Monday, October 13, 2014

Friday the 13th on Monday the 13th (...Right?) - Episode 10 - Tales of the Undead

And were back!

Hey! To be fair, it is the 13th again, so this should work! Granted it's months past the 13th I had in mind, but anyone that was when and who is what and you is me...The world is kind of a crazy place. So let's forget this paragraph exists?

It's time to complete Takes of the Undead. In fact, let's start over. And why not? This is such an interesting story to look at. Let's see why.

Let's get back into Friday the 13th the Series!

The episode is...

"Tales of the Undead"

As you can see behind the title in the picture above, we are delving into the world of comic books. So what is cursed item this time around?

An evil comic book, of course.

Oh my god, Fredric Wertham was right!
So I guess Fredric...Oh I beat myself to that one...

But what else do I see in that title above? Is that...

"Don't mess with me. Even Carl Sagan says I'm the Bad Boy of

...David Hewlett? A young David Hewlett?

Yes it is. Ah, back before he was a brilliant scientist working in another galaxy (Stargate: Atlantis), occasionally accidentally blowing up planets, he was an obnoxious nerd who liked to shoplift and dream of ruling the world...or something.

"Told you as I was a bad boy."

I knew he was secretly evil.

"Come on. I need that Kaylee action figure."
Not-Rodney is called Cal. He walks around the comic shop and slips a comic under his coat. Though I don't think he folded it in half, creating a crease, so he may not be all evil. Continuing around the store, he picks up another comic and gets ready to buy it, when he sees our cursed item. He is in utter awe when he sees it. After he finishes drooling over the case holding the comic of horror, he heads over to the shop owner.

The owner is pretty proud of the comic. It's an original first issue of a still running comic series, Tales of the Undead. It's a one of a kind comic. Priceless.
"The very first edition of Ferris the Invincible, Tales of the Undead. Limited edition original. Signed by Jay Star himself."
...Okay. Those are words. And those words have meaning. But for a comic as old as that comic made out to be most of those words are silly. Now, comics from the late 80's up to today have this stuff said. Once comics became mainstream collectibles we started getting multiple editions, limited editions, foil covers, etc. A comic like this would have just been mass produced, and be valuable because most of the issues got thrown away long ago.

Either the comic store owner doesn't know what he's saying, mocking Cal, or the writer of the episode bought himself the latest comic guide for terminology. You make the call.

Cal instantly wants it. He asks to buy it, but it's not in his price range. Still, he is in awe of it. It draws him. It calls to him. And it's more than his being a fan of the books main character, Ferris the Invincible.

This seems to confirm that cursed items usually picks users. Others might be able to activate them, but they seem to have a way of sussing out ripe targets to propagate their evil. They tap into the target's weakness, fear, or dark impulses, and...we get an episode.

"A first edition Stargate: Atlantis issue one? I hear those are
worth upward of 3 to 4 Canadian dollars."
But before we can get to that, Ryan pops up! It's is a bit of a change up. The curse isn't even out killing yet, but one of the team is on the scene. I am glad when they choose to play with show's setup.

This is also going to be a Jack Marshak free episode. So it will focus fully on Micki and Ryan.

Ryan isn't on the case though. It's his local comic shop (LCS). He's also there to check out the first issue find. The owner is eager to show him it. Ryan is also a fan of Ferris the Invincible.

It's nice to see the team have interactions outside the job. I can see Ryan as a comic fan. More than his sometime juvenile nature, he is a guy that appreciates fantasy and horror.Comics are a great venue for those taste.

Also, it's nice to see a friendly comic shop on a show. The owner seems nice enough. ...I'm sure something horrible will happen now.

And it does, as Ryan and the owner talk about the auction for the old comic, our Bad Boy of Science decides he has to pry the box the comic is in open. He has at the box, and proves that the comic was not particularly safe. As he gets it open, the owner sees him, and starts to tussle with him.

But Cal angrily wants and needs that comic. He shoves the owner away, and tightly gripes the comic in his hand...Hey! Respect that vintage and fragile book!

He doesn't listen to me, but as he gripes it and stares at the shop owner, things get really weird at last.

