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Into the back issue box #57

In case you’re wondering what lurks beneath the cut, I’ll give you a hint … it’s published by Lightning Comics! Lightning Comics: Your Destination for Quality Comix!

She's leading with her best weapons!Before we begin, be sure to read my ground rules for these posts if you haven’t already. Okay? Okay! Today’s selection is The Fury of Hellina #1 from Lightning Comics, which was written by Steven Zyskowski, drawn by Terral Lawrence, and inked and lettered by James M. Anderson. It has a cover date of January, 1995. Yes, it’s a 1990s comic. Fear it!!!!!

I’ll get this over with quickly: The Fury of Hellina is a terrible comic book. It’s definitely not new-reader-friendly, and even if you’ve dealt with some crappy comics over the years, it’s pretty bad. The cover (which, unfortunately, is the best art of the book) promises “cult-bashing,” yet no cults get bashed. I’m not sure why you would use the adjective “cult-bashing” if no cults get bashed – that seems awfully specific, and then it doesn’t deliver!

It gets worse on the inside front cover. “Lightning Comics,” the frontispiece explains, “was born out of the desire to give you, the comic enthusiast, the very best entertainment as well as highly sought after modern collectibles.” [Emphasis mine.] Oh dear. You know that can’t be good. I wonder if only one issue of Hellina will fund my daughter’s college education, or maybe I’ll need two? Jesus.

It gets worse. Oh yes, it does. On the first page, Hellina stands on a rooftop in Chicago, looking down at the city. This is her outfit (in case you can’t see it clearly enough on the cover):

Well, at least she's comfortable!

The pencil work of Terral Lawrence, the artist on this book, looks like a bad version of Chris Wozniak’s art … and when your pencil work is a bad version of Chris Wozniak’s art, that’s just not very good at all. But while Hellina is posing there, we get words. Oh yes, my good readers, we get words. Here, verbatim, are all the words on the first two pages:

Omniscient narrator: Chicago … the infamous “windy” city. It’s midnight … the beginning of a dark new day. Entranced in thought, Hellina concentrates on waging the ULTIMATE crusade!!

Hellina’s internal narration: Corruption and violence run rampant throughout this city! And while stopping Lucifer’s evil from destroying the lives of the innocent feels like a never ending fight … I must intensify my thoughts … focus on locating the greatest source of evil. And when I find it … it shall be destroyed!

I’ve found a darkness! A chill pierces my soul, as if an icy raindrop was racing down my spine!

Screams! They’re not too far away … coming from an alley nearby! Strange?! I feel as though I’m being guided by a strange but familiar force. I must be prepared for the unexpected!!

Yes, the exclamation points are all in the text, and they never let up – characters are apparently yelling at each other throughout the book. Hellina finds three men “ripped to shreds,” and she believes that “whoever or whatever” did it can’t be human. Yes, because we know humans can’t be that savage. Why, that would be crazy! She looks at the wall of the alley and see “Hellina” written in the victims’ blood. So, of course, she swears that when she catches up to the person who did it, their blood will be painted on the wall! Charming.

We switch to an abandoned church in another section of Chicago, where another vigilante “prepares to access the night … in search of evil!” His name is Ramen Alexander Perg, he’s sentenced to live for 500 years on earth, and he’s motivated by love for a woman with whom he hopes to be reunited in heaven. Oh yeah, Perg looks like this:

He likes the poetry of Anne Sexton, chillaxing a wine bars, and vacations in the Cinque Terre

He yells to no one in particular that every night at midnight he’s allowed to roam the streets to “cleanse evil from the souls of the weak” but he must return to the church at daybreak. In what I hope is an intentionally hilarious metaphorical monologue, he rants: “I thrust my dagger into the foreheads of evildoers! The feeling … I’m hesitant to say, is exhilirating! The power, the dominance, the satisfaction … should not be so compelling! When they see my blade about to penetrate their flesh, they fear their life is about to end!” You know, most people take care of their daggers at home with the latest issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, Perg. You should try it. Perg exposits that his “dagger” permits people to start a new life in a better direction, and while he’s never had to cleanse anyone twice, he’s prepared for it! Ooh, foreshadowing! Perg teleports around for a while and eventually comes across the three dead guys in the alley. He thinks “Damned!” when he finds them, believing that in all his years in Chicago, he’s never seen such “savage butchery!!” Again with that? Where have Hellina and Perg been hanging out? Oh, and Hellina just abandoned the bodies without calling 911? Good job, Hellina! Even better, she moved the bodies, too – here’s how she found them:

The dude in the lower left looks really surprised that someone would cut his hand off

And here’s how Perg finds them:

DAMNED!

