Top 5 List

TOP 5 MADE-FOR-TV HORROR MOVIES

The 1970s saw a huge spike in horror and the supernatural–books, games, movies–but especially TV shows and made-for-TV movies.

When I set out to make this list, I thought about the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia.  Do these movies really stand up after all these years?  Would they still scare, or if not scare, at least give the same freaky vibe they had 3o-some-odd years ago?

So I watched them again, in my own 31 Days of Halloween–you know, since AMC’s “Fear Fest” is basically a bucket of chocolate ass-nuggets nowadays.  (Seriously, do we need to see Halloween: H2O or Friday the 13th LXII:  Jason Goes to Pluto, Only to Discover It’s Not Really a Planet Anymore?)

In the end, I think they do hold up, particularly certain moments within them, if not the entire movie.  That’s the problem with horror movies you saw when you were a kid–you mostly remember the scariest bits.  But that’s usually enough to guarantee serious mental instability as an adult or a career as a horror writer–both of which amount to about the same thing.

There are many, MANY others, but these are the five I remember as being scariest.

5.) DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973)

Small hands; smell like cabbage.

This puppy was frightening for one reason–the little men whispering in the walls of the house.

LITTLE.  MEN.  IN.  THE.  WALLS.

  You barely saw them, but when you did, they were malformed and indistinct.  You never got an explanation as to what they were, where they came from, why they were IN. THE. WALLS.  They just wanted to grab the protagonist and drag her down INTO. THE. WALLS. and make her like them.  That premise alone gives me the runny poops.

And not-seeing/not-knowing the Full Monty is a good thing, storywise.  As H.P. Lovecraft once wrote: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

See?  Even 80 years ago, dude knew what was what about horror storytelling:  sometimes (I would argue most times) what you don’t see is scarier.  If you can’t put a face on the terror, you can’t get handle on it enough to rationalize or deal with it.  That was the problem with Insidious–the movie was great until Darth Maul showed up.  Then all that soul-sucking tension, that marrow-freezing faceless terror, fart-noised right out of the film like a punctured whoopee cushion.

Did I mention how terrified I am of little men in the walls?  ‘Cause, damn.

4.)  COUNT DRACULA (1977)

“Ain’t no sparkling up in HERE, be-otches.”

 
 
To date, the best filmed version of Stoker’s novel.  Period.

The script hewed closely to the mark, though mixing a few elements and characters and combining one or two events.  All in all, it no one has been able to touch this adaptation for accuracy and sheer scariness since it aired on the BBC, then on PBS in America.  I remember seeing this in high school a year or so after I’d read the novel the first time and thinking, Yeah–that’s the way an adaptation should be done–even though I was a teenager and had no idea about how a checkbook should be done, much less a screen adaptation.  Louis Jordan as the Count was pretty creepy, and the scene where Harker sees him climbing the walls of the castle like a big black spider still creeps me out.

Snagged this gem as soon as it released on DVD a few years ago.  Do the same.  Now.

It’s not an exact replica of the book, but it’s super-close in terms of mood and story.  And it’s better than turning the great material of the book into a giant, lost-love douche-fest.

Francis Ford Coppola, I’m looking in your direction…

3.) GARGOYLES (1972)

“This Koontz guy is a yawner.”

One of the scariest themes is the “accidental discovery of something we shouldn’t have accidentally discovered.”

Enter Gargoyles.

Starring Cornel Wilde and a young Scott Glenn, an archaeologist finds a colony of living, breathing gargoyles in Nevada.  They’re nearing the next 600-year cycle of hatching their young, and whenever this happens, they usually end up in another battle in the war with humankind.  The gargoyles just want to be “left alone,” dammit.  Why can’t modern science get this through its thick, knobbily-horned cranium?

Also, this little goodie was SFX and Makeup diva Stan Winston’s first job, for which he scored an Emmy. Soon after, he would give Styx–and the world– the Mr. Roboto mask.  Domo arigato, indeed.

