ham1Last time we took a look at issue #1 of Dynamite Entertainment’s 2008 revamp of the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters (which first debuted in 1986 from Eclipse Comics), and now we are primed to jump into the pellet-fest that is issue #2. Normally, this would be the time where I would give a brief bio on the creative team of the spotlighted issue. But you know what? I refuse to do that this time around because my pal Simon and I already interviewed artist Tom Nguyen, and we have an interview planned with writer Keith Champagne later this month. So what’s the hurry Murray?… or Jim… or Bob, or Jane, or whatever the heck your name is. Just kick back and read this review!

When we last saw our new team of Hamsters they were in the midst of fighting a group of Hun usurpers in an attempt to rescue their monk teachers at their monestery in snowy Tibet. The gang of Hamsters (who look like their Hollywood namesakes) had lost two comrades in the battle, Steven and Jean Claude, with Rock and Arnold getting captured while Lucy tumbled off of the monastery’s roof. Similar to Clint the Hamster Triumphant where the main villainess was a transsexual, here the Hun leader (and historical figure) Genghis Khan is a metrosexual! What a jerk.

The action picks up with Lucy as she crash lands on top of a Yeti who carriers her to its cave. There she encounters a whole lot more ridiculous Yetis and her former teacher, the monk Master Lock! Lucy convinces a grudging Lock to return to the monastery and help her rescue her brothers, the other monks, and the Dalai Momma. The scene then shifts to a hamster carrying a large dead panda up the side of Mt. Fuji in Japan, and once the panel zooms in we see a familiar patch over the hamster’s left eye… who is it? Why, it’s Jackie- one of the original four Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters!

Since he and his brothers parted ways, Jackie has moved into a hidden martial arts training camp inside the mountain called Shangri La (eat your heart out Carl Sigman) which is governed by the Guitar Hero prodigy, The Golden Child. Jackie has vowed to become ‘nameless’ until he is reunited with his brothers, and as a result of this he comes to blows (get your head out of the gutter) with a fellow trainee over the dead panda. This pisses off The Golden Child who then boots Jackie out of the camp. No matter though, as Master Lock summons him to Tibet via a phone call, calling on the veteran Hamster to help out with the Hun situation.

ham2bAt this point in the story we learn that Lucy is the sister of the original four Hamsters which of course includes Jackie, Clint, Bruce, and Chuck. Like in Clint where he meets a handful of ridiculous sidekicks, here Lucy is teamed with three Yetis- Grgh, Brgh, and Trg who accompany her in a stealth operation to get back the jet plane the Huns stole in order to go pick up Jackie. The final pages of the comic are Genghis taking his newly acquired prisoners, Rock and Arnold, to the nether regions of the monastery. There he shows the two hamster brothers that the Tibetan monks may not have been as innocent as they have let on…

So far this series has done a great job of staying true to the style of Don Chin’s original Hamsterbooks. It’s complete with silly dialogue and schtick that evokes audible chuckles. One of the more hilarious panels was of a Yeti taking a dump with Lucy sweeping up the residue. It also slides in subtle homages to the first series like how Lucy has to perform her ninja cleaning duties as commanded by Lock, and an entire page that takes place in the dark with only the word balloons visible.

It’s quote time:

“Shush, Master. Cradling anger is not the way. You’re the one who taught me that peace and love are the only things worth kicking and punching for.” – Lucy

“I’m so tired of this hamster and his stupid cozy cedar woodchip smell!… I hate woodchips!… He smells like childhood!” – Multiple Samurais

“You wouldn’t believe how cranky the Yeti get without their daily dose of perezhilton.com.” – Master Lock

Hilarious! That’s it for now Hamster fans.  Stay tuned as I still have to review issues 3 and 4 of this Dynamite run, plus interview Keith Champagne!

Until next time.

Check out my interview with the man behind the pencils of Dynamite Entertainment’s Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters reboot, the one and only- Tom Nguyen!

I talk to the artist/inker about how he broke into the comic book scene, his thoughts on inking and penciling, his history with the Hamsters, weight lifting, Playboy models, his favorite comic characters, camel toe, how he was asked to draw a certain Green Lantern character using the John, and much much more!

arbbh1nguyen

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ham11Here we’ll take a look at the first issue of Dynamite Entertainment’s 2008 reboot of Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters (published 22 years after the original) written by Keith Champagne (The Amazing Spider-Man FamilyCountdown: ArenaGreen Lantern CorpsRobin) and drawn/inked by Tom Nguyen (Blackest NightFinal CrisisGreen Lantern Corps, Ghost Busters: The Other Side).

