As awesome as Dredd 3D was, it didn’t do very well at the box office. While its cult following has been picking up, a filmed sequel doesn’t seem all too likely. Regardless, it was announced that 2000AD will be releasing a sequel to the movie in comic book form. Similiarly, Chuck Palahniuk recently talked up how Fight Club would also get its own sequel as a comic.
It’s pretty cool how comics can expand a cinematic universe like that. When Avengers was about to hit theaters, Marvel released a miniseries called Fury’s Big Week that acted as a prologue while filling in some blanks, such as whatever happened with Sam Stern becoming the Leader from Incredible Hulk. The Alien and Predator movies expanded to the extent of sharing the same reality and the movies began to reflect that. The Transformers and recent Star Trek movies released prequels in comic form to build on concepts, as did Southland Tales. And let’s not forget Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which introduced Marvel Comics mainstay Machine Man.
Expanding the universe and doing a prequel is easy enough, though. You aren’t truly stepping on anyone’s toes (unless it’s Alan Moore, but that’s a discussion for another day). What’s truly interesting is when an author has to move the story forward. Whether good or bad, it’s still bold. There are a lot of comics that act as sequels under different circumstances. Sometimes it’s a follow-up to a movie that’s still fresh and will ultimately earn a sequel anyway, usually rendering the comic’s stories moot. There are times that an unused screenplay will be translated into a comic so that at least the vision will live on in some form. Sometimes you get Scarface: Scarred for Life.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
STAR WARSMarvel Comics (1977)
Star Wars is the most obvious and there are a million comics to talk about. Unfortunately, I can’t keep them all straight. You have plenty of sequels, prequels and concurrent storytelling. Really, the best thing to focus on is Marvel’s 100+ issue run from the 70’s. For the first six issues, it was just a retelling of New Hope, including their own depiction of Jabba the Hut (based on the script for the deleted scene) as a yellow camel man with giant whiskers. After #6… where do you go? Empire Strikes Back won’t be for several years and even then, it would be completely different from whatever ideas Lucas had initially planned.
Instead, they simply continued the story in their own way with space gladiator battles, space pirates, and Darth Vader trying to catch those pesky rebels. It’s really crazy to look at and not just because of the time capsule Marvel Bronze Age storytelling. Star Wars at this point is just a single film. It isn’t a franchise by a long shot. We don’t know Boba Fett or Lando or who Darth Vader really is or any of that. It’s like playing that Simpsons arcade game that was based on stuff from the first season.
That led to the creation of new heroes and villains, including quite a few that fandom tries to forget. The first post-movie arc centered around Han Solo putting together his own Magnificent Seven-style team of mercenaries, which introduced the sultry Amaiza, the insane would-be Jedi Don-Wan Kohotay, the inexperienced Starkiller Kid and most infamous of all, Jaxxon the green rabbit.
Jaxxon is basically a hardass Bugs Bunny with a laser pistol and he’s mostly looked down upon by Star Wars fans. It’s crazy. This was before Bea Arthur singing in the cantina and tribal teddy bears and CGI Jabba the Hut and all the prequels. Jaxxon was the original instance of, “YOU’RE RUINING STAR WARS!” which is a shame, because I think he’s plenty awesome.
TERMINATORNOW Comics (1988)
It’s hard to really identify what you’d call a Terminator tie-in comic. If it takes place in the future, is it a prequel or a sequel? It’s puzzling. Dark Horse has done a lot of Terminator comics, but just like Star Wars, the real intrigue comes from the earliest take. That would be NOW Comics, who started their series in 1988, again when there was only one movie to base the comic on. This is rather surprising to me as although Terminator is a very good movie, it didn’t really find its spot as a cultural staple until the more popular sequel that was yet to be released at this point.
The Terminator series would go on for seventeen issues, followed by a five-issue follow-up called Terminator: The Burning Earth, written by Ron Fortier. The Burning Earth is remembered more due to having all of its art done by Alex Ross. That miniseries is pretty straightforward as the rebellious humans go to take out Skynet once and for all. The tone feels right at home with the Terminator film series, other than some of the Terminators themselves having too much personality.
The seventeen issues prior, though? Holy crap. These comics are bonkers and reeking of the 80’s. While going the anthology route every now and again, it mainly follows the adventures of a group of human survivors in the future. At first, the only real connection to the movie is how the team inducts a little boy who turns out to be Kyle Reese’s brother. John Connor does show up, but not until the twelfth issue. The real strangeness comes from Konrad.
