Saturday, March 25, 2017

PINOY RANGERS

Back-to-back knock-offs this month, this one of a certain team of teenagers with attitude.  Created by writer Armand Campos and artist Ariel Padilla, Pinoy Rangers premiered as a back-up strip in the 30th issue of Batang X Komiks (November 13, 1995), published by Sonic Triangle Publishing Inc.


While hiking on Mount Anahaw, a group of teenagers fall into a cavern where they meet Orisha, the Prime Goddess and protector of the mountain.


She asks for their help against Haring Itim (Black King), who has awakened from his (presumably 10,000-year) long slumber, and is bent on conquering the Earth and destroying nature.


To battle the Black King, Orisha bestows the teens with the powers of various animals.  Their leader, Biboy becomes Agila ("Eagle"), Jake is Kuwago ("Owl"), Maila is Musang ("Civet"), the nimble Gigi is Usa ("Deer"), and Dino, the strongest of the group, is Tamaraw ("Buffalo").


When Batang X #30 turned out to be that magazine's final issue, the Rangers were moved to the pages of Video Sonic Comix, beginning with its  first issue on December 18, 1995.




Friday, March 24, 2017

X-GEN: The Unknown Generation

Let's get the obvious out of the way.  X-Gen (The Unknown Generation) was a very blatant knock-off of the X-Men.  There's no getting around it.  Written and drawn by Gilbert Monsanto, it debuted on May 14, 1995 in the first issue of Dragonboy Z Komiks, a magazine whose main feature was a knock-off of Dragon Ball Z.  It was published by Infinity Publishing Inc., which was of course known for its Street Fighter-knock off (inventive though it may be), Kick Fighter Komiks.




Anyway, X-Gen is a team of mutant heroes, products of genetic experimentation, who are gathered together by one Dr. Joselito Javier, the scientist who developed  the X-Genetics process that created them.

DR. JOSELITO JAVIER
I guess they would have called him Dr. J, but they never did.  The leader and father figure of the "X-Gen-ers," he creates the team to combat the evil mutants created from his stolen research.  Like Professor X, he possesses vast psychic powers.  Unlike Professor X, he is not crippled and has a full set of head and facial hair.

ALAMID
Named after the Asian palm civet or the toddy cat.  After eating food contaminated with a mutagenic chemical, scientist Tony Berg was transformed into a mutant berserker with razor sharp claws and the ability to heal rapidly from any injury.  He also wears a symbiotic costume which can repair any damage that it sustains, though I suspect the reason for that is so the artist wouldn't have to redraw his torn up costume from the previous issue. 

 Gotta give some credit, at least they tried to make Alamid's back story as far as they possibly could from Wolverine (never mind that he basically got his powers via food poisoning).  Also, that's a pretty cool costume redesign, which kind of resembles the Ultimate Wolverine look that would appear years later.

  CYCLON
The field commander.  Fires powerful blasts from his eyes.
  
STEEL
The team powerhouse, Steel has superhuman strength and can turn his body into--well, steel.

RAJA
She has super strength and the power of flight.  Doesn't seem to have Rogue's absorption powers.
PSI-LOCK
Gee, I wonder who she's supposed to be?  A female ninja with psionic abilities.
  
HAMOK
Cyclon's brother, a secret agent who can generate devastating waves of energy from his hands.
SERAPH
Born with six wings on his back, the boy named Serapio was abandoned as a baby and raised by Alamid's sister, Lanie.  Aside from the ability to fly, he can also create powerful winds by flapping his wings.


VILLAINS

MAGNO 
Dr. Javier's evil twin brother, who gains his powers from his sibling's stolen research.  He possesses powerful psychic abilities and can produce destructive energy blasts.

 SAURUS
A human pterodactyl with hypnotic powers.  Formerly Alamid's rival scientist, Saurus was responsible for spiking his food with the chemicals that mutated him.

GIGANTO
Saurus' cousin, the "executioner" of their family.  Born with "super-flexed muscles" which give him his enormous size and strength.

KADYO
Short for Arcadio, a crooked "showmaster" who uses a carnival as a front for his kidnapping operation.  Has access to an alternate dimension where cartoons become real.
  