The story begins with a prologue; we see a glop of space jello heading on a crash course towards Earth. Yes, space jello of the same variety that threatened our planet all the way back in 1986 when the original Hamster Foursome blew it up from the inside. Some space aliens happen upon it, but once they realize where it’s headed, could care less and move on with their flight throughout the universe. Cut to Earth and the Tibetan monastery we’re all familiar with, where the original Hamsters learned to hone their skills through peaceful meditation and diligent practice- except now it’s being invaded by a large group of Huns! Via a telepathic link spanning across oceans to reach a Chicago gym, the old Dalai Momma makes contact with her “second group of dearest students”- an all new generation of hamsters!

That’s right, filling the shoes of Clint, Jackie, Bruce, and Chuck, are Rock, Arnold, Jean Claude, Steven, and even a female ham-Lucy. All of whom are named and modeled after action film celebrities: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and Lucy Lawless. So the Dalai Momma summons her new warriors for help, when suddenly the telepathic link between master and student is lost because she got punched IN THE FACE!

With some spiteful resistance from Rock (who hates being compared to ‘The Four’), the Hamsters hop into their stealth bomber (yeah, you read that right), and 9 hours later arrive on the scene. The monastery is quiet and the team moves in to investigate, when suddenly one of their own bites the bullet, or arrows in this case as he gets laced with the projectiles. The Huns mean business, and with a main character getting knocked off so early on in the story, the level of drama heightens significantly at this point. The book goes from just being a fun parody to being a fun parody that has some “oh (banned)!” moments.

ham12The Hams throw down with the Huns in a battle jam packed with action and well-placed one liners. When another Hamster gets killed the survivors find themselves surrounded and the true villain shows his face (a powerful military figure from the pages of history). Some more brawling ensues when suddenly this first issue literally ends on a cliffhanger as yet another one of our heroes falls victim to Murphy’s Law, tumbling over the roof of the monastery.

Holy crap! Only one issue into the reboot and I’m absolutely pumped to cover issue #2! Seriously, most revamped titles are weak at best when compared to the original material, but this one breaks that mold. Keith Champagne’s writing totally respects the style of Don Chin’s work all those years ago, preserving the wit and humor of the early Hamster books, and modernizing it for the new millennium. The same goes for Tom Nguyen with his pencils and ink job- he stylizes the Hamsters for a new generation of readers, giving the cast their own specific look by adding humorous nuances to their imitated persona’s. Moose Bauman’s colors, like in Green Lantern: Rebirth, shine brightly.

How about some quotes:

“The snow, the wind, the bracing cold… it’s the kind of day that makes a man shrivel where it counts.” – a monk

“Aaagh! Useless hamstrings.” – Arnold

“Lucy, just a guess but I’d say you were flipping around the room, screaming that way you do.” – Rock

“I hope someday to be known as a great actor and writer, not just a sex symbol.” – Steven

Check out this interview with the man behind all the hamster madness- Mr. Don Chin! Join me as Don spills the pellets on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters. Plus, we talk about how he began his publishing company Entity Comics, his involvement with Dynamite’s 2008 reboot of Hamsters, sports, his life post-comics, and the special connection he shares with the pop culture craze that is William Hung. All of this and more, so pull up a chair and enjoy this insiders look on the life of the man himself, Don Chin!

Be sure to stay tuned to my blog as I interview the man who penciled the Clint the Hamster Triumphant mini series- Ken Meyer Jr!

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arbbhPublished in 1986 by Eclipse Comics, Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters #1was the comic that started it all for writer Don Chin. Now, it’s pretty obvious what Hamsters is spoofing, and the series should come as a compliment toTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans everywhere. Why? Because given how Hamsters debuted only 2 years after the premiere of the firstTurtles comic, it’s evidence that the TMNT quickly became mainstream pop culture icons! This premier series lasted until 1988 and totaled 9 issues. Also published by Eclipse was the 4 issue mini-series Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters: 3-D (1986) and Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters: Massacre the Japanese Invasion (1989). While Hamsters may be the original (and the best) TMNT parody, there were plenty of imitators: Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils published right after Hamsters in January of 1986 by Planet X Productions, Mildly Microwaved Pre-Pubescent Kung-Fu Gophers published in July of 1986 by Just Imagine Graphics, the Sultry Teenage Super Foxes published in 1987 by Solson, and Marvel’s 1989 one-shot, the Power Pachyderms. All are ridiculous in their own right, but none are as original as the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles satire.

So what’s this premiere issue of the ARRBH all about?

How’s this for an introduction: “On their own, each is a wimp fine fighter, but put all of them together and they form the unstoppable, uncanny, fantastic, invincible, spectacular, amazing, new, improved, 1986, bio-degradable (okay—- enough already) ADOLESCENT RADIOACTIVE BLACK BELT HAMSTERS!” Did you catch all of those mainstream comic book references?