Not only did Hellina move them, she reattached one of the victim’s head! She’s totally into performance art, man! (I suppose these could be three completely different victims, but it’s not clear from the text. Wow, something unclear in this comic – alert the media!)

Luckily for Perg, one of them is still alive, and he tells our pal that Hellina killed them. Oh, damned! That’s not going to make Perg happy, and indeed, he freaks out just a bit, especially as he’s already “cleansed” her once (and she totally dug getting penetrated with his dagger, I’m sure). Perg is a bit confused about Hellina – should he be angry or happy that he gets to “penetrate” her again?

Such a chore, expunging Satan's tramp!

Meanwhile, close by, Hellina is posing on a rooftop again, but we know that “rage continues to burn within” her – well, that’s nice. Suddenly Perg teleports in behind her and tells her that her evil will now be cleansed for good. Oh, sorry – for good! Hellina tells him she has no desire to mix it up with him again, but Perg, ever the ladies’ man, says, “Of course you don’t, Hellina! But lies will only increase my pleasure eradicating the evil which once again has consumed your mind!” So, when Perg goes out on a date, does the date have to say stuff like, “Why yes, Perg, I dig those shoulder pads! Ooh, your dagger is so big, Perg!” Does that “increase [his] pleasure”? Hellina tells him that if he wants a fight, she’ll give him one, so he whips one of his chains at her and snags her around her arm. She throws him off, saying “Female intution tells me there’s no reason to escape! Victory shall be mine!” Um, what? They bash each other for a panel or two, and then Hellina gets out her whip, telling Perg she’s “beginning to feel a little bit BITCHY!!” He responds with the immortal catchphrase, “It’s CLEANSING TIME!!” (I swear that’s what he says. Would I lie to you?)

Ben Grimm should totally steal this

Hellina tells him she once respected him, but now she has to destroy him. Before she can do that, however, a silhouetted figure on a nearby rooftop starts laughing and gets her attention. She leaps up there, wondering who would dare mock her battle with Perg (besides, you know, all the readers), and comes face to face with … (wait for it) … Catfight. Yes, Catfight. Let’s let her explain her raison d’etre:

Did you hear that? Kelly Thompson's head just exploded

She zaps Hellina with her energy spear, but that’s nothing to Hellina! Our heroine leaps at her and slashes her across the face, asking how she likes the sight of her own blood. As she grabs Catfight’s throat and pushes her back over the edge of the building, Catfight answers that it doesn’t bother her, because she doesn’t “really exist!!” Fuck the heck? Suddenly she transforms into the form of Hellina’s one true love, Michael … whom Hellina killed for Satan. Damned, that’s harsh. The momentary distraction allows Catfight to gain the upper hand, but then Perg (remember Perg?) shows up and tells her, “YOU’RE the evil I sensed on the streets!!” He stabs Catfight in the back of the head with his dagger, casting the demons within her soul back to “the fiery pits of hell!!” She whines that she can’t go back, and then disappears, leaving a ring behind. Weirdly enough, it looks like getting the demons cast out of her caused her to gain some weight, as well:

At least her calves and shins, presumably, stay warm!

Hellina picks up the ring and exposits that it was once hers, given to her by Michael … “one week before [she] killed him.” Perg shares that he lost the love of his life, too, which is why they both fight, and they part as allies. Hellina puts the ring on and says, “I pray the good Lord will forgive my trespasses … but not forgive ‘he’ who trespassed against us, Michael!! ‘He’ can never be forgiven!” The book ends with her once again brooding on a rooftop, promising Michael that they will one day be reunited!!!!!

