Cult Comic Essentials: The Boys

The Boys is an American creator owned comic book series written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Darick Robertson. It was originally published by Wildstorm before moving to Dynamite Entertainment.

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The series is set between 2006–2008 in a world where superheroes exist. However, most of the superheroes in the series’ universe are corrupted by their celebrity status and often engage in reckless behaviour, compromising the safety of the world. For this reason, a super powered CIA squad, known informally as “The Boys”, is charged with monitoring the superhero community; the name is Butcher’s contribution, a reference from his neighbourhood that those in power would “send the boys” to handle anyone causing trouble.

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Ennis has said that the series would “out-Preacher Preacher“, presumably referring to the extreme violence and sexuality that were that series’ hallmark, and that the series would end with its seventy-second issue,

PLOT

The Boys are a CIA black ops team, initially created by Col. Greg Mallory to manage, police, and sometimes liquidate Vought-American’s super humans. While this is in part to help protect normal humans from the actions of the largely out of control “supes,” this is also to ensure that the company lack the stability or the platform to push the use of superhumans in national defense.

Over time, however, the team’s focus was changed, due to Butcher’s increased influence, from one of management and containment to one of direct confrontation. As Mallory notes in #55, 14 people were killed by the Boys from 1987–95 and “nearly three times that number” between 1995 to 2002, when Butcher had gained more influence. This coincides with Mallory belief that in Issues #54-55 that in spite of the seductiveness of the concept of special forces teams, the application of them can often go wrong as they try to justify their budgets and create their private conflicts. As a result, Mallory feels that the original concept for the team has gone awry, and would never have created the unit as it currently stands.

The first iteration of the Boys were decommissioned after a disastrous confrontation with the Seven in 2001 that resulted in civilian casualties. However, the unit was reformed a few years later – indicated in #1 to be soon after the 2004 Presidential election – and have carried on where they left off. Due to the fact that direct confrontation may be needed, all the members have been enhanced strength and durability due to injections of Compound V, and all (with the exception of Hughie) show no restraint when on the attack – although they avoid killing when it complicates matters in most cases.

The Boys

Billy Butcher : A native Englishman and the leader of the current incarnation of the Boys, Butcher is the second most prominent character in the series, aside from Wee Hughie. He was the first member of the team recruited by team founder, Greg Mallory, and served as the original group’s second-in-command until its disbandment as the result of events depicted in #50. It was he that coined the team name “the Boys” because in the East End “the boys” were who you said you’d send in to take care of troublemakers. At the beginning of the series, he works to reassemble the old team, with a new fifth member filling in for Mallory, whose leadership position Butcher takes for himself.

Hughie Campbell: The main protagonist of the series. He is often called by his nickname “Wee Hughie,” Hughie first experiences the world of super-humans first-hand when his girlfriend Robin is accidentally killed by ‘A-Train’, during a fight in which the latter was traveling faster than the speed of sound. Due to this experience, Butcher recruits to take Mallory’s vacated spot on the Boys, and would later inject him with Compound V, without Hughie’s permission.

Mother’s Milk: A large, African-American man, he first appears in issue 2. He is a highly patient and methodical man, taught by his father to check every possible angle and means of attack, and can be somewhat particular (getting annoyed whenever anyone doesn’t put a drink coaster under their glasses). He is the only member on the team, aside from the retired Greg Mallory, who is an American citizen by birth. His nickname apparently came about because he is the “purest”, i.e. most goodhearted, member of the team. In issue #35, M.M. reveals that he is the only member of the unit to have been exposed to Compound V since conception. His mother worked in a factory that had previously been a Vought-American lab, and hadn’t been sanitized afterwards, leading to her being contaminated with Compound V. As a result, his brother Michael was born with severe mental retardation and he himself was born needing regular doses of his mother’s breast milk to survive. #17 hinted at this, and showed him throwing up and feeling disturbed by the constant need. At the same time, he finds the nourishment highly energizing and developing into a breast fetish, adding to his discomfort.

