Tuesday, March 18, 2008

direct from the nineties

One of my daughter's favorite places at the mall is the arcade. She plays a little air hockey and some Hydro Thunder (a speedboat racer) and an over-the-road trucker simulation (she really likes honking the horn). When her mother isn't around we sometimes play House of the Dead. My wife doesn't like little kids playing gun-based video games, while I think it is important that you teach children the proper methods of zombie killing at an early age. It's a life skill.

But Elizabeth's absolute favorite game is skee ball. At this point she's notably better than her old man. Not that hand-eye coordination is one of my great talents. Skee ball is one of the games at this arcade that gives you tickets that can be traded in for cheap crap. Lately Elizabeth has been using them to lay her hands on the small selection of comic books behind the counter. Most of the issues they have are movie tie-ins for various Spiderman and X-men flicks. But this last trip to the mall Elizabeth spotted the one oddball in the bunch:

Collector's note: first appearance of the Engineer from The Authority.Bagged and boarded and straight from 1993, it's Rai and the Future Force #9, written by John Ostrander and published by Valiant. Remember Valiant? They were a big deal back in the nineties.

The funny thing is, I owned this comic back in '93. My cousin Greg thought Valiant was the bee's knees and was always pushing new mags on me. I remember liking Archer and Armstrong, which I recall as the buddy adventures of fat slob Hercules and David Carridine from the original Kung Fu. I got two or three issues of Rai and friends, mainly because the team included one of the greatest characters in all of comic books:

Ridiculously badass.

Magnus, Robot Fighter!

He's a dude whose only purpose in life is to flip out and kill robots. And he does it while wearing a red miniskirt and white go-go boots. What's not to like? I don't know who owns the rights to Magnus these days, but I'd be totally onboard for some Essential style reprints. Between his original 60's Dell/Whitman/Gold Key run and the 90's Valiant relaunch there's more than a hundred issues of this dude karate punching robots, not even counting appearances in crossovers and group books like Rai and pals.

I gotta share one more thing from this issue:

That's the Valiant logo on his helmet. I wonder how many of his teammates asked him what the hell that was? Little Jason there would be in his twenties or early thirties now. I'm tempted to try and track him down to see if he still reads comics.


  1. I believe that the rights to Magnus Robot Fighter are currently owned by one of the major publishing houses. A quick check of Wikipedia says that it's Random House.

    I know that Dark Horse has been publishing expensive hardcover reprints of the early 60's Magnus and Solar stuff. $50 a pop is too much for me these days, but I'm told that they're a lot of fun.

    And just to make things stupid-nerdy - Solar, Magnus and Turok (who is my favorite of the old Dell/Gold Key/Western bunch) are all owned by Random House, but the rest of the Valiant/Acclaim stuff is owned by some new outfit that bought up the Valiant stuff after Acclaim went bankrupt a few years back. Likely we'll never see another crossover between Rai and Magnus. If the new group even brings Rai back - Rai was never the seller of video game tie-ins that Turok was.

  2. Amazon has 'em for about $40 a crack.
    dcbservice has vol 2 for $25, and instocktrades has 3 for $32.

    Naperville had a pretty swank comic shop last time I was there.

  3. A love of Skee-Ball indicates brilliance and good taste ;)