Update, 10/10/2008: We now have full reviews of the first
|"My face...what have they done to my FACE?!"
I'm about to bring you a series of scans that made me slightly famous in the Astro Boy community.
I also feel I should put all this up, since so few pictures and pages exist about this series.
In March 2007, I happened upon a web archive full of covers of an obscure 1980's comic
book - yes, it was Astro Boy. I was confused to no end as to why the damned things existed, and I didn't learn anything else
until about June 2007. That afternoon I found several issues at a used bookstore, each issue in great condition, each
for less than $2.50 Canadian. I still cannot believe these things existed, but to this day I hold seven issues in my hands.
Here's the story behind the comics - back in the 1980's, there was a company called NOW! Comics
that would buy the rights to a movie or cartoon, then make that property into a comic book. The only other cartoon they bought
was "Speed Racer", and anybody on this site knows that show sucked. According to one issue, NOW! almost
did comics of Kimba and Princess Knight. So, "The Original Astro Boy" begun printing in 1987, the
only credit towards Tezuka was the microscopic line reading "CHARACTERS ORIGINALLY BY DR. OSAMU TEZUKA" that appeared in 5/20
issues. At least they called him "Dr.".
The series went through two artists and lasted 20 issues, divided into three parts:
1. The Origin & Robot Rights (nine issues)
2. The Ken Steacy Fillers (seven issues)
3. The Andrew Pratt Fillers (four issues)
The first nine issues were once regarded as the best, with the artist Ken Steacy's quality
degrading in the next seven, but then he was replaced by the #10-16 writer named Andrew Pratt who drew shoddy line art. (I
swear, that's his real name.)
The series ended after twenty issues, due to plummeting readership and what I assume was a
licensing problem. The entire NOW! Comics folded in some time after that, and their last published comic was this. Be afraid.
LET'S BRING ON THE PICTURES!
Yes, my friends. This is exactly what it looks like. What they did to Astro is similar to what
happened to Megaman in the American cartoon, where they made the title character look more muscular. (Megaman's about 14,
but there he looked 21). Next, the cover is misleading. It promises "THE ORIGINAL", that it ain't. And the art
is, in no way, that low in crapulence...
This is Astro in 2/3 of his NOW! Comics styles. (Third one not up here because
it was similar to the 80's anime) Here, he was either too damn shiny, bright pink or had a square chest. Everybody in the
book went through crap like that, but Astro received the gift of being OUT-OF-CHARACTER...he was violent, sometimes stupid,
and often a little insensitive. Let's move on to Dr. Tenma...
I think I'm going to cry.
Here he is, as Dr. Boynton. Regardless of the second picture his personality was in check,
remaining the mildly crazy gentleman from before, and I would be the happiest girl in the world if only his skull didn't look
like a Pop-Tart box. Boynton's nose, hair and beard were constantly drawn different sizes to the point where his
hair looked completely impossible. I mean, hell, even I can draw Tenma better than NOW! Comics. But it could have been worse - I'm not sure whether NOW! followed the 60's or the
80's anime, but it's a good thing they didn't use the 1980 Tenma with his Black Jack-tastic mullet.
This is from Boynton's last appearance in #18, during the Pratt era. I like him better
this way, since he looks like himself from the manga, tie and all. Also, what's up with Elmer the Robot's Hitler mustache?
Here's Uran (Astro Girl), Shunsaku Ban (Mr. Pompus), Elmer and Rebecca (Astro's robot
parents), Ochanimizu (Dr. Elefun), Tobio (Astor), "Jean" (Boynton's wife), and "Astor" again. Astro Girl had
a hideously short dress, her panties constantly revealed to the reader. Mr. Pompus wasn't as wacky as his original, but more
like he was recovering from depression. Elmer and Rebecca were okay, Ochanimizu/Elefun was really creepy, Astor wore some
really short shorts and had a name no sane parent would give a child, and I want to look at that picture of Jean and tell
me that isn't totally fan service. Even that crab is ogling.
Ken Steacy and Andrew Pratt are sick.
WHERE ARE YOUR METROPOLIS FAN GIRLS NOW, BITCH?!
This was Tas Tamil, once known as Duke friggin' Red.
(Argh. Only five major females in this book, and one of 'em can't talk.)
This was a weird guy. The man was Dr. Foola (a recurring half-bit villain in Tezuka's
works) modified into I. Q. Plenty. (HA!) He ran around with a stupid, annoying talking dog named Spud, and Foola was a womanizer.
Worse than Pinhead. He took over Boynton's "mad scientist" role after issue seventeen (Dammit! Just when Andrew Pratt was drawing
Boynton better!). And look at this uncomfortable shot of Spud, circa issue ten... (Nudity warning...)
This was a weird one. I found this guy in the Andrew Pratt era, his name Captain Delta.
I am convinced that this is a cross of Rockuro Makube (or Rock Holmes) and Rainbow Parakeet.
This is Hamegg, now Cacciatore the maybe-but-sorta-not-threatening Ringmaster. He-a talk like-a
this, and every time I see him I laugh uncontrollably and I think either "YOU HELP-A LUIGI! HE SHINY YOU A NICE-A
BIG-A PIZZA!" or "THAT'S MAMA LUIGI TO YOU, MARIO!!" He was pretty much the same, yet a little more brutal and with more good
ol' fashioned Italian-American stereotyping.
Now it's time for the
HALL OF SHAME
(Each X below is a link)
Above are sample pages of the actual NOW! Comic. Here is my whining.
1) One violent character trumps another. Here's Boynton's average disposition to Astro. Also
notice his nose, beard and hair between each panel. They'll never be one length.
2) This page alarms me. This is from when Tas Tamil made Astro work in the army, and Astro
happened to "stick his hands in interesting places" during his time. I'm sorry. The idea that Astro went a-rib diggin' disgusts
and frightens me so. Also, is that an artery hanging from Astro's finger in the last panel?
3) Astro gets violent for us, playing a two-page game of catch with Cacciatore. (The
only way they showed he was Italian was by putting the letter A after every-other word.) Cacciatore shrieks "HE'S-A GONNA
KILL ME!" followed by Astro's "Don't give me any ideas, Cacciatore." Brr.
4. I wanted to bring you more Mutant Boynton Face. In this scene, Astro was at the circus and
refused to fight. Cacciatore/Hamegg electrocuted Astro by way of a robot spider implanted in him. Astro hallucinated
and saw his fighting opponent as Boynton, and things got ugly.
That's all the pictures I have for today. This comic lasted from 1987 to 1989, ending just
before the nineties. And we all know how comics were in the nineties. (With the exception of the Spaziante/Harvo Sonic work,
in my opinion.) If you ever get a chance to look at an issue of this stuff, and it's less than three bucks, check it out.
I've got gaps in my collection, but these amusing on a Plan Nine From Outer Space level.
CLICK ON THIS PICTURE OF SKUNK KUSAI THAT SUSPICIOUSLY RESEMBLES A MUPPET TO GO BACK
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P.S.: I own a ZIP file containing scans of the entire first issue If you're interested, email
me at this address.