EXTERMINATOR ONE

Introduction




Writers of science fiction have often been enthralled by the idea of fusing human flesh with technology to create a superior being--or the deadliest type of weapon on Earth. "Exterminator One" predates the similar RoboCop by a decade and I sometimes wonder if this series provided inspiration for the latter character. Of course, the Exterminator droid had even less human parts than RoboCop did, possessing only a human brain placed in a cold robotic shell. As such, this series may have its own inspiration in DC Comics' Robotman characters, Robert Grayson of the All-Star Squadron and Cliff Steele of the Doom Patrol, though unlike Peter Orwell of the Exterminator One series, both of these characters were heroes. They weren't average human beings caught up in extraordinary, horrifying circumstances, forced to become something beyond their wildest nightmares. Though both of them disliked their robotic physical nature, they retained their free will and upstanding character so as to pursue the good fight, not forced into servitude of a government that had less than lofty ideals or goals in mind when they created these robotic bodies. Warren tended to probe the darker side of things than DC, which resulted in a cyborg who was an assassin rather than a super-hero, thus making him similar to the later Terminator characters from the eponymous film franchise and TV series.

And Exterminator One didn't simply kill criminals (though sometimes he did)--he often had no choice but to kill innocent human beings, with his maiden voyage as a government-controlled killing machine being his most tragic and horrific kill ever. Again, Warren's anti-heroes stand in marked contrast to DC's (and Marvel's) straight forays into probing the heroic ideal, and "Exterminator One" was another example of this.

As suggested above, Warren clearly emphasized the dark side of science and technology with this series, and "Exterminator One" certainly earned itself a respected place among the prodigious Warren output of the '70s. This index is dedicated to the coverage of one of the more interesting and tragic sci-fi characters of one of the greatest decades of the 20th century. Although Exterminator One had a brief series and didn't become anywhere near as popular as Vampirella, he is still remembered by Warren fans as one of the Warrenverse's most enduring character archetypes, as Exterminator cyborgs later found their way into the Hunter Timeline, the latter of which formed the backbone of the Warrenverse itself. As such, this may be one of Warren's most important series to research and analyze.

What is also represented by this series is Warren's frequent depiction of the future--in this case the near future--as someplace you didn't want to live or look forward to. Though occurring before the future of the Hunter Timeline, it nevertheless showed the world under the throes of a corrupt government that mingled into the affairs of ordinary people to an incredible extent and which spawned terrors like the Exterminator cyborgs. Warren often offered a negative view of the future, with little hope offered for anything good being in store for us. At this writing, the year 2010-14 is but a few years away, and I'm glad that government policy doesn't exactly mirror that which appeared in the series. Then again, few writers and artists who try to predict the future get it completely correct. The point is not to show how well you can predict future government, technology, culture, law enforcement, etc., but rather to extrapolate upon the problems of the current era to provide a vision of how bad things can possibly get in the future if the present course of society isn't changed. Anti-government attitudes were common during the liberal era of the '70s and Warren writers rarely saw anything positive about the future of government. They either led us into atomic wars (as was the case in the Hunter Timeline) or they abused technology to create better means of killing their fellow man, as was the case with this series. For those who want to see positive futures that paint a rosy picture of humanity's future, check out the Star Trek franchise...you won't find such a view in the Warrenverse. I personally see humanity's future as being bright, but I welcome series like "Exterminator One" and Marvel's now defunct 2099 line of books to offer insights into how worse things can become before they get better if we don't collectively seek positive change right now and start believing that a positive, golden future is our natural birthright if only we are willing to fight for it.

