Contemplating the Netflix purchase of comic book imprint Millarworld

The Spiders Lair is not a news site first and foremost. Obviously nobody is learning about this news by coming here. Still this is big enough I wanted to get something down before the dust settles.

According to reports Netflix is purchasing an indie comics company called Millarworld. Apparently it’s the publishing house that does Kick-Ass and Kingsmen, among other comics I never heard of. At first that sounds like a pretty big deal. Especially when you take into account their current deals with Marvel. Netflix could soon become the premiere streaming service for quality, comic book content.

Of course the only two comics they make I know about are the very two not included in the purchase. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? On the surface, very little. Netflix has never out right purchased another company before. By picking up a comic book imprint the idea sounds good. If they can develop enough titles into quality movies and shows for their service, combined with the already fantastic Marvel shows they have, other publishers could come on board. I think the far reaching implication would be for more indie developers to bring their titles to Netflix for production. This could mean we could start seeing shows based on comics that aren’t as mainstream as Marvel and DC without having to go through the Hollywood studios. This could be a game changer depending on how things work out.

Imagine as more comic book fans start to discover all the good shows and movies they want to watch are coming to Netflix. This could snowball where all the content creators scramble to get their indie comic characters turned into a Netflix series. I would LOVE to see a Gen 13 show or even a revived Buffy with a new lead. Oh, I guess if they wanted to they could go the animated route too. I just wish they would use their licensing deals to pick up a few more classic animated comics based shows like the original TMNT cartoon or even some X-Men the Animated series. When I first discovered Netflix they had a ton of those types of shows. Now they have a few here and there. I don’t think the quality has declined much. I just don’t think they need to abandon old shows entirely to make room for new content. I would prefer they found a better balance between the two.

AS of right now this is more akin to when Hasbro bought the rights to Atari back in the 90’s. They are getting some new properties but are they really going to have the impact Netflix desires? A real game changing deal would have been if they picked up Image, Malibu, or even Dreamwave, at least then you are getting a solid blend of well known and indie comics. Here you are basically getting 4th tier comics from a very small specialty publisher. Not a bad deal, it’s still new content but seriously if you have to Google what their titles are it’s not like they are making waves. I mean I read comics, I go to Free Comic Book Day. And I wasn’t that familiar with this company. I loved Kingsmen and Kick-Ass but since those two aren’t a part of this deal I am not even sure how much of an impact this will truly make. All in all I will just take a wait and see approach. Since I haven’t really even been paying attention to Netflix in quite a while I am certain this won’t really affect me all that much anyways.

The Spiders Lair Podcast Episode 7

In this episode I discuss the Child’s Play/Chucky film series following a marathon viewing over the weekend. I take a look at comic book characters I personally discovered through playing a video game featuring that character while taking a look at the comic book games released for the Sega Genesis, Super NES and NES consoles. I talk about Big Brother in the framework of Game Theory and how it reminds me of the online forum game mafia/werewolf in some ways. All of this and more on the latest episode of The Spiders Lair podcast.

My comic book memories: X-Men

A couple of days ago I went onto Amazon to purchase some Dawn comics. For those that don’t know Dawn is a character created by Joseph Michael Linsner in the late 1980’s. I discovered Dawn in my early pre-teen years when I was just starting to really get into comic books. Before I could commit to buying any more issues or trade paperbacks I had to dig out my comic vault to see what I had to make sure I wasn’t buying something I already bought previously. I started going through my X-Men graphic novels and TPB’s and realized I didn’t have all of the ones I thought I did. I also confirmed I didn’t have any of the Dawn TPB’s so I was good to order them on Amazon.

How I got into X-Men is a little more interesting than how I discovered Dawn. I always preferred comics with more of a mythology feel or fantasy/swords and sorcery stuff. I enjoyed Conan, and the D&D comics especially. That is how I found myself getting into X-Men. My first experience with Marvel’s famous mutants was not even through comic books. Since I was mostly into indie comics, horror comics, and less mainstream stuff I didn’t see a lot of advertisements for X-Men or other mainstream stuff. If I did, I ignored it or dismissed it as a bunch of spandex wearing clowns. My first exposure was walking into a video arcade and playing the 6-player behemoth X-Men arcade machine. I had no clue who these characters were. Since I discovered TMNT through an arcade game I decided to check out X-Men since I really loved the Ninja Turtles at that time. Turns out the Ninja Turtles were mutants, and the X-Men were also mutants so I thought cool I can get into this. Even if I didn’t really know what a ‘mutant’ was at that time.