The Frenchman: First seen in issue 2, he is one of the original Boys, and displays a penchant for extreme violence within a few frames of his first appearance. His spoken French uses incorrect phrasing, though whether this is an intentional plot point is not known. He takes an immediate liking to “Petit Hughie.” He and the Female are the ‘muscles’ of the team – and mad. While the Frenchman is merely crazy, the Female may be psychotic. According to Mother’s Milk, however, it’s better for the rest of the humans if they are in the team rather than in the outside world. Like Billy and Mother’s Milk, the Frenchman possesses military experience, particularly holding knowledge in ballistics, to the extent that Butcher refers to him on that matter. The Frenchman also possesses an incredibly strong sense of smell.

The Female: One of the earliest members of the Boys. First appearance is issue 2. She is known for her brutality (which visibly shocks even Butcher), and suffers from selective-mutism. When not working for the Boys, she used to do freelance work for the Mafia. Her nickname is derived from the Rudyard Kipling poem of the same name.

M.A.S.K.

M.A.S.K. was a animated television series produced by the French-American DIC Enterprises Inc and Kenner. The series had its own range of M.A.S.K. action figures and vehicles.  It was animated in Asia by studios; KK C&D Asia, Studio Juno, Studio World, and Ashi Productions. It ran from September 16th 1985 – November 28 1986, totalling 75 episodes.

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The main premise revolved around the fight between an underground task force called M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) against a criminal organization called V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem).

CAST

  • Matt Trakker, Hondo MacLean, Dusty Hayes, Bruce Sato, Nash Gorey, Bruno Shepherd, Boris Bushkin, Maximus Mayhem – Doug Stone (Cowboy Bebop, Lensman, Naruto, Metal Gear Solid).
  • Miles Mayhem, Alex Sector, Floyd Malloy, Jacques Lefleur, Nevada Rushmore – Brendan McKane (Star Trek: TNG, Hard Time on Planet Earth, Hunter).
  • Scott Trakker – Brennan Thicke (Dennis The Menace).
  • T-Bob, Brad Turner, Julio Lopez, Calhoun Burns – Graeme McKenna (The Legend of Prince Valiant).
  • Sly Rax, Buddie Hawks, Cliff Dagger, Duane Kennedy, Ace Riker – Mark Halloran
  • M.A.S.K. Computer, Gloria Baker, Vanessa Warfield – Sharon Noble (Dennis, Punky Brewster).
  • Lester Sludge, Ali Bombay – Brian George (Beware The Batman, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, The Big Bang Theory, The X-Files, Star Trek: DS9).

Season 1

Season 1 saw MASK battle Venom across the globe:

