- The Washington Times - Friday, August 13, 2004

Zadzooks

The comic book permeates all levels of popular culture. This sporadic feature reviews some recent examples from the world of digital video discs (compatible with DVD-ROM enabled computers and home entertainment centers) and also includes a recommended sequential-art reading list to extend the multimedia adventures.

Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends: Complete Season 2

(Classic Media, $39.99)

Jay Ward avoided a straitjacket by pumping his hilarious subversive lunacy into the adventures of a moose and squirrel that turned into a legendary 1960s cartoon series.

This four-disc, double-sided DVD collection does justice to the second season of the show by offering all 52 episodes highlighting such quirky characters as Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale, dog genius Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman, the fearless Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties and, of course, the esteemed narrator (the voice of Edward Everett Horton) as he relays some fractured fairy tales.

Classic Media also throws in a few extras in addition to such classic tales as “The Last Angry Moose” and “Wailing Whale.” They include an interview with the voice of Rocky and Natasha, June Foray, and three Bullwinkle Cheerios commercials. The ads are deconstructed via a split screen to show their final color version juxtaposed against an artist’s sketches.

• Read all about it:Marvel Comics created a nine-issue series under its child-friendly Star Comics imprint back in the late 1980s, aptly titled Bullwinkle and Rocky (priced at $4 each in near mint condition). You also can grab the first four issues, compiled into the trade paperback Marvel Moosterworks ($4.95).

Godzilla: The Series

(Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, $14.99)

Based on the lame 1998 re-imagined film from Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the Fox Family Channel debuted a cartoon series that same year offering a more detailed look at the lizard king and the humans chasing him.

The show lasted two seasons, a mere 40 episodes, and did justice to the main characters through decent stories, voice-over work by some name actors (including Joe Pantoliano of “The Sopranos” fame) and some great monster fights.

Unfortunately, Columbia Tristar still has a VHS mentality with its first DVD release of the series, providing just a paltry three episodes about extraterrestrials gathering a powerful group of behemoths to challenge Godzilla and the world in a “Destroy All Monsters”-type melee.

Wouldn’t it have made much more sense just to release the entire series (plus some extras) in a glorious, multidisc set rather than waste the time and money of the few core fans left desperately wanting to relive the series?

• Read all about it:Dark Horse Comics developed sequential-art tales based on the original Godzilla from Japan until 1998. Readers will appreciate the trade paperback Godzilla ($17.95). It compiles the six-issue miniseries, which adapted to English Kazuhisa Iwata’s graphic novel based on the film “Godzilla 1985.”

Predator

(20th Century Fox, Rated R, $39.99)

A two-disc set pays tribute to a 17-year-old film that highlighted one of the coolest-looking, gadget-loaded hunters since Boba Fett made his debut in the “Star Wars” galaxy.

Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the 1987 combat epic, which mixed a team of brawny boneheads against a creature designed by Academy Award-winning special-effects artist Stan Winston.

The DVD extras are bountiful, as director John McTiernan leads the way on the first disc by offering a detailed and revealing commentary track about shooting a film in less than ideal conditions.

Viewers also can read a subtitled commentary from an amalgam of production folks and film historian Eric Lichtenfeld.

Disc 2 is worth a look for numerous minidocumentaries on the production (adding up to about 60 minutes’ worth of enjoyment). It also features a photo gallery and a look at the weapons of the Predator — revealed via a text-and-photo montage.

• Read all about it: Dark Horse Comics has brought the warrior from a distant galaxy to sequential-art life for the past 15 years. Look to a bookstore or specialty shop for such classics as Predator: Concrete Jungle (compiling the original, four-issue series from 1989, priced at $14.95), Batman Versus Predator II: Bloodmatch (compiling the four-part, 1994 series, for $6.95) or Predator: Race War (compiling the five-part, 1994 series, for $17.95).

ALF

(Lions Gate Home Entertainment, $39.99)

NBC’s pop-culture extraterrestrial from the 1980s lands in the DVD realm via a four-disc set featuring the first 25 episodes of this one-of-kind comedy.

I never acquired a taste for the live-action adventures of a plush alien from Melmac who lives in the Tanner family’s garage, but fans will flock to the DVD to relive some of the zany moments from the show, which combined the puppeteering and sarcastic witticisms of Paul Fusco.

“ALF” also provides a few bonuses to his set, including the original unaired pilot episode, an amusing menu interface that highlights ALF badgering the DVD viewer (even introducing all of his episodes), a fairly silly outtakes segment and plenty of trivia about the cat-loving star.

• Read all about it:Believe it or not, ALF lasted 50 issues in the sequential-art world (two years longer than his live-action show) as part of the Marvel Comics, Star Comics imprint ($2.50 per issue in near mint condition).

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail [email protected]washingtontimes.com or write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington DC 20002.

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