The story begins in space with a giant glob of radioactive cosmic jello heading on a crash course to our beloved planet Earth, threatening its very existence. NASA along with the United Nations declare that a group of aeronauts must pilot an explosive equipped rocket into the heart of the jello in order to take it out. The United States, Canada, and Europe produce a selection of pilots for the journey; Billy Carter, Bob and Doug McKenzie, and the Sex Pistols, but Poland offers the best solution- a group of four hamster brothers named Bruce, Chuck, Jackie, and of course, Clint! The hamsters are selected, and the brothers accomplish their mission (although it takes’em long enough!), but when their ship crash lands back on Earth in Tibet, they are taken in by a group of monks who train them in the ways of the black belt. Why a black belt? Well, as a monk blatantly points out, “to hold your pants up stupid.”

Like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, each Hamster has a weapon of choice; Jackie fights unarmed, Bruce wields a bo, Chuck uses nunchucks, and Clint… well, Clint uses a gun. Their training is rigorous, as they are taught methods to control their anger, learn how to tie their shoes, watch bizarre episodes of The Brady Bunch, and drink beer. Once their training is complete, the Hamsters are assigned their first mission from the monks- to deliver a mysterious package in San Francisco to one of the monks’ brothers. The Hamsters were given this mission because the UPS rates are outrageous in the middle of nowhere, Tibet… duh.

While hiking through the snowy Tibetan mountains, the brothers are confronted by the drug dealing Abominable Snowman. They hilariously kick the crap out of him, stealing his car and money which allows them to purchase plane tickets. The Hamsters travel in disguises described as “generic ugly American,” and on their flight they watch a bone-tickling movie starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Cheech and Chong. Just use your imagination to get the gist of the plot. However, the plane is suddenly hijacked by members of the PLO (Pot Luck Organization) which consists of a viking, a hockey gear wearing guy, a scuba dude, a Middle Eastern woman with an AK, and a little kid wearing a crown armed with a sling shot. The four brothers know that their destiny commands them to defend their fellow passengers, but with this terrorist group they may have bitten off more than then their bucked teeth can chew…

Don Chin’s writing is wacky, silly, and playfully funny as he presents his furry creations in entertaining fashion. Just like in Clint, Don packs this issue with cultural references of the day. I think I picked up on most of them, but given how I was still wearing diapers when this comic came out, I’m sure a few went over my head. The black and white art by Parsonavich (Ken Meyer Jr. pencilled the Clintseries) fits the style of the comic nicely with it’s squiggly lines and dotted details. The two creators even make a couple of appearances throughout the issue!

As an encore, there are a bunch of silly quotes on the back: “I am not looking forward to the rest of this series!” – Swill Eisner, “If you’re lookin’ fer fun and excitement- look elsewhere!” – Wilt Simonsen, “This will never be the new standard by which comics will be judged.” – Santa Klaus Janson, “Our lawyers will be in touch!” – Beastman and Lard, “They held me at gunpoint! What else could I do?!” – The Publisher. What’s a great spoof without a little self deprecating humor?

Now for some quotes:

“Ha-Ha-they all have buck teeth! And hairy palms…. you know what that means…” – some monks

“Lemme get this straight: to avoid potential conflict, one should 1) File your income tax early and 2) Stay away from gay bars?” – Bruce

“Naw, it’s all Chin’s doing… he’s such a cheapskate- do anything to make a buck- even cut down on ink!” – one of the Hamsters

“This stuff you’re selling rots the brain faster than Marvel’s Secret Wars!” – Bruce

“Aw Yoda, don’t die on me man! I toldja not to mix those funky mushrooms in with your stew, but you had to do it anyways, didn’t ya, ya little green s*#t!” – Cheech

So there you have it my friends, a review of the original Hamster book!

clint2I’ve decided to pick up where we left off with our favorite punk hamster and review Clint the Hamster Triumpahant #2 of 2. In-case you missed the first segment, click here to familiarize yourself with the first part of the story, as well as a brief bio on Don, penciler Ken Meyer Jr., and inker Mike Dringenberg. Then come on back this way to catch up with part 2.

