| Saturday, June 06 2009 @ 09:36 AM EDT
|DRAGONRING No. 1-Aircel
Story: Barry Blair, Guang Yap
Art: Guang Yap
Additional Pencils: Barry Blair
Lettered: Eiwin Mark
Editor: Gordon Derry
Publisher: Ken Campbell
THE AWAKENING: Hong Kong in the harbor: Raymond Wharfin jumps into the water as Chinese stars are thrown into and kill a younger man that is with him (some kind of Bruce Lee-Bruce Willis type).
CHAPTER ONE: Shang Chen watering hole: Kohl Drake is called in by Choo to help Raymond Wharfin. A boy listens to music and wonders if Miles is back but sees the man with a ghoul's face. A man with a ghoul's face comes looking for Wharfin. Kohl beats him with nunchuks and kicks. Wharfin is worrying about his ex-wife. He needs a charter to Dielow Island to claim his uncle's land which he inherited. A girl called Mai Ling is kissed by Drake as he leaves. A few days later, Wharfin (a Rodney Dangerfield type), the boy Yue, and Drake with Miles find a person to sail them to the island, that nobody else will go near and that no one else believes is existing. Wharfin sings row, row, row your boat. Lawyer Lawrence Carstairs arrives with Cassandra and her army of warrior women. They are lead up many steps to the palace; the steps prompting Wharfin to tire out and want elevators. An old man dies on the island with arrows in his back and gives Drake a ring. Drake sees four figures with a boat on the island, figures he doesn't recognize.
CHAPTER TWO: Wharfin sings Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and I'm in the Money. Promising to be good, Yue is in a bathing suit for swimming. Yue finds many naked kids swimming in the "old swimming hole" which is cleaner than Hong Kong's. Yue jumps in but didn't realize the water wasn't too deep where he jumped in. A boy, who doesn't appear full Oriental, if at all, introduces himself as Alex, telling Lee, "You're gonna get yourself killed, buddy." Yue says, "Maybe...but not today." Prophetic. Mr. Winklemire, the previous owner of the island, found Cassandra in her mother's arms at the shoreline. Her mother died. The boys go diving down, wearing goggles. There are tentacles deeper. Alex (who is naked) and Yue come out but another boy is pulled under, no one else noticing. A man calls for the boy, "Chen! Chen! Where are you? Chen, come out!" Yue is starved. Someone is watching Alex and Yue, thinking that next time they won't be so lucky.
CHAPTER THREE: Yue in a ragged short cut shirt and short shorts and Alex in a loin cloth watch the lightning and rain (in a scene reminiscent of the movie 1900). Cassandra tells Drake this place holds a portal to a dark dimension. Drake hears Yue scream and tells him, when he runs to Yue, that someone took Alex (who jumped in the way to protect Yue) through a secret passage. From a suit of armor, Drake takes a weapon and follows. He spears a giant mutant lizard creature as it attacks him. Drake follows it to find Alex. Carstairs and a high priest have killed off Wharfin's relatives and he now takes Yue and Cassandra at gun point. Miles and a monkey wearing a shirt--Zeek--wait in the old ship wait. Drake swims into water and battles and kills an octo frog monster. He comes up to another place and finds some kind of temple. A skull faced high priest is going to sacrifice Alex to the demon Na'Ga, whose world lies at the end of a pit and who is appeased through youthful blood. The demon supplies the high priest with the para servants and power. Drake cuts off the head of the monster guard-the giant lizard thing. He kicks the high priest who falls on the edge of the pit and is about to fall in. Drake is giving him his hand when the priest yells, "N-no! It can't be! Not the dragon ring!" He falls into the pit.
EPILOGUE: Wharfin tells Drake that when the guards came, Carstairs took off like his pants were on fire. He asks Drake to stay for a party. Drake must find out more about the dragon ring even though Cassandra wants him to stay. He will leave but not forever.
NOTES: Last page is a notice from Eiwin Mark along with a full page of Drake and the two kids (one holding on to his leg and the other with an open button down shirt) on a ledge of rock with claws and jaws reaching for them. The back cover is a full color piece of Alex with his button down shirt or sweatshirt open, Drake, Cassandra and her warrior ladies, Yue in a short beach shirt and sandals, others, and even a smiling Carstairs, all standing around a camera light and a fake set as if the whole adventure was just a movie!!!
