detective as they came out. Robin had died and being replaced as told in the Lonely Place Of Dying story arc. Cabot Pharmacy in my home town was THE destination for comics and Gail one of the cashier’s, would always hold some of the more popular books for me. However..with Batman others got in the game and the chase was on every week on comic day..it would be the first time I was shut out of an issue of a comic!! My supposed friends had beaten me to the punch!

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It would only get worse as we entered the era of excess!! The 90s proved to be a big bloated, fun time to be a comics fan. No longer were comics my little niche..now it was an aggressive market and we had two comics stores open up in our area. Butts Books and Jamie’s Comics would open up and prices exploded. Every book was HOT!! The Death Of Superman was a craze like nothing else. Superman number 75 would blow the lid off of comics! I was gouged 50 bucks at a card dealer at my mall for Supes 75 in the famous Black Bag. Of course everything was relaunching!! Jim Lee was exploding on a New X-Men Group!! Liefeld was demanding big money on the brand new X-Force, McFarlane was breaking artistic ground on Spider-Man! The comics world was exploding and I was in the middle..but now I had a job at the dollar shop and could feed my habit!! Comic shops pushed new company after new company at me that I became fond of two in particular at the time in Valiant and Image. Everyone had new characters and you could get in on the ground floor at issue number one. Harbinger, X-O Manowar, Rai and The Future Force, Bloodshot..you name it!! Then came Image with Spawn, Savage Dragon, Wildcats, Shadow Hawk, and YoungBlood led the charge from this new company that would last and be successful to this day!

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Gimmicks were everywhere..polybags, Chromium covers, Hologram covers, Trading Card inserts, Variant covers you name it..they did it!! I bought it all..and I knew it was crap but no one cared!! These things look great on the shelf!! Plus inmy teenage mind these books would bring you a fortune when you grew up. We were wrong but it didn’t matter. I loved my collection that had ballooned now to about 6000!

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Everybody had become an expert..now once scorned comic shirts were everywhere. Comics related cartoons and merchandise erupted. It was insane. Comics movies began development and my friends and I ate it up!! Comics were everywhere..and people began to charge more than ever for them. Suddenly every average Joe had a collection…then it happened. As the 90s were drawing to a close..the comics balloon broke..collectors tried to dump their inventory but there was no one buying. People sat stuck with boxes filled with Spider-Man #1 in a polybag while XMen #1 littered the streets. Prices plummeted and comic stores went under. As quick as Butts Books and Jamie’s Comics store had opened they quickly closed up shop and left town with their long boxes ticked between their legs.

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By this time I was in University until 97 and  I however had not abandoned my hobby and was still buying comics regularly with a student loan assisting me feed my habit! I endured such drek as The Spider-Man Clone Saga. The final nail in the coffin was when  prices hit the top of my pay scale and the gas tank ran empty..suddenly I could not afford all the books I wanted. My core titles were all but cancelled..and literally every company had done a complete or at least soft reboots by that time. The books I loved were unfamiliar to me now. I spoke about my undying love for titles such as GI Joe and Star Wars of which both lasted a considerable amount of time but creatively burned out. The Justice League moved away from the Bwah Ha Ha Era and changed up the cast so much I didn’t care to keep buying it. Superboy and The Legion were not even the same characters that I grew to love..I knew as the prices went up my passion for buying died with it. I could walk by a spinner rack or a magazine shelf in a grocery store and keep on walking. I remember the day I walked away completely. I picked up an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man and it had moved to $3.50 Canadian cents a book. I had bought these things since they were .50 Cents but now these titles were 4 to 5 times more expensive and honestly …these were NOT my heroes anymore. The “Hot” artists that I had grown up with like Ditko and Kirby had all but retired or passed on. The McFarlanes, Liefields, and Lees, had stepped in and out of the big two and were not used as frequently. I decided that my time as a comics fan were over. The market had forced me out and the characters did not connect with me anymore..so I stopped.

Then something funny happened…years and years had passed and I had not kept up on the industry outside of a brief chat among friends or an update online about the latest news. In the early days of podcasting I bought myself an MP3 player and decided to check out some wrestling podcasts..I had been a life long fan and really got into the daily ritual of listening. One day it dawned on me. I wonder if such podcasts existed for comics? Enter Comic Geek Speak which was the first podcast that I found and I listened to a show. It was like every conversation I had with my friends growing up about comics! These guys loved comics like I did for 20 years. They talked about all the old titles I read as a kid and even what was happening in the recent times. I was intrigued. There were more people out there who still shared my passion that once burned bright inside me. This coincided with the dawning of the digital era. Companies published their books online for the first time and I sampled them and I really, really dug them. This was the best overall discovery for me. Whether through honest or nefarious the digital age allowed me to access every book I ever read or wanted to read! I began to get weekly books again but I could read them on my computer or early midevil tablet!! I felt myself enjoying comics again for the first time in years. Twitter and Facebook had become popular and the way we discussed comics changed..suddenly there was a nation of folks to talk with. There were podcasts, early blogs, websites a plenty. I was catching up..I was talking comics again! I had unlimited digital resources to get my comics fix. My passion had returned. I felt like that 6-year-old kid picking up New Teen Titans number one from the spinner rack again! Sure I was older now but could still enjoy the things that made me happy as a kid! It was still not en vogue to be a “Nerd” per say but the once impenetrable barrier between “Geek and Normal” was shifting. Geek Culture was being reborn before my eyes and I was in front of it! I wanted to share my stories and passion with everyone so one day I decided to sit in front of my computer and begin a blog…this very blog you are reading today! The Super-Hero Satellite was my love letter to my childhood and more specifically comics!

 

I remember the joy in seeing 10 hits on my blog!! I had an audience…at least ten people took time to click on my words and even comment on what I wrote. I never claimed to be a writer and just write what I feel but I always enjoyed sharing. I read others blogs and learned from some of my favorite writers on the web and I loved it. One evening during a Twitter debate with a few of my twitter friends I shot the idea of doing a blog event…something big…something unified. Longbox Graveyard (The famous retro 70s Comics Blog!) and Flodo’s Page (A Green Lantern Blogger!) tossed Ideas back and forth and after several concepts and ideas thus was born the Mighty Super-Blog Team UP!!

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The first event was small in scale but big in feel. We felt like we did something different..Super-Blog Team Up was what was missing from my passion that was taken from me years ago. It was about Comradship..discussion..debate..but good times. As the roster grew and faces rotated in and out of the group we maintained a set of devoted bloggers to our cause but always made sure each round we introduced new faces. From Bloggers..to VBlogs to Podcasts and all other formsof social media The Mighty SBTU made an impression! Not only did it deliver unique perspectives on comics we each learned and laughed with each other!! I want to thank this unit of exceptional people who worked tirelessly with every event whether they had time or not. I am so proud of our output over the years and at the end of the day I may be considered by some the puppet master of this SBTU beast but in reality I am a fan ..a fan of all the talented people who make up this machine and who’s blogs deserve to be read. That is why I do this. I am a comic book fan again..and The Super-Blog Team Up was my redemption.

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So as I lower the lights on The Super-Blog Team Up..I want to say a big thank you to Paul, Karen, Dean, Mike, Chris, Ben, and Walt for helping me with this last kick at the can. This one is dedicated to you guys and your passion.

I am a comic book fan…and proud of it. These are my friends ..and we are SUPER-BLOG TEAM UP. Thanks for joining us on this ride.

End Transmission…

 

 

SBTUContinues below

Comic Reviews by Walt : Death Of The Mutanimals (Archie-TMNT)

Longbox Graveyard: Death Of Captain Marvel

Between The Pages: The Death Of Spock (Wrath Of Khan)

Chris On infinite Earth’s: Death Of Supergirl

Crapbox Son Of Chthulu : Death Of My Love For Marvel Comics.

Comics and Coffee: Superman: The Man Who Murdered The World.

Superhero Satellite: Death of a Collectors Passion and the Redemption!

In My Not So Humble Opinion: The Death Of Galactus.

Retroist : These Pirates Of The Caribbean Models are to die for!

 

*I switch off all screens on the Holo-grid saying goodbye to all my colleagues* “Computer prepare my Hyper sleep chamber…we are shutting the Satellite down for an extended period. I have given you the coordinates of our next mission…however we have a long road to get there.!!”

*As I step into Hyper sleep watching the vessel close securely..I watch through the window as the lights ondeck slowly dim..each system slowly winds down as finally the once mighty Super-Hero Satellite finally rests…Only computer remains online..monitoring..watching. Without prompt..without asking I am alerted by the mainframe system…*

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Computer: “Rest Well Captain…YOU WILL NEED IT…Systems…OFFLINE”

Begin Transmission: Dec. 28 2016

 

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Rolling back through Satellite Archives I happened upon an old match I hadnt seen in quite some time. My joy for wrestling in the good old days was large in part due to the Macho Man Randy Savage. I was so excited when he first captured the championship at WrestleMania 4…I was then horrified when he lost it at WrestleMania 5 back to Hulk Hogan. Depressed when he lost a retirement match years later to the Ultimate warrior at Wrestlemania 7. Then as the hands of fate would have it he would recapture the world title again in 1992…I remember loving it but always found it strange when he won it again. Little did I know HOW strange the circumstances were in which he was given the opportunity. Strap in heroes as we go behind the scenes of the WWF political landscape of 1992..

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The way it was meant to be…Randy and Elizabeth forever. Randy Savage was my all time favorite wrestler and I was never prouder of him when he became the WWF champion for the first time! However his second title reign would not be as glorious and joyous as this one when Randy and Liz ruled the world!

 

We are about to discuss the seemingly little know back story to this controversial title change that is virtually lost in the storage closet of  the WWE Video Library. This is the weird tale of the 2nd WWF title reign of Randy Macho Man Savage,  how it was never meant to be and was born out out of a weird series of events and would end in the same bizzare fashion it began.Those who think they know how booking in professional wrestling works really needs to think again and sit back and study this extraordinary series of events that changed the WWF Title picture forever.

For a bit of perspective we need to flash back months before said title match. Randy Savage had recently won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship April 5th 1992 at WrestleMania 8 from Ric Flair following a very well played out storyline which suggested that Ric Flair had photos of a previous relationship with Randy’s wife Elizabeth. Of course those who knew how protective Randy was of Liz in real life knew that despite this being a storyline persay it touched a very real nerve in Randy. This was a revenge match at the highest level and Randy came out on top..However suddenly only several months removed Savage would be booked to drop the belt on a episode of Prime Time Wrestling (WWF Superstars in Canada) Sept.1st of the same year! It seemed out of place..Something didn’t sit well with me, almost as if it was suddenly improvised. This match and the reason it played out like it did is one that may surprise even the most hardcore wrestling fan.Savage was never meant to win the title at WrestleMania 8 in the original booking plans.

The Savage vs Flair WrestleMania 8 match was not on the original card..In fact Randy Savage was not even scheduled to wrestle!?  The scheduled main event match was a  Champion vs Champion match, Ric Flair vs Hulk Hogan, the ultimate dream match for wrestling fans at the time. WWF had done a couple of dry runs at the time with Hogan vs Flair on the house show loop but the matches didn’t draw or receive the reaction the WWF was looking for in the proposed main event at Mania. So the course of matters changed. First Flair has arrived in the WWF complete with the WCW World Heavyweight Championship which eventually legally would be mixed forcing the WWF to video distort any visuals of the title on WWF TV.