(Wait–did I just call Stan Winston a diva?)

2.)  SALEM’S LOT (1979)

“LOOOK at me, Teacher…!”
No, you know, I don’t think I will.

I know I’m not alone when I say this mini-series gave me nightmares for a month.  I mean that literally–I had recurring nightmares about vampires in my own small town that looked just like the ones in Tobe Hooper’s classic scare-fest.  I remember that they slept under mobile homes and in chimneys and even in the attic of our 100+ year-old farmhouse.

James Mason does a terrifically creepy turn as Richard Straker (“Your faith against the Master’s!”), one half of Straker and Barlow Antiques, and the ghoul to Barlow’s Nosferatu-inspired vampire lord, who is always on a “buying trip.”

The insidious notion of a small town being replaced one at a time by vampires, combined with a Peyton Place drama full of secrets, is a volatile mixture that doesn’t explode, but does a slow burn, keeping you on the edge of your seat until the bitter end.

‘Salem’s Lot is the first Stephen King book I ever read, and it was one of his best.  I read it in high school, and even after all those years, I couldn’t see anything but the mini-series–effects, actors, and all–and it wasn’t a bad thing.  Normally, I’d say book-before-movie, but not in this case.  In many ways, it’s better.

The tiny pinpricks of light in the vampires’ eyes; the silent, lingering shots, ratcheting up the tension on your scrotum to that of a snare drum; the awesome use of the Nosferatu-type vampire for Barlow instead of the Euro-trash douchebags we’re used to.  (John Steakley’s excellent Vampire$ uses the similar idea of vampires as bestial vermin, as does the filmed adaptation by John Carpenter.) Ralphie Glick hanging like an unholy Christmas ornament outside of Mark’s window, scratching at the glass, will live in my subconscious forever, causing me to download into my mental drawers every time I see a fog bank.

My parents let me watch this.  I repeat: MY PARENTS LET ME WATCH THIS.  Horrible, awful people…

(Thanks, Mom and Dad.)

1.)  DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981)

Bubba, you DID do it: you scared the living bejeezus out of me.
Do it AGAIN.

I defy you to find a better made-for-TV horror film.  There just isn’t one.  After 30 years, this thing holds up like a Dolly Parton sports-bra.

Ask anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s and you’ll hear the same thing.  Anyone who’s seen the film never forgets it.

Bubba Ritter (played by the insanely believable Larry Drake) is a mentally-handicapped man in his thirties; Charles Durning is Otis Hazelrigg, local postman and all-around mean bastard.  (I smell a SIT-com!)  Hazelrigg has always hated Bubba, especially when he’s playing with Marylee Williams, a local child.  When Marylee is attacked and almost killed (by a neighbor’s vicious dog, unbeknownst to them), Hazelrigg rousts some buddies who hate Bubba, too.

Angry mob+rough justice+scarecrow hiding place=BEST FREAKING MADE FOR TV MOVIE EVER.

I will not pretend to be able to describe this movie adequately.  Just SEE it.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow was just released in a sweet 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray, with TONS of extras.

Damn, oh, damn was this good.

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TOP 5 OVERUSED CLICHES

Now, I know clichés are clichés for a reason:  they’re used so often they become part of the vernacular.  But what really stinks is when they become overused to the point of being annoying.
There are tons out there, but these are the five that just make my fillings twinge when I hear them in a movie or read them in a book.

And yes, I’ve used some of these on occasion. I’m in the middle of writing the first book in a teen action/adventure series about a teenaged spy for a secret military force which began in the American Revolution called NIC ARCHER.  Halfway through Chapter 6, I used one without thinking, (it’s on the list) and while describing the scene to a good friend, he sarcastically said verbatim what I had written.  I gulped, went back and changed it, and vowed never to do it again.

Right.  And a lot of drunks make that same promise every Saturday night.

Still, take a look and see what you think.  Feel free to comment, too.