The story picks up right where #1 left off- in Bangkok with Clint dangling from a rope that’s attached to the landing gear of a helicopter that belongs to the evil transvestite, Queenpin Wilhelmina Fisk! Did you get all that? Clint’s opening monologue sets the stage for those readers who missed out on issue #1, “There’s a transvestite crime lord steering dis whirlybird that wants me dead… people call him the Queenpin. The scumbag just killed the only friend I had in Bangkok- tossed him into the choppers spinning rotor blades. It was an ugly sight… oh, and while I’m on the subject of ugly sights, take a look at my face and remember it… this is my story… this is my comic book… this is my buck-fifty now, Sucker!!! I’m Clint, Adolescent Radioactive Black-Belt Hamster!” Yeah, he’s bad ass.

Clint tries to get to Wilhelmina by climbing the rope, but the he/she cuts the line, causing our hamster pal to crash through an office window and disrupt the work of a poor janitor. Never in my life have I heard the exclamation “Buddha’s Bones” before, but prior to Clint crashing through the window, the janitor says this as he lets out a sigh, and for some reason this tickled my funny bone to the point where I found it worth mentioning in this review. Anyway, Clint eventually jumps into a passing plane (which has a banner in tow stating the credits of the comic), coming face to face with a new sidekick, A.J. Brillo. His last sidekick was a small rat named Curlektra who was the friend mentioned in the opening monologue, but A.J. (a human) is a stylin’ suit wearing pilot and the master of Kung-Shu- a very technical form of podiatric combat. A.J. used to dust Wilhelmina’s pot fields, but when she blew him in to the Feds, he has been looking to settle the score ever since!

By splattering their plane’s windshield with a black goo, Wilhelmina causes the boys to crash into a nearby jungle river, allowing her to narrowly make an escape (and doing anything ‘narrowly’ is difficult for a fat person to pull off). Despite being temporarily stifled, the duo refuse to give up on their hunt of Fisk, as A.J. remembers that the tranny used to have a Jungle Retreat she liked to frequent. They find the Retreat, taking on the disguises of transvestites (so as to fit right in with everyone else), and Clint makes the observation that the place looks like it was taken directly out of the movie Apocalypse Now (hence the homage for the issue’s cover design). The only differences being that the Retreat is full of trannies, and the weird cult rituals are more bizarre in nature than frightening. Bizarre might be an understatement as the people there repeatedly listen to the songKarma Chameleon by the Culture Club, and make exclamations like “Hey sailor, wanna dock your ship in my port?”  and “John Wayne was a fag!”, so you can only wonder what the heck is going on over there…

Now at this point in our coverage of the comic, we have to revert back to one of the questions posed in the write up of issue #1; what does Clint have to be so triumphant about? Well, if I were to answer that question, I’d be giving the ending away, and that just isn’t any fun. All I’ll say is that he and A.J. come face to face with Wilhelmina for the last time, and I think Clint’s cause for jubilation may be because his solo adventure has come to an end… If you really want to know what happens and you can’t seem to find a copy of the issue, drop me an e-mail and I’ll tell ya!

The story also contains flesh eating piranhas, a guy named Dieu (who despite his namesake seems to be a constant victim of Murphy’s Law), and a metal dog and his poodle friend who traverse a river on their boat. It’s pretty ridiculous, but the best scene involves the creators themselves. Yes my friends, writer Don Chin, penciler Ken Meyer Jr., inker Mike Dringenberg, and letter Kurt Hathaway all make an appearance in this comic! It’s easily the most entertaining part of both the Clint issues, and feels like that scene in Gremlins 2 when they take over the movie theatre and start making shadow puppets on the screen. Yeah, it felt like that only instead of Gremlins, it was terrifying renditions of the creators! Ok, they weren’t terrifying just funny as all hell.

The scene starts out in total darkness as both Meyer Jr. and Dringenberg comment about how great it is that they’re getting paid to basically do nothing (because they’re the artist and the inker and the page is just black). Then Kurt Hathaway shows up and is mocked by the other two as they call him a “drone” for being a letterer. Ken proceeds to beat them both up. Turning on the lights, Don enters the room with a crap load of McDonald’s, and when his inker and penciler can’t work due to the beating they just took, Chin flies into a rage. Hathaway tries to whistle his way out of the room, but Don gets a grip on the letterer and kicks the crap out of him. Yeah, the two and a half page scene is totally unrelated to the events going on with Clint, but it definitely shows why Don was hired to write for Cracked magazine!

Now onto some quotes from the issue:

“Hey , pal, do me a favor and follow that chopper! I got a score to settle with the fat tub of lard inside!” – Clint

“We’d be getting into some heavy bush, got a machete?” – A.J.

“I hadn’t seen such pathetic apparel since The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” – Clint

“I was a backup kicker for the Raiders in ’70… until I got busted on a drug rap!” – A.J.

“Yeah! I feel like John Byrne already!” – Ken Meyer Jr.

So there you have it; a complete review of the two issue Clint the Hamster Triumphant mini series!