This memorable 1970s EERIE series by Warren scripter and editor supreme, Bill DuBay, consisted of three stories featuring the particular Exterminator cyborg named above this Introduction, who existed on one particular alternate future timeline. However, the three entry series was preceded and succeeded by what may be considered three indirectly connected stand-alone stories featuring other Exterminator cyborgs from an apparently different timeline (as per this author's theories based upon the available evidence in the stories). The latter timeline, where a series of Exterminator cyborgs was also created, albeit under different circumstances, was the same dystopian future timeline featuring the Warren series characters Derek Schreck, Demian Hunter, Karas Hunter (a.k.a., Hunter 2), and Darklon the Mystic (each existing at a distinct point in time on that particular future timeline, though Schreck did meet Demian Hunter when the former was very elderly, and the elder Hunter was eventually revived much further in that future timeline by the deadly spell-tossing anti-hero who turned out to be his erstwhile descendant, Darklon the Mystic).

In addition, Exterminator One of the 'main' timeline being discussed in this index, a.k.a., Peter Orwell, was himself briefly summoned over three decades backwards in time by the machinations of the evil sorcerer/scientist Ten Ichi to become part of the Vampirella and the Time Force tale published in EERIE #130 (and indexed elsewhere on this site). The latter tale truly marked Peter Orwell as existing on an early 21st century timeline that branched out from the greater Wold Newton Universe [WNU], and the appearances of Schreck, Hunter, Hunter 2, and Darklon the Mystic in that same story made it clear that their distinctive future timeline, which featured a line of Exterminator cyborgs (who began with Corben Steele, his belated story appearing in 1994 #19) likewise branched off from the "consensus" WNU proper, though neither timeline led into the Star Trek Universe [STU] future, which is one possible and prominent future timeline of the WNU (see the three Star Trek novels by author Greg Cox, ASSIGNMENT: ETERNITY and THE EUGENICS WARS Vol. 1 and 2, for much evidence in this direction). An Exterminator android went on to play a major guest-starring role in the Hunter 2 series, and Exterminator Corben Steele crossed over with Demian Hunter in the former's single story. This provides yet more evidence that certain races of beings can exist on multiple timelines, with origins and circumstances that are distinct from each other.

Though the preceding and succeeding stand-alone Exterminator stories from DuBay, featuring "Exterminator 212," "Exterminator 155," and Corben Steele respectively, are hardly fondly remembered or sought after by Warrenphiles today, the three Exterminator One stories featuring the highly tragic character of Peter Orwell, forced by the oppressive dictates of an early 21st century United States government to undergo a bio-technological transformation not unlike that suffered by law enforcement Officer Murphy in the Robocop film trilogy and various comic book follow-ups, Orwell was even more tragic on many levels because he wasn't forced to become a cybernetic, semi-autonomous police officer, but an assassin. Moreover, the criminals he was forced to kill, and helpless to resist carrying out due to his human brain and robotic body being linked to a powerful A.I. computer that he mockingly referred to as "George" (do you get it yet?), weren't killers, armed robbers, rapists, etc. Rather, they were mostly all innocent people who simply had the "wrong" type of genetic code, which made them, in the eyes of the government, "impure" rather than predisposed to committing any type of dangerous act…save for perhaps conceiving more genetically "impure" people (see the entries below for further speculations on this)...or, they were simply considered a drain on the system's fiscal resources, such as disabled war veterans collecting government social services (though some of Orwell's targets were indeed unsympathetic conventional criminals). The first victim Orwell was forced to take in his new role as a mechanized government hit man was highly shocking to the reader and absolutely horrifying to Orwell himself, and it immediately set up an incredible pathos to the character and the series itself that drew readers right in, despite the often less than stellar job DuBay did with the scripts and the story direction (with the exception of the second story, which was quite well scripted, I must say). The author clearly put much thought into the plots, but then skimped quite a bit on the script and the pace of the tale (at least in the first and third entries in the sad Peter Orwell saga). Despite these imperfections, however, this series was a hit in the eyes of several readers, and it deserved to be.

