Video Game properties don’t seem to translate well to other media. Full disclosure, I’m the furthest thing from a “Gamer” but I say this only because there has never been a single movie based on a game I’ve found enjoyable. As a kid in the 80’s I was addicted to Nintendo. Hours were spent in the pursuit of defeating Kid Icarus, Metroid and other cartridges that needed a hearty blow of air to work. I can’t say I played much of Konami’s Bayou Billy. What I do remember distinctly was owning this issue and it’s place among the magazines in the can. Hey to it’s credit, it beat out Readers Digest every time.
If this was bathroom fodder when I was twelve years old, why the hell would I read it now? Because, despite the location, I remember actually enjoying it. I’m also a sucker for nostalgia. Can’t resist a good ‘ol whiff of the past.
Here are the aces at Archie who drained the swamp to bring us this 8-bit adventure in 1989.
Credited as R.P.M., the writer was Rich Margopoulos. He’s scripted for Warren Publishing on Vampirella and other horror comics. From what I can tell, Archie ran him ragged during this era, putting him to work on a myriad of titles. Rich also has Marvel and DC credits under his belt.
Amanda Conner is a fan favorite artist that started out as Bill Sienkiewicz’s assistant. She’s illustrated for a variety of publishers, Most notably at DC, for her work on the Power Girl and Harley Quinn books. Her illustrations have also been featured on television and film.
A couple things that I have to let you know off the bat. Billy never wears shoes and EVERYONE speaks with exclamation marks. I did a little research. This series only lasted five issues and unless someone’s asking a question, It’s nothing but shouting. Even the senior citizens are excited.
“Sorry, left our Whisper 3000’s back in Joisey.”
What’s a typical morning in the life of a tough guy? How about some alligator wrestling, saving an elderly couple from a mugging topped off by some courtroom testimony, all before the syrup hits the hotcakes. Oh, that dude getting locked away has a flame thrower for an arm! Crap, all this action is making me shout. Never let it be said this story had a knack for dilly dallying.
“That verdict was pretty quick but Juror #6 really had to piss.”
Billy also has the Cajun charm ladies find irresistible, putting the moves on assistant D.A. Annie. She barely has time to close her briefcase and he’s trying to schmooze his way into her briefs. He manages to get some lip action and leave her flustered. I imagine he must smell terrible but when you’re a perfect blend of Crocodile Dundee and Sex Panther, it’s just called musk.
“Want to score babes and balance blades? Roll around in horse shit.”
After tongue wrestling with Billy, Annie receives a call instructing her to go to a pier at midnight if she wants the scoop on the local crime family known as the Gordon’s. Because nothing is safer than agreeing to meet a stranger in the middle of the night right? This woman has to start re-evaluating her life choices. As expected, two goons arrive on a boat and they have bad intentions. She’s skilled in karate though, kicking ass in heels saves her from cement galoshes. Using the boat as means for her escape, a stray bullet rips through the foggy night and grazes her face.
She ends up in the swamp. Disoriented and injured she discovers a large home among the wild. Salvation at last! Using the final bit of strength in her body to knock on the door, it’s answered by who else, a shirtless Bayou Billy. Some guys have all the luck huh? He was probably just chilling, watching Crocodile Hunter reruns and snacking on nails before a damsel in distress just fell into his arms. Sounds like a damn fine Wednesday night to me.
“Hubba Bubba…and I’m not talking bubble gum.”
News gets back to the Gordon’s that Annie escaped and patriarch “Big Daddy” is none too pleased. The hit was ordered by his son Rock without his authorization. Annie wasn’t a big enough fish to fry and thanks to this ill advised decision they now have Billy and his team all riled up. Oh yes, I did say team. This guy has a cast of characters that are full on G.I. Joe knockoffs named Broadside, Sureshot and Tracker.
“No worries, that gator has frequent flyer miles.”
Big Daddy has sent his gang , known as F.I.S.T., to the bog. This acronym is never explained but it must relate to the game. I’ll just think of it as Floppy Icicle Slum Trinkets. That work for you guys? Great, let’s move on. Billy had found a homing device in Annie’s boat, so he and his boys are ready for a battle. They setup booby traps that would make Kevin McCallister proud. Even with all the high jinks of swinging logs and other pitfalls, I’m most impressed with this action:
“We shall defend this shower curtain to the death!”
While Tracker, Sureshot and Broadside take care of the scraps, there is a siege at Billy’s house. F.I.S.T. also has it’s share of colorful customers, presumably to mirror video game bosses. The monikers are fucking horrid. I keep thinking whoever made this up was a giggling stoner being fed some funky brownies. Mr. TNT, Kid Creole and Lighting Rod (see what I mean?) bring a full assault as Annie is scurried into a secret panel. Good God, she may just the most gullible lawyer…ever.
“Damn girl, at least make him take you to McDonald’s first.”
The evildoers get their licks in but Billy just can’t be killed. Electric shocks and gunfire prove to be no match. But wait, scratch that. The guy avoids certain death only to get snagged in a choke hold by a baddie called “Cut Throat”. Is this the end for our resident mullet rocking macho ultra-male? Hell no. Thankfully, Annie realized a crawl space wasn’t for her and smacks Cut Throat over the head with a frying pan. Rather than give her props, Billy wonders when his team will arrive via “Billy-Mobile”. Yeah that’s right, dude’s got cars named after him. If your wading in the seas of cheese anyway, “Billy-Buggy” would have been the better option. C’mon now.
“Hmm, not sure the garbage truck takes discarded super villians”
This pondering is all for naught as just when you think it’s time to make kissy face and roll credits a bomb falls in front of our leads. Say so long to Billy’s stately swamp estate. Now you gone and done it! Utterly enraged, our hero wrangles up the culprit responsible and threatens him with a venomous snake. What’s the point of that? He wants a signed confession of guilt for blowing up his pimp palace. Had Annie been a counselor worth a lick of salt, she may have wanted to mention the law about a signature under duress being invalid but whatever…why start being smart now.
“Like exchange Christmas cards close?”
I have to be honest, I really wanted my sense of sentimentality to rule the day and like this issue. Didn’t happen. It’s just lousy. I can see why my adolescent self enjoyed it. No substance but the wall to wall warfare makes for an easy read. Every kid wants to be a reckless, wisecracking action hero. Just doesn’t hold up once…you know…a girl actually talks to you.
This goes straight to the garbage bin but oh the memories folks. They must be worth something. No? Had to try. On the bright side, Jughead has a massive case of the munchies and wants you to say no to drugs. Thanks Archie Comics, you may have considered taking your own advice before publishing this rag.
David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.
Images rights of Archie Comics