REVIEW: A packed issue with lots going on and lots of interesting events. The art keeps one looking even if not perfect and the story is fun. Wharfin, Miles, and Yue keep the humor up and the story exciting as Drake obviously cares about all three of them. Alex is a great character which will grow with the coming issues. His near sacrifice sequence is a great one, tense and exciting and since he is not Drake's main boy, he could have died in this.
NOTE: There seems to have been mentioned a DRAGONRING one shot that was put out before Aircel came into being. This was by Barry and was by the same Night Wynd before the later Night Wynd of 1991. This 1980s version of Night Wynd put out ELFLORD (15 issues from 1980 to 1982; plus one issue of a second volume--1983; also a WINDBLADE Special in 1982) and SAMURAI (at least 3 issues are known of).
DRAGONRING No. 2-Aircel
Story: Barry Blair, Guang Yap;
Art: Guang Yap;
Additional Pencils: Barry Blair;
Lettered: Eiwin Mark
Editor: Gordon Derry;
Publisher: Ken Campbell
TO THE MISTS OF TIME-A creature steps on a cat named Shasha in an alley in Hong Kong. Then it eats the owner, Doris, attracted by a ring she is wearing as an ear ring. The man with her is probably killed also. Zeek gets a newspaper for Miles and returns to him, telling him something about a little red haired girl (Pippi Longstockings?). Drake goes to a pawn shop where a new man who looks like the devil calls in Mr. Bob Player who looks like Peter Cushing. The ring is stuck on Drake's hand. Before there were no designs on the ring at all but now there are strange designs and the ring seems grafted onto his finger. The demon faced man calls someone about the dragonring. Drake is angry at the ring because he has to leave Mai-Ling and it seems more important than she. Miles, on the junk, complains about Alex staying with them. Drake tells him they are going to India. At a condemned building that is due to be demolished the next day, Yue and Alex fraternize with other boys. Yue has four roman candles. A boy's rear still hurts from the last time Yue shot off candles. Six other boys leave. Alex tells Yue he cannot skateboard as fast as Yue can. Yue fantasizes about being the incredible super powered ninja skateboarder from Mars. Alex just started skating yesterday. A wolf eared hairy giant monster-man with claws attacks them. Yue distracts it from Alex and when cornered he prays, telling God he will not take Mrs. Chu's moon cakes and will stop insulting Miles. He puts the Roman Candles in the monster's mouth and blows it up. Yue thinks it is still alive. Miles, the next day at sea, doesn't believe Yue's tale. Yue tells him to shut up and calls him an old smelly fart. Miles tells him someday he is gonna buy a brassiere for those two t---a fog appears out of nowhere. Miles asks Yue to bring up the pencil beam lamp. The ship hits some kind of reef, even though none are supposed to be in the area. They think the boat is sinking.
THE TREASURE OF THE CRISTABELL-Miles tells this story that back in 1947, Jack told him the treasure, off the coast of Thailand, is cursed by some cult. Bernie Morton and Miles set that as a rumor to keep others away. Miles left Bernie there last week while he searched the port of Si Chon for the last survivor of the Cristabel. Miles saves Jack from an octo-faced tentacled monster by shooting it. Miles finds a gem in the room. Back in the waterfront of Si Chon, Miles goes to find a buyer for the gem. He notes Jack looks pale. In an alley behind the Kamchatmak Bar, where Miles thinks he has finally found a buyer for the gem, Miles is attacked for the Eye of Assurya Rahiin. Miles shoots one man in the head. It was a set up. Back in Jack's room, there are knife throwing assassins. They run off. Miles finds Jack in a shadowy corner. Jack's head is just like the head of the creature. Jack tells Miles to do to him what he did to Bernie. The monster on the Cristabel was Bernie and Miles had to shoot him. Miles shoots Jack. Miles says, "One thing I learned sailing the South China Sea...never look back."
REVIEW: This issue seems somewhat short and after the events of the last issue, a bit less inspired. Yue and Alex make a great team. Miles is funny and the monsters scary. The backup tale with Miles is a bit predictable but atmospheric and murky. An HP Lovecraft type of tale.