This series and the character of Exterminator One is also of great nostalgic interest to this author, as it was the first EERIE series, along with "Night of the Jackass" (indexed elsewhere on this site), that caught my attention long ago in my misbegotten childhood, when my mother first bought me a copy of EERIE #63. I still clearly recall spotting that classic Sanjulian cover as it lay on the newsstand alongside other Warren mags and the latest offerings of Marvel, DC, Atlas/Seaboard, Dell, Gold Key, Charlton, and Red Circle comics in a neighborhood deli/newsstand called Serio's, which once stood a block away from the elementary school I attended. The school itself is still there, albeit with a changed name, but the little deli/newsstand where my mother bought me so much of the comics I read in my early years is long, long gone into the mists of time…and my memories (I recall that Marvel's first and only MONSTERS UNLEASHED ANNUAL was on the newsstands at the same time that EERIE #63 was on sale).

The fact that the Exterminator One story in that issue (the second in the three entry series) was in color certainly caught my attention, but the design of Orwell's robotic body, which was also featured on a beautiful alternate cover that appeared on the back of the magazine, always stuck in my youthful mind. Though the design of the droid was hardly as sleek and elegant as various robots, cyborgs, or androids to appear subsequently in the archives of pop fiction (such as the Terminator droids sans their outer layer of human flesh), it still had a sense of aesthetic grace while at the same time showing no concern whatsoever for highlighting any of the trapped humanity within the cold metallic exo-shell (the Exterminator Two model had even less humanity emphasized in the design of the droid).

The series was tragic and emminently heart-breaking throughout its three main Peter Orwell tales, and one of the most interesting things about it, other than criticizing the intrusive and often heartless acts a powerful government with few constitutional restraints can inflict on its people in the name of "protecting" them from any given menace (real or otherwise, a theme even more relevant today than in the '70s), was that the serial didn't feature a hero, but rather an innocent person who made a deal with the bureaucratic devil to escape life imprisonment for a victimless legal infraction…only to pay a severe price that cost him much more than merely his organic humanity.

It was very, very difficult for the reader to watch Orwell carry out his first utterly tragic kill for the government and not shed the tears that the former human's new robotic body lacked the physical capacity to produce.

The preceding and succeeding tales to the Peter Orwell trilogy featuring other Exterminator droids are nothing more than odd curiosities today, even though they attempted (less than successfully) to tell meaningful stories (lack of originality in that area, along with more of DuBay's hasty scripting, is what made them ultimately fail to deliver on that score in the end, with the possible exception of "Killer Hawk," which was quite a good story that resonated well with fans). They will be indexed below solely for the purpose of completeness, even though I initially considered not including them since they do not feature the character of Peter Orwell, i.e., Exterminator One. Feel free to skip them over if you are solely interested in the three Exterminator One stories as opposed to solo Exterminator tales in general.

EERIE #58
[reprinted in EERIE #112]

"They Eat Babies…Don't They?"

Story: Bill DuBay

Art: Esteban Moroto

During the later Middle Ages in Normandy [see Time Frame section below], a spacecraft landed in a wooded area near a village. A woman, an amputee who had a peg leg [yes, this is a rather important plot point], having heard the "thunderous" sound of the craft landing yet not understanding what that sound could possibly have been, ran to fetch her frightened child. As she attempted to carry her young son back home, she found herself confronted by two horrifying extraterrestrial beings (they somewhat resembled a fairly goofy-looking bipedal reptile with octopoid features, including two tentacles in place of arms, and were roughly nine feet tall each). Naturally mistaking the aliens for a form of exotic forest troll or goblin, the woman attempted to escape, only to be rendered unconscious.

Moments later, she was roused by a benign-sounding man who told her that he was a healer who had the mystical ability to regenerate her missing limb…and he proved this was no idle boast by doing precisely that in just several seconds. When the woman realized that her son Richard was still missing, she suddenly lost all joy over having her limb restored to her. The self-proclaimed Healer, with a grin on his face, returned to his horse and assured the now panicked woman that he would find her child.

As the text explained regarding the situation faced by the citizens of the Norman kingdom, "For weeks, children disappeared…or were seen being carried off by 'unholy creatures!' And wherever the creatures had been…the Healer would follow…bestowing gifts and working 'magic' for those who had lost their babies!"