Man. I don’t think I can say much more about this. Oh, I guess here’s one thing: In the letter column (hells yeah there’s a letter column!), we discover that Hellina is twenty years old. I don’t know why, that really struck me as funny. Anyway, it’s obvious from this entire comic that the creators were tying this into every other Lightning Comic release – there are plenty of footnotes explaining where events they refer to occurred – so I guess that’s something if you’re interested in delving into the Lightning Comics Universe. Other than that, this is just a lousy book. It’s ugly, it’s poorly written, and it’s wildly insulting to women (and men, for that matter, but it’s really insulting to women). I can’t imagine someone picking this up as their very first comic and thinking the medium has anything positive to offer in terms of entertainment, and that’s a shame. This is like watching a women’s prison movie as the first film you’ve ever seen – how keen would you be to return to the multiplex after that?

Lightning Comics has long departed this world, and that’s a good thing. I’m perversely curious to read another one and see if it’s as bad as this one is, but I’m certainly not going to look for it! Has anyone out there ever read anything else by the company? If so, did you immediately volunteer at an orphanage in some war-torn country to regain that piece of your soul that you lost? That’s what I feel like I need to do!

23 Comments

That seems like an absolutely horrid comic.

The cover with Hellina on it does not even look like the character IN the book. Consistency fail.

Regardless, comics like these are absolutely hilarious. I’m glad someone’s taking the bullet and re-reading/reviewing them.

Keep ‘em comin’!

Oh, man. Sometimes I forget how AWFUL 1990s bad-girl comics were. If I hadn’t seen other equally-awful nineties books with my own eyes I’d think you made the whole thing up.

Looking over the excerpted dialogue above, I suddenly realized that I’ve spent my whole weekend formatting and doing pre-press work on my middle-school kids’ Young Authors anthology and at least fifteen of them write better than that.

How many knockoffs did Vampirella inspire…dozens?

90s YEAH!

A good reminder why this decade gets bashed so hard, despite some quality stuff coming out it.

If the first movie I ever saw was a women-in-prison movie, I can pretty much guarantee I’d be back in the theater in short order, especially if it happened somewhere between my ninth and 16th birthdays, but I get your point.

As I was reading the review, I was pronouncing “Perg” it in my head like the second syllable of “iceberg” with a “p.” It occurred to me toward the end that it was probably supposed to be pronounced like “Purge,” but, you know, misspelled because that made words tottaly kewl in the 90s.

It got me to thinking about how there are so many comic book characters whose name no one really knows how to pronounce because we’ve only ever seen them in writing (the old “Darkside vs. Darkseed”/”Mag-neh-to vs. Mag-nee-to” thing, especially before the characters had been in a hundred TV shows and movies with consistent pronunciations). You’d think comic book writers would be more aware of things like that. Then there’s my related pet peeve, when people automatically know how to spell the names of characters with nonstandard spellings. Like when a villain goes on a rampage and yells “Fell before the might of Bludstryke” and the next day the heroes are looking at a newspaper with the headline “Bludstryke goes on rampage” and you have to wonder if the guy paused to spell his name to the reporters or issued a press kit or something.

Anyway, now I’m way off topic. My point is, at least this piece of crap (the comic – the review was wonderful) got me to think about something, and isn’t that what great literature is about? No. It probably isn’t. If you kept reading this far, I thank you and apologize.

I was thinking it was more the inspiration of Lady Death and every horrible Rob Liefeld character. Gotta love them spikey shoulder-guards!!

OMG, this was hysterical – THANKS! FYI, if you’re wondering if it could get any worse hear this…

I was given a bunch of these once. I’ve got (somewhere) an acetate Hellina cover that takes her nearly non-existent outfit off. Yeah, a nude variant.

‘Nuff said.

I was gonna say, I think this company helped pioneer that “nude variant” crap.

And I have an issue of Perg around somewhere. Issue 5, I think. I think I have it quarantined with that Sisters of Mercy comic that Rikki (drummer of Poison) Rocket helped create. So it doesn’t get its awful all over the rest of my comics.

