Saturday, August 29, 2009

Out of the Vault- Battle to the Death #1

Okay, if you read the post about Castle and Joanne Kelly this past week, you know that I occasionally get caught up in runs of coincidence, or synchronicity, or call it what you will (maybe just selective noticing), but here's another example.

In last week's Vault, I talked about The Realm, featuring perhaps the first published work of penciller Guy Davis. After I published that entry, I became curious whether Davis had gone on to do anything else notable in comics and discovered that he is currently the artist on the Hellboy spin-off series B.P.R.D. I have some friends who are big Hellboy fans, so I thought that was cool.

So then this morning, I realized I needed a comic for this week's Vault. I went to the "B" box since it was open and started flipping through at random. And stumbled upon a long-forgotten title known as Battle to the Death, published in 1987 by Imperial Comics.

Battle to the Death, written by John Arcudi and drawn by Jim Rohn and Dave Harrison, starts out at a rock concert being held in Hiroshima, where a bunch of mohawked punks are head-banging to the band when suddenly a zombie walks out on stage. The band flees, but the crowd thinks it's just part of the show, until...

Well, that puts a damper on the party. More zombies converge, and the police evacuate the area and cordon off the arena. Meanwhile, police inspector Tanasa has dragged the band to headquarters, where he harangues them with this rather unique monologue (click the image for a larger version if you have trouble reading it)...

Police lieutenant Katsu tells Tanasa to lay off the band, because the real answers are to be found with the zombies. He heads down to the police cordon, where the zombies have broken out and are in pitched battle with the cops. The cops are losing badly, and Katsu is in mortal danger.

But it turns out Katsu has "friends in high places" and has brought help--a gang of ninjas. The ninjas battle the zombies for a while, but it becomes apparent that, though ninja are masters of killing, killing doesn't work on zombies since they're sorta already dead.

Katsu and ninja buddy Isho head back toward the arena, but cut through a graveyard, where they stumble upon a weird mausoleum guarded by zombies in cop uniforms. Turns out, this is the temple of the Flame of Life, which is what reanimated the zombies. Katsu and Isho battle a giant living idol in an attempt to snuff the flame. They succeed, and the zombies fall.

But their problems aren't over. For when they leave the temple, Katsu and Isho encounter Inspector Tanasa, leading a group of really big dudes with rayguns and weird helmets with bug antennae on them.


Battle to the Death ran for three issues, but I only have the first one. I don't think I so much chose not to buy subsequent issues as I just never saw them come out, because ninjas vs. zombies vs. aliens is my kind of book, even if it never went as far over the top as I would have liked. It was fun.

But I was talking about weird coincidences. So here's the thing: when I saw that Battle to the Death was written by John Arcudi, I thought, "Hmmm. I've heard of him. He's written other stuff I liked." So I looked him up.

Turns out, he wrote The Mask, the original comic which inspired the Jim Carrey movie (the comic was much darker and harder-edged, and I'd like to see them actually make that story someday). And he wrote Barb Wire, the comic which inspired the Pamela Anderson movie (no one's perfect, although any movie sporting that much cleavage is not entirely bad--at worst, you can turn the sound off and just look at cleavage).

And it turns out (although you've figured this out already, because I set it up several inches above) he's now the co-writer on B.P.R.D. Battle to the Death was one of his earliest published jobs, and I just stumbled across it this morning after just stumbling across one of the artist's earliest published jobs last week.

I don't know how this happens, but it does. Maybe Joanne Kelly is trying to tell me to read B.P.R.D.

Corinne Bohrer disbelieves.

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