My 5 Favorite Dark Futures & Wastelands

After November 8th, its been hard for me to think of the future as a bright and shiny place. The fear stems from trusting foreign relations to a man who can’t even communicate

without adding hate filled slurs and hurtful pantomimes during a simple speech. I envision a dinner with a president from some foreign land ending in hurt feelings and falling nukes, all before the first course.

I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic settings. Mostly I’m drawn to the twisted landscape of our world and its nightmarish creatures and mutations. Also the human condition of when all law suddenly disappears, but it’s mostly the mutants. Sadly our “end of days” will just be flayed flesh and pain…but a boy can dream.

5. New America – Scout by Eclipse Comics

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Scout is about Emanuel Santana, a young Native American man from the Apache Tribe. Once a solider, Emanuel is plagued by dreams of Apache gods and demons until he is visited by a spirit who gives him the task of slaying the Four Monsters. Perusing his quest, Santana goes AWOL and runs afoul of the military. Along his journey Santana protects the weak, uncovers government corruption, fights Native American demons posing as men, and wages war on gangs preying on the masses. It is a beautiful comic by Tim Truman that really plays on the fears we had in the ’80s about the planet and global power struggles.

In probably one the most realistic versions of Americas downfall, Scout paints a bleak world that is only a few steps away from ours. Scout takes place in a dusty and barren American West that takes as much inspiration from Westerns as it does Mad Max. The America in this comic is one that has become a third world country due to the bankruptcy of its natural resources. Running out of usefulness to the rest of the world, America is placed on sanctions that have removed all of its power (military and financially). The country is run by what is left of a corrupt government and its military marshal law. It’s a country where the strong control the weak and other than a few technological advancements, it’s a world very much like our own.

4.Wasteland – Hell Comes To Frogtown

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This is the fun side of our demise. Well maybe not for the people who live on a radiation scorched Earth, but us as viewers have a good time. Pure B-movie gold, Hell Comes To Frogtown is the story of a world after the bombs have fallen and the planet is now a wasteland.

Wrestler Roddy Piper stars as Sam Hell, a man here to chew bubble gum and impregnate women…and he’s all out of bubble gum. Seriously though, Sam Hell is one of the last fertile men left on Earth and has left a trail of pregnant women in his wake as he walks the wastelands being a badass. This gets the attention of the Warrior-Nurses who imprison  Hell and fit him with an electronic codpiece that locks away his jewels while also shocking him if he’s out of line. The Warrior-Nurses want Hell to breed with a group of protected fertile women, the only catch is the women have been kidnapped by the mutant-frog warlord Commander Toty (wow, starting to sound like Fury Road). Now with the Warrior-Nurses, Hell must free the women and get on to repopulating the world.

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I honestly could write a whole article about this movie(and I might). It is just the right amounts of bat shit crazy and cool. The practical effects on the mutant frog people is pretty cool and the action is perfect ’80s schlock. The only problem I still have with this flick is the odd and unnerving make-up on the not fully mutated frog people…scary shit.

3. Earth A.D. – Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth

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Kamandi tells the story of a lone teenage survivor of a underground bunker, who comes to the surface after the death of his grandfather. Being well versed in the “old world” Kamandi is now forced into a world of mutant animals and savage humans. With few allies, mutant and human alike, Kamandi gets into grand adventures in the remains of what was once Earth.

The Earth of Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth is a ravaged and decaying version of our planet that has fallen from something called the “Great Disaster”. Most of the human race has been killed except small pockets that have reverted back into savage cavemen, or some that were protected in bunkers underground. Some animals have been mutated into bipedal humanoids thanks to a mixture of radiation and a chemical called Cortexin that was created right before the disaster. The mutant animals have become far more intelligent than humans and now enslave them. Also, monstrous insects and creatures roam the land killing anything in their path.

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This awesome setting and world was created by Jack “The King” Kirby in 1972 and mirrored some of the fears that America had regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis, just in a far-out future world. It was a great book that sadly fell into the DC “Crisis Machine” and was bended and warped more than the world of the “Great Disaster”. To his credit, this is not the last time Kirby appears on this list.