Argh, now I have to dig out Perg and read it! Damn you, Burgas!!!! DAMN YOU!!!!!

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Has anyone helped put Ms. Thompson’s head back together yet? ;-)

Did anyone ever read Bloodfire?
Was it about a soldier who was HIV Positive whose blood turned to fire when it was
exposed to air?

That art actually isnt THAT bad, ehhh (walks away)

Yeah, it really is (chases after).

Oh man, wouldn’t it be funny if “Trey” was Terral Lawrence?

A few years ago I was seeing if Mile High comics had any College Roomies From Hell!!! comics, so I typed Hell into their search feature & the search brought up something like 12 different titles with Hellina in it, most with just one issue.

Apparently Lightning Comics’ marketing strategy was to produce as many first issues as possible, with a ton of variant covers, in the hopes that suckers…, I mean “collectors”, would buy them all up.

Heck, I just did a search at the Grand Comics Database
http://www.comics.org/series/name/hellina/sort/chrono/

Oh, god! I just did a search at Mile High & it turns out there are action figures, trade paperbacks & *gasp* a 10th anniversary reprint (by Avatar).

On the plus side it appears the version you have is worth $5.80 in Mint condition… provided you can find a sucker to pay that. ;-)

Incidentally, this is what all superhero comics look like for people who don’t read them :)

I think it is pronounced “Perg” like “-burg”, probably short for Purgitory or something lame like that. My theory, anyway.

You know, even when I was 15 with all the raging hormones that come along with that, I knew it was probably best to stay away from the Bad Girl comic fad. Not that I wasn’t occasionally titiated by some comics, but it was pretty obvious how many of those books were cash grabs on the part of cynical publishers. The funniest part of that whole time period was the way Wizard was hyping the whole thing up by promoting crap like Shi and Lady Death as the “next big thing” without even casting the slightest critical eye toward the actual quality of the books. I think that’s about the same time that I lost all faith with that publication.

AS you are so friggin’ right.

I don’t know. Making fun of 1990s “bad girl” comic books is kinda like beating a one-legged man in an @$$-kicking contest. Yeah, you won, but the outcome really wasn’t in any doubt.

That said, I will NOT be seeking out this back issue any time in the near future. Or the distant future, for that matter.

The funniest part of that whole time period was the way Wizard was hyping the whole thing up by promoting crap like Shi and Lady Death as the “next big thing” without even casting the slightest critical eye toward the actual quality of the books.

Okay, I have never been a fan of Lady Death. But I think that Shi is often unfairly labeled a “bad girl” comic. It was actually a well-written, well-drawn series that still holds up pretty well. And if you look at Billy Tucci’s work over the years, you can see that, unlike a lot of his contemporaries, he did take the time to develop and grow as an artist. For example, he drew an absolutely amazing Sgt Rock miniseries a few years back.

Travis Pelkie: It was actually Hellina that pioneered the nude variant covers. There was almost certainly one of this issue. She was also really good for having about 10 number one issues.

MarkBlack: Yes, that’s Bloodfire’s power, stolen by Adam X the X Treme.

Christopher: He’s right, it’s Perg as in Purge. Lightning was never a great publisher, but some of their original stuff at least had some inspiration to it (or at least coolness) and those included Bloodfire and Perg (in a much better form.) That being said, the art sucked on pretty much all of them.

Though Perg was actually drawn by “The abominable charles Christopher” and “Wednesday Comics” artist Karl Kerschl, probably about 2 years before he should have been drawing an actual comic professionally. (He may have been hoping no one would mention that.)

Hellina came about later in the company history, as their collectible universe mentality (with promises of never publishing more than 250,000 copies of a comic!) damaged them pretty quickly. She was an attempt to stay afloat by cashing in on the burgeoning bad girl vibe.

into the back issue box, Y U NO UPDATE?

Ray: Man, I’ve been so busy with other stuff. I actually have a few more to do, but I just haven’t found the time. Maybe some day!

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