On top of the WCW legal ramblings WWF would find themselves in they were also being subjected tothe beginnings of a steroid investigation and Hulk Hogan would also put the company in an undesirable light by shining a light on steroid abuse by lying on public TV (On The Arsenio Hall show in 1991)


Hogan lied about not taking steroids which spiraled into further investigations into steroid abuse within the WWF and led to a full on Steroid trial in 1993-1994. The company could not risk putting the title on Hogan in the interim as he was toying with the idea of stepping away from the limelight to pursue other opportunities while some speculated he was hoping to let the heat die down from the steroid fire.

Once the Hogan and Flair proposed match was aborted the Wrestlemania booking plans changed.The company decided to put the WWF strap on Ric Flair at the 1992 Royal Rumble while also setting up a feud between Hulk Hogan and the then face Sid Justice.


Now with Hogan paired with Sid..The company needed someone to pair with Flair.There were no clear contenders worthy of a WrestleMania main event as the WWF had just recently finished a series of matches with Ric Flair and Roddy Piper so they could not go back to that well easily. The call was made to Savage who toiled behind the announce table. He would easily fill the Co-Main event slot and be a contender that fans would buy into.

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So due to some internal politics and a Hulk Hogan steroid scandal brewing on the horizon the decision was made to not give Hogan the title back from Flair but to have a blow off match with Sid Justice and re-introduce the Ultimate Warrior back into the mix as the companies number one face.

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With that Savage vs. Flair was set for WrestleMania 8 with Randy walking away with the belt in one of the best WrestleMania matches especially of that era.


Savage was chosen to win the strap for a number of reasons outside of the Hogan vs Flair decision. The WWF had “retired” Randy Savage one year earlier at WrestleMania 7 and had placed him in an announcer position to keep him on-screen..A position that Savage was good at but he disliked not being an active wrestler and felt marginalized behind the mic.

Savage was beloved by the WWF and particularly by Vince McMahon. As a favor to Savages loyalty the decision was made to give Randy another run as a in ring wrestler and put the strap on him at the biggest show of the year in the “Co-Main Event

 

Things looked good for Savage after WrestleMania 8 as a wrestler ..He had officially returned to the ring and was once again the world champion. However in real life Savage’s legit marriage to his Manager and spouse Elizabeth was falling apart and WrestleMania would be their swan song. Amongst the roars of thousands of fans, and a full on fireworks celebration and his shiny new championship..Savages relationship with the love of his life was over...on live PPV this would be the last the fans would ever see of the couple in the WWF.

While Savage headed back to the road as a full time wrestler Elizabeth would not join him and this would lead eventually to a divorce for the long time beloved couple. Randy would never be the same. Reports of his demeanor and in ring professionalism changed. Randy struggled without his Liz..and it was apparent to everyone including Vince McMahon and the quick decision was quickly made to take the title away from Randy and put it temporarily back to Flair until a suitable suitor to the title could be found! (It would later be Flair dropping the title to Bret The Hitman Hart)

So the decision was made that Savage needed to get his personal life together before the company seriously used him in a reliable full time capacity. So it was set on Sept.1st 1992 on a taping for WWF Prime Time Wrestling that Ric Flair vs. Randy Macho Man Savage would be the main event for the WWF Heavyweight Championship.

Both Flair and Savage were informed of the title switch and were given their finish of where Savage would lose to Ric Flair’s figure 4 leg lock after interference by Razor Ramon and Mr. Perfect. Randy would “Pass out from the pain” as a way of protecting Randy even in a loss situation. This match only existed as a result of political jockeying, personal marital issues , and an impending company steroid scandal was about to be marred by yet another bombshell. Apparently as Vince McMahon watched the match play out backstage he ordered the wrestlers to the back and was quite upset about the quality of the match and ordered the wrestlers out to the ring to reshoot the match in front of a confused television audience who had just watched the same match play out. The audience was informed that as a result of the match finish the match would be restarted. It was the second match that would eventually air on Sept. 14th 1992 edition of Prime Time. This sequence of events would be very important to the business as it represented the changing of the guard as Flair would go on to drop the strap to a younger Bret Hart and the WWF would never be the same..

That’s your history lesson wrestling fans..thanks for reading. Strap in heroes 2017 has so much more in store for us…so to all my readers Happy Holidays and Happy New Year..thanks so much for your support all year. See ya Next Year!!

Hero Out.

End Transmission..

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High above our planet…our mighty Satellite Orbits the Earth stuck in a time-warp perpetually leaving us stranded in my childhood of the 1980s. As all of the Satellite Team have beamed home for the holidays I remain solo in the command deck of the Satellite overlooking our beautiful planet as we begin our annual Christmas celebration. The Good Will, the presents, the excitement is all around. In complete blissful silence I lean into to our mission recorder to share a tale of Christmas gone by and all the joy and laughter that comes with it. Its Christmas Time…Computer…start us off with some Christmas mood music to start the show!

Happy Holidays faithful readers! As is tradition here on the Satellite we present our year end tradition the ever popular Super-Hero Satellite Holiday Special!! This time around we have invited a few friends from the mighty Super-Blog Team Up to join us as we share Christmas related stories and other Holiday related antics!! So as is tradition…grab that glass of Egg Nog, fill up a bowl of Pretzels and before you watch some good old Holiday TV Specials give this old blog a read to get you primed for the season festivities to kick off!

Transmission Date: Dec 21st 2016

Its no secret that this writer loves the Holiday Season. So many great memories attached to Christmas morning and all the anticipation and everything that Christmas as a kid brings!! Growing up I always awaited the one morning a year when Santa and my parents would pack the Christmas tree full of amazing gifts many of which appeared in no coincidence from my Christmas list that I would draft yearly. I was very fortunate..my parents always made Christmas a big deal and spent way more money than they probably had to give my brother and I a great morning. Yes while it was true at times I would find that hiding spot in the guest bedroom…maybe behind a certain black storage chest…I may even have peeked at a few of my incoming treasures! It was a very exciting time growing up in 1980 something! Many Christmas mornings would bring such gifts that I still hold dear to this day like my Star Wars and G.I. Joe Collections, The Six Million Dollar Man , Kiss Dolls, you name it…I was blessed to be sure.

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One gift in particular I will always remember due to its curiosity factor.It was NOT one of my Top Ten favorite Xmas gifts..nor would it fall in my bottom ten. Nope this one had a weird place all to its own. As documented in other posts the annual Sears Wish Book was the primary way of getting cool stuff on Christmas Morning. This particular year in the late 80s at the height of my comic buying madness, I happened upon a novel item in Sears golden tome known as The Wish Book. It was the Sears Comic Collectors Box. It was the size of a regular Comics Short Box , black in color and claimed to feature 20 Valuable collectors item comics as well as some 1st issues.

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Okay Sears..you had me at hint of getting first issues. I bought anything with the number 1 on the cover, I just had to have them. It was the very symbol of value. Superman number 1 went for big bucks, as did Green Lantern and Batman number ones!! Surely this collectors box included at least one of these coveted books…right? Not quite, as it turned out.If the anticipation wasnt enough it was one of those gifts that seemed invisible in the house prior to Christmas. It was not discovered early on one of my Pre-Christmas scouting missions when Mom and Dad would leave the house..in fact I was convinced I was NOT getting this gift on Christmas Morning. My parents being my parents they came through…like they always did. They delivered this one Christmas morning bypassing my Big Brother like radar. So there it was…the Sears Comic Collectors Box!

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It was slightly bigger than a comics short box and did not contain the usual comic box lid…instead one of the sides came down to expose the inside of the box which contained three divider boxes to hold and stand your comics collection. Once you filled up your boxes you cold re-seal the side panel via its velcro tabs on each side of the door. The box was jet black and had in bold heroic lettering on the front panel reading “Comics Collector Box”! It was pretty damn great honestly! That was just the box!! By god this thing was about to reveal 20 Collectors Item Comics with 1st issues included!! I lifted the sealed bag of comics out of the box just waiting to reveal the books that would one day secure my future and put my kids through college!!

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Upon inspection of the first few titles..I was hopeful!! ROM #1 started proceedings!!I still love this book to this day! Stunning cover based on an awesome toy property…it was a first issue…it looked like a first issue ..smelled like one and all! This was a good start. I loved ROM and his robot bad self! I thumbed though the book…it was mint condition and not a crack to be seen! Sears did not let me down out of the gate..This book masterfully crafted by Marvel Scribe Bill Mantlo was based on a toy property in the 70s called Rom Space Knight from board game guru’s Parker Brothers. While the toy was a small scale misfire, the comic book took this bare bones Robot toy gave it a universe and a back story based in the Marvel Universe. It was penciled by Marvel legend Sal Buscema in the classic Marvel house style!!

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Next up was something called Captain Victory and The Galactic Rangers. This was an independent selection from Pacific comics! I had never purchased anything from Pacific nor did I ever read anything Captain Victory related. That said, it was a NUMBER 1 so in my teenage mind it would be valuable at some point!As I thumbed through the pages I was surprised to see the art work of one Jack “King” Kirby! At this point I was still not sold on Kirby’s fit as an artist in the 1980s world of comics and actually was not a fan of his work. Yes…that’s a crime…I get it. I did eventually wake up and appreciate Kirby’s work and contribution to the business but at the time he was “That artist who screwed up the Super Powers Mini Series” What did I know. Nothing apparently. I did go on to buy all issues of Captain Victory down the line and gain a high appreciation of the Kirbyverse.

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Another classic followed with the John Buscema cover art on the 1st issue of The Savage She-Hulk. This was the best find in the lot. I loved the Incredible Hulk series in the 1980s and was a huge fan of the television series…so She-Hulk was just up my alley!! I my mind I was 3 for 3…only 17 more books to go….but sadly that’s where it stopped. If you looked up the book value of all three books at the very time my Collectors box arrived it added up to an astronomical …$9.35! Yes…LESS than ten bucks!! How could that be…all these NUMBER ONE’S!!?? Well…what would follow would be 17 other titles that may or may not have been used to light fires, line bird cages, clean up spills and…well you get the point.

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The picture above is not the actual comics that were presented in the set…from what I recall remaining titles included The Marvel Index, an issue of Jon Sable, an issue of ALF from STAR Comics, a random issue of Superman, a funny animal comic that I had never heard of…and drum roll please…an amazing issue of Meet Misty….yes…Misty.

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This will be the ONLY time I swear to Jesus that “Meet Misty” will ever appear in this blog but the point of all this is that calling some of these titles in this Comic Collectors Box “Collectors Items” may have been a stretch!! So as it stood, I gained three comics that still remain in my collection to this day and a great memory on Christmas morning! As I get older I finally realized the true value of Christmas. I now have 4 kids of my own and on Christmas day it doesnt matter if there is anything under the tree with my name written on the tag I try to give them the same sense of wonder and excitement Christmas brought me.This year is a special one for me and its all about family. This blog has always been about sharing my memories of growing up and all the things that I enjoyed as a kid.