Konrad is an android created by a bunch of humans who live on the moon. Because when you think of the Terminator franchise, you think of people sneaking off to the moon to start their own society. Still, it is kind of rad when he saves someone by tackling one of the main Terminators and tells it, “Get up. I want to see how well you’re made,” before fists start flying.
There are some pretty decent stories in there. Terminator #4 and #5 by Jack Herman and Thomas Tenney tells the story of tribe in Honduras so separated from society that they’ve been untouched and unaware of the Skynet uprising. A Terminator ends up stumbling into their jungle and we have one cyborg vs. a civilization armed with only arrows. The robot is defeated when one of the tribesmen reads through a discarded comic book from a crashed airplane that teaches him how to use shotguns and dynamite. It’s amazing.
Again, the problem with the series is that the Terminators are too expressive and human in their own right. While they do want to wipe out all humanity, they have more emotion than Agent Smith and are even able to show fear, which the first movie went out of its way to explain isn’t possible.
Dark Horse eventually picked up the Terminator license and made a whole lot of comics. A notable one that I liked was Terminator 2029 followed by Terminator 1984, written by Zack Whedon and drawn by Andy MacDonald. It tells the story of Ben, a close friend of Kyle Reese during the big future war.
In the second issue, they find an old Cyberdyne facility, where they had been keeping some old man prisoner for who knows how long. The old man insists on speaking to Ben and reveals himself to be Kyle. It turns out he didn’t die at the end of the first movie after all. Instead, Cyberdyne kept him alive as part of them being a cartoonishly evil corporation. Old Kyle eventually convinces Ben that he’s telling the truth and after Ben’s girlfriend is killed by a Terminator, he agrees to follow young Kyle back to the 80’s. He’s too late to prevent the events of the first movie, but he does team up with Sarah to liberate Kyle.
Does it lead to a happy ending? Not exactly. But it is certainly a happier one and Kyle gets something of a more rewarding existence than what the filmmakers originally gave him.
ALIENSDark Horse Comics (1988)
I’m not really going to talk about the Predator comics because they’re more of an expanded universe than an outright sequel… though to be fair, that’s what Predator 2 was. It’s not like we’re getting the further adventures of Dutch from the first movie. It’s just other Predators doing other things. The Aliens comics started out being direct follow-ups to the movies until Dark Horse decided that they weren’t.
Told in a trilogy of stories called Outbreak, Asylum and Earth War by Mark Verheiden and artists Mark A. Nelson, Den Beauvais and Sam Keith, the Aliens series was originally about the adventures of Hicks and Newt years after the events in the film Aliens. Why? Because this was 1988 and as far as everyone knew, the characters deemed survivors at the end of the latest movie were actual survivors. Due to your usual human failings and the Alien Queen’s ability to trick people into believing her to be a deity, Earth gets overrun by the xenomorphs. Ripley shows up later in the story to help out her old friends.
They end up tricking the creatures into being bunched up together so that they can nuke the holy hell out of them and then retreat back into space. There’s also a thing in there about Newt (who is now an adult woman who has spent a lot of time in an asylum for obvious reasons) rescuing a little girl much in the same way Ripley saved her years ago. The whole thing is a pretty cool follow-up to the first two movies.
Unfortunately, Alien 3 came out, which started with the reveal that Hicks and Newt most certainly did not survive after all. Well, that puts a damper on continuity. Rather than say that the Aliens comics are part of a divergent reality, Dark Horse was pretty set on making them part of the same universe. Hence, the issues were rereleased, reedited and retconned to oblivion in a way that’s pretty laughable. Hicks became “Wilkes” and Newt became “Billie.” They’re no longer the characters from the movie, but just happen to have backstories that are incredibly similar to them. Even if Wilkes’ fallen comrades have the same names as the soldiers that accompanied Hicks in Aliens.
As for Ripley? Ripley is Ripley, believe it or not. She’s just an android copy or something. I don’t know.
ROBOCOPMarvel Comics (1990)
There have been plenty of RoboCop comics out there, starting with Marvel’s 23-issue series starting in 1990, written by Alan Grant and later Simon Furman. The series started out right before RoboCop 2 hit theaters and takes place in-between the second and third movies. Not that you’d really notice, what with there being no major developments to namedrop outside of Alex Murphy’s wife and son being told that RoboCop is just a robot that wears Murphy’s face out of honor. There’s also the way the Old Man is characterized between the first two movies with his comic self starting at fatherly, nice guy and gradually moving towards corrupt douche.