I didn’t really pick up any X-Men comics right away though. Instead my next exposure came from renting the abysmal NES game. Now I had rented my share of terrible games on the NES but this was by far one of my least favorite. I couldn’t believe this was how they ported that awesome 6-player game to the NES. I didn’t discover until years later the weren’t even connected outside of the name.

From here I was in 3rd grade and I had a teacher that new I was into reading fantasy and science fiction stuff so she lent me a few of her issues of X-Men comics. They were all mostly current stuff from the late 80’s. Nothing special but I had no idea what was even going on. They were about 3 unconnected issues that had totally different characters in each one. The only character that I recognized from the video game was the guy in the yellow and brown jump suit with the claws. My first impression was I hated that guy. I learned his name was Wolverine and I thought, what a stupid name. His power is he has claws, yawn. Oh he has unbreakable claws, so what.

I didn’t give X-Men another serious thought until the animated series came on Fox a couple of years later. I watched a few episodes and it was entertaining, but I still didn’t know much about the characters, and I still couldn’t stand that blasted Wolverine who just happened to basically be the star of the show. By this time i was really heavy into the Conan the Adventurer cartoon and the new Aladdin animated series. Like I said I was more into horror and fantasy stuff than actual sci-fi. Well I saw a commercial for the Phoenix Saga mini series of X-Men cartoons coming soon. There was a Phoenix character on Conan so that connected the mutants to the mythology stuff I was more into. I was also getting really heavy into Dungeons and Dragons right about this same time.

Finally I gave the cartoon a second chance. I had seen a few random episodes here and there. While the action was always good, the characters didn’t really mean much to me as I had no connection to them. So when I started watching the Phoenix Saga and Dark Phoenix Saga unfold as a dramatic event over several weeks, I became hooked. Suddenly I picked out the characters I did care for and wanted to follow them. I immediately ran out and began buying all the Cyclops and Jean Grey stuff I could. I fell in love with that couple and wanted to get everything I could. By this time I was also getting into collecting trading cards so I had picked up a few sets of Marvel Universe series cards. There were always X-Men characters within those sets so I started reading the backs of the cards, trying to learn more about the lore of these characters. By this time I was really getting fascinated with the Cyclops character and Marvel Girl especially. I started buying X-Men trading cards, action figures, that super fantastic Sega Genesis game and it’s pretty amazing sequel, too. By the mid-1990’s I had gone from not caring or knowing much about the X-Men to being completely dedicated. Before long I was less excited for Conan and found myself looking forward to X-Men episodes even more. As the series dragged on my disdain for Wolverine continued so I quickly lost interest again as the characters I liked took a backseat to his temper-tantrums.

Then it all culminated with me picking up the Wedding of Cyclops and Phoenix issue. Seeing Scott and Jean get hitched was the perfect end to the fairy tale. The mess that was the Spider-clone saga had completely turned me away from Spidey comics by this time. I had sat through the majority of the Age of Apocalypse with intense interest and curiosity. Then just as things were starting to ‘recover’ they started they whole Onslought stuff and I finally lost interest in the comics for good. I kept paying attention to the characters through buying action figures, picking up back issues of the comics that were void of Logan as much as possible. Then they dropped the bombshell of a movie on the world. Wow, for the first time I didn’t care for the Cyclops character and was actually rooting for Logan. Part of this was the movie made Logan a much more likeable character than the whiny little bitch he was in the comics. He was still a selfish asshole in the movies sure, but not as bad as he was in the comics.

This allowed me to warm up to the character so I went back and tried to get into the Wolverine comics too. Needless to say the movies altered my perception of the characters quite a bit. Before long I was stating to lose interest in the characters and their mythos entirely. Still, every once in a while I go back and remember what it was I liked about them in the first place. At one time I was collecting everything X-Men related from New Mutants comics to Cable and Deadpool spin off stuff. Eventually the movies would start to really spend too much time focusing on Logan again, giving him solo movie after solo movie while continuing to treat my beloved Scott and Jean like second, or even third class characters.  Today I have a pretty decent X-Men comics collection I can go back to and revisit. I have all but one of the films and that’s just because I just haven’t been looking for a copy. All in all I discovered I really loved the X-Men and I am very glad I took the time to get to know them.