And those of you with fillings, grab your mouthguards.

5.)  “I’VE GOT A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS…”

Yeah, I know.  It wasn’t a good idea to begin with, but here we are doing it anyway.
George Lucas made this one famous;so famous that he decided to use it–as well as a hundred others from his Good Trilogy–to a fare-thee-well in the Bad Trilogy as a sort of “in-joke” for the rabid nerds of the series.  “See guys?  Remember I used these in the first movies?  See how my eternal genius works?  Characters from earlier in the same world are using the same exact dialogue that you know so well from the later characters!   I tied it all together!”
No, George: all we see is that you should let someone else write your movies and direct them.  We see you’re a one-trick pony and an idea-man.  Your writing sucks, and you wouldn’t know character development if it corn-cobbed you with a lightsaber.
After STAR WARS, people have used this tired, hackneyed phrase to let us know what we already know:  that the writer(s) fell asleep at the keyboard.

4.)  “I’M GETTING TOO OLD FOR THIS.”/”I’M GETTIN’ TOO OLD FOR THIS (YOUR CHOICE OF EXPLETIVE)”

Either pick another complaint or stop doing stuff that doesn’t involve tapioca, ginger ale, bran cereal, Depends, or the VFW.   That includes volunteering for life-threatening assignments when you’re a week away from retirement, climbing ladders to put out fires in skyscrapers, breaking back into Alcatraz to take out homegrown terrorists, or mounting a rescue operation to Alderaan.

And we’re all just supposed to chuckle to ourselves and say “Yep, there it is again.  I know that line.  How funny!”

You know, I really am getting too old for this… bad writing.

3.)  “IT’S QUIET… [ALMOST] TOO QUIET.”

All right, we get it: something’s up.

The birds have stopped chirping, the neighbor’s death-metal that plays night and day has stopped setting off car alarms, and you can hear a gnat fart three doors down.

Maybe it’s a secret clan of vampire ninjas waiting to drop from your skylight, maybe that serial killer the douchebag media have made into a superstar is hiding in your half-bath, or maybe a UFO is about to abduct another hillbilly and give him a stainless-steel enema.

(Psst…! There’s no such thing as ‘too quiet’–there’s just ‘quiet’ and ‘not quiet.’)

You have to admit, Protagonist-That’s-About-To-Have-Your-Tuckus-Handed-To-You, that it ain’t really ‘too quiet.’  Nobody has completely drowned out all the auditory sensation in the entire freaking world so that they can get the drop on you; they’re just being really not-noisy so you don’t know that they’re around.  And if you happen to have some extra-sensory ability that let’s you know they’re around, so much the better.

So stop complaining about how much quiet there is; you know the feces is about to hit the proverbial bladed cooling device.  Lock and load, baby, and tee-off on that mother.  Then let’s get on to Act II before we all die of hypertension brought on by extreme page-rage.

2.)  “IT HAS BEGUN”/”AND SO IT BEGINS…”

While they deliver a sense of mystery and foreknowledge on the part of the speaker to things/events/long-unfulfilled prophecies, these puppies have gotten stale.  Now, I like a good epic storyline and mysterious plotline as much as the next Cecil B. DeMille fan, but dang, has this one got to go.

I recently burned thorough four seasons of Babylon 5, which in my estimation is one of the most tightly-written shows in history.  Spanning five planned years of epic story, it has a beginning, middle, and end–something modern shows could use a healthy dose of–the sci-fi juggernaut featured a master-plan of sorts with a race of aliens called the First Ones, and their interference in the normal flow of galactic history and its races’ development.  Apparently one of the First One races, the Vorlons, tinkered with human and alien DNA over the course of thousands of years.  Their opponents, The Shadows, did the same, all for their big war to see who would run the Milky Way.  They knew the war was coming, and so Kosh, the Vorlon ambassador to the Babylon 5 space station, tells the Captain (who plays a MAJOR part in the coming war) “And so it begins.”