The stories are really fun and despite Marvel not being able to go balls-out on the violence, it really hits the feel of the first movie (outside of the hover-bikes) while constantly throwing the satirical news and commercial segments at us. It hits a nice balance between the movie’s cynical style and the early 90’s Marvel storytelling. RoboCop gets to fight a cyborg gorilla, a cloned tyrannosaurus and, in a really inspired story, a city overflowing with masked vigilantes.
The franchise was brought over to Dark Horse after that, giving us the brilliant RoboCop vs. Terminator by Frank Miller and Walt Simonson. Even though the comic came out a while before RoboCop 3 (also written by Miller), it includes Dr. Marie Lazarus, who is introduced in that movie. If you haven’t read it, by all means track it down. Granted, it has virtually nothing to do with the Connor family, but it’s so damn satisfying.
Just don’t get it confused with Dynamite’s Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human by Rob Williams and PJ Holden. It’s the absolute worst. The story makes no sense and it acts as a character assassination of Murphy.
There have been other RoboCop comics, but one worth mentioning is the nine-issue series by Steven Grant and Juan Jose Ryp that’s based on Frank Miller’s unused script for RoboCop 2. The general consensus on how that turned out is that maybe messing with that script to give us such an uneven final product was for the better.
NIGHTBREEDEpic Comics (1990)
We go from four instances of pop-culture staples to a movie that most likely makes you go, “Oh, yeah. That existed.” Clive Barker’s Nightbreed had a good run at 25 issues and a two-issue side story as part of Marvel’s Epic imprint. The first four issues of the comic tell the story of the movie, or at least the director’s cut of the movie. Instead of Decker and his creepy-ass button mask being resurrected as part of the Nightbreed, it’s Cabal’s girlfriend Lori. The comic follows up by having Ashberry the vengeful priest go out for revenge while Cabal tries to lead the Nightbreed to a new home while they mostly splinter off into the world.
What we end up getting is basically Clive Barker’s X-Men. The same concepts of a bunch of outsiders fighting each other while the good ones are trying to protect a race of people who hate and fear them, but with a hard R rating. Lots of cursing, gore, nudity all over the place, and a constant horror atmosphere. Also, they fight this thing, which I wouldn’t expect to see in an X-Men book anytime soon.
Apparently one of the guys from the band Duck Sauce got his start in this comic.
There are a couple crossovers in there where they fight other Clive Barker properties such as Rawhead Rex and Pinhead. Then they team up with a naked Lucifer. It’s all very strange.
BILL AND TEDMarvel Comics (1991)
“You think this happens to Wayne and Garth?”
“Not unless it’s in their contract…”
When Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey hit the screens, Marvel had Evan Dorkin write and draw the adaptation. It’s actually based on the original version of the movie that has a very different climax. Bill and Ted are killed by their evil robot duplicates, but point out that Death still owes them a couple extra lives due to beating him a couple times over. Not only do they end up defeating their robot doubles, but they use their exploding heads to kill the villain De Nomolos instead of having him simply arrested. De Nomolos and the evil robots are fated to spend eternity together in Hell, breaking rocks.
The comic follows up on this version and does it in a more original way than expected. When Bill and Ted were given a cartoon and live-action show, both went the easy route of just sending them back in time to a different event every week. Dorkin’s Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book proceeds to build on the two movies rather than stew in their concepts. The duo take part in all sorts of wacky adventures, like having to deal with Death taking a vacation, traveling to alternate realities, and being put on trial by the gods of time. There’s even a pretty clever storyline where a teenager from the future goes back and picks up historical legends Bill and Ted (along with Mark Twain, George Washington and Sir Isaac Newton) in order to help out with his own history report. Not to mention De Nomolos returns in an attempt to exact revenge.
I love that this version of the Grim Reaper is just a skeleton because it’s comics, so why not?
Everything ties together in its twelve-issue run, ending with the reveal that not only do Bill and Ted’s sons grow up just fine, but they’ve been spending their lives going back in time to fix all of their fathers’ screw-ups.
CONEHEADSMarvel Comics (1994)
This one’s unexpected, but yes, Marvel released a comic book sequel to 1993’s Saturday Night Live spinoff movie. Coming out about a year after the movie, the miniseries was put together by Terry Collins and Tom Richmond. I haven’t heard of it being based on a discarded screenplay for Coneheads 2 or anything, but it certainly reads like it. As the groundwork for a movie sequel, it could have maybe worked. The Coneheads themselves decide to take a summer vacation to – suitably enough – France and it’s apparent that Chris Farley’s Ronnie still hasn’t put it together that the Coneheads are aliens, even with the events from the end of the movie.