Wonder Woman movie review

I don’t often review current films on here. One of the reasons for that is I don’t actually see very many current films. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them or I am getting too old, I just don’t have the time or the money like I did when I was younger and I am more selective about the films I see. The last movie I went to theaters to watch was Batman v Superman, and I can tell you based on my negative experience with that, I was very skeptical to see this Wonder Woman movie.

I could easily begin cracking jokes about how it was basically just Captain America in drag, but that’s doing the underlying movie a disservice. Plus Captain America was a good movie, just remaking it with a female lead isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Joking aside, the movie was good. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I bought Batman/Superman on Blu Ray just because I wanted to check out the extended edition and I kind of have to own every Batman movie since he is one of my favorite comic book characters. That being said, I haven’t even opened the movie let alone re-watched it.

I wasn’t that familiar with the WW back story, I knew there are a lot of connections in the DC universe to Greek mythology so that was to be expected. My first complaint though was the need to tell her backstory, which I understand this was the film to do that in, but I hate when they start off with a flashback in a flashback, just get on with the movie. It definitely dragged on longer than I wanted.

The story was pretty good, it was basically at it’s core just a rehash of Captain America: The First Avenger, with a DC twist, so don’t go into this movie expecting more than that. The major differences being the Marvel movie dealt with science and the DC movie dealt with Greek gods, Cap was set in WWII fighting Nazi’s and WW was set in WWI fighting the pre-Nazi Germans. Other than that there were so many scenes taken directly from Cap I thought I was re-watching that movie at times. One thing this movie did better was the character build up, the characters had more heart in this than the Marvel counterpart and I think that made this one more urgent. Also the opening fight when she first reveals herself to the German soldiers was not only done much better than anything in the Marvel movie, it was very emotional for the people verses just fighting for a cause, she wasn’t just fighting to stop evil, there were people’s lives at stake and she cared about the people whereas Cap was about the ideology.

I wish that was were the differences ended but even the final battle just reminded me so much of the Captain America movie, it even involved a sort of super weapon on an war plane that ended very similar to how the Marvel film ended. It wasn’t exactly the same but I saw so many parallels I really thought that DC just took Marvels movie and thought it best to just remake it as close as they could.

The final boss fight was underwhelming for me though. It felt like the banter and the showing off of powers dragged on too long. The villain wasn’t just doing the normal bad guy speech, he was practically quoting a book on how to justify being evil. I won’t spoil the ending or the big reveal, if it even is a big reveal, but at least the villain was more interesting than a stereotypical German scientist trying to create a super weapon for Hitler.

The comedy, or humor if you will, wasn’t bad, much better than anything they did in the previous two films in this now ongoing franchise. Some of it felt a little like you had to read the comics to get, which was kind of a turn off since you didn’t really get enough time with the characters to understand their quips. Especially the secretary. Sure it was a funny line, but a WWI female British secretary makes that kind of comment about her American soldier boss and there wouldn’t have been a smile on his face, she would have been reprimanded. There obviously was some history between the characters, or you are left to assume so, otherwise it smashes your sense of realism. I can accept throwing gods and mutants into historical events but if you throw modern sensibilities it’s not historical anymore, it’s border line offensive and at the very least alternate reality. Of course you have to sort of accept it as an alternate reality but even the comics were a product of their time so I just felt that scene was mishandled, especially with the one a few minutes later reminding the audience how male dominated that society was at the time when Diana interrupts a meeting of the generals.

Minor issues of historical accuracy aside, and I can put some things aside to enjoy a movie easy enough, that was really my only real issue with the film and even that was so minor I only bring it up because I just finished watching Mad Men and had that stuff on my mind. It didn’t bring the film down just was out of place, or at least needed some context in order to make sense.