You know, I respect J. Michael Straczynski, the show’s creator and writer–anybody who could link up a story of this magnitude on the backs of pizza boxes in college puts Billy Shakespeare to shame.  The guy is a genius storyteller, but even geniuses trip over their I.Q.s at some point, and so I have to protest his use of this WAY-overused cliché.  Back when the show aired (1993-1998), it was just on the cusp of being overused; you’d heard it before, but only sparingly. And in light of how mind-bakingly awesome that show was, J.M.S. gets a pass.  Today, however, it’s the literary equivalent of sitting in traffic:  you see it all the time, but hate it with a passion.

AND A TIE FOR #1

“YOU JUST DON’T GET IT, DO YOU?”

No.  No, I don’t get it.  So why don’t you use up the next six paragraphs or five minutes of screen-time to explain to me in a long, boring, expository manner, just what the hell you do mean?  And while we’re at it, the audience/reader will find out, too!  Yay us!

I could say more, but the video below speaks volumes.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KoKWf6pLs8

“THE ONE”/”THE CHOSEN ONE”

This is the absolute worst.  From The Matrix to Harry Potter, this has got to be the absolute, end-all crutch of bad writing.

Anytime a writer needs an instant superhero origin or and easy way out of creating a backstory for an otherwise humdrum character, he throws out the ancient prophecy and all of a sudden, the nerdy kid is supposed to save the world.  Ridiculously, ridiculously overused.

Now, you might be saying: “Wait–Matt, isn’t Amos Harlow’s character in BLACK DOG ‘The Chosen One?'”

Yes and no.  Yes, because he’s special and has a destiny to fulfill and doesn’t know it; no, because I never actually call him ‘The Chosen One.”

That phrase is trite and even looks stupid on paper.  A character can have a destiny to fulfill and never even know it, and never be told he’s/she’s the Chosen One.  They can just be special or marked out for greatness (or tragedy) and let that play out naturally in the story without having to give them a special title.  It’s gross negligence/laziness on the part of the writer, shunning depth of character and a detailed background in favor of a moniker that’s become a catchphrase.

Writers out there:  AVOID AVOID AVOID this cliché like Brussel sprouts.


TOP 5 GUILTY PLEASURE COMIC BOOKS

“Guilty pleasures.”

Things that we find pleasing but believe the majority of the rest of the world does not, so we keep our yaps shut– at least until we find other like minds and openly admit our secret with a nervous chuckle or a pent-up belly laugh.

Like how you were too embarrassed to admit you liked Jem, even though you only watched it the first time because you had to share the family’s one TV with your two younger sisters, and got sort-of-kind-of-semi-but-not-really-too-interested in the storyline, which actually wasn’t that bad, really, and maybe the animation was pretty good, because after all, it was done by Hasbro and Sunbow Productions (“the same guys that did G.I. JOE and Transformers,” you told a buddy, if said buddy happened by and caught you watching it and maybe laughing out loud at the antics of Jerrica Benton and the rest of the Holograms.)

Or, you know… any similar hypothetical that never, ever really happened.

Anyway, here are my Top 5 Comics that I’m slightly ashamed of admitting that I like, why I think that the world thinks they’re shameful to like, and why I like them.

Agree or disagree at your individual whim.

5.  KAMANDI

Tiger-men controlling a Roman Empire-esque east coast; leopard-men sailing the seas as post-apocalyptic pirates; lion-men conservationsists herding and protecting “animals” (humans) on wildlife preserves in the west; rat-men living in the sunken ruins of New York City.  Lost in this strange new world and hunted by its denizens is Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth. The titular hero took his name from a bunker (Command-D) where he and the last remnants of humanity survived a namless cataclysm that engulfed the earth, turning animals into our intelligent, bipedal masters and humans into mindless, speechless, bestial cattle.