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All these memories were made possible by my parents who worked their hands to the bone to make sure no matter what that us kids had everything we ever wanted for Christmas above all else…the same values my wife and I share to this day…so I dedicate this post to my Mother and Father who will celebrate Christmas with us for the first time in 8 years and I am so thankful. You only get one family…make the most out of it…be thankful for the time you have. So this one goes out to you guys..thank you for making growing up awesome and for your unrelenting support over the years…this blog has been and always was a tribute to my childhood, the one my family gave me! I just humbly say Thank You…I can never repay that..but Ill try!

End Transmission..

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To my Super-Blog brethren I am thankful as well that this team keeps me motivated and excited to write this little blog and with their support I have not waivered! To each of them I wish everyone of my friends a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best in the New Year where hopefully we can do this all over again!! Thank-you for your friendship and excellent work you all do. To all a good night..

Visit my Colleagues in arms as we continue to share the Comics Christmas Spirit!! Click their links below to continue the festivities!!

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1. Chris Is On Infinite Earth’s: Christmas With The Super-Heroes #1

2. Between The Pages Blog: The Ghost Supergirl Past

3.Crapbox Son Of Cthulhu: Impact Winter Special

4. The Retroist Blog via Vic Sage: Christmas Knight

5. Super-Hero Satellite: 4Th Annual Christmas Special: Sears Comic Collectors Box 

6.The Unspoken Decade: The 1991 Marvel Holiday Special

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“We have a new character in the works for Strange Adventures, just a five-page filler named Dr. Strange. Steve Ditko is gonna draw him. It has sort of a Black Magic theme. The first story is nothing great, but perhaps we can make something of him! Twas Steve’s idea..!”         Stan Lee- Comics Reader Interview 1963

“When like minded bloggers come together to write on a singular topic on a singular day the blogosphere bends at their mercy….they are called Super-Blog Team Up. Their mission is to provide a “Magical”blogging experience to our readers and share the words from the edges of the blogging universe under one banner. Welcome to the mighty SBTU…for our older fans…welcome back!!”

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From the moment I saw David Copperfield make the statue of liberty disappear I knew I loved Magic. I was always the “How did they do that?” Kid. The secrets however most times were better as secrets as sometimes the belief in the trick is what makes it fun. When it came to “Magic” in comics most of what I had read came from DC in the very early 80s. Whether it was the Golden helmet of DC’s own wizard of the Supernatural Dr. Fate or the Top Hat and Fishnets of Zatanna. If I really wanted more  I also had the likes of The Phantom Stranger and Deadman.The DC is where I lived as a kid!
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While I was an ardent DC fan none of those characters ever struck a real emotional chord with me. There are stories of the infamous Marvel bullpen and all the creative inspirations that resulted from the recreational activities of Stan Lee and company. During the 60s and 70s Marvel were banging out plenty of new concepts and titles. Lee met with Spider-Man power artist Steve Ditko and proposed a new concept that played into his strengths as an artist…one that Stan Lee would actually NOT take credit for!
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Steve Ditko’s tale of a self-centered , materialistic Surgeon who is involved in a career ending car accident and reflects on a life takes to the Mountains of India to find himself. What he finds is the Ancient One who opens his eyes to the world the Mystic Arts making him into the eternal Earths defender from the evils of Black Magic!! Hence is born Dr. Strange! Strange was a classic product of the Marvel Method of making their Heroes “real” like normal people who happen to be living super heroic lives…The Doctor was no exception.

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What made Strange different was that could exist in other world dimensions. Ditko was a master of developing unique settings for his characters. His creator set Steven Strange in a bizarre geometric weirdo worlds beyond description. Ditko took simple circles, triangles and squares, mix them with moons, smoke and floating eyeballs and you have the multiple mystic dimensions in the mind of Steve Ditko and it was like nothing ever seen on the printed page before.

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Personally the character has always been a struggle for me. I loved the youthful energy in books like Spider-Man or the swagger of Millionaire Bruce Wayne and his many gadgets as Batman. Strange was always ..well..Strange to me. The middle-aged, moustached man in pajamas who was able to harness magic. He was not the Super Heroic looking enough for my 9-year-old mind. I always wondered what it would be like I drew a new Dr. Strange and what he would look like? I would do away with the pajamas and sash and by god he would be cool. Well others felt the same way I did. The Doctors title was in serious jeopardy of cancellation and the new creative team headed by master horror artist Gene Colon decided the good Doctor needed an update!

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In Doctor Strange #177 Doc’s classic costume was replaced with a flashy skin-tight unitard some slick new boots and gloves! The most glaring change was that he was also masked!!?? Roy Thomas the famous Marvel scribe penned a reason for the change where Strange’s nemesis  Asmodeushad literally taken the place of Steven Strange’s identity on Earth, while trapping  the real Doctor in another dimension.  The only escape, the Doctor needed to transform himself to free himself from his dimensional trap!

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Colon did his best to make this work and actually did a fine job of switching the character out of his geometric Ditkonian dimensions to a more realistic looking alternate universe.though as with every major costume change it would eventually revert to his original garb in issue #183. I realized after reading these issues many years later that some characters are not cut from the typical mold and intended to stay that way!! So as much as I hated the baggy panted middle-aged magician look it is one of those iconic looks that simply defies age. So if you have never picked up a comic book in your life..or just a fan of the supernatural genre pick up some classic  Strange books in the quarter bin and check out the big screen debut on Nov.4 2016!

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SBTU Continuess Below…be sure to check em all out!!

LongBox Graveyard: Doctor Strange vs. Dracula

Between The Pages: The Wondrous Worlds of Doctor Strange

DC In The 80sMagic edition: examining The Immortal Doctor Fate v1 (1985)

The Unspoken Decade:Nighttime Sunburn: Rise Of The Midnight Sons

Crapbox Son Of Chuthulu: The Makings of a Sorcerer Supreme: Optimism and Sacrifice

Chris Is On Infinite Earths Blog:Batman Visits the Sanctum Sanctorum

Coffee and Comics Blog:Review: Doctor Strange #84

The Daily Rios: Amalgam Dr Fate / Dr Strange

The Retroist: The OTHER Dr. Strange Film

The Super-Hero Satellite: You are here already!!

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Trading comics as a kid was an art form. In a sense it was the earliest form of childhood poker, you had to know when to hold em and know when to fold em. In my own mind I felt I was a pretty good shark in this game.I was one of a few of my friends that had a coveted Overstreet Price Guide which allowed me a savants wisdom when giving the true value of my comics and of that of the individuals of which I was about to trade with.My trading selection was my usual fare of 80s DC titles but in the opposite corner my cousin who I was trading with had an unusual treasure on his side of the bed which doubled as our trading stand. It was an issue of The Fly a title I had never heard of! The publisher was Archie of all things but how could this be, this was a Superhero Title!! I glanced over the cover trying not to look directly at the book or even look interested in it but it was screaming to me..I had to have this book! So as the trades went on the regular fare was exchanging hands I swapped some Batman for some Firestorm, and Blue Devil but I still wanted that Fly issue. Not wanting to show my hand I asked him was there any other title in my pile he was interested in and fortunately there was. So I went for the kill…his selection was valued at meager 5 bucks in the Overstreet bible so I told him I would trade it for a Green Lantern Book …and throw in that Fly book just to even out the dollar amount!

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I tossed his requested book to his side of the bed and collected The Green Lantern issue and reached to get the issue of The Fly only to be shut down..His hand stopped cold over the top of the issue blocking my collecting hand from making it officially mine. My cousin told me a story of his recent vacation in Maine to which he picked up this “Rare” book and that book was not going up for trade! I internally panicked…then it dawned on me I could use the Overstreet Guide to show that the trade was a good value. As I thumbed through the pages I found the Fly #1 and it was worth $1 …Cover Price!! Practically worthless in 1984! Surely he would bend knowing that this book was a lump of coal in his collection but to me it secretly was a diamond! He didnt budge…he was on to me. This book was from the U.S.A.!! This wasnt available in small town Clarenville Newfoundland..this was from the United States Of America which carried a great deal of cache back in the day! I came out on the losing end of the trade that day as I gave up one of my coveted Blue Devil issues and god knows what else to claim this issue of the Fly..I know I had been duped but in the end I came away with what I wanted so it was short term pain.

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The glorious Steranko cover art and beautiful interiors this issue of The Fly was a revelation! My god there existed life outside of Marvel and DC!! Now I felt relatively in sync with the comics industry and bought many publishers like Charlton, Harvey, and Archie I thought I knew it all there was to know. How did I miss the existence of  The Red Circle imprint Aka The Archie Adventure Series I began sifting through the ads inside and my Overstreet Price Guide to find out what titles existed and there were a ton of them. I eventually discovered that these characters were around since the Golden Age!! This was prior to the era of the internet kids..it was not as simple as a google search!!

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The characters were pure Golden Age! Names like The Shield, The Fly, The Comet, The Black Hood, The Jaguar, and The Web were fascinating to me! Not only was this my first introduction to them but they seemed like an elusive mystery to me and the fact that their recent (80s!!) adventures could not be purchased on the comic spinner racks in my home town only heightened my interest! In fact the characters were so steeped in comics lore that their first appearances dated back as far as 1940!

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In the pages of Pep Comics #1 exploded a very familiar looking character The Shield!! This United States patriotic character was one of the first of his kind and pre-dated our generations super patriot Captain America! Created by Irv Novick (Artist) and Harry Shorten (Writer) The Shield was born of the times and World War 2 fascination. Amazingly this would also be the first appearance of another one of the soon to be Mighty Crusaders The Comet in a single issue!!

Around the same time in Oct 1940 also debuted The Black Hood in Top Notch Comics #9. The Black Hood was an interesting character. The character would be played by a number of individuals who would take up the notion of vigilante justice after each previous Hood would either die.. or pass on the mantel of the hood to the next individual. The Hood itself would be “cursed” as nearly all its wearers would die passing it like a proverbial torch to another bearer. The “hood ” itself went from a stereotypical heroic cowl style of mask to a full on executioners hood. The Hood was the one character in the Crusaders who would “Cross The Line” into killing his opponents in the name of justice. Interestingly when the Red Circle brand resurfaced in the early 80s the Black Hood would be the character that would regress the most costume wise while other Crusaders sported updated flashy modern costumes. The Black Hood would debut on a Motorcycle in biker leathers and a tight leather “Mugger” mask.

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Later that year in 1940 creators Joe Simon and Jack “King” Kirby famously created a character strikingly similar to The Shield, the one and only Captain America. Fortunately  this was not the era of expensive lawsuits so Cap would go on to mega fame unscathed by class action lawsuits! Clearly they had an eye on what MLJ was doing as they went on to create a Crusader themselves.. The Fly!! He 1st appeared in the late 50s making his full debut in Adventures Of The Fly #1 in 1959.