Soon, at the palace containing the Norman court, the (unidentified) king was discussing the incessant reports of the monster abductions with his knights, and was wondering why his men couldn't stop the creatures' activity; in fact, his men had never directly seen any of the creatures and could not substantiate for a fact that they actually existed or were merely a case of mass hysteria [this provides evidence that the story occurred at a point in time when the activity of the various faerie races and gothic witch activity was steeply declining in the world, with full-fledged belief in these supernatural beings beginning to become somewhat suspect, thereby implying that the time period of this story was during the twilight of the Middle Ages]. One of the king's men told him that the mysterious Healer desired an audience with him in regards to stopping the bizarre child abductions. The king agreed, since the Healer's medical miracles had quickly become almost legendary. The Healer told the royal court that he was aware of the monsters abducting the children, and there was speculation that the monsters were stealing the hapless waifs for food, a notion that roundly terrified the queen. When the king asked the Healer what his plan to protect the children entailed, the mystery man said that if the court entrusted all of the kingdom's children to his care, he would see to it that the monsters never abducted them. The king adamantly refused to utter a decree demanding that all children be wrenched from their families, apprenticeships, etc., and placed under the care of this mysterious stranger, despite his seemingly miraculous abilities.

When the king was discussing the situation with William, one of his most trusted advisors, the man told his majesty that instead of even considering turning the kids over to the Healer, he should instead contact an equally mysterious but much better known and renowned independent knight who was called…the Exterminator (or, by whatever term was used in that manner by the Normans during this time period).

As the third person narrative captions described this warrior: "They called him simply the Exterminator. If he had another name, no one knew it! They knew only that he existed…and he was deadly…!
"He shunned men and lived like a hermit, deep in the bowels of the Earth…!
"He had killed before in his majesty's service…he was likely to kill again!"

As William visited the fully armored and cloaked knight in his subterranean lair, he apprised the warrior of the dire situation they faced…and the Exterminator agreed to help the king counter this reportedly savage menace in any way he could. On another matter, William then pressed the knight errant if he would at least remove his helmet to show his true identity, give more info about himself, and to cease shunning his fellow man by living in those caverns, to which the warrior replied, "I wish no man to see my face, good servant! I live where I wish, and do as I wish, because I am the Exterminator! [Sounds like a reasonable rationale to me, eh?]. All you need know is that I am here when you need me!"
With that declaration made, the Exterminator mounted his steed and rushed into the forests surrounding the kingdom to locate the accused baby-eaters.

The next morning, the Healer returned to the court, asking the king if he had reconsidered his quest. The king had not, to which the mystery man simply retorted, "Very well then, your highness! Then I will not be responsible for what happens!"

As soon as the Healer departed the castle, he was secretly followed by the Exterminator, armed with his lance and his shield, as the enigmatic but deadly armored knight began following a hunch of his that the supposed sorcerer was somehow connected to the child-eating monsters. Sure enough, the Healer arrived in a clearing and dismounted from his steed, where he was cordially greeted by the two monstrous alien beings. The Healer referred to them as his "brothers," and told them, regretfully, that the king refused to order all of the kingdom's children into his custody. One of the aliens replied, "We cannot return home without them, brother human! We will have to take them by force!" This, of course, was all the spying Exterminator needed to hear.
Determined to prevent the monsters before him from abducting and devouring the rest of the children, the Exterminator attacked the aliens and engaged them in battle. Though the large aliens were much stronger and more resilient than a normal human, the Exterminator fought valiantly, killing one of them by thrusting his lance through its body, and upon being knocked off of his steed by the flailing tentacle of the other creature, the knight viciously pummeled the second alien to death with his mace. The enraged knight then pursued the Healer as the panicked mystery man fled further into the clearing, where the spacecraft was hidden. Quickly running inside the vessel and closing its sliding metallic door just as the Exterminator was upon him, the knight's arm was caught and severed when the door slammed closed upon it.
Amazingly, however, the Exterminator barely seemed dazed by what should have been a crippling injury, and he displayed incredible strength by punching his way clear through the strong metal alloy of the alien sliding door, shouting, "I only need one arm to deal with the likes of you, stranger! But before you die…you'll tell me where the remains of those kids are!" The pleading man before the Exterminator told the knight that he didn't understand what was going on here, that humans always tended to think the worst of those they didn't know, and that it never even occurred to them that the goal of the aliens and mysterious human working together wasn't to murder the children but rather to save them from the real killers…humanity itself. The collaborative Earthman insisted that the aliens only wanted to extricate groups of children away from the greed, famine, warfare, and rampantly immoral acts of the human race, to take them to worlds of advanced technology and peace that would be paradise compared to the life they so often had to lead on Earth…and to give them the ability to heal, as well. They would then perform medical miracles for members of every family who lost a child to a better life among the stars. The Exterminator decided that the "cannibal" before him must be lying, so he brutally ripped the man's heart from his chest with his remaining hand, while shouting, "You ate them, cannibal…! You fed on babies…"
…only, at that fateful moment, to turn around and see all of the abducted children safe and contented in another area of the ship.