While obviously a rip-off of Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes, creator/writer/artist Jack Kirby put a new spin on the idea, adding his flair for action and adventure with a twist of weird science that became his trademark in the comics industry.

Out of all Kirby’s legendary creations–Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the New Gods, Silver Surfer, Challengers of the Unknown, among many others–I think KAMANDI is the one that stands out to me the most.  It’s different from the rest of his work; the hero is still a paragon of right in a world of wrong, but the world itself is darker, more sinsiter, and totally alien.

I list it at #5 because it’s the least embarassing–it’s Kirby, it’s post-apocalyptic, and both are right down my driveway.  AND I just bought the first of two omnibus editions collecting the entire run for my birthday.  I’m about halfway done and loving it.

So is KAMANDI a guilty pleasure?

In the sense that it’s a bit goofy, sometimes over the top, and has morals and ideals that most people find too old-fashioned nowadays?

Maybe.

In the sense that it’s an embarrassment, awfully-executed, and unworthy of our time and respect?

Never.

4.  THE HAUNTED TANK

  I like supernatural fiction, especially the stories where the setting is a little oddball.

You know, like a scout tank haunted by a dead soldier in World War II.

Yeah–that kind of oddball.

The Haunted Tank was a series feature in G.I. Combat from DC Comics. Written and created by great war comics writer Robert Kanigher (SGT ROCK, THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, THE LOSERS, ENEMY ACE) and illustrated by some guy named Russ Heath, The Haunted Tank was the story of the crew of a World War II Stuart tank–a light reconaissance tank used to scout ahead of tank columns for danger.  The tank’s captain was Jeb Stuart–just like the tank and just like the Confederate general the tank was named for.  The crew were all Southern boys and because of this, the ghost of general J.E.B. Stuart “haunted” the tank, giving his namesake cryptic guidance from the Great Beyond and helping them get through the war alive.  No one but Jeb ever saw the General, and though the crew thought Jeb might be a little crazy, they hung a Confederate battle flag from the tank’s radio antenna in honor of the General’s ghost that seemed to be helping them.

The crew of the Haunted Tank faced a lot of real-world nightmares from the Nazis in the European and African theaters of war and the Japanese in a rare Pacific theater stint.  But they had their share of supernatural danger as well, once in the form of Genghis Khan’s ghost, who battled General Stuart’s ghost while the crew of the Haunted Tank tussled with a Panzer tank that Khan was championing.

People wince when I mention this book; obviously, it’s the Confederate battle flag (which DC needlessly and cowardly erased from their DC SHOWCASE black and white compilations) and the good guys being Southern and helped along by a Southern general.

But if you can get past the historical taboo and look at the story for what it is–a great supernatural war comic–then you can enjoy it and leave the past in the past where it belongs.

3. CABLE

 Cable is one of those characters you aren’t supposed to like, simply because he was drawn by an artist who is held in low regard, who I won’t name but his name rhymes with ROB and LIEFELD.  Yes, he was part of a cheesy reboot of NEW MUTANTS, and yes, he was something of a Mary Sue, what with his teleportation (bodysliding) to practically anywhere he wanted, his massive telekinetic powers that dwarfed those of Professor X and Jean Grey combined, and his uncanny tactical mind that always seemed to make the right choices, combat-ically speaking.

But what a lot of the naysayers don’t realize is that even though [That Artist] created the look of Cable, he didn’t create Cable.  That was a gal by the name of Louise Simonson, picking up where a little-known X-MEN writer named Chris Claremont left off.  Claremont introduced us to Nathan Summers, the mutant wünderkind offspring of Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Madelyne Pryor (the Jean Grey clone) in the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN. The kid was sent into the far-flung future to be cured of a techno-organic virus (which eventually claimed his left arm) and to be raised there in safety.  Growns-up Nathan shows back up in NEW MUTANTS #87, calling himself Cable, and proceeds to whip the ever-loving crap out of a villain named Stryfe, who he’s come to stop from creating the future that Cable grew up in.  Cable recruits some of the young mutants for soldiers in his war, along with a few merc types, and forms X-Force, a team that goes on to crush Stryfe and stop the mega-villain Apocalypse from ruining the Earth’s day by destroying it.