DOK BOOM & VOLTAR
Dok Boom (man, they're not even trying with these names) is an armored crime lord who teams up with Versus' electric-powered villain Voltar.
  
SHADOW CREEP
A mutant who worshiped a "dark being" in order to attain more power.  He has the ability to possess other people and transform himself into a giant shadow creature.


HOJO
Reality-altering being from another dimension who challenges the X-Gen to appear in his movie (really, I should just say based on Mojo and you'd get the picture).  Appears at the end of the strip's second run in Kick Fighter III Komiks which we will look at later on.

TARI
Hojo's sharp-clawed (and probably saber-toothed) henchman, leader of his team of enforcers, the Ravagers.


SPECIAL GUEST STARS

BLADES AND BULLETS

 Kick Fighter heroes Biotrog, Angel and Jolas Zuares (starring at the time in Kick Figther II Komiks' Blades and Bullets) team up with Alamid and Psi-Lock against Dok Boom and Voltar.


THE DRAGONBOY Z CAST
The team meets Vigita and other characters of their magazine's co-feature in Kadyo's cartoon dimension.















 X-GEN: APOCALYPSE

X-Gen's original run lasted until Dragonboy Z Komiks #17 (September 3, 1995), the magazine's final issue.  But the series returned in the pages of Kick Fighter III Komiks early in 1996.  Dar Medina took over as writer with Jim Jimenez as artist.


The revived series departed drastically  from the previous one, recasting the X-Gen as genetically-engineered youths placed in cryogenic suspension and awakened years later to a post-apocalyptic world.  It would seem that the new writer wasn't all that familiar with the original strip, so he just decided to change the premise from scratch.  In fact, aside from Alamid, the rest of the characters suddenly had their names changed.  For instance, the Colossus knock-off was now Bagul (whatever that means), Havok was now Javoc (which is about as clever as "Psi-Lock"), and Rogue became Rougue (how do you even pronounce that?).


X-GEN: THE LAST STAND

The last two installments of the series appeared in KFIII#26-27 (July 15-22, 1996), written by Jay Jimenez and illustrated by original artist Gilbert Monsanto, ending the strip on a familiar note.










COVERS



  
 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chicken Rerun: The DARMO ADARNA Reboot

Four years after R.R. Marcelino's Darmo Adarna ended, Pilipino Funny Komiks revived the feature for another run starting with their 641st issue (September 28, 1990).  Released 2 months after the Luzon earthquake (which the first story references), this version was initiated by the Superdog team of writer Christian del Cruz and artist Louie EscauriagaJun Dayo would take over the art chores a few issues later.




From the outset, the new Darmo Adarna was very different from their previous incarnation.  Its young protagonist Darmo (not Dario) did not have the ability to transform into a super-powered teen.  Instead, he rode on a flying bicycle and kept a lunchbox-full of living toy soldiers.


Adarna, however, is still a rooster that transforms into a giant eagle.




Darmo lives with his mother and father in a province that seems to suffer from a serious bandit problem (there had been like 3 random bandit attacks just within the first 15 chapters).



Later on, Darmo encounters a seemingly sinister Indian magician who forces him to assassinate the supposedly-tyrannical King of India on his behalf.  When the boy refuses at the last minute, the whole plot is revealed to be a test, and it turns out that the magician and the king were the ones who had given him his magic toys and Adarna to do good in the world.


Lasting for 81 chapters, ending with Funny Komiks #723 (April 24, 1992), the new Darmo Adarna's adventures were never as interesting as the originals.  But it wasn't even the worst interpretation of the characters.  No, that would be this one...


In 2011, ABS-CBN's fantasy anthology TV series Wansapanataym did a very loose 2-part adaptation of Darmo Adarna that departed even farther from the source.  No super-powered boy, no giant bird.  Instead it had actor Jake Cuenca as an overweight loser who is magically transformed into a muscle-bound hero, basically a male version of Darna.  There's still a magic rooster in there somewhere, though.  Because apparently, you can do Darmo Adarna without the giant bird, but there should always be a magic rooster.  Okay, then.

COVERS