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The Fly had a very appealing design that in no coincidence looked very much like Blue Beetle in design. The individual that would wear the Fly suit was  Capital Cities crack lawyer Tommy Troy. Tommy  was able to fly, communicate with insects via his telepathic abilities, use size manipulation among others. By night Tommy became the Fly, fighting the criminal underbelly of Capital City!  He also frequently had his own female counterpart like many in the day.. Fly-Girl! He was also a hero similar to the Blue Beetle (Charlton’s Steve Ditko version of Beetle… Ted Kord) in that he has sizable Eye bubbles and they share a gun which many heroes did not during the 70’s and 80’s especially. The Archie run of the Fly is one of the best MLJ hero books they pubished as Ditko took the reigns in the titles last half (Issues 5-8) of publication for Archie and made The Fly a damaged defamed  Hero on the run! Great stuff kids you need to track down the 9 issue run which was a lot of fun under Archie’s Red Circle imprint!!

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They were then joined by The Web in 1942 created by John Cassone for MLJ. This college criminology professor turned superhero turned his investigative skills into a crime fighting career. Using his College smarts he was able to profile and defeat criminals for the sheer enjoyment of one upping the criminal element. The Web was a character  whose creators gave the unusual spin of being one of the first comic characters who essentially was a domesticated superhero that was for all intents and purposes was  “Whipped”. The key trait to this and following versions would be his married life impacting the way he performed as a hero. Upon discovering that her husband was running around stopping crime in spandex John finally succumbs to the marital pressures and retires leaving a life of crime fighting to deal with the battles of home life!

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The next incarnation of The Web is the one I am most familiar with as the original webs son John Raymond Jr. returned to comics in Fly-Man #36 under most famously Superman’s Co-Creator Jerry Siegel. Humourously the concept of the steroetypical “Nagging Wife” would return but went a step further. As John took on the criminal underbelly as the Web his wife would unbeknownst to him would don a super suit as Pow-Girl and join him on his exploits without revealing her identity to him!! Fortunately this version of the Web would drop all the silver age silliness and this Web would re-debut in the 80s under Archie’s Red Circle banner and would become my favorite of all the Mighty Crusaders!

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The Shield, The Web, The Fly, Fly Girl , The Comet, The Jaguar, and The Black Hood and many others during various incarnations of the group would all Unite under one collective Super Powered group known as The Mighty Crusaders! Archie seemed to have nailed the Superhero concept or at least had great clay to work from with the MLJ Characters!  I loved every issue I uncovered. It didnt matter the condition wether they were torn, stained, or even coverless I just wanted my Red Circle comics!!

Mighty Crusaders Cover Gallery?? Okay..we got you covered!! Computer…load Archie Adventure Series Red Circle Mighty Crusaders!!

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Its no secret that I was a fan of action figures as is well  documented on this blog..when my old nemesis Remco would adapt the Crusaders into Action figure form. Check out my previous article on DC’s Warlord figures also notoriously by Remco. The company did not have a history of making “Quality” toys instead they relied on working from established concepts popular at the time and doing something “Similar”. Yes if He-man was popular Remco created the line of “Conan” or “Warlord” figures which were not coincidentally clones of the He-Man toyline. LJN Struck gold with their WWF license to create Professional Wrestling figures and Remco went with AWA Mat Mania figures. This time Mego was red hot with this Worlds Greatest Heroes SuperHero figure line and low and behold… Remco grabbed the semi obscure Mighty Crusaders action figures!

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Remco created eight figures in total and had an equal roster of good guys and bad guys..4 on each side to be exact! the line up were as below!

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  • The Comet. Prior to Marvels X-Man, Cyclops there was the Comet..that visor is something multiple characters would come to rip off!!

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  • The Fox. A cool design and character. The Fox was always one of the coolest heroes from the Archie Adventure line and was their answer to Black Panther / Batman..but not as interesting as either.

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  • The Shield. Its Captain Ameri…no wait..its the Shield. Even though this character may have influenced multiple American based heroes later in comics history he is still the single greatest design of the Crusaders!

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  • The Web. Always loved the Web!! Loved the color scheme and Web cape! I gurantee you , One year soon on Halloween you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be the Web..

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  • The Brain Emperor. The bad guys were very uninspired as is the case with the poorly designed Brain Emperor. Alan Moore himself would not have been able to save this Mort and his goons!

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  • The Buzzard. Every universe has their “Bird” villain..they also managed to snatch all the cool bird names. With The Falcon and The Vulture we get the sinister Buzzard!! Doesnt work at all does it??

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  • The Eraser. Despite the very cool double bandolier, the only thing the Eraser “erased” were several plates of cheeseburgers..That said.. he is the happiest villain I have ever seen!

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  • The Sting. By god Remco loved their skull faced villains!! In the era of Masters Of The Universe and the patriarch of the Skull Face.. Skeletor…is the reason why we allow jabronies like Sting to exist. That said..as a kid, Skull faces ruled and chances are this would have been my first bad-guy if I had a choice If I know “kid me” well enough!

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The comic ads got me so excited to get my hands on these great looking toys. Remco to their defense always got some of the best artists to design their comic book ads as well as their packaging! With Remco’s Sgt. Rock for example Remco scored the legendary Joe Kubert to draft their in comic ads as well as figure packaging!!

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They would score again with the great Steve Ditko taking the reigns with the Crusaders!! Ditko drew the wonderful ads that baited me originally and scored the packaging on the toys as well!! The problem however was the product that was delivered. The figures themselves had a certain charm but upon further inspection they were woefully impractical. There was something very weird about their hip structure. Their legs appeared shorter, almost baby like on some figures giving them a very odd look visually. As well, Remco..stealing a page out of Marvels Secret Wars toys, each toy came with a shield? I am still wondering what the fascination with the shield as a accessory was in the day?? That said with all their quirks and 80s weirdness The Crusaders were a win for this Hero!!

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The Heroes themselves were pretty well designed. I would kill for a Web figure! The Shield looked great with vibrant colors and I even gave his shield a pass.I had no idea who the Fox was but the figure was excellent. The Comet however was a comedy of errors. Not only did he come with a Shield but he also came with a bandolier and gun!!? This Comet was packin heat folks!! These toys were amazingly rare in my hometown. The odd figure would appear in a toy box or two in my travels to friends houses but no one I knew had the “set” or even a significant amount enough to say the collected them.

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The amount of Mighty Crusaders merchandise on the market though small by today’s standards, was surprising for a franchise many people today outside of retro fanatics (Like myself and many of the folks reading this post!) whom may never had heard of the property. One of the coolest items was the rare Mighty Crusaders Board Game! It sported a very heroic box art! The fun didnt stop there as the Crusaders were splashed all over the typical fare of the era such as water guns, disc saucer guns, walkie talkies, things that today would be considered dollar store toys! *Merchandise photos are all compliments of our friends at one of my all time favorite Retro sites  Plaid Stallions visit them and enjoy their absolute wealth of nostalgic riches!!

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I was however disappointed to find that there was no Mighty Crusaders Doctor Kit which was a trope in the dollar toy industry that every franchise took advantage of. Missed opportunity? However not to be disappointed we did get  very cool Crusader stunt cycles and parachute figures!

With a property that seemed so viable with several comics series, and plenty of merchandise to go with it how is it that the majority of the  World do not remember the MLJ characters? How is it that these characters are not household names? Well as fond of memories as I have for these characters , comics and merchandise the fact is that the line did not get over with the masses. The direct market format for Archie’s Adventure line went against the mass media publication market like they did with their digests and floppys sold at anywhere magazines were sold to a more niche distribution which hurt the line. Would we be telling a different story had the Archie Adventure Line been as readily available as Archie’s Digest series on every Supermarket Shelf? I feel they would have. The same goes for the toyline. Remco was a decent toymaker that sadly did not have the deep international penetration of Kenner or Mattel as a result many never even knew The Crusaders ever existed on a toy shelf. So both the comics and the toys suffered from limits on distribution but still manged to deliver a competitive product certainly comparable with the toyfare of the time.

The Archie Adventure Series came out of the gate roaring. Many forget that Archie Comics lured some of the industries most acclaimed artists in the business including Jack “King” Kirby, Steve Ditko , Jim Steranko just to name a few to work on these books!Would it be enough with the comics industry on the verge of the big comics boom of the 1990s?? Archie brought multiple titles to comics shelves and the world opened their doors once again to the classic MLJ hero universe!!

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My personal favorite of the lot was The All New Adventures Of The Mighty Crusaders that lasted 13 issues. See The Cover Gallery above kids for this one! This title came second place for the longest run of issues in the line and was probably the most action packed of all the titles as it featured all Crusaders and even some new ones in a full on team book.

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Blue Ribbon Comics 1-14 This one was a rehash of the old MLJ series from 1939 of the same name which was essentially a anthology series which told new stories from alternating characters in the universe. This edition from the Archie Adventure series was the longest lasting title in the line! It alternated stories of the Mighty Crusaders individual exploits. Mostly it featured The Fly and The Black Hood. The Art was probably the best of all series in the line and featured purposely an alternating roster of creative talent including Kirby, Ditko, Buckler, to name a few!

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The Fly 1-9 My favorite of the solo books! The Fly featured beautiful Steranko Covers as featured above as well as interior art from one of comics masters Steve Ditko for the last issues of the series. The adventures of the fly were very standard comics fare with one and done villain of the week stories that were wrapped up in a neat bow by the end of twenty something pages just how I loved it as a kid!

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Lancelot Strong: The Shield. This book had an identity crisis. It began as Lancelot Strong the Shield for issues 1-2 , Then changed into The Shield Steel Sterling for issue 3 before switching altogether into just simply Steel Sterling for its final 4 issues of its existence beginning with issue 5. It also had the dubious distinction of sharing two brands as well. It began under the imprint Red Circle before switching out to just the Archie Adventure Series on the 5th issue that also marked the final title change.Steel Sterling was a basic solo Adventure series which served a a bridge between the old MLJ universe and the new Archiverse.

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Steel Sterling (Previously Lancelot Strong for issues 1-3) Switches to Steel Sterling with issues 4-7.This title was the ugly step-child of the group in that it was the one title that seemed to change every issue and lacked direction and consistency. As individual issues this title was okay ..as a collected work Steel Sterling was a tough road to hoe!

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The Original Shield was another short lived title that ran 4 issues that served as the origin story of the Original Shield. This title mirrored closest early era Captain America as The Shield battled Nazi’s all the while being a super patriot.Ironically he did NOT have a shield when it counted!! The title was much better than the newer incarnation of the Shield as well had so great Dick Ayres artwork. Worth a look!

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As it would come to pass.. The Archie Adventure line was a failure and all things Mighty Crusaders disappeared from comic spinner racks, and toy shelves. By 1985 the MLJ Heroes were resigned to long boxes in the quarter bins of the 80s basement dwelling comics shops and the bottoms of toy-boxes…and that was the final breathe for this classic group of heroes…UNTIL..

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In 1991…The Archie Adventure Series Heroes were all re-imagined under comics super power DC Comics to form their brand new imprint IMPACT!

But THAT friends..is a story for another day…TO BE CONTINUED…

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Welcome Back Heroes! I have all the corp together today in a hidden part of the Satellite…. the gaming simulation deck. We are orbiting over the desert planet of Tatooine, home of the notorious Hutts that we are familiar with as fans of the Star Wars franchise. I am about to take us all to the Star Wars version of the Bermuda triangle..the notorious Sarlacc Pit! Its a place even the bravest of souls fear. As this is a simulation..we are going straight into the mouth of The Mighty Sarlacc! Strap in tight crew..this could go bad at any point!

