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26 February 2015 @ 02:59 pm
mouse 001

One house, two houses. One mouse, two mice.

No wonder people say English is hard to learn. I walk, I walked. I bring, I brought. Sheesh.

From 1952, the twilight of the classic cliffhangers, this isn't hopelessly unwatchable but it does seem tired and listless, like an old horse being hitched up to the wagon one time too many. The stock footage has pretty much gained the upper hand now, as much of the action is in the form of clips from earlier serials. The shots from KING OF THE ROCKETMEN and RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON provide flying scenes, and footage from THE MYSTERIOUS DR SATAN stars that tall cylindrical robot with the clamp hands. (This guy was first introduced in UNDERSEA KINGDOM, way back in 1936-- they built appliances to last in those days!) Actually, one of the coolest moments here is when the thing attacks Martin. Rocketman fighting a robot!-- that's real 1950s stuff!

It's a minor point, but I really disliked the clunky radio set Larry Martin fastens to his belt. Big as a cigar box, with a thick cord going up to the helmet, this gizmo really ruins the elegant simplicity of the leather-jacketed flying suit. You'd think a group of technologists that can come up with interplanetary rockets and flying suits could either devise a self-contained radio in the helmet or fasten it up on the backpack, out of the way. I suppose these guys were too busy fighting alien invasions to fret over the aesthetics, though...

The plot is part of a series of Martian invasions, featuring a handful of ETs from the Red Planet landing on our beloved Earth, where they hire human thugs to help with the rough stuff and are foiled by Earthmen heroes. THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES and FLYING DISC MAN FROM MARS started this and RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON is essentially part of the series (there are hints they were Martians in an outpost on the Moon). This time we have to deal with the beefy Marex and his hirelings, here to carry out an improbable scheme. They intend to use a mega-powerful hydrogen bomb to knock the Earth out of orbit, then use a similar explosion to send Mars forward to take advantage of the orbit formerly occupied by our planet. (Sure, THAT would work fine. The Solar System would more likely have a new asteroid belt stretching from Venus to Jupiter.)

Opposing these impractical masterminds is Larry Martin. Now Larry is for all intents and purposes the same guy that George Wallace introduced in RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON, and although we may know that Republic studio heads ordered a new name instead of a direct sequel, where's the fun in that? So let's do some Baker Street style speculation...

In RADAR MEN, Commando Cody is in possession of the rocket-tube flying suit and bullet-shaped helmet earlier devised by Jeff King and Professor Millard in KING OF THE ROCKETMEN. (Nowhere do they say Cody invented it, he's just using it.) In ZOMBIES, Larry Martin is "an executive" of a government department concerned with "threats to world security" and he's been in charge of "the interplanetary zone" (quite a territory to cover).

At the same time, Republic had been releasing a series of twelve short films to theatres, like serial chapters with complete endings (pretty much indistinguishable from TV episodes, and in fact they were also shown on TV in syndication) featuring Commando Cody. Played by Judd Holdren in a Lone Ranger-style mask and odd uniform, Cody enforced law and order on the Moon and other planets. As in ZOMBIES, Aline Towne assisted him. So it seems pretty clear that "Commando Cody" was a code name, assigned first to the guy in RADAR MEN and then to Larry Martin. The fact that Judd Holdren played both Cody and Martin is further evidence (apparently, he had discarded the mask, perhaps because at some point his identity had been revealed and he went back to using his real name). Come to think of it, Aline Towne was in RADAR MEN as well. Maybe she was actually the liaison between Cody and the government department he reported to.

Strangely, ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE is best known today because Leonard Nimoy appears in it in a minor role as Narab, one of Marex's hench-Martians. In the hooded costume and heavy make-up, Nimoy's features are hard to recognize but his distinctive voice is unmistakable. Apparently, Nimoy later played an alien on some TV sci-fi show in the mid-1960s and his fans are curious to see how he looks in this earlier role.

Dir: Fred Bannon - 12 Chapters
(This pic enlarges to a huge size if you click on it!)


Your friends would say, "That's focked up!"*

26 February 2015 @ 01:50 pm
1974 chapin 001

From 1974. I dunno, the longer I look, the most unsettling the art seems. Was the artist thinking of Alice Cooper or something?
fight the mammals

Gary Larson did a great FAR SIDE cartoon where dinosaurs are laughing at this goofy little mammal walking by... except one dino notices it's starting to snow.

