Been on an alien kick as of late. Nothing in particular, just everything in general. An often overlooked nook of pop culture in the 1990s, little green aliens were everywhere. I remember having stickers, folders, buckets hats, inflatable bats, and bendy figures of generic green aliens. In a way, I miss that. So here’s my homage on our little green friends from lightyears beyond.
Also this made me think of a delicious stringy piece of pizza or grilled cheese.
Welcome back to “the short end of the stick” when it comes to reading things on the internet. In this edition of Ad Nauseam I digitally scrape the bottom of the barrel with Genetix #2 published in November 1993! This is time you’ll never get back, folks.
Genetix follows the adventures of a superhero group of experimental mutants published by Marvel UK that the internet has virtually no insight on. Even the official Marvel Database has no history on this team. I gathered the little information I could and what I present you with may just be the most 1990’s assortment of words you’ll read featured in an article about garbage:
Genetix is a team of mutants recruited by Dr. Oonagh Mullarkey for Gena-Sys, the genetic research division of Mys-Tech. They wear implanted armor derived from the Digitek project. When Killpower was sent by the Time Guardian to locate a device called the Chronifact, Dr.Mullarkey sent the newly created Genetix to defeat him. The team was trained by Dark Angel after learning about the existence of super villain Death Metal whose goal was to (evilly) impregnate a team member.
Holy cow the things I waste my time on.
I can only assume that in 2018 they use shredded issues of Genetix to stuff the big Stewie dolls you see hanging at your local park district carnival. If there’s anything I love about comics from this era it’s definitely the technologic “language” used throughout. Take a computer part, throw a “Z” or “X” in there for attitude, and you got yourself a superhero.
This Summer in a Limited Series…The Adventures of RAM-X and DARK PROCEZZOR: Created by Science, Manufactured by Fate, rendered for Justice!
So let’s dive deep into the shallow end of the comic pool and be concussed with the advertisements of yesteryear. And as we unconsciously float through the memories of 16 bit video games, lenticular trading cards, and junk food ask yourself: Do you want to be saved?
Without a doubt, the X-Men were the premiere superhero team of the 1990s. 1991 brought the first new X-Men title in nearly 30 years by the hottest name in comics at the time: Jim Lee. ‘Till this day X-Men #1 is the highest selling comic issue of all time. With that launched the legendary X-Men arcade game, fantastic animated series, and tubular toy line. X-Men reigned supreme.
Here we have episodes of the animated series being sold on VHS tapes with covers done by Jim lee himself. Keep in mind this was long before a Marvel Cinematic Universe. So it was a real treat to read about the new adventures of the X-Men and be gifted a series that treated the characters and source material with the respect and seriousness that fans desperately craved. What I love about these tapes is they could be kept on the self alongside your comics without anyone batting an eye. They even came numbered like comic issues themselves.
Pizza Hut later offered some X-Men tapes with a minimalist approach that came with lenticular cards. And while those were cool, there’s something that’s so darn charming about the ones featured in this ad. The series itself was made with care and it’s clear that this presentation had the fans in mind. This VHS series would still look great on your shelf.
Mortal Kombat at K-Mart!
Holy macaroni. If there was something I loved more than X-Men when I was a kid, it was Mortal Kombat. Brutal, bloody, and beautiful there was simply no video game like it at the time. It was an arcade hit that caused outrage among parents that just led to kids scrounging up more quarters to play it. This ad in particular is for its release on home consoles such as Super Nes, Sega Genesis and portables like The Gameboy and Game Gear. And it was a long time coming.
I was lucky enough to receive Mortal Kombat as hand-me-down for my Super Nintendo. By that time an even better sequel had been released as well as the now infamous film. The ad claims, “For bone-shattering action, it’s K-Mart for Mortal Kombat!”. But why K-mart? Because “K” that’s why. I would’ve loved an exclusive Mortal Kombat K-Mart level. Some Tecehnotronic playing in the background. You could battle over to the K-Cafe and throw hot coffee at Kano’s stupid terminator eye. Perhaps a blue light special fatality? Endless possibilities here.
I love coming face to face with Goro in this ad. He scared the daylights out of me. The game really made a big deal about him rather than the actual boss: Shang Tsung. But, I mean, who would you rather battle in a murder tournament? A giant four armed demon wrestler or some old street tramp that sleeps behind a Chipotle?
WWF Royal Rumble Video Game!
Late 1993 was around the time I started watching professional wrestling and looking back it was pretty awful. The iconic Hulk Hogan was a mere part timer, Macho Man was “retired”, and Ultimate Warrior was dropped. The larger-than-life star power wasn’t really there. Don’t get me wrong I liked Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Razor Ramon but they hadn’t quite taken off just yet. And in the meantime I was being told Lex Luger, Yokozuna, and Bam Bam Bigelow were the best (Spoiler: They sucked.). I leaned more towards WCW in those days anyway, but WWF by far had the better video games. And that’s still not saying much.