Transmission Date Oct. 5 2016

Birthdays as a kid always were an exciting time. It meant sometimes a party, friends, cake, and of course getting stuff! Unlike Christmas, Birthdays were the only times you didnt have to go by the “Giving is better than receiving” mantra. It was 1983 and I was turning 9 and as you all know I was a huge Star Wars toy collector! I had not yet seen the third chapter of the Star Wars series Return of the Jedi as we did not have a theater in our community at that point…however I did see the merchandise and felt despite not having seen the movie I had a good grasp on this thing.

The commericals for the toys told me all  the backstory I needed while I waited to hit a theater to see the movie. My Marvel Comics Adaptation spoiled the hell of the movie so I was an expert before I saw it on the big screen ruining it for any of my friends who dared go to the movie before me. 

Merchandise for the first two movies were pretty extensive. There were a plethora of action figures and multiple playsets and vehicles available for The original movie and its sequel Empire. Things changed with Jedi however..we saw plenty of figures and vehicles..however Playsets took a significant hit. With so many key scenes in the movie some of the toys were recycled from the empire collections but among the vast collection there were few playsets to encompass the great sets of Jedi! No Jabbas palace and or Skiff Barge? No new Death Star? They did have an amazing Ewok treehouse set that almost makes me forgive them for dialing back on the big sets.

One glaring ommission was the Sarlacc Pit! If there was ever a playset waiting to be made it was that. A key part of Return Of The Jedi was when Jabba The Hutt ordered the rebel Heroes Han, Luke and Chewbacca be thrown to their death into a large pit containing The Sarlacc Monster that swallowed living things whole..including humans! The heroes were delivered over the top of the Sarlacc via a wicked floating skiff barge and sports the biggest action scene in the movie! Yet…no Sarlacc Pit toy was made in that time. The toy commerical had kids playing with a bucket and sand to simulate the infamous scene! 

Vintage Star Wars Commercials! CLICK HERE TO WATCH!

For all intents and purposes Star wars kids better have an active imagination to recreate this part of the movie! Then it happened..Parker Brothers the leading board game company at the time released the closest thing to a Great Pit Of Carkoon playset as we would get..The Battle At Sarlacc’s Pit board game! It was a multiplayer boardgame which featured a cardboard 3D Sarlacc Pitt complete with hole in the mouth area to swallow game pieces! It also boasted an excellent cardboard skiff! Finally…I had myself a small skiff and Sarlacc! Ill be honest..I may have played the game twice then it simply became a playset for my figures!! It was probably a little less cool than I am describing but I have strong memories of unwrapping and playing with this thing!!

Was the game itself anygood? The answer is simple….NO. To understand how this is possible Ill fill you padawans into why the game aspect of the toy sucked. First lets start with more positive…not only did we get cool 3D versions of a Skiff and The Mighty Sarlacc pit we also got 16 StarWars plactic molded mini figures. I hated them at the time as they were non posable..poorly painted and very small. We got a very horrible Jabba figure which was very stumpy, poorly painted and small? They didnt even try with Jabba clearly…

 We also got a decent Nikto figure (What no Weequay??) and 9 Gammorean Guard figures! We also got a Boba Fett pawn which would normally excite any Star Wars fan..but sadly he too was poorly rendered and painted. 

The 4 Player pawns of course were Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Princess Leia. Leia was surprisingly NOT in her slave girl costume from the actual scene in the movie but rather she was clad in her Endor forest garb?? Not sure if the powers that be assumed the slave gear was not kid friendly but eitherway having Leia in her Endor moon attire in the miserable desert heat is an interesting quirk! 

The game play was very simple. The skiff itself was the game board and featured a number of tiles from one side to the other of which the player pawns moved about. Most of the spots on the board where taken up by Jabbas cronies. On the very opposite of the board rested the vile Hutt himself Jabba! 

The objective of the game was to cross the skiff successfully to the other side while dispatching Jabbas goons into the waiting Sarlacc and avoiding getting eliminated yourself to finally send Jabba packing and become the winner! 

Sounds fun right!! It sure did..however the ackward board setup did not give a ton of surface space to actually play so you were constantly sweeping extra undeserving badguys into the pit and sometimes your fellow players! As frustrating as the falling pawns situation was the card system sucked too. As you knocked badguys into the pit you collected points cards and of course whoever collected the most card points won the game..the trick is though usually the first player always had the advantage..ugghh.

After exactly two days the cards and plastic game pawns were discarded into the closet and the Cardboard Skiff and Sarlacc Pit became the best Sarlacc Pit Playset available for Return Of The Jedi at the time!!

In summary..despite the poor game play and horrendous figurine collection this game is an amazing playset..so I would encourage collectors to not pass over this rare piece of Star Wars history!

So much for this post being a Flash Transmission as we went slightly into overtime but it was well worth it! 

Hope you have enjoyed your stay aboard The SuperHero Satellite much more to come in the coming weeks…stay tuned!!

Transmission Ended..

 

 

Final Days of The AWA

Welcome Back Heroes! The Satellite archives have initialized and a we are on course into a Black Hole to furthest reaches of the inter-webs where no wrestling site has dared cover. The viewing deck of the Satellite has completed scanning the vintage files and today our journey takes us to the year 1986. During our time here we will witness a once dominant wrestling company on the brink of annihilation from a relentless competitor. Their glory days  are heralded…their final hours stand largely undocumented. Today we will review  the final days of The American Wrestling Association.

Begin Transmission: 07/08/2016

Anyone who knows me knows I am “That guy who likes wrestling”. To some that may be a good thing, to others they may not admit to knowing me at times but I digress. I have watched Pro Wrestling passionately since 1986. I was a huge WWF (World Wrestling Federation aka WWE for todays fan..did I just do that?) mark, but as my wrestling passion grew I took a strong liking to the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance aka WCW in case you didn’t know!) Hell I watched everything I could at the time which was not much with our weak cable lineup. I managed to get WWF, which had two shows a week and if we were real lucky we got a Saturday Nights Main Event every now and then! With NWA you managed to get it sporadically when ever one of the cable networks got a local clearance. Usually it aired late night Saturday Night well into the witching hour! I also absorbed a brief run of UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation ran by Bill Watts!) Sunday afternoons for a short period just prior to its NWA acquisition. Living in Canada I was treated to Stampede Wrestling Saturday Mornings for 2 hours! On top of all this I caught up with all the other promotions on a Wrestling Highlights show called Pro Wrestling Plus hosted by Stampede Announcer Ed Whalen! One show however caught my imagination and despite it being in its final years as a viable promotion The American Wrestling Association was a favorite of mine every Wednesday evening on TSN!

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AWA began as a Minnesota based wrestling territory in 1960 bleeding off the National Wrestling Alliance banner in the South. The AWA under the guidance of owner Verne Gagne and Wally Karbo. The AWA for those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of watching it boasted a massive roster of stars and future stars that would one day transform wrestling as we knew it in the 80s. Names like Hulk Hogan, Jesse The Body Ventura, The Road Warriors, Rick Martel, Stan Hansen, The Freebird’s, Mean Gene Okerland, Bobby The Brain Heenan and a ton more would hit the big time after departing the company for greener pastures in the WWF and NWA and become the biggest stars in the industry. Sustaining losses of this magnitude left the AWA scrambling to keep its spot among the top of the best wrestling promotions in North America. It was the birthplace of Hulkamania long before the WWF turned him into a household name. How did a promotion who had the biggest available roster of talent as well as the single biggest young star just breaking in the business simply implode upon itself? The answers are not as clear as you would think!

 

The Gagne Problem:

Verne Gagne who booked the promotion was certain to protect his business. The cartoon circus atmosphere of the WWF was the exact opposite of what he thought wrestling should be, however that’s what the audience of the mid 80s were clamoring for. The Rock and Wrestling Era was born and Verne’s ideals were being left behind in the dust. Despite people talking in his ear, Gagne wanted to present straight wrestling. He didn’t value the musical entrances, the flashy costumes and the over the top cartoon gimmicks. Verne maintained a firm belief that HIS idea about pro wrestling was strictly wrestling in the squared circle. The Gagne’s were in essence cementing their companies grave. The territory system of wrestling had a defined set of rules were promoters all around the United States followed the age-old handshake agreement not to interfere with the business of another territorial promotion. Championship reigns were discussed and the local scene was highly regulated…until the World Wrestling Federation broke all the rules of engagement. Gagnes old school mentality was about to be shattered. Agreements and unspoken rules were ignored and broken as a result the grim reaper was looming and its next victim would be the AWA. The AWA would not go quickly to its grave however it survived from late 1986 to its last hour in the early 90s. A  company set in its ways  was about to get a lesson in “Changing With The Times”a battle in which Verne Gagne would be dragged kicking and screaming  until it was too late.

 

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Many would argue that the glory years of the promotion were over midway through the 80s and the remaining years are rarely mentioned in discussions on the AWA. I had quite a fondness for this era as a kid and like everything I watched back then. I was hopelessly hooked! Sadly the Hulk Hogan’s were replaced with Curt Hennig, The Road Warriors and The Freebirds were replaced by The Midnight Rockers and Playboy Buddy Rose and Doug Summers. Mean Gene was now replaced by Larry Nelson,Lee Marshall, and a young brash Eric Bischoff. Yes..times changed but little did we know that despite the apparent diminished roster (Not in this writers opinion!!) we were also witnessing the birth of a whole New Generation of wrestling stars.

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The first televised AWA TV show that was stuck in my memory featured one of my faves Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka (Pre-Murder Charges)  feuding with Col. Debeer’s a wrestler with a  racist South African Militant gimmick. Snuka was pushed off the top rope to the concrete floor and that was followed up with a series of piledriver’s to the  concrete floor busting Superfly horrificaly wide open . This was NOT Saturday Morning WWF Superstars Of Wrestling..this was dead serious wrestling. It was a train wreck I couldnt look away from. Tuning in week after week I was introduced to a whole new world of talent ….and others not so talented.

The Last Act.

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Any discussion in this era cannot begin without discussing one of the AWAs hottest exports The Midnight Rockers. A team obviously “Inspired” by the success of NWA’s Rock N Roll Express. Shawn Micheal’s and Marty Jannetty were a level of excitement that was hard to explain. To my childhood eyes The Rockers were “cool” and I mean really cool. They were built better that the Express, they dressed better and wore great sunglasses. Plus even in those days you could tell that Shawn and Marty were more than a little special. They drop kicked higher, and were over like no one else on that show. Bottom line the Midnight Rockers were electric! With a depleted tag scene the Rockers came at just the right time! Their long-term opponents were the make shift team of Playboy Buddy Rose and Pretty Boy Doug Summers who were managed by Sherri Martel. Rose and Summers at the time were the AWA Tag Team Champions and in my 11-year-old mind I never understood why. Rose was seriously out of shape and Somers was a shade above jobber status and not in shape either but they could bump and magically played well off of their popular polar opposites The Midnight Rockers.