While this is going on, the David Spade character Eli plots his freedom from the Highmaster by telling him that Beldar was obviously lying about Earth’s counter-invasion lasers and his own death. Eli is tasked with returning to Earth with two cone-headed soldiers who appear like evil versions of Beldar and Prymatt. Coincidentally, the male is known as Ackradd. Cute. Through these Zod and Ursa stand-ins, we get another go at fish-out-of-water storytelling.
The character voices are true to form, but without the actors making the best of the script, it doesn’t fully recognize the charm that made the movie watchable. Plus one of the better parts of the movie was seeing the dozens of cameos (usually in the form of SNL alumni) in a parade of minor roles. That’s out the window.
FREDDY VS. JASONDynamite (2008)
Practically every horror movie has its own comics tie-in. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Evil Dead, Child’s Play, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Final Destination, Puppet Master, etc. A lot of the time, those stories deal with the basic concept of the movies with the murderers murdering like they always do. Freddy and Jason don’t really need continuity to do their iconic hobbies. Since I can go on forever about all these different series, I’ll stick with one of the more notable ones in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash and its sequel.
With a creative team of Jeff Katz, James Kuhoric, and Jason Craig, this first miniseries is based on the unused script for a Freddy vs. Jason follow-up that would bring Evil Dead’s Ash Williams into the fray. It begins with the rather needless death of the two survivors from the first movie, who go to Camp Crystal Lake just to make sure that Freddy and Jason are really dead. Spoiler alert: they aren’t.
Freddy’s intent on getting the Necronomicon for himself and is able to sway Jason into following his lead. Ash is on his own hunt for the book and hooks up with our usual batch of victims, who work at the local S-Mart. Lots of people die, Freddy gets brought back into the physical world while being powered up by the Necronomicon and it all leads to a big three-way fight. It’s nothing exceptional, but works as a whole. Mainly because it’s nice to have a hero who can challenge Freddy in both charisma and plot armor.
There are a couple of great moments mixed in there, such as when Ash lops off Jason’s left forearm with a chainsaw. Jason simply picks up his machete and jams the handle into his stump, causing Ash to groan about unoriginality. If you liked the movie, it’s worth a read.
Then the same team released a sequel called Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: Nightmare Warriors and things went flying off the rails. On paper, it’s a really cool concept. Ash is asked to join a support group of sorts for people who have survived encounters with Freddy and/or Jason so that they can figure out a permanent end to them. For the most part, it’s those who have mystical powers of their own (the hero from Dream Master, the telekinetic girl from Friday the 13th: Part 7, etc.). Then there’s Tommy Jarvis, who shows up for the sake of yelling, “Nobody is able to kill Jason Voorhees but me! Screw all of you!” Meanwhile, the government dabbles in weaponizing the Necronomicon and Jason, which of course means bad things happen and soon we have a near-omnipotent Freddy Krueger stationed in the White House with an army of Deadites and Jason as their commander.
That sounds decent and all, but the writing is so sloppy that stuff simply happens for no reason. The Nightmare Warriors group is put together by Freddy’s daughter, Katherine Krueger, who proceeds to reveal herself as evil and turn on the group completely out of the blue. Then she dresses all slutty and makes out with her father while he puts one hand in her pants and the other over her boob. Seriously. I know she’s the main character from the worst Nightmare on Elm Street movie, but Jesus Christ…
Oh, and Freddy powers up Jason with the Necronomicon, which gives him swanky clothes and long, luxurious hair. Sure, why not.
Even the ending is more than a little uncooked. A vortex opens up and swallows people, causing one of its victims to be thrown back into 1964. There we find that it’s the officer who forgot to sign the search warrant on Freddy Krueger’s arrest, which caused the lynch mob origin story. Realizing where and when he is, he signs the paperwork and thereby negates the existence of the nightmare murderer. All well and good except who the hell is this dude? Seriously, I had to reread the entire thing just to find where he was ever mentioned and this Agent Carter guy was only in like two scenes where he did absolutely nothing of note. He’s a glorified extra and this completely forgettable character is somehow supposed to be this shocking payoff.
Not to mention the art gets increasingly rushed and unreadable as the story goes on. Laughably so by the last issue.