DRAGONRING No. 3-Aircel
Story and Art: Guang Yap
Additional Pencils and Editor in Chief: Barry Blair
Lettered by: Eiwin Mark
Edited by: Gordon Derry
STORM WARNING-CHAPTER 1: Kohl finds Yue and Alex on the beach. Yue cries because all of his toys are gone. Paraguay: a speedster car speeds to a large mansion that has near naked statues in front. Inside, the driver reports to a hooded figure with glowing eyes. Somewhere through endless eons and uncounted dimensions is an island where our heroes are. Yue and Alex's shirts have been ripped short cut. The trio are attacked by a Godzilla like dinosaur creature with four arms. Drake tells the boys to run but they find they are at a dead end cliffside. Natives shoot arrows into the monster and capture the trio with spears. Atop a mountain, the leader tells them they are the peaceful tribe of Mah-Gnail on the island of madness. To know if Drake's intentions are good, Drake must submit to the contest of crossed logs--using staffs to fight, shirtless, against a big native over water. Drake wins after a long struggle.
CHAPTER 2: Some of the newcomers had tried to sail through the mist but ended up on the other side of the island. An evil Underlord rules the Dark Valley, lives in a castle, cannot exist in the daylight, and might hold the key to Drake getting home but no one has ever seen him. A servant (a bald lady?) brings the head of a dino baby for Yue and Lee to eat but they balk (Yue putting his fingers in his mouth). Night as a moon rises: Alex, Lee, and a native sleep, shirtless. Drake thinks. In their shorts, Yue and Alex bathe in the lake near a waterfall. Yue thinks it is cold but Alex doesn't. A native boy--Bakita--tells Yue the water is from the mountain god, Rek Khan. Yue and Alex are later dressed in native costumes which make Alex feel ridiculous but Yue thinks are neat. They looks like spotted panthers or lions. Ten of the warriors will accompany Drake and the boys. From the Elders, the leader gives Kohl a map of the castle. A skull faced, fanged entity with one good eye, watches them in a ball. The Elders were once his slaves and built their castle. The being thinks they wish to use crystals which control the mists of time but promises they will not use such. Page 31 has a SAMURAI collage; front cover is shirtless Kohl.
BACKUP STORY: BLACK WATERS: Simon Mindbridge tries to rescue a young acolyte, a long haired blond boy (teen or late pre-teen) who is to merge with the godhead of the Children of Divine Glory in rural Ontario. The cult is of Mag-Shubinath, a monster entity that lives inside them. It has tentacles that stick out of them. Simon can read auras and tells the kid he is not evil. The kid tells him his name is Todd and he smokes too much. Simon responds with, "Shut up, kid." Simon blasts away more disciples and an ape-man fanged mutant. Below in a dock under the castle home are two fully developed Shub-men with tentacle faces. Todd has tentacles growing out of him. Simon is out of bullets. TO BE CONTINUED...
DRAGONRING No. 4-Aircel
Credits: See above
FRONT COVER: a great piece of the villain watching Drake on his magic crystal ball. One of the best covers ever! In the corner is a shrunken head which reminds me of an older B movie.
INSIDE FRONT COVER: has a great cliffhanger recap of last issue set in a type of stone with vines around it.
STORY: The Underlord burns a flying, living gargoyle which is about to kill one of the experiments of the Underlord (a body with its torso in wrappings and hanging by a chain?). Yue, on their trek through the bizarre flora sees an ant and wants it for a pet but is told it is Cha-Lax ant whose poison can kill a bull mastodon in seconds. Yue apologizes but Drake tells him he is sorry also because of what happened to Miles. Yue talks loud again (as he did when the dino attacked yesterday). Kohl reminds him as he talks about pizza, chips, coke, chocolate...
CHAPTER 3: A giant sea serpent, the Rikki Nat, rises out of the water and follows as the boys and Kohl climb up a tree. Kohl attacks it, jumping off the tree onto it as the natives fire arrows. Singapore: Lau Pu beats up men he spars with. Someone calls him for a job. At 1500 hours he will meet them. He breaks apart a slab of granite 12 inches thick by harnessing his energy from within and not even touching it.
CHAPTER 4: The trekkers reach the castle. Alex bids Bakita a sad goodbye as the natives will go no further. The trio find a secret passage but Bakita is there also--he is not from this world and has told no one this. He wants to go home, too. Water fills the passageway. Kohl emerges in a room full of amphibious like monsters. He uses his sword against them. Alex is held onto by Yue and Bakita. All three are pulled into a water hole vortex. The Underlord talks to a prisoner who is chained by his hands---Miles!
REVIEW OF ISSUES 3 AND 4: Having Miles supposed to be dead for two whole issues is a great move, only to have him back at the end. The Underlord is one great villain, very surreal and cliffhanger-like. The feel of these issues are very INDIANA JONES, however more like the old serial cliffhangers than JONES movies.