01 “The Deathstone” September 30, 1985 (1985-09-30)
VENOM steals a strange meteorite with healing powers using Switchblade disguised as a UFO.
02 “The Star Chariot” October 1, 1985 (1985-10-01)
VENOM steals a mystical arrowhead rumoured to point the way to an alien spacecraft buried in the desert.
03 “The Book of Power” October 2, 1985 (1985-10-02)
VENOM steals an ancient book which holds the secrets of a mythological city of riches.
04 “Highway to Terror” October 3, 1985 (1985-10-03)
MASK tries to retrieve a stash of military plutonium that VENOM plans to use to power an earthquake machine.
05 “Video VENOM” October 4, 1985 (1985-10-04)
VENOM hypnotizes innocent people through their television sets and threatens to use them to attack a Texas oil refinery if not paid a hefty ransom.
06 “Dinosaur Boy” October 7, 1985 (1985-10-07)
VENOM abducts a strange lizard creature whose antibodies prolong human life.
07 “The Ultimate Weapon” October 8, 1985 (1985-10-08)
VENOM obtains a device that jams the control systems of MASK’s vehicles rendering their opposition immobile.
08 “The Roteks” October 9, 1985 (1985-10-09)
VENOM steals a swarm of metal-eating bugs secretly developed by the military.
09 “The Oz Effect” October 10, 1985 (1985-10-10)
VENOM uses a strange vortex machine to abduct a village of Australian aborigines and forces them as slaves to mine valuable crystal.
10 “Death from the Sky” October 11, 1985 (1985-10-11)
VENOM uses a tractor beam to steer a meteor to Earth which threatens to destroy a major city.
11 “The Magma Mole” October 14, 1985 (1985-10-14)
VENOM uses a mole machine to drill into the Earth which threatens Tokyo with devastating floods and an eruption of Mount Fuji.
12 “Solaria Park” October 15, 1985 (1985-10-15)
VENOM hides a heat ray weapon in an amusement park.
13 “The Creeping Terror” October 16, 1985 (1985-10-16)
VENOM unleashes a horde of giant caterpillars to destroy a South American jungle in hopes of finding a lost Mayan temple.
14 “Assault on Liberty” October 17, 1985 (1985-10-17)
VENOM steals the Statue of Liberty during a magic show and holds it for ransom.
15 “The Sceptre of Rajim” October 18, 1985 (1985-10-18)
VENOM steals a mystical sceptre from an Indian city whose inhabitants hold the MASK team hostage until its return. Matt Trakker must work alone to get it back.
16 “The Golden Goddess” October 21, 1985 (1985-10-21)
VENOM steals golden relics from ancient temples in Singapore, liquefying the gold and smuggling it by pumping it secretly through a pipeline.
17 “Mystery of the Rings” October 22, 1985 (1985-10-22)
VENOM goes to Sunhenge with three mystic rings that will point the way to a wealth of ancient treasure.
18 “Bad Vibrations” October 23, 1985 (1985-10-23)
VENOM threatens to blow up buildings in Hong Kong with a sonic weapon.
19 “Ghost Bomb” October 24, 1985 (1985-10-24)
VENOM plots to destroy the Panama Canal with a captured nuclear submarine.
20 “Cold Fever” October 25, 1985 (1985-10-25)
During a trip to Alaska, Bruce Sato falls ill from a terrible virus and MASK finds that VENOM has the only cure.
21 “Mardi Gras Mystery” October 28, 1985 (1985-10-28)
The MASK team enjoys a New Orleans Mardi Gras but finds VENOM there trying to steal the formula to a super-fuel.
22 “The Secret of Life” October 29, 1985 (1985-10-29)
VENOM steals an Ancient Egyptian tablet from King Tut’s tomb which may contain “the secret of life”.
23 “Vanishing Point” October 30, 1985 (1985-10-30)
VENOM hijacks planes by setting up a fake airport, jamming radars and confusing pilots to land there.
24 “Counter-Clockwise Caper” October 31, 1985 (1985-10-31)
VENOM conducts heists of Las Vegas casinos.
25 “The Plant Show” November 1, 1985 (1985-11-01)
VENOM threatens to cover Los Angeles with a choking kudzu of mutated vines unless California pays a hefty ransom.
26 “Secret of the Andes” November 4, 1985 (1985-11-04)
MASK must protect a revived Incan priest from VENOM, who has been frozen in ice found in the Andes, and may know the secret location of El Dorado.
27 “Panda Power” November 5, 1985 (1985-11-05)
VENOM abducts endangered panda bears from China and MASK must rescue them.
28 “Blackout” November 6, 1985 (1985-11-06)
VENOM has a new vehicle called Blackout, which is capable of draining power supplies.
29 “A Matter of Gravity” November 7, 1985 (1985-11-07)
Firecracker is destroyed in a battle with VENOM, and Hondo gets a new replacement vehicle, Hurricane, in the end. (NOTE: Hurricane was called Nightstalker in this episode).
30 “The Lost Riches of Rio” November 8, 1985 (1985-11-08)
VENOM steals a worthless painting but MASK learns it really contains a secret map to lost treasure.
31 “Deadly Blue Slime” November 11, 1985 (1985-11-11)
MASK goes to Africa to stop a botched experiment which has created a deadly blue slime that consumes everything in its path.
32 “The Currency Conspiracy” November 12, 1985 (1985-11-12)
MASK must stop VENOM from using an organism that eats the ink off printed money rendering the bills worthless.
33 “Caesar’s Sword” November 13, 1985 (1985-11-13)
VENOM agent Sly Rax, poses as the ghost of Julius Caesar to scare off a team of archaeologists who have uncovered Caesar’s Sword of Victory.
34 “Peril in Paris” November 14, 1985 (1985-11-14)
Buddie Hawks disguises himself as VENOM agent Dagger in order to infiltrate VENOM’s secret base in Paris. There he uncovers VENOM’s plan to find a Nazi doomsday machine.
35 “In Dutch” November 15, 1985 (1985-11-15)
A madman hires VENOM to destroy the flood dikes in the Netherlands if their parliament doesn’t allow him a political position.