Moving on, and I don’t want to nitpick the film to death, my only other complaint was the ruse. I understand they had to have a ‘mad scientist’ villain because that’s what you expect when the bad guys are German. However, the scientist character was so out of place in the movie I just didn’t really accept it either. The general that was pulling her strings was a brooding enough villain but the scientist just didn’t have any motivation, or character at all. I also won’t get too into why the Germans hired a disfigured female scientist to develop their secret weapon during male-dominated WWI culture, because I just don’t care if the film makers want to throw any sense of historical accuracy out the window they you just have to go with it.

I know there were there woman scientists, even the Indiana Jones movies had female antagonists serving the “evil Nazi’s,” but they all made sense in the context, this character walked around like she owned the place in a mans world at a time when women did no such thing. They made it sound like she was the most evil and terrifying mad scientist on the planet, but then you never see her do anything to really make you think sure be afraid of this woman. Every time she kills someone, the brooding general is there looking over her shoulder, so I would have thought his reputation as a no morals general willing to use the skills of this woman would be the real story the men would be telling, not how afraid they were of the woman who developed the weapon, but the general who used it. I don’t know I don’t want to sound like a SJW or a ultra right winger, I prefer historical accuracy and those two things bothered me. The rest of the movie was great. Again neither of them brought it down but what the hell they were on my mind and worth bringing up.

All that aside I enjoyed the movie and if my only complaints are minor nitpicks then I can get passed them and enjoy the rest of the film. Overall the story was good, the special effects were good, the characters weren’t entirely developed but they served a purpose and it all fit together nicely. It wasn’t good enough to erase my dislike of the previous two films, so I am still not sold on the upcoming Justice League movie, but it was, so far, the best standalone super hero movie DC/Warner Bros. has made since The Dark Knight, which was almost ten years ago. Overall I give the movie a 5/5 there wasn’t anything that really made me dislike the movie, it was emotional it had good action and it really only had minor things that a history buff like me would nitpick which bother me but every movie has those things so they don’t reduce my enjoyment just stick out in my mind. That said it’s a good movie, I think easily the best movie in the trilogy so far and from what I have seen might end up being the best film DC puts out in this ill-fated attempt to cash in on Marvel’s success.

 

My experiences with professional wrestling

A couple of weeks ago I did a retrospective where I looked back at all of my near-misses with G.I. Joe and how, for all intents and purposes, I should have gotten really into that franchise, yet somehow didn’t.

I want to do the same thing with the sports entertainment known as professional wrestling. My opinions of this topic has teetered back and forth over the years, I suspect mainly for some of the same reasons I wanted to get into G.I. Joe, but couldn’t. So let’s start at the beginning.

First, I never cared that ti was “fake” or “rigged” or whatever. My earliest memories of pro wrestling was, of course, Sgt. Slaughter who appeared on G.I. Joe, and Mr. T, who not only appeared in the A-Team, which I did watch, but also in Rocky 3, a movie franchise I watched regularly growing up. But, I actually knew of Sgt. Slaughter BEFORE I saw him on the cartoon. I distinctly remember having an uncle introduce me to a WWF wrestling match that had Sgt. Slaughter facing off against some guy who I can’t for the life of me remember anything about. My dad sort of watched wrestling, or wrasslan, as he called it. I also had uncles and friends who were into the “sport” as well. I never got into real sports that much as a kid so it was easy for me to dismiss professional wrestling as just another boring sport. The thing is, I always enjoyed the colorful characters, the way they tried to make it like there was a story, and the video games, if nothing else I can say I did play a lot of wrestling games, especially the ones on NES and Genesis, to me those were definitely worthy games to play.

My interest began to wind down in the late 1990’s. I tried following wrestling into the early 90’s but we never had cable and we couldn’t watch Pay-Per-View, so my exposure was very limited. As time went on and the characters I remembered went on to do movies or TV commercials, I started to lose interest. I also became even more involved with video games and comic books, which to me I always saw wrestling as a perfect blend of live-action video games and as good as we were going to get, at the time, live-action comic book type stories and characters.