Suddenly, Cal is replaced by a new being. FERRIS THE INVINCIBLE!

The change effect is a fun low budget effort. It makes use of comic book panels to show the change. So as the comic takes effect, the world becomes a comic book for a moment. World's blur together.

It's a creative and fun way to play with the episodes conceit. It definitely shows some thought.

In the midst of the comic panels of transformation, we get some shots of what is happening around Ferris, like the comic shop owner backing away.

"No! Don't draw me unflatteringly!"

Ferris stops towards the shop owner now, and knocks him to the ground, killing him. He then proceeds towards the exit. Between the slow motion movement and shows of strength and the music, I am getting a slight Incredible Hulk TV show vibe.

Ryan reappears to see what is happening, and Ferris easily knocks him to the ground. And Ferris disappears into the night.

Back at the Antique Shop, Ryan is still sore the next day. Micki can't believe anything he's saying is real. But Ryan rightly points out that it isn't any weirder than their average misadventure.

Ryan explains that what happen is a replication of the first story of Ferris. A kid gets a magic book. It's then absorbed into his body, and he takes the form of the indestructible character of Ferris. The comic has made the story real.

Micki decides to take a look in the cursed item ledger to see if it could be there. Ryan doubts it since he scanned long ago for items like comic books.But good old Uncle Lewis just called it a magazine.

"Now if only we could find a cursed copy of Playboy."
What they learn from the ledger is that the comic was sold to the shop a few years back. And the seller was Jay Star, the creator of Ferris. That gets Ryan geared up.

And here we really get into the main part of the story as Ryan goes to meet Star, seeking to learn what he might know. It seems that the story Ryan heard about Star was that he'd created and written Ferris for some years, then got fired. He went on to die in poverty and sadness, while others got rich.

But it seems that Star is actually alive and well...ish. He also has a pretty nice house, and a housekeeper. (He's also played by the wonderful Ray Walston.) So it seems that he isn't living in penury.

To an extent I think they are trying to reflect the stories of many of the creative forces of comic books. People like Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster, who created Superman, and sought the rights to their creation, and even got ignored as the creators for many years. Bill Finger, the main force that created Batman (he also created the original Green Lantern) who got written out of official history. Many creators took part 

There have been some payoffs after certain pressure for some creators, or their families. But the actual rights to their creations is still an ongoing struggle.

"...No, my name isn't Spicoli."

In the case of Jay Star, it seems that he did get a payout early on, selling the rights for a large amount of money. He seems to have been happy with it at the time. Then he lost a lot of the money on a bad land deal.

Suddenly Jay Star looks less like the Golden Age comic creators, and more like the main villain character from a horror movie I know. In the film The Devil Bat, Bela Lugosi plays a bitter scientist. The scientist had made a deal years ago to sell the formula for a series of perfumes to a business collegue. The businessman had offered the alternative of a chance to get a share of the business he was starting, to sell the perfume. He chose the quicker money, and sat back while others got vastly rich. And then he gets murderously bitter about his decision.

"Listen! Rob Liefeld is a talented artist!"

Now, the idea that Star made the deal on his own is the perspective of the comic publisher. So it may still be skewed. But the episode does feel likes it's veered off the historic comic industry point. More we have an old man who looking bitterly back at his life.

We also learn from the comic publisher that towards the end Star wrote a story where Ferris finally died. But they never used it.

When Ryan finds Star at home, he is an old withered man in a shall. He seems bitter and tired. He also seems a little crazed. He talks a lot about the crazy wild ideas and imagery he had for comics that were barred from being published (like killing off Ferris). He's driven by a bitterness about the life he feels he's been denied.

"Bit of advise kid. Never leave a large point award sitting on your couch."

We also see an award he won for his work on Ferris. He won it for the first issue of the book. He'd hoped it was a sign of his coming glory. But it never came. And so the award became a bitter symbol to Jack Star.

Ryan gets to a point in his chat and just admits that he saw Ferris come alive, and it was due to a first issue copy of his writing. Star laughs and acts wild, dismissing Ryan and sending him away.