Oh my God, Scarface: Scarred for Life. In 2007, John Layman and Dave Crosland teamed up to create a follow-up to the Al Pacino cinematic classic. Now, other than all the other entries on this list, the idea of a Scarface sequel might give you pause. You’re probably asking yourself, “How can there be a sequel to Scarface? Tony Montana’s dead. In fact, Tony Montana is as dead as anyone can possibly be, having been shot up by every bullet that’s ever existed on the planet Earth.”
It’s all explained when Tony wakes up from an 8-month coma.
“You shouldn’t even be alive, Tony. You took a total of nine bullets to the chest, and three more to the upper appendages. In surgery for more than eighteen hours. Two bullets came within millimeters of your heart, another punctured your spleen, another took out a kidney. They lost you twice on the operating table. Docs said it was a miracle you survived, that your system was so amped on coke that it couldn’t remember it was supposed to die.”
That about says it all. It doesn’t feel like the movie at all, but it’s okay because it’s awesome. It’s a grindhouse cartoon that comes off as a prototype for Layman’s Chew. As Montana tries to rebuild his empire while appeasing his corrupt cop allies on the side (they kept him alive to help nail Sosa), he proceeds to kill a man with a colostomy bag, hide a gun in a roasted pig (and then go on a shooting rampage), and runs over a couple of guys with a giant lawnmower.
Does it miss the point of the Brian De Palma flick? Yeah, probably. Does that make it any less fun? Not really.
There have been a ton of Ghostbusters comics out there, though most tend to follow up on the cartoon. I’m more of a fan of the IDW series, which started off with a batch of miniseries and one-shots before settling in on its own long-running narrative written by Erik Burnham with art by Dan Schoening. The continuity here is based on the two movies as well as the recent video game, starting with a nice callout where Peter mentions that the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is such a pushover that even “what’s-his-name” was able to take him down.
That’s actually a really neat plot point about that. In the first movie, Stay Puft was considered this horrifying ender of worlds to the point that Ray has ultimately doomed the world by thinking him up. In the comic, his guilt is negated by the ghost of Jake Blues, who points out that Ray’s imagination saved the world. Sure, Stay Puft is huge, but he’s also immobile and made of an incredibly weak substance. There are a million horrifying things Gozer could have taken the form of, but Ray ended up cutting him off at the knees by imagining him as a waddling mascot.
While a lot of the team’s adventures include your usual ghost-fighting fare, one of the more inventive threats is that of competition. A jerk by the name of Ron Alexander wonders why these guys get to have the monopoly on ghostbusting, steals some hardware specs, reverse engineers his own guns, and starts his own group called Ghostsmashers. They’re a lot flashier, especially since they choose to blow up ghosts instead of trapping them. Considering the way energy works, I’m sure you can imagine their downfall.
Even though the series tosses away the events of the cartoons, it doesn’t disown them. Kylie, the goth girl from Extreme Ghostbusters, is a character in the series, introduced as the person put in charge of Ray’s occult shop. When the Ghostbusters are abducted by demons, the series becomes New Ghostbusters, where the team of Kylie, Janine, Ron, and a government agent Melanie Ortiz are put together to pick up the slack.
Coincidentally, the rookie from the video game would later be given the name Bryan Welsh and it’s revealed that he runs his own Ghostbusters team in Chicago. Once the original four return, Ron is made a member of the Chicago team, much to Bryan’s chagrin.
SUPER MARIO BROS.(2013)
The “official” aspect of this sequel is a bit iffy. Parker Bennett was one of the writers of the Super Mario Bros. movie back in the day and some discussions with writers Steven Applebaum and Ryan Hoss led to the idea of this webcomic. The movie ended on a cliffhanger that everyone knew would never get followed up on, but Bennett had his ideas of where he’d like to take the franchise. He knew what Daisy was frantic about when she came to Mario and Luigi for help. Applebaum and Hoss got Eryk Donovan on art and Super Mario Bros. 2 was born.
Only the first chapter is finished, but it’s pretty fascinating to look at. It keeps the gritty, post-apocalyptic style that makes the movie so head-shaking, but fits it with the world of Super Mario Bros. 2. Toad is reverted to his human form and acts as Princess Daisy’s hulking, gasmask-wearing bodyguard. Badass Shy Guys are shown riding dinosaurs as they enter from the mysterious third reality (the dream world, perhaps?). The final panel shows what has to be the all-but-forgotten Mario end boss King Wart as a morbidly obese supervillain.
I never cared for the movie, but I have to admit, I’m drawn in by where this could go next.
So what other comic book sequels did I neglect to mention that are worth discussing? I know that there’s one for Repo Man, but sadly, I have yet to watch the original movie. I should probably get around to doing that.