Sometime in the late 90’s, around the PS1 and N64 ere, I took a weird turn. Suddenly as wrestling became more popular, as more of my friends got into it and it grew into more than just some weird things only weirdos like me enjoyed, it became very mainstream, I stopped caring all together. It had nothing to do with it becoming mainstream, in fact I still loved MTV’s Celebrity Death Match, and I would occasionally tune into WCW Nitro or WWF Raw with a friend once in a while, yet I never knew what was going on, my real issue was I got out of it, and I didn’t know what was going on. I tried getting back in when “Hollywood Hogan” was doing his WCW NWO thing, which to this day I still don’t entirely know what was going on. What happened with the N64 and PS1 was, I lost interest in sports and “extreme sports” especially. I didn’t get into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or Wave Race, etc., I dug my heals in and played Mario, Mortal Kombat, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, games that, to me at the time, represented real or “pure” gamer games, and I shunned all sports games, including wrestling. I had plenty of sports games on NES, SNES and especially Genesis. Not just the staples either like NBA Jam, or Skate or Die, you know the sports games it was okay for gamers to play. I had NHL 94, RBI Baseball on Sega, I had Joe Montana Sports Talk Football, hell I even had a ton of generic random Nintendo published sports games, not the Mario stuff but Pro Action Football, Tecmo Bowl, etc, Blades of Steel, I played sports games, I didn’t watch them on TV but I played the video games.

I always felt like with wrestling, there was no reason for me to not get into it. I like comic books, I like video games, I like fighting games and beat-em-ups especially, why wouldn’t I get into it? When I was in college I had to do a group presentation and the topic we did was the history of professional wrestling. I discovered that learning the history of the popular form of entertainment did soften my attitude towards it, but still not enough to develop a further curiosity.

Fast forward a few years and I recently started listen to certain podcasts by other gamers with similar interest as myself and they talk about pro wrestling a lot. I guess as I look back over the years the on thing that stands out in my mind the most is how close I came to becoming an actual fan of wrestling. One thing that I am certain happened was as I became more into comic book and super hero movies, and as the quality of those movies improved, I had less of a reason to go back and try to make sense out of what was going on with WWE and everything else.

I never attended any live matches, I never watched any of the pay-per-views, Royal Rumbles, or Wrestlemania’s, so for me I guess I just never got into it, even though a part of me always wanted to. I have been contemplating digging up some old matches online sometime and maybe just seeing if I can get into it. In the meantime I just look back at another thing that I came so close to enjoying, yet somehow missed out on.

 

 

 

 

My G.I. Joe memories

In 2009 Paramount Pictures teamed up with Hasbro to make a live-action G.I. Joe film. It was loosely tied into the Michael Bay live-action Transformers film series. I personally enjoyed the film. I went into is expecting a science fiction action movie based on a cartoon, based on a toy, based on a generic Vietnam War soldier. Yeah, it was a complicated mess. I was never a big G.I. Joe collector. I was, however, very into the Transformers, Hasbro’s other popular action figure line.

This is just going to be me looking back on all of my memories of the G.I. Joe franchise.

As far as I can tell my earliest memories are sometime around 1987. I vaguely remember having a couple of random Joe action figures, to this day I couldn’t tell you any more about them, honestly even if I saw them in a catalog or on a collectors shelf I don’t think I could pick them out. What I do remember is the cartoon. Mostly because, at least where I lived, it aired immediately following the Transformers cartoon. I was such a huge Transformers nut that I didn’t want the show to end. I would keep watching G.I.Joe because it was close enough it almost had that Transformers feel to it. It had a good vs. evil plot, diabolical robots, a futuristic science fiction technology, and most importantly, many of the same voice actors. Even as a kid before IMDb or Wikipedia, I know that Starscream and Cobra Commander were voiced by the same guy. In a lot of ways the two shows were connected.

I continued watching G.I. Joe even after Transformers went off the air. My earliest memories, I think, were around 1987, I would have been 5 years old. I am not talking life memories, just these two shows. I do very distinctly remember watching Transformers episodes with a giant Optimus Prime robot and a little boy, I later learned this would have been the 1987-88 season, around the time the show was cancelled. I used to tune in to he same channel I thought Transformers had come on, never finding it but always looking. I kept watching the Joes in vain hoping that some day the Autobots would return to their war against the Decepticons. I remember watching the 3rd and 4th seasons of the cartoon with Cobra Commander becoming a real snake, then turning back into a man, and them introducing Serpentor, then the show got too weird for me, I didn’t recognize enough of the characters to stay interested, plus this was around the time I discovered the TMNT cartoon. This distracted me from the lack of Transformers, and was a satisfying alternative to G.I Joe: A Real American Hero, to the point I was able to finally stop tuning in. This was also around the time the Disney Afternoon cartoon block became popular so my interests had shifted. At this time I no longer had any connection to the Joes or Cobra. I would continue to pick up random action figures at flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales, always frantically looking for Transformers, or even Go-Bots figures, but I would pick up a Joe or a Cobra from time to time, if I came across them.