Here's a page from MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS# 6, April 1940. I particularly enjoy the first few issues of Golden Age series because so often it's clear that the creators are experimenting, trying different things and seeing what works. Namor has learned a bit about what's going on up on the surface. He isn't interested with the impending World War (being a prince in an empire, democracy may not seem like a good idea to him) but his father was an American. So he takes in his head to try to get on good terms with the US by becoming one of these newfangled "mystery men' (not known as super-heroes yet). That's quite a flashy costume he has for a few issues. You can't see it on this page, but that jacket has a military flap across the front.

Namor seems to assume that all the hundreds (if not thousands) New Yorkers he killed in his earlier rampage will just be overlooked, as his services as a hero will be so valuable. They were just peasants anyway, right Prince? But no. He's convinced to stand trial so he can be cleared and start his new career with a clear record. The court doesn't agree and off to Death Row he goes. (He's weakened because they've been secretly drugging his food.) It looks like this might be a short-lived strip. Bill Everett might end up drawing the Angel or something. As it happens, the electric chair acts like a can of Red Bull, Namor breaks free and if you think he was a public menace before...!

One thing I liked about Bill Everett is that he frequently put Sub-Mariner in various uniforms and types of clothing, and not always as a disguise. Sometimes Namor would be out in public in a snappy suit and tie, or casual slacks and polo shirt. I guess Everett felt the odd-shaped head and pointy ears were enough to make sure readers wouldn't get confused. Keeping characters in costume or in the same damn outfits year after year has its point but it always makes the characters seem more "real" when they are seen in different clothes once in a while.

That sign would benefit from some editing, I think.
25 February 2015 @ 02:48 pm

From 1952, he played a character who would later be portrayed by some rather distinguished actors.

Also from that interesting year, a Kaiser Deluxe. No other connection, just throwing a bit for the Car Porn enthusiasts:
1952 kaiser deluxe
25 February 2015 @ 01:59 pm

There's a sign of modern times. Esurance retired its mascot because they couldn't cope with the flood of porn featuring the pink-haired secret agent.

I don't know, maybe just maybe they should have licensed Erin to appear in an anime or two? Make her frantic fans happy and bring in some bucks in the process?

Here is ROBOT CHICKEN's "Four Bullet Deductible" featuring the greatest female adventurer since Modesty Blaise:

And of course, Erin dealing with Space Ghost.
"Mr Ghost! Mr Ghost! Are you even listening to me?"
25 February 2015 @ 01:50 pm

(First, let me say that looking for images of Kim Possible and Erin Esurance has been, well, enlightening. It's like the Tijuana Bibles all over again, with Flash animation.)

What happens when two cartoon adventurers clash, even though they're not likely to ever meet each other in reel life? A red-haired jailbait cheerleader/world-famous super-hero and a pink-haired spy/car insurance agent, going at it? I think we're all in trouble, to be honest, this could get ugly.

At first, I would say Erin has all the advantages. She's what, ten years older than Kim? Even if she started a bit later in the adventurer game, that still gives her years of experience and training. She also seems a bit taller and heavier, although both characters have waists that seem like a strand of cartilage holding their torsos together. Erin polishes off her opponents in the few seconds allowed her during a commercial, while Kim takes the twenty-odd minutes of an episode to do the same.

Erin usually operates alone or with the minimal help of that nondescript guy with the sideburns. Kim relies on her team of Ron, Rufus and Wade. Even when they're getting in the way more than helping, their morale boost is important to her. I can see Kim losing some of her enthusiasm and confidence if she had to work completely unassisted. So it seems likely that in a few minutes, Erin would have Kim unconscious and tied up (at which point, the slash writers would unleash their feverish imaginations).

Even with all the advantages, I think Erin would lose the deathmatch. A little research about by Kim would show Erin's psychological weak spot -- her obsessive, psychotic desire to sell insurance. As they're trading kicks and punches, Kim suddenly says, "My dad's going to buy me a car for senior year. You think I should go to Geico for insurance?" And Erin drops her guard, pulls out a wad of policy forms and goes into her spiel. "See, it's so easy. Quote, print...THUMP!" as Kim decks her with a sucker punch.