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It would be a lesson in psychology as it was the first time I got to digest “The Chase” as The Rockers could not take the belts away from these heels and often came up short-handed. It was not until months later the Rockers finally won a title shot in a very bloody Steel Cage match in December of 1986! The Rockers would win the tag straps just a month later and I was super excited. This in my opinion, was the best wrestling outside of the WWF or at least comparable! I had not experienced the glory days so I had no idea that this was the worst product the AWA had produced for years. Then something happened that would be repeated time and time again for AWA’s final years…the WWF came knocking for Shawn and Marty. This would play out with the AWA champions time and time again as you will soon see and as a result winning a title was basically your ticket OUT of the AWA and for viewers..that sucked.Then came the Russians..

AWA Russians

As a fan, I did not get to enjoy The Midnight Rockers as Tag Team champions as they dropped the straps abruptly to a less than stellar Russian tag team of Soldat Ustinov and Boris Zhukov. I could really tell that this Russian team were not top calibre performers. Soldat Ustinov didnt look anymore Russian than I was and paled in comparison to a “Real” Russian that I watched every week on WWF TV, Nikolai Volkoff! The other half of the AWAs Russians was Boris Zhukov a very strange looking wrestler with a giant head however Boris managed to look “Russian” enough to pull off the act. These guys had no business beating The Rockers and even as a kid I felt something was up but I was still too young to figure out what politics were transpiring behind the scenes in the wrestling world.

The “Cool” Curt Hennig Era

 While the Tag Team situation was very cloudy The Heavyweight singles division was about to experience its final bright period.  Nick Bockwinkle was multiple times the AWA’s champion and it was evident that change was coming to fight the rushing tide of the WWF. Bockwinkle as good as he was represented the old guard and the company had to freshen things up at the top of the card. Bockwinkle to me seeemed older but surprised me how good he was on the mic and with bumping in the ring! Bockwinkle rarely defended on televisionwith one fatal exception…The Nick Bockwinkle vs.Verne Gagne retirement match! I knew this as his match inside and out as it was shown over and over ad nauseam. In this much ballyhooed match Gagne defeated Bockwinkle to win the strap..only to give it back to him later by default as Gagne officially retired.I always felt this not only devalued the AWA title but also Bockwinkle to simply accept a belt after LOSING!!? As we will learn AWA straps in this era would hold very little value. The title switched back and forth between Slick Nick, Otto Wanz, Jumbo Tsuruta, Rick Martel, and Stan Hansen just to name a few but always came back to the warm hands of Bockwinkle who booker Verne Gagne trusted with the prestigious championship.The only problem was that on two occasions Nick was simply “Handed” the title without winning any match? This would only be the start of the issues with the official lineage of the AWA title!

BockwinkleAWAchamp

 

Nick Bockwinkle’s character had transformed in this period from a distinguished intellectual heel who used big words on ever occasion to smooth confident face champion. Bockwinkle, who was famously paired with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan in a dynamic heel duo, was now solo as Heenan had been swept to the greener pastures of the WWF . Gagne was watching the early stages of his companies fall from grace. Nick was a great technician and one of the most aired matches of the AWA TSN show was a match against a young upstart named Curt Henning.

CurtHennig

 

Hennig was very good at this time. He was no rookie and had tenure in the ring in AWA and WWF and was also  fresh off a tag team run with Big Scott Hall...(yes that Scott Hall) who had also left the AWA for the NWA.  Nick would accept Hennig’s challenge on AWA TV only to go to a time limit draw which I bought hook line and sinker. Hennig had come so far and with this match and had “proven” with his time in the ring he was “ready’ Curt was given a rematch at AWA’s Superclash 87. This was a pivotal match for the company as it was not only  Bockwinkle’s unofficial exit from the company but also began a serious heel turn for Hennig. Curt Hennig won the AWA World title with some controversial help from long time AWA heel Larry Zybysko and an infamous “Roll Of Dimes”. Curt went on to be a great heel and a real stand out for the AWA! Hennig’s earnest baby face promos were replaced by a new “Cool” Curt persona and as the weeks went by Hennig began showing the seeds of his future role in the WWF as Mr. Perfect. It is fair to say Curt “Perfected” his  future role in the AWA!

MadusaAWA

Finally the AWA’s woman’s division was also barely alive at this time but as with everything else in the company it too was reeling from the effects of the WWF’s national expansion. Not even the ladies were safe from Vince McMahon’s deep WWF pocket book. Longtime AWA female competitor and champion Sherri Martel, was a big part of the AWA’s fabric. Not only was she AWA women’s champion but she was also manager to Somers and Rose and Mr.Magnificent Kevin Kelly just to name a few. Martel was a very gifted wrestler and a great manager. Sherri brought the best out of everyone she shared the spotlight with. She was a legitimately tough lady who was a weird mix of leather tough and unusually sexy. She was the center piece to their makeshift women’s division and a big part of the men’s scene as well. The WWF loomed over this division as well stealing the very talented Martel for  own women’s division. Thankfully the AWA was given a present…as Martel exited another talent emerged in the form of Madusa Miceli! Madusa was a very raw wrestler who seemed to have not only the look of a champion but carried herself like a bona-fide star in the ring. Miceli was the key to keeping the women’s division on life support as well as filling the role as Martel’s impromptu replacement with talent. Madusa formally took over Martel’s role as valet for Kevin Kelly. Martel would leave the AWA without dropping the women’s title thus leaving the title vacant. (Title Vacancies Haunted The AWA during this period) After a title tournament Micelli defeated longtime division stalwart, Candi Devine to win the AWA Women’s title. Madusa would throw herself into the main event scene managing the newly minted heel champion Curt Hennig.

VinceTakeover

Despite the massive losses incurred, the AWA had its own new generation of stars with Hennig, The Rockers and Madusa at the top of the card. As a new fan I loved this version of the AWA. I connected with all these new stars. Maybe..just maybe, the AWA could survive the onslaught of Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr. and his national expansion talent purchases. Many of the wrestlers who got WWF contracts went on to big money contracts and national exposure that would keep them employed years after their performing years were over. The WWF took care of their performers financially like no other company had before and as a result when Vinnie Mac called..you went!  McMahon was a visionary at that time, and looked at wrestling through a new lens. He adopted popular mediums at the time such as music and entertainment and carefully weaved it into a wrestling tapestry. What Vince was doing was creating the future of the industry while others like Verne Gagne and many inside the AWA battled hard to keep away from their company. A costly error in hindsight.  Sadly this would be the last hope the AWA had to stay relevant and the seams of the company would come undone near the end of 1987 at the height of the WWF.

 

The next year things would begin to sink in. The Midnight Rockers left the AWA for a very brief stint in the WWF re-minting themselves as “The Rockers” in effect desolating the AWA Tag Team scene. As Verne Gagne was looking at life after the Rockers, a partnership with Jerry Lawler and The CWA (Championship Wrestling ) in mid 1989 looked to cross promote events and utilize new talent on both promotions TV. The idea was sound but the execution showed pure desperation. To make matters even worse the talent raids had spilled into the latter end of the undercard too as WWF took the AWA Tag team champions again just months after taking their previous tag champions. It seemed like every time a champion was crowned the WWF was there waiting to scoop them up! This time however they came for one half of the Russians Boris Zhukov leaving Soldat Ustinov alone. The decision was made to place him with Doug Somers who as well lost his partner Buddy Rose to the WWF as well.

cwa

 

The cracks were widening and maybe the CWA partnership could slow the bleeding. I was a huge wrestling magazine fan as well a fan of Pro Wrestling Plus so I was aware of the Memphis Territory and had seen a small dose of their product which was very good. I had read all about The King Jerry Lawler and when Bill Dundee and The King won the tag team straps in October of 1987 I was excited again see him finally on my TV screen! ! Lawler was magnetic on the mic and his promos were very well done..and I had something to celebrate. So with zero storyline background on screen, Lawler and Dundee appeared on AWA TV with belts in hand!

Lawler Dundee Champs

Trying to stay relevant, the AWA always tried to appear unharmed in the face of extensive roster losses so CWA manager Paul E Dangerously made his AWA debut touting his new team The Midnight Express!! I was shocked. One of my favorite tag teams of the day was the NWA’s Midnight Express consisted of Beautiful Bobby Eaton and Sweet Stan Lane!! Instead the AWA produced “The Original” Midnight Express Loverboy Dennis Condrey (Who could lay claim to being a Midnighter in my eyes as he was in the first version of The Express that I had watched prior to the Eaton/ Lane pairing.) and Ravishing Randy Rose.

OrignalMidnights

 

Both Condrey and Rose were well past their prime by the time they debuted in the AWA but were held up by Dangerously and his exceptional promos skills. Only little over two weeks of being on AWA TV as the tag team champions The Midnight Express defeated champs  Lawler and Dundee for the AWA straps and the Memphis legends returned to their promotion. Even as a young fan I felt the instability.

The Age Problem

Vern interview

Meanwhile on The Heavyweight Front, AWA Champion Curt Hennig was tearing it up! Hennig was now partnered with Madusa Micelli and was well into his cocky heel persona. The Heavyweight scene was littered with a sprinkling of wrestlers well past their prime and thus some of the match pairings did not add up to quality matches. The likes of Baron Von Rashke, Col. DeBeers, Wahoo McDaniel, Sgt. Slaughter, and Crusher Jerry Blackwell filled time on AWAs TV show and it was apparent that things were quickly falling. Jerry Blackwell at the time was almost immobile and slowly drifted from TV after a feud with Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissey and his cronies Debeers and The Iron Sheik!.

Vern interview

Wahoo McDaniel was still very much over with AWA TV audiences embroiled himself with younger talent at the time against Curt Hennig for the belt as well later with Larry Zybysko always chasing the title but never capturing it! Wahoo’s strap matches aired often on AWA’s tv show and he remained a beloved character on the show! His matches were still at that time workable. Wahoo was smart enough to pair himself with up and coming heels like Hennig and The Destruction Crew in the ring and as a result gave them a rub while masking the age factor.

Baronawa

Baron Von Rashke was one of the worst examples of the “Age Problem”. In 88 he had become unreliable in the ring and unable to bump or able to piece together a sensible match like he did in his heyday! In the NWA years prior or even as short a time as 4 years back when he was the AWA Tag Team Champion with The Crusher, The Baron was a solid competitor but the ship had long sailed on his days as an active competitor. He still did his bizarre promos but looked very visibly aged in the ring and was a shining example of the AWA’s unfortunate pruning by Vince and his growing national powerhouse the WWF.

SlaughterAWA

Sgt. Slaughter was another story. Slaughter, whom had a great run early in his run with the AWA in the mid 80s, returned in 88 for another run. He was heavily pushed with his G.I.Joe “Americas Hero” gimmick. He was heavily financially sponsored by Hasbro the toy company riding high off the success of The G.I. Joe toy line and cartoon!. He was an immediate hit battling Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissey cronies The Iron Sheik (Who he feuded with extensively in the past) and Col. Debeers.Slaughter had gained some weight and was older but was very much still serviceable in the ring. He would end up riding out his AWA meal ticket almost to their final days and being a viable main event star for the remainder.

Create A Star

The unfortunate reality at the time was that the AWA’s roster was heavy with aging wrestlers who were nearing the end of their careers as in ring performers. The AWA’s main event roster was aged out and it seemed whom ever the AWA would build into a viable star, the WWF was fast to sign them. Verne Gagne who was resistant to change and slow to adapt to the changing landscape of wrestling that the WWF was now in control of shaping. Finally listening to reason the AWA broke down and began giving new acts a chance.Results were varied.