I like the book’s (and character’s) paranoia, the sense of impending doom that always hung over the stories.  You got the sense that if the Cable Company didn’t set things to rights, there would be nothing to set to rights.  Cable already knew what was going to happen to the world–he’d just come from living in the midst of a war zone and freedom-fighting his entire life.  I like those types of “future-warning” characters (Kyle Reese, anyone?) and attempts by present-day heroes to wipe out an undesirable future.  The whole time-travel, undoing-what’s-already-been- done thing gives me a calculus headache that sixty kilos of street-cut of Goody’s or BC powders couldn’t dent, but I still love it, and Cable had it in spades.

To be honest, I haven’t kept up with the future-soldier in years, partly because of caving in to comic-book peer pressure  and partly because I really don’t collect comic books anymore, unless I can get them in trade paperback collected editions or omnibus editions.  There’s some whole new story about Cable fleeing to the future to protect a messianic mutant child that could tip the balance… waitaminute.  Maybe I might head down to the local shop, you know…just to see.

So yes: I declare my love for this book, and that’s something even The Artist Formerly Known As Rob Liefeld can’t tarnish.

2.  POWER PACK

POWER PACK came out at a time when I was heavily into the kids’ action-adventure movies that defined my generation–CLOAK AND DAGGER, THE GOONIES, EXPLORERS.  The common denominator in all these films were the kids: they acted on their own, with no adult supervision, and had the adventures of a lifetime–and if they weren’t careful, they might just learn something (as Bill Cosby once said of his obese creation.)

The story was of four kids–all siblings–Alex, Julie, Jack, and Katie Power–who lived with their parents in Virginia Beach, VA.  Their dad was a physicist who was working on an antimatter converter to make a pure, clean, abundant energy source.  An alien whose planet was destroyed by a similar experiment with antimatter, tried to warn the Powers, but was mortally wounded by enemy aliens in the attempt.  The alien–Whitey, a humanoid-horse guy–passed his powers on to the Power kids to finish his mission. The enemy aliens, the Snarks–a reptilian race–wanted the secret to Dr. Power’s antimatter experiments, and kidnapped the kids’ parents.  The kids, with the help of Whitey’s intelligent starship named Friday (I’m guessing a tip of the hat to Heinlein), stopped the experiment and saved their parents, using costumes created by Friday.

Reasons I loved the book:

POWER PACK was the ultimate example of the last comic that was created FOR KIDS, back before the industry whored itself out to “mature audiences.”  You know what, comics industry?  Even when you create something specifically for kids, the kid in ALL of us can enjoy it.  Just ask Steven Spielberg.

The kids kept their identities secret from their parents.

They HAD parents, lived with BOTH of them, and were loved and cared for BY THEM.  Jim and Maggie Power provided stability and support, and the kids didn’t have a “horribly tragic background” to make them heroes.

They dealt with “kid stuff,” like loose teeth and bullies, yet they also faced serious issues: sexual abuse, death of parents, kidnapping and missing children, child abuse, homelessness, and even murder.

They made up their own codenames: Gee, Lightspeed, Mass Master, and Energizer.  And all the names SOUNDED like a kid made them up.

Two supremely talented women created the book: Louise Simonson and June Brigman.  Simonson’s writing was always great, and she knew her inner kid as well as anyone out there, and Brigman’s artwork was spectacular, bringing out the kids’ emotions while still keeping the art comic-booky.   AND they’re both Georgia girls, which may account for some of their innate awesomeness.

All the stuff I like about the book are all the things that make it a guilty pleasure comic–by TODAY’s standards, at least.  I STILL love the book, and I know it’s been collected in at least three trades, but the series ran 62 issues, and I want ’em ALL.