Basically WWF Royal Rumble was just like Super Wrestlemania. And WWF Raw was just like Royal Rumble. Imagine rebuying essentially the same mediocre WWF game 3 times just for some new wrestlers (that all play the same) and one new match type. Redundant and expensive, right? Actually doesn’t sound too different from what they do now. The advertisement also showcases WWF Steel Cage Challenge and WWF King of the Ring which were actually worse games by comparison. Yeah, it was a rough time for the WWF and while in the coming years they would enter a new golden era, the games still had a solid 7 years to suck.
But, back then, you made the best of it. If I got to play as The Undertaker and tombstone IRS into the mat as many times as I’d please, then it was worth it in my little child head.
Spider-man and X-Men Video Games!
Iron-Man, Thor, Ant-man and even Captain Americaweren’t truly mainstaysin comic culture. Yeah, I said Captain America. It may be hard to imagine that now but Spider-man and the X-Men were Marvel’s bread and butter in the 1990s. And that mostly has to do with the comics being written and/or the cartoons being produced at the time. So having them team up in a video game adventure was definitely exciting if you bathed in the comic bathtub at the time. But be careful, that bathtub can be slippery and these video games could not be very good.
And they weren’t very good.
I remember buying Spider-man/X-men: Arcade’s Revenge when stores were phasing out Super Nintendo games. The game was pretty tedious and bland. To play as Spider-man should be a unique and exciting experience. But instead you had to use your spider-sense (which sounded like hard bumbling farts) to collect flashing cupcakes to unlock the X-Men levels. When you played as Wolverine, who was at peak anti-hero popularity, you wandered a funhouse beating up robotic clowns. It’s like playing a Punisher game where you’re limited to picking up trash at a local park district. I believe the term nowadays is called “shovelware“. These characters deserved something much better. And to join forces to fight Arcade? I mean, you’ve got Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse, The Sinister Six, and Magneto but these superheroes have to join forces to fight the guy who runs Six Flags?
That about covers the time warp that Genetix #3could take you on. I hope you got something out of me reminiscing about 25 year old game cartridges and VHS tapes. I’ll always be here presenting the best (worst?) of comic culture from a time when nearly every comic book inexplicably involved a cyborg.
When I read comics as a kid, I always wanted fewer ads so I could have more story. I didn’t care about a two page spread for grape soda since it was butting into Hulk’s smashing.
Yet now, as an adult, I thumb through my old back issues exclusively looking for ads. Perhaps to nip a little nostalgic taste to a simpler time. 9-year-old me may have scoffed at a redundant ad for Super Wrestlemania, yet 20 years later I look for details and analyze it far more than anyone should.
Tonight we delve into Marvel’s Bishop #3.
Bishop is a time traveling mutant police officer that joins the X-Men and has a hard time not killing everything. I bought this comic back in February 1995 at JJ Peppers because Bishop seduced me with his lenticular scarf and logo. Such is life.
Okay. Now let’s look at old advertisements together!
By simply opening the comic you are righteously hadouken’d by a full page ad for the Street Fighter movie. And it’s clear right off the bat that this book desperately wants you to know it’s 1995. If you don’t know anything about Street Fighter this poster makes everything abundantly clear: Jean-Claude Van Damme has to fight Raul Julia on his Dr. Robotnik flying cart all inside of an Alienware computer tower surrounded by onlookers composing of early nineties professional wrestlers.
Though this movie is famously ragged on by both fans of the Street Fighter franchise and people with at least one of their facial extremities, I happen to enjoy this film for what it is. After all, it is based on an arcade game where you can have a flame spitting rubber Gandhi face an anthropomorphic bottle of Gatorade. In what other game can you get bonus points by having a sumo wrestler punch a car into a metal dump heap?
Perhaps I’m being lenient because I simply enjoy images consisting of an overbearing composition of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s face. But when it comes to the Street Fighter movie only one thing is abundantly clear to me: M. Bison’s wardrobe gets an opening credit.
Seriously check that out.
Oh shoot. Things just got pretty real pretty quick. You’re just a few pages into Bishop’s new flippin’ mutant adventure and you’ve already come face to face with Carnage.
So, for those who don’t know, Carnage is a Spider-man villain. And at this time he was at the height of his popularity (just 3 years after his first appearance). What’s made him so enticing to comic fans was that he was essentially an NC-17 horror character existing in a PG-13 world. Imagine merging Charles Manson with a Xenomorph. That’s Carnage, baby.
This ad in particular was for a video game based on his first story arc: Maximum Carnage. It was a side scrolling beat ‘em up that directly lifted panels from the comic in 16 bit form to progress the story. The biggest draw of the game was that you had the option to play as Spider-man or Venom(who was Wolverine anti hero levels of popular in the 90s). Not to mention you could unlock superhero assistance from Captain America or Cloak & Dagger to clear the screen of thugs for you.
This game was a pretty big deal. From the print ads such as this to the creepy vague commercial and bright red game cartridge, it made a point to separate itself from the dregs of previous comic book inspired games. Plus it was really good. I remember renting this game numerous times from my local Blockbuster and playing it until my fingers were raw hot dogs.