4. After The Bomb – TMNT & Other Strangeness RPG

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As I’ve said before, I’ll always find an excuse to talk about my favorite role playing game ever, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. The game had two ways to play it, one was playing it like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and have mutant heroes and villains lurking in the shadows of the modern world. The other was to take the game into an alternative future where from the ashes of a nuclear holocaust mutant animals have risen up to take over where humanity left off.

But not everything is sunshine and rainbows in this new world. You can have anything from futuristic human militaries to feline criminal crime lords ruining your day. Throw in  your typical post-apocalyptic biker gangs and cannibalistic sewer dwellers comprised of members from the animal kingdom, and you have yourself a great campaign setting. And the best part of all is that YOU create the world…Awesome!

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Some of the source books go over parts of the world like Australia, the American West, Great Britain (which had a re-awakening of magic!), and South America. They are all great reads, and each is unique in their own way. Every inch of the world has been effected by the apocalypse and mutated in some way (except those tricky humans that hid away in shelters), so it’s a world ripe with adventure.  If you read my post on Furries, you know that this is my ideal world…minus the nuclear fall out and all the people who want to eat your face.

5.  Earth 3994 A.D. – Thundarr the Barbarian

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This is the show that started my love affair of the post apocalyptic. Created by Steve Gerber for Ruby and Spears Productions in 1982, Thundarr the Barbarian was a beautiful mix of Conan, Star Wars, and Kamandi. Alex Toth and Jack Kirby lent their talents to help flesh out the world of Thundarr, and their unique styles are one of the reasons the show has had a lasting impression on me. But to be honest there are dozens of reasons this show has cemented itself to my very being.

Thundarr the Barbarian is about, well a Barbarian named Thundarr. Thundarr is a brash individual that leaps into battle at a moments notice, which works out for him about half the time. Armed with his trusty lightsaber-like Sun Sword and two companions, Thundarr is one of the last heroes on Earth. His party members are Princess Ariel, a sorceress whose power is only match by her beauty and Ookla the Mok, a “Chewbaca-like” warrior who also doubles as the comic relief. Together they ride across the destroyed remains of Earth getting into adventures and righting wrongs.

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Albeit, this Earth wasn’t wiped out by one mentally stunted man whose finger is on the shiny red button, it was wiped out by a a runaway planet speeding between the Earth and the Moon in 1994, which caused radical changes in the Earth’s climate and geography. However, by the time period in which the series is set (3994 A.D.), the Earth and Moon seem to have settled into a new balance. Earth is reborn in a world of “savagery, super-science, and sorcery”. In this world Evil Wizards have taken control of areas of the planet and set up HQs in famous landmarks from the Earth’s past. Monsters rage across the landscape and mutant animals have enslaved mankind. What a perfect show to sit and eat cereal with on Saturday mornings.

In Closing…

So I know to some the outlook looks bleak over the next four years but cheer up, we could soon be riding horseback threw a nuclear winter fighting mutant hordes. Or even better we could be mutated into some kick-ass animal hybrids. So keep on smiling so the heavily armored Stormtroopers don’t know what you’re up to.

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7 thoughts on “My 5 Favorite Dark Futures & Wastelands

  1. Nice list god I love Thundar. As far as the election I believe South Park has put the whole thing in perspective. I have a feeling there will be no mutant hordes and or horseback skirmishes. Damn it.

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  2. “Thundarr the Barbarian” is one of my all-time favorite cartoons. I loved the post-apocalyptic aspect; the opening scenes of the massive natural disasters & the much later mutations/magic were very cool. I got the whole series on DVD a while back, and I still enjoy it – even as an adult. It was interesting to see the ruins of the various American cities that Thundarr, Princess Ariel, and Ookla the Mok would come across in every episode – they were somewhat familiar but still very different/desolate. Decent animation for the time period, as well. I wish there had been a line of Thundarr action figures but though three came out around 2004, that was it. “Kamandi – the Last boy on Earth” was a great DC comic that I didn’t read as it was first released, but remember seeing it first at – of all places – a “Kay Bee Toys” back in the ’80’s – they sold some of the back issues. Excellent series, and I have both the HC Kamandi Omnibuses (by Jack Kirby) that DC produced a while back – these reprint the whole series. I wish the post-Jack Kirby Kamandi issues would be reprinted as well.

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