BACKUP: BLACK WATERS part II: Simon kills the monsters, blowing the torso off Todd and is sad that he failed. Simon gets back to Gregory and the sea snake of Black Waters attacks them. Using voodoo powers, Gregory conjures up a fire salamander to fight it. Fire destroys the house. Todd believed he wasn't corrupted. When the two go to Simon's room--it is wrecked and the huge mark of Mag-Shubinath is on his wall. A good tale with much going for it. The color back cover is of Simon firing at Shub men-monsters (we even see their feet!) ANOTHER BACK UP: THE KING OF ROCK AND ROLL.
DRAGONRING No. 5-Aircel
Story and Art: Guang Yap; Lettered by: Eiwin Mark
Edited by: Gordon Derry; Editor in Chief: Barry Blair
CHAPTER 5: Kohl fights the monsters but has to run and almost falls into an acid pool. Hanging onto a vine, the three boys climb down and find a statue of a giant monster (looks like Underlord). Bakita tells the other two boys that the statues were once alive. He gets these sensations and they are true. A leech creature lands on Yue and more attack. Alex gets it off Yue. Kohl gets out of a secret room by breaking through the wall. In the next room is gold Shiva statue and other relics. A gorilla monster attacks him. Yue is singing. Alex gets a headache. The boys cross a bridge in total darkness except for the torches they've managed. Alex tells Yue he doesn't like heights and has claustrophobia. Yue suggested they go into a hole. Bakita senses this is the right direction. As they crawl through the tight hole, Alex feels like the walls are closing in on them. Drake defeats the ape thing and finds a new way to go. At the end of the hole tunnel, Yue and Alex see things that are gross. Something grabs Yue and Alex (who has asked Yue 10 times if he saw anything) from the hole--something gross.
CHAPTER 6: The Underlord holds Yue and Alex up off their feet. Yue calls him a Rick Baker reject. Kohl arrives and taunts the Underlord into a mortal combat test of power. He tries to fry Kohl and manages to burn his shirt to shreds. The true form of the Underlord is shown to Drake. Kohl's face starts turning to total bone. Kohl is able to strike its physical form (no human has ever been able to). The Underlord seems to realize why and then vanishes.
EPILOGUE: Miles works the controls to open up different dimensions. Yue is telling Alex he never knew his parents who died when he was a few months old in a car accident. His dad and Miles were pretty close so he adopted Yue (who likes the drunk, calling him an old fart--and Miles hears it and lets them know, calling Yue a brat). Miles would always change the subject whenever Yue asked him about what dad did for a living. Alex tells them he woke up on the streets of Calcutta and the police picked him up when a car almost ran him down and took him to an orphanage. Alex can only remember the last two years of his life. He can't ever remember his name. Yue tells them three years ago, Miles and he were fishing in the boat. After the end of a storm in a bay in the South China Sea, there was garbage all over and debris...and after a flash of lightning which covered the entire sky...Kohl was found floating. Kohl refuses to talk about his past. Miles opens the portal to the universe of STARK: FUTURE, ELFLORD, and some other world with a one eyed robot, a wolf like boy, and a gladiator like warrior. Bakita tells them it is his home and he goes through to it. The kids ask Miles about what happened to Zeek. Miles doesn't want to talk about it. The monkey must be dead. They go home, too, through the portal. The Underlord threatens that once he learns how to defeat the Dragonring they and all their kind will be doomed. UNDERGROUND ad. DRAGONRING No. 6-Aircel
Story: Gordon Derry
Pencils: Guang Yap, Barry Blair
Inks: Donald Lanquette, Robert Babin
Lettering: Eiwin Mark
DARK DEPARTURES-Miles, Kohl, Alex, and Yue are in the tropics and see statues like the ones on Easter Island. Yue is wearing a ripped shirt with one side of the shirt shoulderless due to a rip. Alex feels like someone is hunting him and had a vision as if he stepped into someone evil's mind. Not far away on a boat called the Windblade (ELFLORD has a character named Windblade) are Homer Bently, Shanghai Lee, and Simon Stringfellow. Lee is wearing short shorts and a slightly short cut shirt. Toshiro Kimura told Homer Bently to hide the kids from madman Marduk here with Miles in the South Seas. Miles yells at the boys to stay out of trouble. Over the South Pacific a jet fighter plane pilot, Kyler reports they have followed the boat with Simon in it. Marduk tells Kyler he has just picked up the readings of the brainwaves of the lost clone from the Thailand crash a few years ago. The lone survivor of the crash, the clone is the last of Marduk's greatest creations. After two years without proper programming and