36 “The Lippizaner Mystery” November 18, 1985 (1985-11-18)
VENOM steals the famous Lipizzaner Stallions where an Arab purchases them for $4 million, but MASK team member Dusty Hayes foils their heist.
37 “The Sacred Rock” November 19, 1985 (1985-11-19)
VENOM frightens a tribe of Australian aborigines who believe their god “Mimi” is angry with them. When T-Bob makes an appearance, the tribe thinks he is their deity.
38 “Curse of Solomon’s Gorge” November 20, 1985 (1985-11-20)
MASK goes to Africa to stop VENOM who has discovered King Solomon’s treasures.
39 “Green Nightmare” November 21, 1985 (1985-11-21)
VENOM agent Vanessa Warfield, sabotages Matt Trakker’s private jet which crashes in the jungles of New Guinea. The rest of the MASK team goes to rescue them.
40 “Eyes of the Skull” November 22, 1985 (1985-11-22)
VENOM leader, Miles Mayhem, uses an ancient “crystal skull” which allows x-ray vision to see through Matt Trakker’s mask and discover his identity. Mayhem then kidnaps Scott Trakker for ransom.
41 “Stop Motion” November 25, 1985 (1985-11-25)
VENOM obtains an EMP bomb, and threatens to loot bank vault across the country by knocking out all electronics for miles around.
42 “The Artemis Enigma” November 26, 1985 (1985-11-26)
VENOM plans to steal a sacred horn from a group of monks that is rumoured to detect gold.
43 “The Chinese Scorpion” November 27, 1985 (1985-11-27)
VENOM agent Bruno Sheppard disguises Stinger as a giant iron scorpion and kidnaps an archaeologist who knows the location of buried treasure inside the Great Wall of China.
44 “Riddle of the Raven Master” November 28, 1985 (1985-11-28)
VENOM agent Vanessa Warfield uses trained ravens to steal London’s crown jewels. As a diversion, Sly Rax plants a bomb in Big Ben. Scott and T-Bob meet the Raven of the Tower of London.
45 “The Spectre of Captain Kidd” November 29, 1985 (1985-11-29)
MASK foils a plot by VENOM to get their hands on the lost booty of the pirate Captain Kidd.
46 “The Secret of the Stones” December 2, 1985 (1985-12-02)
VENOM steals a strange stone than makes objects weightless.
47 “The Lost Fleet” December 3, 1985 (1985-12-03)
MASK tries to stop VENOM who goes to a tropical island in search of a legendary “golden” fleet.
48 “Quest of the Canyon” December 4, 1985 (1985-12-04)
MASK goes to Carlsbad Caverns where VENOM plans to steal the lost treasure of legendary gunman Jesse James.
49 “Follow the Rainbow” December 5, 1985 (1985-12-05)
VENOM goes to Ireland to find the treasure of Brian Boru at the end of the rainbow.
50 “The Everglades Oddity” December 6, 1985 (1985-12-06)
Matt Trakker is bitten by a venomous snake, and while he recovers, Alex Sector must lead the MASK team to stop VENOM’s plan of stealing the NASA Space Shuttle.
51 “Dragonfire” December 9, 1985 (1985-12-09)
VENOM goes to Borneo to seek a lost temple. When they find it, they unleash the temple’s lizard guardians against MASK.
52 “The Royal Cape Caper” December 10, 1985 (1985-12-10)
VENOM steals Kamehameha’s cape and helmet, then mass produce replicas selling them as expensive fakes.
53 “Patchwork Puzzle” December 11, 1985 (1985-12-11)
VENOM steals a Civil War-era quilt that contains a secret message to finding buried treasure at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
54 “Fog on Boulder Hill” December 12, 1985 (1985-12-12)
VENOM kidnaps an old woman who is hiding $20 bill printing plates. VENOM wants the plates so they can make counterfeit money.
55 “Plunder of Glowworm Grotto” December 13, 1985 (1985-12-13)
MASK member Julio Lopez goes to New Zealand to help a local tribe preserve their land. There he discovers a VENOM plot to steal pearls from giant clams that live in the ocean.
56 “Stone Trees” December 16, 1985 (1985-12-16)
MASK member Jacques LaFleur finds a stone tree inscribed with strange symbols. VENOM later steals the tree hoping it will lead them to a golden Indian totem.
57 “Incident in Istanbul” December 17, 1985 (1985-12-17)
VENOM hijacks an armoured car in Istanbul stealing Constantine’s chess set which contains secrets to finding his golden crown.
58 “The Creeping Desert” December 18, 1985 (1985-12-18)
A corrupt landowner hires VENOM to destroy land in Acapulco, Mexico, rendering them worthless patches of desert so he can buy it up real cheap and restore the land later with an advanced hydration machine.
59 “The Scarlet Empress” December 19, 1985 (1985-12-19)
MASK member Calhoun Burns, accidentally shrinks a priceless statue VENOM is trying to steal. A curious bird makes off with the statue.
60 “Venice Menace” December 20, 1985 (1985-12-20)
VENOM has a device that turns the waters around Venice to jelly, allowing Stinger to drive on the surface and dig up Cleopatra’s sunken barge.
61 “Treasure of the Nazca Plain” December 23, 1985 (1985-12-23)
MASK foils a plot by VENOM to steal a prehistoric South American treasure.
62 “Disappearing Act” December 24, 1985 (1985-12-24)
VENOM steals priceless automobiles by shrinking them with a shrink ray.
63 “Gate of Darkness” December 25, 1985 (1985-12-25)
VENOM abducts a cobra whose hood shows the way through a maze that leads to treasure in the Himalayan Mountains.
64 “The Manakara Giant” December 26, 1985 (1985-12-26)
VENOM uses a magnetic weapon to crash ships into rocky beaches. Local natives believe it is caused by an ancient curse until MASK discovers otherwise.
65 “Raiders of the Orient Express” December 27, 1985 (1985-12-27)
VENOM infiltrates the Orient Express train looking for clues to “Mad” King Ludwig’s treasures.