Once Ryan is gone, he pulls off his shall, looking more alive, and heads out. He ends up at the comic shop where the comic was stolen. He goes through a contest box at the store and finds Cal's address.

"heh heh heh"

Quickly he's hunts down Cal. He's there, and eagerly calling around for ways to make money. He's hoping the publisher of Ferris stories will pay him to do appearances...

So he's killed for this power, and his big idea is to do public appearances?

"Come on! A man in a metal suit would make big bucks as a movie!"

But his plans will never come to fruition. Star is there with a plan. He provokes Cal. Then Cal grabs the comic and that brings out Ferris.

Capcom went down a strange road with Robot Man vs Old Guy.

But that is all in Star's plan. He pulls out the award we saw earlier, and he stabs Ferris in the gut. Not so invulnerable it seems.

Granted, Old Guy has some moves. No denying that.

And we get another comic book panel transition as Cal dies and reverts.

"...Remember me as someone with a better drawn shirt..."

And now Star has the comic.

The trouble really starts to escalate. With the power at hand, Star acts out his desire. Vengence.

So he goes to the publisher of Ferris, and kills him.

"I still don't regret Flashpoint!!!"

At home, he realizes that his housekeeper has been stealing his drawing and work for years. It was sold on, often to his old publisher. So he just takes out his rage on her.

Dude! You no longer have someone clean this up.

Then he goes after the person who bought seeems to own many of his stolen illustration. He seeks out a particular one. The illustration he drew of Ferris being destroyed. The illustration would likely be the one way you could end the reign of Ferris.

"Call me crazy, Micki. But I think this might be related to our search."

Micki and Ryan chase down the comic collector, and find his body. They think they are at a dead end. But then Ryan discovers some heart medication, and he realizes who now has the cursed comic.

"Oh Mighty Ferris!"

When they try and get in to find the comic, or at least the pages with Ferris's death, they end up crossing Star.

And he transforms.

Some people have odd taste in family Christmas card.

As Micki tries to vie with Ferris. Ryan combs frantically through pages for the page showing the death of Ferris. And then he finds it.

Yeah. But you just know he'll be back in 12 issues.

It seems that Star's award is the answer (But we already knew that.). But now we know why, Star had made all of this possible. He created Ferris, and he defined his powers and weakness. You can imagine that he had that symbol of promise in his home for those years as he wrote Ferris and got no fortune or glory. So that award became a bane, and he wrote it into one last story. The symbol of the doom of Ferris.

So Ryan knows what he has to do.

"And the award goes to..."

He gets Star's attention, and drives the award into the armored form.

"Somehow I always knew a fan would kill me someday."

Star reemerges, bleeding on the ground. He looks at his fate and asks Ryan what it's like to be a hero. And then Jack Star is gone.

Micki and Ryan grab up the comic and award, then head back to the shop to recover.

Ryan is still out of sorts. He had to kill his comic hero Ferris, and his artistic hero Jack Star. Not a great day.

But Micki comes in to bolster him, and Ryan finally jokes. For once he makes commenting how preferable a copy of a good issue of Spider-Man to art sketches. Damn straight.


This is episode takes up into the world of comic creators. So how can I not have a soft spot for it? Tying Ryan into that world makes sense and allows him to take a sensible lead as the team connoisseur. And Ryan definitely spends the episode being made good use, and gets to play the more serious figure. It really helps you appreciate the character.

Micki didn't have as much to do, this was a Ryan story (So it makes more sense that Jack was out of this story. It would have lessened the focus.). But they have her going on a little arc of dismissing comics to finally trying to give them their due by reading them. It felt a little awkward to me.

And it was a treat to have Ray Walston in the show. When his character was getting angry, you just wanted to back away.

And I just wanted to say again that the use of comic panels to show the transformation into Ferris was an amusing, creative, and cost saving trick. A nice touch for this episode. It is a treat when the show gets innovative with it's cursed item imagery.

Next time we will be going back to earlier in the first season. The Halloween episode! And it'll be out for Halloween! (...In theory.) It's time for a bottle episode.

But if you'd like to take a look at this episode in the mean time...

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