conditioning, there is no way Marduk can control this clone's special gift. Marduk orders Simon be taken alive to pressure his father into cooperating but orders the clone killed. In a supermarket, Homer and Miles bump into one another and hug. They sing Oh My Darlin. At a pawn shop, Kohl meets an old man who brings him to the statues which have carvings just like on Kohl's ring. He knocks Kohl out. When the man moves to take it, it burns up and the man screams (I think). Kohl sees mysterious images from his future or perhaps from the past (a pretty girl, a strange armor coated giant man-monster, an old man with lines on his face, fights, a giant). Alex's yell brings Kohl to him. In the woods, Alex knows monsters, created by crossing humans with animals, are after him. He can see into their minds. One has a dogface with glowing eyes and a gun in hand. When it attacks Kohl, Alex hits it over the head. A bird faced beaked man grabs Simon from behind; Lee and Yue attack its legs and Simon is able to get clear of it. Miles (the one not wearing the hat) shoots at it, a message for Marduk. Kohl and Alex meet up with Miles, Yue, Lee, and Simon. Miles and Homer keep referring to the old days. There are three animal men now. The six heroes head toward the ruins. The other creature has long ears and glowing eyes like a bat. The bird wants the clone--Alex. The bird tears out a tree as it fights with Kohl and hits him with it. Miles tells them Marduk will have to pay for wanting little Alex; also Miles mentions he doesn't know who this Marduk is. The bat thing-man attacks Miles but Homer shoots it. Homer tells Simon, who knows first aid, to look after the hurt Miles. Homer and Alex go after the other two animal men. The dogman attacks Homer. Alex tries to warn Simon as the bird thing moves at him; Alex knows it. He sees a gun on the ground. Kohl saves Simon and spears the birdman through the belly until it is dead, hugging Simon. Alex shoots and kills the dogman attacking Homer (who loses his hat). Alex passes out.
EPILOGUE: Kohl is going to a place few people ever venture and wants Homer and Miles to take the three kids with them, away from him. Yue tells Kohl, "Maybe we should go along to protect you." Kohl says, "No, Yue, I have to go alone but thank you. All of you...thank you!" Their small speed boat moves away from the dock.
NOTE: The back cover is a wonderfully realized skeleton. The front cover is reminiscent of the pulps with captions under a circle guest starring Homer Bently, Shanghai Lee, Simon Stringfellow, monsters in the middle, Kohl Drake in a larger portrait, and under Drake, a "with" Miles Corkin (white hair), Yue Corkin (black hair), and Alex (brown hair). The bottom of the cover reads, "SEE: THE Origin of Alex; SEE: Miles in action; SEE: Kohl cheat death." There is also a title on the cover: BATTLE AGAINST THE ANTI-MEN OF CENTAGON.
REVIEW: This story is exciting stuff and added to the last issue, furthers the characters quite a bit, especially Alex and Yue. This issue and the last also tell us how Yue met Miles and what happened to his family and how both of them met the mysterious Kohl. The action is fast paced and lively and the meeting of the characters fun. On the negative side, it is difficult to tell between who is Homer and who is Miles once they share the storyline. The artwork is not very distinctive. It is almost a problem between Alex and Simon as well as Yue and Lee. Yue and Lee are very similar in look anyway. The art ranges from very, very good (Simon's near captures) to really rushed looking yet the whole issue has this surreal feel to it. This mostly happens when we are given views into Alex's power--very well done. Issue 5 also gave us a nice end to the tale with the Underlord and some nice character stuff as well as mini crossover as we glimpse STARK: FUTURE's world and ELFLORD. I wouldn't mind having some stories take place in Bakita's world as it looked very interesting! The animal men were apparently Centagon agents but Centagon is not very well explained at all. What are they? What is it about?
BACKUP STORY: IN THE BOX
Ad: Simon Stringfellow is sitting reading SAMURAI Issue One (or reprint issue one or reprint two?), Windblade is reading ELFLORD, Yue is reading DRAGONRING, and a barefoot Alex is reading STARK: FUTURE while sitting on a bench. Yue is blowing a bubble and has a foot upping his skateboard. Simon's feet don't reach the ground and he is in a tie and formal jacket. Windblade is levitating his comic book. Watching them, standing behind them is Lee (or there is a slight possibility it is Toshiro) in a black leather jacket and cut off gloves.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Miles, Yue, and Alex moved over to SAMURAI while next issue two major new characters would be introduced to DRAGONRING. This would prove to be a bad move.