I wouldn’t come into full contact with G.I. Joe again until 1993. This was the time when Transformers Generation 2 launched on TV and just like before, Real American Hero was on immediately following. This time I watched the 5-part G.I. Joe: The Movie episodes, bought, or was gifted can’t really remember, one of those multiple puzzle murals featuring depictions of G.I Joe characters. It was one where if you had all 4 puzzles you could take off the edge piece and connect them into a large mural. I never complete the puzzle, let alone the set, but I did work on it day and night for a good couple of weeks or so. It was around this time I came across an original Sgt. Slaughter action figure for sale at a Good Will for like fifty cents or something, it was dirt cheap. I snatched it up, he was one of my favorite characters from the show, and wrestling too, which I was still sorta of into around this time.

Something else happened in 1993. I was introduced to the Mortal Kombat arcade game. I was immediately hooked and began playing that game obsessively for the next 2 decades. Yes I still re-play the original arcade games to this day. Mostly I switch back and forth between MAME and the collection on PS3, plus I also own Midways Arcade Treasures. Anyways, getting off topic. I also got into collecting comic books, trading cards and TMNT figures at this time. Plus I was just starting to get back into Transformers collecting full force with all of the G2 stuff coming out. In the summer of 1994 I started reading Wizard Magazine, and inside there were all of this kitbashed toys where someone would take one action figure and turn it into something else. I was super obsessed with Mortal Kombat. MKII was all the rage and Kung Lao was my favorite character. If you can’t guess where this is going let me assure you toy collectors, yes I kitbashed an original Sgt. Slaughter action figure to look like a Kung Lao action figure. Or at least, I tried. I ended up destroying the toy in the process. The ironic thing is, just months afterwards I was in K-Mart and there on the shelf was an actual MKII Kunk Lao toy, not surprisingly as they were made by Hasbro, they used the same style of figures as G.I.Joe toys, so needless to say I destroyed an 80’s classic trying to turn it into a $3 toy that was available for sale at K-Mart the whole damn time!

I skipped G.I. Joe Extreme or whatever it was called. I had grabbed a few Transformers comics along the way during my comic book collecting days, including some of those Transformers and G.I. Joe cross over comics. By 1997 I was pretty much done buying toys altogether. I lost interest in Transformers once Beast Wars came on the scene, TMNT had fallen into the toilet by this time, and I was never that into G.I. Joe to start off with so I was done with it for the next few years. It wouldn’t be until 2001 with the launch of the Robots in Disguise toy line before I would slowly start to get back into collecting Transformers. I was also discovering retro game collecting at this time, mostly NES, SNES, and SEGA, so my money was spread pretty thin. I 2003 my sister married a guy who told me about his G.I. Joe collecting day when he was a kid and I started to learn more about the toys from him, not much but more than I had ever known. This wasn’t enough to spark any interest in me or desire to collect but it was enough to read up on the newly popular internet about the history of the franchise and how it intersected with Transformers and Star Wars. Since I was already a huge fan of Star Wars also, this knowledge started to pique my curiosity so I began learning more about the history of the toy line.

I didn’t have any further connections or experience with the toys until sometime in 2004 or 2005. I remember buying one of my nephews one of the Joe figures for Christmas. He was kind of excited for it for a while, then, he wasn’t. I did end up picking up a copy of both Transformers: The Movie and G.I. Joe: The Movie, the original cartoons. This was around 2007 I think. This sparked some nostalgia within me and pretty soon I learned about the upcoming film. Since the Transformers movie just released that same year, and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, in fact I bought an HD-DVD player and a copy of the movie to watch it in HD on my new HDTV in 2008. This was right around the time they announced they were discontinuing the format so I was able to get the player and movie very cheap. Actually free, because a guy bought it for me as payment, or thank you, for fixing his computer.