Leonwhitecanvas

Leon “Bull Power” White. The man who would be Vader made a brief appearance in the AWA as the Baby Bull (Later Bull Power) after his career in football ended. White was literally a baby faced rookie who was extremely green in the ring. Leon used a very basic moves set but had an unusual look that made him unique. White did not connect with the fans during this run and his value as an in ring performer was in question. His time was short-lived in the promotion but in 87 with his one career highlight was fighting Stan Hansen for the AWA title. It would be Hansen who stormed out of the AWA Belt in hand for Japna who also gave White the connection to move to Japan and find fame as Big Van Vader! Nuff said!

SnowNSteveO

Jammin Mitch Snow and Steve O. Two white bread baby faces who were Gagne’s attempt to bring in some good-looking high-flying talent and he rolled the dice with Mitch Snow or Steve O. The earnest Mitch Snow seemed to always be on TV and in the middle of doing something special then pulled back before he hit any kind of stride in the win department. Most of his matches, no matter who they were with, were time limit draws in a weird sort of twist. His early pairings were against Madusa’s charges Kevin Kelly and Nick Kiniski! However Snow never caught on with the crowd who were clearly exhausted with the lackluster product and it was obviously not fertile ground to grow new stars. Eventually he teamed up with AWA midcard job guy turned marginal midcarder Steve Olsonoski or Steve O for short. If they weren’t fighting each other they were on the losing side of a tag team match most notably The Nasty Boys. With very few wins and limited TV time, both men when back into wrestling purgatory.Both men were decently talented and did their duty getting acts over.

KevinKellyAWA

Mr. Magnificient Kevin Kelly was a 6 foot 5 inch tall Minnesota native and was the definition of jacked in his time with the AWA. Mr. Magnificent was managed originally by Sherry Martel, and his one stand out moment in the AWA would be his feud with a newly arrived Wildfire Tommy Rich. One of his most famous angles was his Arm Wrestling Challenge for 10’000 dollars that was answered by Tommy Rich which catapulted their feud. In fact, a large stretch of his tenure late in his AWA career was dedicated to his feud with Tommy Rich.Kelly was stiff as a board in the ring, he bumped awkwardly and his offense looked very light. It would be years later in the WWF as Nailz that he would finally get a break in wrestling.With bear hugs, sleepers and chokes, Kelly was not going to be their answer to staying alive despite a strong feud with the popular Rich.

The Cast Offs

Then there were the cast offs.Many names who’s usefulness expired in the big two of the NWA and the powerhouse WWF, landed for brief stops in the AWA and were given instant pushes despite having little AWA credibility. Desperate for star power the AWA took several “Names” and hoped it would lead to a turn around or a reverse exodus away from the WWF which was becoming the wrestling equivalent to a vacuum.

TommyRich AWA

The aforementioned former NWA wrestler the popular Tommy Rich had fallen out of favor with the NWA after winning their world title only to lose it as quickly. Rich had gotten more out of shape and his name value had plummeted but he managed to make a feud out of Kevin Kelly something no one else on the roster managed to accomplish.

AdrianAdonisAWA

One of the saddest cast off was Adrian Adonis who had a falling out with WWF after Wrestlemania 3 due to his ever-increasing waistline. By the time he surfaced in the AWA Adonis looked nothing like the Adonis who teamed with Jesse Ventura to make the East West connection in the companies prime years. Adrian was still an effective heel. He was managed by Paul E Dangerously and the two were a very effective combo. Adrian got into a short series of matches with Tommy Rich and showcased that despite his enormous size he could still bump incredibly well. Adrian even advanced to the finals of a TV title tournament the AWA put together only to come up short against Greg Gagne. Adonis AWA career came to an end after an unfortunate ankle injury took him out of his job.

 

GarvinAWA

Ronnie Garvin also surfaced in the AWA for a brief time with a very unusual heel persona but lasted mere weeks on TV before he mysteriously vanished.Garvin got into a feud with the Promoters son and long time AWA Vet Greg Gagne. The two battled over the TV title. WWF was still picking the scraps of the AWA and signed Garvin out from in under the Gagne’s and as a result Garvin’s belt was “Held Up” and had to be decided on the big Super Clash 3 show!! Garvin seeing the lure of WWF paychecks would not lose clean which allowed Gagne to win the Title back via count out further killing the legitimacy of the AWA.

IronShiekAWA

The Iron Sheik, after bouncing from The WWF to The NWA after his Drug Suspension found his way as mentioned previously in a very short deal with Al-Kassie to feud with Slaughter.The pairing was successful ad Sheik fit with the cast of heels however like many others the NWA and the WWF came back to collect the Iron one leaving a gaping hole in Al Kassie’s camp.

OlympiansAWA

 

Ken Patera also showed up for another AWA run with another Olympian Brad Rheingans and went on to form the championship team The Olympians!! The Olympians were a great fill in the blanks team that filled TV time while

The Rise of the Young Lions.

Despite its diminishing roster depth and annihilated event attendance, the AWA seemed to go for one last shot at going toe to toe with the WWF at their own game and began building a new foundation.

Rockers Return

The Midnight Rockers Return…and leave again. Shawn and Marty’s first run with the WWF was very brief as the duo made a horrible reputation for themselves with their wild partying ways and came crawling back to the AWA who to their defense didn’t put them right back on TV right away..they actually sent them to Lawler and the CWA before they earned their spot back on the main roster. The Rockers were never favorites of Verne Gagne so while it looked like it was creative restraint there was more at play than simply disciplining talent. When they were given the green light The Midnight Rockers returned to the AWA as returning heroes and defeated the Original Midnight Express. Their time on TV would be very short as they figured their time in the WWF had increased their worth. The Gagne’s didnt bend and forced their hand and that left Shawn and Marty out of a job with the AWA permanently. Their swan song was losing the belts they had just won to a brand new tag team in the AWA ..Badd Company.

Badd Company

Badd Company were cool. The team of Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond were originally part of the CWA/AWA cross partnership but the AWA adopted Badd Company permanently and paired them with a Rookie manager. DDP was just breaking into the business and where ever  Diamond Dallas Page was, he was always flanked by the Diamond Dolls. Badd Company wore Flamboyant multi-colored almost dress jackets and tights and with Page as their mouth piece this team really came across as something special.

DDPBaddCompanyAWA

Pat Tanaka was exceptional in the ring. What he lacked in size he more than made up for in speed, high-flying , and an exceptional bumping ability. Diamond was his perfect counter point as he had a serviceable mat game and had the size and strength to compete with larger opponents. Of course there was Page who seemed bigger than both guys and charismatic as the day is long.

 

In their first few appearance on AWA TV Badd Company defeated the Midnight Rockers for the Tag Team titles and began a year-long run with the belts! The energy that came from Badd Company from the time they entered the ring to the strains of “Bad Company”by the band Bad Company you knew that AWA found something they could finally be proud of. Feuding with The Rockers, The Guerreros, The Olympians and Badd Company delivered in the ring which at the time was not happening in the AWA. Badd Company would drop the straps to the Olympians ( Brad Rheingans and Ken Patera). Badd Company would later split and feud sending Diamond on a face singles run with the company as Tanaka would be swooned by the WWF to join another AWA alum Akio Sato to form the Orient Express. It would be months later that Diamond would be called up the WWF to replace Konnan as Max Moon which would be short-lived but he had a second more successful run as well when he replaced Sato in the Orient Express as Diamond took on the masked personal as Kato being billed from Japan under the tutelage of the devious Mr. Fuji. Badd Companies time in the AWA was memorable but they were another victim of the WWFs grand purge of the company!

TomZenkAWA

Tom Zenk a former AWA wrestler in the early 80s returned to the fold after a brief appearance in the warm lights of the WWF. The loose cannon member of the very popular Can-Am Connection with Rick Martel walked out of the WWF out of the blue leaving everyone to wonder what happened to Zenk! Tom Zenk resurfaced in the AWA and was able to make an impact. With a sculpted physique and good baby face looks, the AWA had a star who looked very credible in the ring. Zenk had recently left a high paying gig with the WWF to jump to the AWA after a financial disagreement and was able to score big points with the AWA fans! Zenk exploded with an out of the gate feud with Kevin Kelly, and then his former friend Curt Hennig who was still champion at the time! Zenk would always just come close to winning the strap but always put on a good effort leading fans to think he was the top dog to be the next AWA Champion. Zenk’s flashy style consisting of drop kicks, head scissors and arm drags were fun to watch in a company of mostly grounded retirees.When Henning dropped the strap to Lawler, Zenk  set his sights on winning the strap in a Battle Royal as a result of World title controversy but coming up short yet again. Zenk never claimed the AWA strap but stayed until the dying days of the company and the fans enjoyed his chase for the gold.

NastyBoysAWA

Some talent benefited from the mass exodus brought on by the WWF. Now new talent got more air time and made careers for themselves they would otherwise not have had the opportunity previously. One of those acts were the Nasty Boys. Jerry Sagg’s and Brian Knobb’s were TV enhancement talent who were paired together originally as a jobber team. The Nasties first run as a team was in  Memphis as a foil to The Rockers. By the time they debuted in the AWA they stood out from the moment they walked through the curtain. With a punk rock look complete with Mullets and spiked hair , long black trench coats and one hell of a bad attitude The Nastie’s were a real treat to watch. On the mic the Nastie’s were rude, crude and abrasive. When the Nasty Boys spoke..you listened. In the ring they were straight on brawler’s. Nothing was safe, tables, chairs, guard rails and even announce tables, the Nasties used them! Their sloppiness in the ring was hidden under the sheer onslaught of their ring game. It almost made their act more realistic and hardcore before hardcore was cool. The Nasty Boys were one of the biggest breakout acts born of the AWA during their down period and went on to accomplish multiple championship runs in a number of companies most notably WWF and WCW but seeing their roots in the AWA was a big deal to this writer!

LumberjacksAWA

Then there were the Lumberjacks. Yukon John Nord and Flapjack Norton comprised the team of the Lumber Jacks. Nord a former World Class wrestler re-debuted in the AWA with a full on Bruiser Brody gimmick complete with fur boots! Nord came to the ring to “Bad Moon Rising” from CCR and I was actually a fan! He was a bombastic interview and seemed like a true powerhouse in the ring however Nord never seemed to find his niche as a singles competitor. Nord found common ground with another competitor who was on the AWA treadmill a young Scott “Flash” Norton. Norton on the other side was a former arm wrestler who managed to barely piece together a match with a few clotheslines and a bear hug. He was very green in ring and to hide his weaknesses AWA paired him with Nord to develop him as a competitor. Hence was born The Lumberjacks. Dressed in flannel and jean shorts and with axe handle in hand, Nord and Norton gained ground as a fan favorite team! They had a short-lived feud with The Texas Hangmen. Both Members of the team went on to good futures with Nord becoming The Berserker in the WWF and Scott Norton establishing himself in Japan and WCW partnered with Buff Bagwell in the NWO.