 

Season 2

Season 2 of the animated series saw a change to the format. For reasons not explained MASK and VENOM were now motor racing teams. It only last ten episodes:

# Title Original airdate
01 “Demolition Duel to the Death” September 6, 1986 (1986-09-06)
During a harrowing demolition derby, VENOM agents discover one of their own, a new VENOM recruit named Boris Bushkin, is really a MASK double agent who foils their plans to eliminate MASK member Buddie Hawks.
02 “Where Eagles Dare” October 1, 1986 (1986-10-01)
Matt Trakker takes on the Mayhem brothers in a race that will win the victor a profitable transportation licence.
03 “Homeward Bound” October 8, 1986 (1986-10-08)
MASK member Ali Bombay returns to his homelands in India but finds that VENOM is using villagers as slaves to mine a valuable meteorite.
04 “The Battle of the Giants” October 12, 1986 (1986-10-12)
Matt Trakker and the Mayhem brothers race to win a trophy that contains a secret formula, but the Mayhem twins, of course, play dirty in order to win the prize.
05 “Race Against Time” October 22, 1986 (1986-10-22)
Brad Turner undertakes a mission to retrieve a rare plant needed to fight a spreading virus, but he soon finds VENOM is after the plant as well.
06 “Challenge of the Masters” October 29, 1986 (1986-10-29)
MASK and VENOM battle in a race to win a trophy containing a microfilm that has secret access codes to any computer in the world.
07 “For One Shining Moment” November 5, 1986 (1986-11-05)
VENOM surprisingly shows kindness by organizing a race for “charity”, luring MASK to participate, however the race is really a VENOM trap to eliminate MASK once and for all.
08 “High Noon” November 12, 1986 (1986-11-12)
MASK and VENOM enter a land, air and sea race to show off their vehicle capabilities. VENOM uses the race as a diversion to steal plans for a top secret jet.
09 “The Battle For Baja” November 19, 1986 (1986-11-19)
MASK enters a Baja race where the Mexican President’s son, Raul Vega, is also a competitor and offered to drive Goliath I by Matt Trakker. VENOM uses the opportunity to kidnap Vega for ransom.
10 “Cliff Hanger” November 26, 1986 (1986-11-26)
VENOM gets their hands on dangerous seeds that can cause a plague and MASK races to stop them.

Preview: Army of Darkness 1

As the Chosen One, Ash has seen some strange things and visited some strange times and places. But nothing has prepared him for this!