Then in the summer of 2009 I dragged a few of my unwilling friends to go see this new movie and, I loved it. I shouldn’t have,  didn’t have very strong ties to the series, I didn’t have much nostalgia for it, but I thought it was a fun movie. By this time I had also picked up a Blu Ray player so I was able to get the film on Blu Ray when it released. A few years later I watched the mess of a sequel, which I still can’t stand and refuse to re-watch.

Since this time the most I have connected with the series is reading the entire Transformers cross over comics, buying a couple random action figures for nephews over the years, and watching some Angry Video Game Nerd videos where he reviewed the old games based on the cartoon.

My most current tie was about three weeks ago when I picked up a sealed 25th anniversary figure of Storm Shadow, sealed, at a yard sale, for $5. Based on preliminary research on ebay/Amazon/craigslist, this would appear to be a fairly good deal. I am not going to sell the toy, but also I am not going to start a collection either. I just thought it was an interesting piece to add to my collection.

And there you have it, my 30+ year history with the Hasbro/Marvel/Sunbow/Paramount franchise known as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

“You are all my children now.”

In the 1980’s there was a trifecta of different styles all blending together in a perfect storm of outrageous thematic elements that would soon dominate the entire fringe culture, and even cross into mainstream. Going a decade back the roots of this movement were beginning with the rise of the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop RPG game. The theme was medieval fantasy. It had firmly taken hold of video game culture by the middle of the decade with games such as Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Ghosts N Goblins, Gauntlet, and even Castlevania taking the horror/fantasy genre to mainstream status. On the music side bands like Alice Cooper, Dio, KISS, and many others, were using D&D, horror, fantasy, and medieval art mixed with Gothic imagery. While Hollywood itself was slow to jump on the bandwagon, indie filmmakers like George Lucas, Stephan Spielberg, Jim Henson, and John Carpenter were all making variations of this theme. And best of all they blended together perfectly. Horror movies would reference D&D usually with a gamer depicted or borrow heavily from medieval mythologies, while having a strong heavy-metal soundtrack, which in turn contained lyrics that referenced D&D either directly or indirectly often as the horror movies would. So if you were a fan of medieval fantasy, Gothic imagery and music that told stories set in these thematic worlds, then the mid-to-late 80’s was your decade.

During this time nothing blended these three elements together better than Wes Craven’s Gothic horror masterpiece “A Nightmare o Elm Street.” While the first film itself doesn’t really contain too much in the way of medieval fantasy, it does have a very strong fantasy component, the music is very fitting for the mood, plus it also contains some of that D&D-esque metal rock sprinkled in to ensure it hit all of the notes. In some ways the movie is a murder mystery, you know almost  detective noir-style with Nancy trying to solve the mystery of the masked villain killing her friends one-by-one. It also has a little bit of Gothic horror with Freddy acting as a zombie, a vampire, and a serial killer all while tormenting his victims not with his own dastardly schemes, but using their own fears against them. In some ways it is also a psychological thriller.

The film opens with an abstract scene in the basement of some factory or plant with an unseen man crafting a glove containing sharp razors as extensions of the fingers. Immediately the tone of the film is set, the killer is unseen, hiding in the shadows, nobody knows who, or what, he is or why he is killing these seemingly random teenagers. During the course of the film there are references to Shakespeare, including a quote from Julius Cesar about nightmares, fitting as in the play he dreamed of his demise before it happened, much like the victims in the film.

I won’t spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it. I am not under the impression that just because it is old everyone knows what takes place, I will say anyone that has any interest in mythology, fantasy, horror, vampires, zombies, the undead, D&D, or heavy metal music should check out the entire franchise. Each film has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.

The sequel, often criticized but still worth watching, goes in a different direction. Instead of a murder mystery where the kids are trying to survive by figuring out who the killer is and how to defeat him, part two, subtitled as “Freddy’s Revenge,” takes on a more haunted house, possession story line. Again it has some moments fans cringe at but it also has a few of the iconic moments that the franchise is well known for. There is even scene that takes place inside of a Gothic night club, further tying the franchise into this whole theme.

