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CSBG Archive

Everybody’s Somebody’s Baby – Day Seven

Here’s the next look at a beloved run (of someone) that did not make the Top 158 of the Top Comic Book Runs.

Enjoy!

Len Kaminski and Anthony Williams’ Scare Tactics – 10 points (1 first place vote)

Scare Tactics #1-12, plus a few one-shots

Scare Tactics was a band of monsters.

And when I say band, I mean band, as in rock band!

The band featured Fang, a werewolf, on lead guitar, Scream Queen, a vampire, on lead vocals, Slither, a sort of mer-man on bass and Gross-Out, a guy transformed into a monster by a meteor, on drums.

They were not trying to be heroes, but they often got stuck helping out people, especially against monsters, because they didn’t want their kind to get a bad rap.

It was a really fun book by Len Kaminski.

They tried to sort of establish the book into the DC Universe…

In fact, DC must have liked the book, because they gave the book some real support by having a series of one-shots where the members of the band teamed up with various DC heroes…

Sales were still bad, though, so the book ended with issue #12.

A poster on the Comics Should Be Good forum named scum_boy gave his reason why this was his top run here:

I voted for Scare Tactics by Len Kaminski and Anthony Williams, as my number one favorite series of al time. It was published by DC comics during the 90’s It came out about the same time as these other new DC propeties e.g. Young Heroes in Love, Vext, Chase, Chronos. Xero et. al. As well as relaunches of other titles that were supposed to cover the scary side of the DC universe. Such as Doom Patrol, Book of Fate, and Night Force I think. Do any of these titles ring a bell?

Anyway this was a title that really got me. It was the 90’s the X Files was still on going, and I was a big fan. Scare Tactics follows the life of 4 teenage escapees from R-Complex (sorta like Area 51 but for supernatural phenomenon, a warewolf, a vampire, a reptilian guy, and a really deformed boil encrusted monster. They escaped from R-Complex with the Help of Fate’s best friend/quais sidekick, Arnold Burnsteel. They go on the lam, all the while beig escorted by Burnsteel on his winebaggo, and posing as a rock metal band!!! Thay have to resort to using their individual abilities, smarts, and overall mean disposition to stay ahead of R-Complex.

Now what makes this title special? Sure the pairing up of an assortment of different Monsters to form a hero team isn’t really that original nowadays, it was the reason though as to why I picked this title from the rack in the first place. What kept me buying though was that despite their differences, their one unifying detail was that they were all teenagers. Being a teenager myself at the time, I really sympathized with them. You kow how being a teenager is all about finding where and who you fit in with, all the while being very self conscious as to how diferent you are to everybody else. Their experience hardships not only from being on the lam, but also due to their teenage insecurities of being freaks and their status of being outcasts. (very much like the X-men but more cutiing edge, even upon rereading after a long time. Rock metal band!!! C’mon!)

This title had a wonderfull group dynamic to it. It had so many layers. Vampire girl feels nothing but contemp for all of them, but however has a slight attraction to redneck warewolf. Redneck warewolf is also attracted to Vampire chick, both however would rather die than admit it. Snake Boy likes Vampy. Vampy doesnt care about Snake Boy at all. (unrequited love, how could I not relate to this) Snake boy is slowly being overcome by his dark reptile persona. Gross monster guy is actually very inteligent, his current gross form however impedes him from communicating with his friends. They think he’s stupid. Then there was Arnold Burnsteel himself.

Arnold Burnsteel was the coolest character ever. He was like the groups Professor X. Only instead of having super powers, he was instead super paranoid. A master computer hacker as well. He would often come up with the most off the wall ideas, that would save the group. Like the one time he used Bill Gate’s uranium card to get the group new instruments. There was the ultimate quote from him. “Dont let me go back there. Claws, fangs, superstrength, It dont matter. I got Mean”

Len kaminski’s writting was wonderfull. Great dialogue and awesome storylines, though sometimes cliche, would often redeem itself with uique resolutions, and wonderful execution. Anthony Williams art was wonderfull as well.

It’s a shame it only lasted for about 12 issues.

Does anyone remember this series and liked it?

Thanks, scum_boy!

In a nice little bit of news for people who wonder if creators care about the fans liking their work, Len Kaminski replied in the thread with the following:

I can’t imagine a greater compliment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I used to say that if TACTICS reached ONE person, I would have justified my place on Earth.

Unfortunately, DC owns the right to ST, so there’s not much I can do with it on my own. I will confess, I DO have a concept that’d be VERY near and dear to ST fans, (think JLA/SQUADRON SUPREME), if I can ever get it off the ground.