Catapulted into the depths of space, Ash must confront the Deadites in a place where no one can hear his screams… or his chainsaw… or his boomstick! What do the forces of the evil dead want with the International Space Station?

Whatever it is, Ash embarks on his most out-of-this-world adventure in order to stop them!

Preview: Battlestar Galactica: Death of Apollo

The shocking new Battlestar Galactica event starts here!

The fleet has been travelling for ten years, and at last the human survivors seem to be leaving the war and the Cylons behind them. But the threats never go away.

A voice from the past and a bizarre twist of fate leads Galactica into danger once again, and events will take place that will change everything, forever.

A milestone in Battlestar continuity, by Guardians of the Galaxy writer Dan Abnett and cosmic superstar artist Dietrich Smith.

Preview: Shaft is coming back via Dynamite Comics

Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine with all the chicks?

Shaft!

Created by author Ernest Tidyman, and made famous in a series of novels and films, iconic hero Shaft makes his comic book debut in an all-new adventure. He’s gone toe-to-toe with organized crime bosses, stood up to the cops, squared off against kidnappers, and foiled assassination attempts. But who was John Shaft before he became the hardboiled investigator with a reputation as big as New York City itself?

Find out on December 3rd 2014 in this 32 page Issue 1.

Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince

Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince was a live action Hanna-Barbera and Mulberry Square children’s science fiction television series created by Joe Camp (the creator of the Benji film franchise). The series originally aired Saturday mornings on CBS between 17th September 1983 – 17th December 1983. It consisted of 13 episodes. It was filmed in various parts of the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex,  with interiors taped at the Las Colinas studios in Irving, Texas.

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CAST

Benji – Benji (Benji, For the love of Benji)

Prince Yubi – Chris Burton (When Dreams Come True)

Zax – Ric Spiegel (Bloodrayne)

Zanu – Ken Miller

Darah – Angie Bolling (Robocop Trilogy, Prison Break) / Anna Kathryn Holbrook (Another World)

Khyber – Josef Rainer (The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man) / Dallas Miles

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Episodes

  1. The Prince and the Bag Lady” (September 17, 1983)
  2. U.F.O.” (September 24, 1983)
  3. The Day of the Hunter” (October 1, 1983)
  4. Goldmine” (October 8, 1983)
  5. Goodbye to Earth” (October 15, 1983)
  6. Ghostown” (October 22, 1983)
  7. The Locals” (October 29, 1983)
  8. Puppy Love” (November 5, 1983)
  9. Double Trouble” (November 12, 1983)
  10. Don’t Fence Me In” (November 19, 1983)
  11. The Flying Lesson” (December 3, 1983)
  12. Benji Call Home” (December 10, 1983)
  13. Decoy Droid” (December 17, 1983)

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Marcia Strassman passes away

CULT FACTION is sad to report that actress Marcia Strassman has passed away at the age of 66 following a battle with breast cancer.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” director Bob Weide, a long-time friend of Strassman’s, was one of the first to break the news of her passing. He wrote on Twitter, “So sad that a sweet friend, kind person & wonderful actress Marcia Strassman lost her brave battle with cancer today.”

Marcia was born on April 28, 1948 in New York City and as an actress hit the cult radar with roles like Julie Kotter in Welcome Back Kotter, and as Diane Szalinski in the 1989 feature film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid and  the 3-D film spin-off Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! which was shown at several Disney theme parks through mid-2010. She also clocked up notable appearances as nurse Margie Cutler in M*A*S*H, Time Express, The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, Brave New World, Booker, Magnum P.I, and the television series Tremors.

Preview: LAZARUS hardcover due in November

In the Image Comics series LAZARUS, the world has become a feudal state: a few wealthy families control all of the resources, while all other people amount to, if they’re lucky, loyal vassals or serfs. But most are destitute, unprotected, and desperate — what the privileged call “Waste.” This is the world of the New York Times bestselling series by Greg Rucka (Whiteout, Gotham Central, Wonder Woman, Atticus Kodiak novels) and Michael Lark (Gotham Central, Daredevil, SCENE OF THE CRIME, Atticus Kodiak novels), which is now being collected into a deluxe hardcover edition, out in November.