Of course if you really want proof the Nightmare films are really D&D-inspired look no further than the third entry. Regarded by many, myself included, as the best in the franchise second only to the original to some, it’s a masterpiece in many ways and proof that a sequel can outdo the original. But there are so many more D&D elements and fantasy themes in this movie. For starters the subtitle is now “The Dream Warriors.” It centers on the survivors of the previous two films, the “Last of the Elm Street teenagers.” something you just have to watch the movies to understand. It also features a kid who prominently plays D&D in the movie, even going so far as having an actual scene depicting, fairly accurately unlike most movies, a portion of game play. In the dream world however things get weirder, this character becomes a wizard with super powers and another character takes on a Gothic/Punk look even meeting Freddy face to face in an alley. There is an Alice in Wonderland feel to the third installment, a D&D type maze/dungeon at the end where they come together as a team, a cleric type, a sage type, a fighter type, and even the silent stealthy bard/thief type, who all have to face the final boss, Freddy, at the end to win the treasure, their right to live, and go back to living normal lives at the end of their mythic quest. It truly is the one film in the series the most similar to an actual game of Dungeons and Dragons, from the very opening scene to the very end credits. It even brings in a fleshed out back story and mythology to the character and his origins are explored in a very medieval Catholic mythology sort of way.

Part four sort of keeps the notion of dream powers, introduces new concepts like the Dream Master, the films subtitle, and ends in a final battle with a new powered up girl in a church where at the end she ends up well I won’t spoil it but it’s very much in line with the theme I been repeating.

Part 5 and 6 are where the franchise takes a turn for the worse. Number 5, the Dream Child, is more of a comic book movie, Freddy is even depicted as a comic book villain and his nemesis is his own mother, resurrected to take him back to hell or something I guess. The movie has a more action movie, comic book vibe and style to it. In some ways that is refreshing, in other ways it can be off putting. Part six is, to put it bluntly, a parody of the franchise. It’s basically a Warner Bros. cartoon making fun of the whole concept, and yes it even features Bugs Bunny and Wizard of Oz references and heavily relies on the 3-D gimmick. It does flesh out the mythology quite well, and features a really great cameo by the dark master himself, Alice Cooper, again really mixing the themes in a way that ensures fans will find something to enjoy. It’s the worst of the films by most accounts but still worth watching for a few things, those cameos and back story plus a surprise I won’t spoil.

Part 7, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, gets back to the Gothic horror theme by basically putting Freddy into the Hansel and Gretel story. There isn’t much else to say it’s almost a remake/reboot of the original film with a twist but it’s one of the scarier films in the series, still worth checking out. I won’t go into either Freddy Vs. Jason or the 2010 Remake as they both stray so far from the original their best left in their own world. I enjoyed them each, in their own way, but neither of them live up to the source material. Freddy vs. Jason is made for the Playstation crowd and the remake was too dark and had no ties to the fantasy mythology that the original had. Worse of all, it wasn’t even about a child murderer freed on a technicality, it was a sick perverted child molester that had no motive for murdering his victims in their dream world, which also had no fantasy elements at all, instead it was trying too hard to be dark an edgy where it really just ended up being creepy and uncomfortable.

What can I say, I enjoy Gothic music and themes, I play Dungeons and Dragons extensively and I thoroughly enjoy the fantasy-themed horror series of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Netflix recently added the original film to its streaming service, Part 2 and New Nightmare had been there before but they are not the actual best movies, the first and 3rd films are really the two to watch. Part 4 is pretty good, 5 and 6 are laughable but somewhat entertaining and the rest are different degrees of bad or too dark for my taste.

I also really enjoyed the documentary on Netflix “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” that really delved deep into the behind the scenes of the movies.

My personal ranking, with scores, best to worst:

  1. A Nightmare On Elm Street 5/5
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 5/5
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master 4.5/5
  4. Freddy vs. Jason 4/5
  5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child 3.5/5
  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge 3.5/5
  7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy’s Dead, The Final Nightmare 3.5/5
  8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) remake 3.5/5
  9. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare 3/5

Since I consider both New Nightmare and 2010 to be remakes, I prefer the full on reboot over the half-baked soft reboot. I know others will disagree but I just never cared for the breaking the fourth wall and taking Freddy into the “real” world making everything that came before just a movie, inside of a movie, too meta for my tastes.

There you have it, my general thoughts on the Freddy Krueger character and the films he appears in.