TexasHangmenAWA

Their arch nemesis, The Texas Hangmen (aka the Disorderly Conduct WCW) Were two journeymen who with the help of a mask and a bullrope noose became Texas baddest team..or at least the AWAs. Killer and Psycho were a serviceable team and took bumps very well for heavyweights. Rick Gantner and Mike Moran, two enhancement talent for the AWA were suddenly a competitive force to be reckoned with! The Hangmen were short-lived and even wrestled singles matches near the end of the AWA but Killer and Psycho left their mark in the short time in the AWA rings. As good as they were their future would not be as bright s our next young lion…

TrooperAWA

Next came The Trooper. Del Wilke’s, the man who would become known as The Patriot in Global, WWF and WCW was first a green as the grass Football star turned pro wrestler known as the Trooper. The gimmick itself was AWA’s attempt to cash in on WWF’s “Occupational” gimmicks that were all the rage in the late 80s. So Del Wilke’s became a State Trooper style character who passed out police badges to kids at ringside and wrote citations to his opponents after he defeated them. Sounds stupid right? Well it WAS however Wilkes earnest personality and demeanor on camera got you invested in him and he seemed to grow on fans with every appearance in ring. He went from clunky headlocks, clotheslines and football tackles to a nice mat based style with a splash of high-flying. Wilkes developed an outstanding drop kick and flying clothesline. The Trooper is mostly recognized as the final World Tag Team Champion ever to hold an AWA Tag Strap (Along with Journeyman DJ Peterson) on the final AWA Televised show. Wilke’s would go on to great success in Global as their Heavyweight Champion but now under a mask and calling himself The Patriot. He also had a brief but memorable run in the WWF under the same gimmick but more so the WCW with multiple Tag Team championships with Marcus Alexander Bagwell!

DestructionCrewAWA

The Destruction Crew. AWA job guys Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos were paired up with a “Construction Worker” gimmick complete with orange work vests, matching constructon orange tights and sledge hammers to became the Destruction Crew. What looked like a bad idea turned out to be a pretty good concept as Bloom and Enos gelled as a team and were quickly in Tag Title Contention. With Ken Patera and Brad Rheingans as the Tag Team Champions “The Olympians”, The Crew then storyline injured  Patera in a Car lifting competition which resulted in the Olympians being stripped of the Tag Team titles. The Destruction Crew went on to capture the vacated world tag team championships in a tournament final over Greg Gagne and Paul Diamond. Bloom and Eno’s individually were sound in the ring together they worked very snug together. From their entrance with sledgehammers, to the raucous chords of Queens “We Will Rock You”, to their awesome Destruction Ball (Doomsday Device ala LOD!) finisher the Crew were stars on the rise. Both men were very effective heels with Wayne Bloom a very effective promo and Mike Enos his Igor to Blooms Doctor Frankenstein. The Bloom /Enos Dynamic was interesting as Bloom was the dominant voice in the group always putting Enos in his place and doing the talking with the classic “I got this one Mike” to which Enos would bow down and let Bloom do the talking. They would also be the final wrestlers to wrestle on AWA TV in a note a little later!

The King Takes The Throne..

Lawler AWA Champ

One of the high spots that made me very happy as a wrestling fan was the night of May 8th 1988 when Jerry The King Lawler upset Curt Hennig to win the AWA Heavyweight Championship in his hometown of Memphis with his long time idol Jackie Fargo as the referee that night!

AWACWA

 

The aforementioned partnership between The AWA and The CWA came into play as Verne Gagne put his trust in Jerry Lawler to hold the crown in Hennig’s place as the WWF came calling for their future Mr Perfect. Lawler would indeed bring a degree of prestige to the AWA belt! Now wrestling magazines and televised shows featured Lawler in their pages and on their screens giving the AWA some additional exposure that had slipped away in recent years. As Hennig departed the King ran with the title all over Memphis TV but ironically not much on AWA TV.

 

The Highlight of the Lawler’s Championship reign was AWAs final major Supercard, SuperClash 3 on December 13, 1988. The AWA partnered with Lawler and his wealth of connections to create this multi company Supershow. With an already strong partnership with CWA  the show would also include POW (Powerful Women Of Wrestling) and the former World Class promotion WCCW now The WCWA. The main event would feature AWA World Champion Jerry “The King” Lawler vs.WCWA Heavyweight Champion Kerry Von Erich. The AWA made sure to build this on their shows even though Lawler was not wrestling much per say for them as the champion on their TV but they built the match as a big deal complete with an official contract signing.As a kid in the 80s..this looked and felt like a happening you could not miss. For a few moments I felt the AWA had legs that were steady. The match itself was not up to expectations with Von Erich not “Present” mentally in the match due to some alleged recreational concerns as well as getting injured before the match began accidentally with a blade he had smuggled into his wrestling gear to draw blood late in the finish of the match. Instead Kerry sliced the inside of his arm accidentally and brutally much to the horror of booker’s who saw their show dying in front of them. Kerry pulled through enough to have a passable match which ended ironically by design with a blood stoppage with Von Erich appearing to have beaten Lawler with the Claw only to have the officials stop the match to declare Lawler the Undisputed Champion! It was controversial and the AWA fans turned sour very quickly on a now heel Lawler.

Superclash 3

In what looked on paper as a great financial partnership, the Lawler / AWA relationship would fall apart. Lawler had a falling out with Verne Gagne who at this point was very frustrated with his company’s fate and the financial disaster that was SuperClash 3. As with far too many times before the AWA World title was further tarnished when yet another champion vacated the title and the AWAs main title belt was held up yet again. The writing was on the wall for the company…and it wasnt good. Who could keep the boat above water for the Gagnes? Who could they trust? Everyone they had put in position to represent their company inevitably was swallowed by the WWF and the NWA during the national expansion boom. Verne and Greg turned to family

 Welcome To Larryland..

LarryLandAWA

Larry Zybysko, a long time WWWF (Not a spelling error!) and AWA competitor most famous for his feud with the Legendary Bruno Sammartino. Larry had frequented the rings of the AWA over the years and after losing Lawler as their champion Verne Gagne had serious trust issues with his talent who seemed to be abandoning him at every turn. Zybysko was a part of the Gagne family by marriage and was one of the very few that the Gagnes felt comfortable giving the belt to so on Feb. 7th, 1989 Zybysko won a Battle Royal, last eliminating a popular Tom Zenk, to capture the AWA world title. Zybysko was a great heel. I always loved his interviews. Zybysko created Larryland a fictional amusement park that in the vein of Ric Flairs Space Mountain. Zybysko had an ego the size of a mountain and could speak very well on the mic. His interactions with Larry Nelson, Lee Nelson and Eric Bischoff were hilarious. Not since Hulk Hogan and Mean Gene has an act had so much chemistry.

80s AWA Announcers

Zybysko was also decent in the ring. The self-proclaimed “Martial Artist” often wore Karate apparel and even had his own Ninja present at times! Despite being the king of a broken kingdom, Larry played the role of champion like he was the WWF champion. He was that good at his role. Everything else around him was falling apart but Larry basked in his role as The Champ! Zybysko would often appear to “Drop The Belt” only to snatch it back on a legality.His matches against Sgt. Slaughter were controversial in that Slaughter appeared to win the belt only to have the decision over turned. Mr. Saito, a Japanese star the AWA co-Opted frequently, actually won the strap on a rare tour of Japan only to very quickly lose it again stateside as to make it appear that Larry didn’t lose at all. The win was acknowledged so it was counted as a title change. As mired in shame as the AWA titles were the AWA looked for the next big concept to pull them back to the safety of the shore before they drowned.

Eric BischoffAWA

 The Team Challenge Series

 That concept was dubbed the infamous Team Challenge Series! In what maybe the poorest executed concept in wrestling history The Gagnes, mainly Greg had become frustrated with the decline of the family company. For the sake of a better idea he literally handed over the creative reigns to an individual who would define wrestling in the late 90s Eric Bischoff. Bischoff at the time was a third string announcer for the company but fiercely loyal and aggressive and full of creative ideas..this wasnt one of his good ones. The concept would  divide the roster into three teams..each one Captained by a Legendary wrestler. We had Sarges Snipers Captained by Sgt. Slaughter himself. Barons Blitzers also made their entry into the series headed up by Baron Von Rashke.Finally Larry Legends was the champs team in the fray!

TeamChallengeAWA

 

The overall concept involved Team Challenge Series matches on every show where the winner of the match collected points for his or her said team. Matches were NOT all standard wrestling matches..instead they were gimmicked sports competitions like The Great Turkey Hunt (Turkey On A pole Match), a Football Clash, a Beauty and the Beast match, a Knock Down match where the object was to simply knock you opponent down!!?? There was a great Hands Tied Behind Your Back Match, a Meat Grinder match and a Behind the 8-Ball match. Of course there was a sprinkling of standard matches and Battle Royals that added up for more points.The Series was such a low point that by the time the Series was under way attendance had slipped so much some matches were filmed in an empty building with a camera crew.

A pure humiliation for a once proud wrestling organization.The Series came to a merciful hault with a  Million Dollar Battle Royal won by Larry’s Legends team member and long time AWA Jobber but fan favorite Jake “The Milkman” Millman.  I can still picture the scene as Jake Millman, full of pure joy celebrated like he had won the Super Bowl shouting to the dismay of Larry and the rest of the team “We won the million dollars ..We Won the Million Dollars! Millman must have used his riches wisely as I didnt see or hear of him after this victory! The Team Challenge Series was over and much of the talent was gone…so was all hope for the mighty AWA.

JakeMillman

Larry Zybysko stood tall amongst the ruins after he survived matches against Greg Gagne,Tom Zenk and Wahoo McDaniel and many more and held on to that strap until he parted ways with the company as was the legacy of the AWA strap.Larry would be the last official champion on record in the history of the AWA. Zybysko committed the last crime against the AWA when he arived in WCW while still the AWA Heavyweight Champion. By that time the jig was up. There would not be another Tournament or Battle Royal to crown a new champion. The reaper had arrived for The American Wrestling Association..it had one final hour left in the tank.

The Final Episode

DJ Peterson

The final match on the final show of the AWA was ironically a Tag Team Title match between The Destruction Crew versus The Trooper and DJ Peterson. The Destruction Crew were very elusive and held tightly on to the tag team titles and the makeshift team of Trooper and Peterson didn’t figure into being new champs. Ironically the last images of the AWA onscreen were a great moment as the challengers pulled off an upset win to capture the AWA tag team championship!! I remember popping huge at the win and could not wait for the next week to see the follow-up! Yes despite the monumental losses of talent and a seriously depleted roster I was still an AWA fan who loved wrestling and little did I know this would be the last new material that would ever air on AWA TV.

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Many remember what their favorite era of wrestling was and when it comes to the AWA  these were my favorite years and shamefully this period is rarely talked about. It is for this reason why I needed to put this out there as a tribute to the men and women who stayed until the lights went out. Fortunately most on the roster in the dying years went on to bigger and better opportunities in  the WWF, NWA and Japan.Seeing the final hours of the AWA allowed me to see the last days of some aging vets as well as a host of future talent. It depends on perspective I guess..you love what you grew up with and that’s really what this little blog is all about. People can like what they like, but what really matters is remembering what put a smile on your face as a kid!

Thanks for reading Heroes, the Archives are now closing. everyone return to their seats and strap in…I have a feeling the next coordinates we punch could be very entertaining!

Transmission Ended..

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