Also let’s not confuse Maximum Carnage with Total Carnage when you’re 14 and at the register of a Music Recyclery. Because there’s nothing nearly as disappointing. No hyperbole here.
I also love the secret tip given in the lower right corner of the page. I miss when gaming was like this.
I don’t miss when gaming was like this.
Remember how I mentioned that Maximum Carnage separated itself from the dregs of previous comic book inspired games? Well, hey, here’s one of the dregs I was talking about. Wolverine: Adamantium Rage followed everyone’s favorite uber violent Canuck and not-yet-Hugh-Jackman’ed mutant as he slices and dices his way through monotonous and lackluster gameplay. If I had a dime for every minute spent wandering around some mad laboratory blasting rejected 16 bit covers of Kriss Kross I’d have, like, enough dimes to buy Wolverine: Adamantium Rage.
The ad itself is eye catching and completely enticing. That (now) classic image of Wolverine in pure berserker mode surrounded by squares showcasing such memorable Wolverine foes like: Soldier-on-fire, Silver Wolfman, little boy and Baraka in sunglasses! Plus check out those screenshot descriptions.
Wolverine battles the demon within.
Wow. Is there a level of self loathing and regret in the Wolverine video game?! Like, totally EXISTENTIAL dudes!
Frank Miller’s run in the early 80’s solidified Wolverine as a true comic celebrity. And for a guy who runs around in bright yellow spandex, he’s quite the brooding tormented soul. Which is why it was such a letdown playing this game. It wasn’t unplayable or even especially bad. It was just so mundane and uninspired, which made it completely undeserving of the Wolverine character at the time.
I always loved how some comics cut the crap and catered to their stereotypical demographic: You’re reading comics instead of doing your homework you pimply little spice weasel you.
Enter Cliffs Notes and Clearasil.
Man, if I ever wrote a book about my high school years that’s the title.
Fun fact: Writing this made me realize it’s “Cliffs Notes” with an “s”. I’ve been calling it “Cliff Notes” forever. I guess reading can pay off. This little ad has an offer for the “Cliffs Edge” to receive free study tips and a free newsletter. So Cliffs Notes to Cliff Notes I suppose. Did you know George Lucas has a large library of these little Cliffs Note books? I don’t know what to make of that exactly.
The clearasil ad is interesting. This particular kid pictured has a giant exclamation point in the place of his head made up of how awful getting acne is. I can’t disagree with that. Acne shoots your confidence right in it’s heart. And you know what? Clearasil does nothing. It makes your face feel sticky and smelly. But you can always stick your face into some Cliffs Notes to hide I guess.
Oh my. Skeleton Warriors. Boy, what the heck was this about?
Skeleton Warriors was popular for about a hot second. It had a cartoon, comic series, video game, and a toy line. Compared to the detail and articulation of our current offerings like Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers, Skeleton Warriors were on another level. Another skeletal level. I begged my grandpa for DR. CYBORN one morning during a quick trip to Walgreens. What kid would turn him down? He looked like a Terminator merged with the rotting corpse of Count Dracula! Plus he’s the CYBER SCIENTIST OF THE SKELETON LEGION I JUST LOOKED THAT UP RIGHT NOW!
Judging from the intro of the cartoon show all skeletons are evil (dang) and a group of humans ride neon speeder bikes to battle them. Lightstar is the leader and there’s also a Mr. Sinister looking guy who’s dressed as a skeleton but a good guy? Does he dress as a skeleton to mock them? My favorite aspect has to be the overlaying guitars practically screaming to viewers to please not think of He-Man. Good to hear Dokken’s getting work.
The last line of the title theme is, “They’re bad to the bone!”. You damn right that’s the last line. Because it better be.
The cartoon only lasted 13 episodes. I nor anybody I knew actually watched it. Yet those toys were smuggled in during recess throughout the school year. And Dr. Cyborn got plenty of play throughout my toy career. He went on to battle such greats as Aero Strike Batman and T-Rex hand puppet.
This ad in particular is promoting the “Fleer Ultra Skeleton Warriors Trading Card Line”. And if you can say that ten times fast you are blessed. It pictures Prince Lightstar who is now a prince and wearing a completely unpractical costume. Never did I think “big sharp horns protruding upwards out of your nipples” would be a weapon I would need during the mighty skeleton war. I dig the Skeletor color scheme. Not sure if that was intentional or not. The particular skeleton warrior chosen is named “Dagger” and from what I understand (quickly skimmed wikipedia) he is the clumsy servant that’s comic relief.
The ad claims “Bad To The Bone! January 1995.” Yet just 5 months later the show was boned and buried. Throw me a bone with that last line. I’m sorry.
I don’t know how this show ended. But I can only assume the heroes discovered that if we put our differences aside there is a skeleton deep within us all.
If the Skeleton Warriors ever went on to get as popular as the Turtles or Power Rangers the marketing could’ve went great with making Milk cool. Drink milk to build strong healthy bones and you can become a Skeleton Warrior!
So that about covers the tantalizing tasty tidbits of what you’d find being advertised in Bishop #3. Thanks for reading about ads found in a 22 year old comic book.