The “Lazarus” of the title is Forever Carlyle, the genetically enhanced daughter of a powerful family who is charged, like all who share the title Lazarus, with protecting that family by all means possible — and the story begins on the day she is killed

Forever believes in her father’s love for her, but as a conflict with another ruling Family to moves toward war, she begins to suspect she is little more than a pawn in Family Carlyle’s plot to gain more power.

To writer Rucka, the dystopia he created for LAZARUS isn’t a far-fetched science fiction world; it’s plausible speculation on where our society is heading.

Influenced by the Occupy Movement, Rucka asked himself, “What would the world look like if 99% became 99.99999%? What if the 1% became the .00001%? What happens when that much wealth and power becomes that concentrated?”

Concentration of power leads to the powerful using all means to protect what they have — and that is where Forever comes in. Regarded variably as a tool, pet, and science project, Forever must break through her lifelong conditioning to find out what and who she really is in a world that sees her as something less — and more — than human.

“If you ask me what the series is about, yes, it’s about this dark vision of the future, certainly,” said Rucka. “But it’s about Forever, her journey, the questions of nature versus nurture, and of power, and of corruption.”

Lark’s art renders Forever’s world in deep shadow and is heightened with moody colors by Santi Arcas, perfectly capturing the fractured, violent world of LAZARUS as well as Forever’s vulnerability and naïveté, which her deadly exterior belies.

“I’m trying to demonstrate the contrast between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’” said artist Lark. “Because one side has, literally everything and the other has nothing, the contrast is strong. I realize that while we in the United States haven’t seen this come to pass — yet — there are other parts of the world where it is already a stark reality.”

LAZARUS: BOOK ONE collects issues #1-9 of LAZARUS, plus an introduction by Warren Ellis, a four-page “Prelude”; never-before-seen work by artist Lark, cover artist Owen Freeman, and graphic designer Eric Trautmann; and exclusive world-building content.

Heroes of Cult: “Big” Ron Tarr

Ronald Lawrence Morisco-Tarr, professionally known as Ron Tarr (14th November 1936 – 20th October 1997) was a British television and film actor who played many roles but gained cult status as “Big Ron” on Eastenders. He played the role until his tragic death from cancer in 1997, although he continued to appear onscreen until early 1998.

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Ron was born in Willesden in Middlesex, England and got his first acting role in 1973 in the hugely successful Carry On franchise in the film Carry On Girls where he played a bearded audience member. This was followed by appearances in many television series such as Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Space 1999, Are You Being Served?, The Gentle Touch, The Comic Strip Presents: 5 Go Mad in Dorset and Dramarama. He also notched up a number of film appearances including A View To A Kill, Eat the Rich (he also cameos in Motorhead’s music video soundtrack of the filmand Willow.

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Ron was best known for his role “Big Ron” in the BBC soap opera Eastenders.  A role which he played from the show’s inception in 1985 to just before his death in October 1997. His character had very few central storylines but was often seen interacting with the main characters in the show. Throughout his time on the show he was often depicted as a friendly wheeler dealer who could be counted on if any trouble was occurring. Many times in the shows history characters backed down when Big Ron stood up.

It 1989 he helped advertise the Do-It-All DIY chain of stores (3:10 below):

Whilst in Eastenders, Ron appeared in the Doctor Who episode Dimensions in Time, a charity special crossover between the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and the soap opera EastEnders that ran in two parts on 26 and 27 November 1993. It was filmed on the EastEnders’ Albert Square set and features several of the stars of that programme at the time. Produced for the Children in Need charity, following Doctor Who’s hiatus in 1989 this special was the only dramatisation broadcast in celebration of the show’s 30th anniversary.

Big Ron to the rescue!
Big Ron to the rescue!

At the end of Part One, viewers were asked to phone in and vote for which EastEnders character would save the Doctor at the start of Part Two. Two versions of the scene were filmed, one featuring ‘Big’ Ron and the other Mandy. The money raised from phone calls went to Children in Need. The result of the vote was announced prior to the screening of Part Two. The version featuring Mandy was broadcast after it won 56% of the vote.

The Big Ron version can be seen below:

After his death, he appeared in pre-recorded episodes that he had filmed before his death. To explain the absence of his character, in early 1998 his character was written out of the series in a storyline in which Big Ron won the lottery and moved to Spain.

He will always remain a true hero of cult.

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