Above all, it was fun–something a comic book hasn’t been, since, well… POWER PACK.

1. CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW!

 I will not defend this book, other than to present you with the Heroes and Villains of the book.  And for those of you who don’t give a single chuckle or, at  the very least, a wry smile, I would consult a doctor to see if your pulse is still there, and the religious leader of your choice to check up on the existence of your soul.

HEROES

Captain Carrot: Rodney Rabbit, a rabbit of Gnu York; a rabbit. The leader of the team; After consuming one of his “cosmic carrots” he gains superpowers for roughly 24 hours–super-strength, endurance, heightened hearing and vision senses and a super-powerful leap.

Alley-Kat-Abra: Felina Furr of Mew Orleans; a cat. A martial arts instructor and student of the mystical arts, Felina uses her “Magic Wanda”  to cast various types of spells.

Pig-Iron: Peter Porkchops of Piggsburgh; a pig. Struck by a meteor fragment, the diminutive Peter fell (along with the meteorite) into a vat of molten metal in the steel mill where he worked. The consequent chemical reaction transformed his now-enormous body into living steel, with strength and invulnerability to match.

Rubberduck: Byrd Rentals of Follywood, Califurnia; a duck. Byrd, a movie star, was given the power to stretch his body into any shape and length when a meteor fragment struck his hot tub. Byrd Rentals’ name is a parody of Burt Reynolds.

Yankee Poodle: Rova Barkitt, also of Follywood; a poodle. Rova, who worked as a gossip columnist, was interviewing Byrd when they were both struck by meteor fragments. Rova gained the ability to project a repelling force (in the form of blue stars) with one hand and an attraction force (in the form of red-and-white stripes) with the other. Rova Barkitt’s name is a parody of gossip columnist Rona Barrett.

Fastback: Timmy Joe Terrapin of the Okey-Dokey Swamp (Okeefenokee) in the American south; a turtle. While trying to catch a bus to Kornsas City, Timmy was struck by a meteor fragment and gained the ability to move at superspeed in his family.

Little Cheese: Chester Cheese, a student at Follywood High School; a mouse. Chester had the ability to shrink from the comparable size of his teammates to a size of only a few centimeters

American Eagle: Replaced Little Cheese on the reconstituted Zoo Crew after the latter’s death. In his civilian life, the Eagle is Johnny Jingo, “the talk radio host with two right wings”. He is the only member who does not have powers, though he does use gadgets similar to those used by Batman.

VILLAINS

A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C. : A Cabal Recently Organized Solely To Instigate Crimes (and other variants designed to fit that particular acrostic), a secretive organization that plots to overthrow the American government.

Brother Hood: A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C.’s shadowy leader, named for his black hood. He turns out to be “Feathers” Fillmore, Mallard Fillmore’s criminally-adept brother.

Dr. Hoot: an owl who uses various scientific gadgets to commit crimes.

Cold Turkey: A turkey with weather control and “cold ray” devices; he calls his hoodlums “Snowbirds.”

Jailhouse Roc: a giant flying vulture who had been in jail since the late 1950s until released to work for A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C.

Armordillo: A villain from the “Lone Stork State” of Taxes with “nine-banded armor” and razor-sharp claws.

Kongaroo: A massive kangaroo from Aukstralia who is transformed into a giant by A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C.

Rash Al Paca: An analogue of DC’s Ra’s al Ghul; he is working with the anti-mammal movement in the storyline The Final Ark to flood the world.

Salamandroid: A heat-based villain and creation of Dr. Hoot; a member of the anti-mammal movement in The Final Ark.

* * * * * * * *

So here is my challenge to you, my dare:  If YOU can come up with a better TOP 5, please do.  Post them in the COMMENTS for this entry.  And if you DISAGREE with me, throw it up in a COMMENT and let us ALL hear about it.

I’ll be doing these Top 5 lists from time to time, all with various subjects, so keep checking back!