Thank YOU for posting – it’s given me new inspiration to take another crack at comics.

19 Comments

Now that, THAT was cool. The whole thing. Specially Mr. Kaminski’s response.
Comics rule.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 28, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Scare Tactics was a good book, from a good period (creatively) from DC, which unfortunately came at the wrong time for the market.

Hopefully Mr. Kaminski does take another crack at comics, because he was a very good writer – I also really liked his take on The Creeper.

Oh, wow.

Goodness, thanks for that letter! If it encourages Kaminski to come back to comics, that’s pure gold.

Is this series in trade? I missed it completely, and I’d LOVE to check it out. From what I saw, Kaminski was writing absolutely brilliantly in the late 90s — such poetry in his narration, such depth in his dialogue — but I only know his Creeper and Bloodshot. Brian, is there any way more of us can get in touch with Kaminski and let him know we’d love to see him writing again!?!?

hmmm… i have never even heard of this title. there’s a whole period of the 1990s that is just a lost weekend to me!

i think i’m going to track down these issues (Young Heroes in Love, too)

Stefan, I linked to the thread where Kaminski posted his reply – I bet if you posted there, he’d see it!

I loved this series! I’m shocked, I thought I was the only one who loved this run!

In fact, I thought I was the only one who had this entire series and the entire run of the horror titles from then: Book of Fate, Night Force and Challengers of the Unknown. As my memory “boots up” and I recall more of it, I remember the Convergence crossover between the four titles that…really didn’t go anywhere. Those one shots rocked too!

I loved the Scare Tactics t-shirt in 52

The covers look tremendous. Anybody recall what the interior artwork was like??

Wait, this isn’t April…

Never even heard of this…

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Wait, this isn’t April…

You never read this one?

It’s pretty good – not revolutionary, but fun none the less.

Len Kaminski’s run on Iron Man scored one of my top ten votes, if not quite #1. I wonder if non-#1 votes are eligible for these write-ups? :)

Sure, Bill – go for it.

I have and enjoyed every one of these issues. Several times the comics wound up on the top of my read pile because Scare Tactics felt that there was a lot of love being put into the book. You could feel how special that this title was for their creators. They went as far as trying to get people to buy the comic by giving away a piece of Scare Tactics art. I would take the art even today…or a script…or a… This one should be put in TPB format.

Man, I’m running out of ways to say “thanks!” here. Will a few behind-the-scenes bits do instead? I >had< planned on there being a real-life ST fan club package, which would’ve included a small poster, a backstage pass and a cassette “bootleg” of one of their songs. I wrote the song, and went out of pocket a grand or two on a great east village band (which I can’t name due to weird contract stuff with their manager), studio time (sound engineering and the actual “tune” donated gratis by my friend [and ST fan] Ed) – only to have DC tell me to cut it out, I didn’t own the rights to ST (and besides, it was hinted, they didn’t need me running around making their marketing department look bad). So I had a crate of hundreds of those cassettes on my hands for years before I finally ditched them, keeping just a few for myself. Ummm… oh, and Cindy Brand would’ve become a member of the team eventually, but whether she was an ally or enemy would have depended on if she took her bipolar meds that day. And in #25, I had planned for the gang go to Hell and break Sid Vicious out…

[…] there. Claws, fangs, superstrength, It dont matter. I got Mean??? Len kaminski??s writting was …http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/05/28/everybodys-somebodys-baby-day-seven/SuperiorPics Celebrity Forums: Favorite &quotBuffy the Vampire Slayer …May 27, 2008 … Re: […]

This series, man, I couldn’t say it was good in a way that would stand up to scrutiny, but…

This was the book of my teens. Screamqueen, Slither, Grossout, Fang, these were the characters that were near and dear to my heart, and Arnold was my hero. I have the books stashed away, and when I do see bits of the art it gives me the warm fuzzies. I will always remember feeling like I got punched in the stomach when I walked into the store and saw the cover featuring Jimmy dying in Phil’s arms. With him and Phil gone, I don’t know that the series would have been as good, but I would have liked to have seen what happened to the rest, and what new characters would join them.

I still carry a torch for Skorzeny.

One absolutely wonderful bit was Nina the vampire meeting Batman.

She bursts into tears, falls to her knees, and begs his protection. “I swear I didn’t hunt in your territory! Please, please protect me and my friends!”

And we realize… *he’s the ‘Vampire Lord of Gotham’ that she was talking about earlier.*

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