It turned out that the Healer had spoken truthfully, and the children were alive and well…and they were returned to the village and denied the life among the stars that the aliens hoped to give them, just as the Healer himself had received [as benign as this may sound, one must question the dubious 'wisdom' of forcing anyone to do something against their will, even if it was ultimately good for them, and even if one concludes that the people in question lacked the technical sophistication to understand your offer of help. One must also ask who this socialistic alien race was, but whoever they were, they clearly lacked the much later established United Federation of Planets' all-important Prime Directive in regards to dealing with alien cultures, particularly less technically advanced cultures].

Returning to his cavern, the Exterminator, who designated himself "Exterminator 212," revealed (to the reader) that he had a highly advanced technological viewscreen hidden from contemporary human eyes in his headquarters, which was actually capable of two-way trans-temporal communication. Contacting a superior officer from an org that he referred to as Future Control, he revealed to his superior officer from a far distant future timeline that the aliens were neutralized and the kids returned to their homes. His unnamed supervisor from the future commended Exterminator 212, telling him, "The Exterminator Commission was right…it paid to have a non-feeling…robot Exterminator in the past!"

The damaged but still functioning knight, now revealed to be a sentient robot from the future, simply replied, "I'm not so sure, Control…I'm not so sure…"

[He apparently demonstrated the capacity for anger and rage in addition to remorse, as seen during his battle with the aliens…unless one could argue that the Exterminator robots were programmed to simulate appropriate human emotions during various actions, as was the case with the holographic projections of sentient beings who were created in the holodecks of late 24th century Federation starships in the STU].

Comments: This story was originally intended to be the first of a series of stand-alone but distantly interconnected Exterminator tales by author DuBay, and this initial entry in the series was entitled "Enter: The Exterminator." Exterminator 212, as per my theory based upon the scant but telling evidence in this story, almost certainly existed much further in the future than the Exterminator cyborg who appeared in the Hunter 2 series, and who himself appeared further in the future than the first of the Exterminator robots of that timeline, Corben Steele, whose story didn't appear until 1994 #19, published about eight years after this one. Unlike all other Exterminator robots seen in either of the two timelines where they appeared in the Warren annals, Exterminator 212 was apparently fully robotic, but also fully sentient if (theoretically) bereft of the ability to experience true (as opposed to merely simulated) emotions. His numerical designation clearly implied that he was a model much more advanced than the 'Exterminator Two'-like models of these programmed assassins we saw in either timeline of subsequent stories in the Warren chronicles (both of which branched off from the WNU proper at some point in the early 21st century). Cross-time technology, let alone "real time" trans-temporal communications (!), certainly wasn't commonplace or in any way evident in the dystopian future world inhabited by Demian Hunter and his later successor, Karas Hunter, especially considering how much of the world's technical infrastructure was devastated (though functional remnants of advanced technology, more advanced than anything that exists today, was certainly evident).

The supervisor from 'Future Control' whom Exterminator 212 spoke to appeared to be a somewhat evolved human, possibly a posthuman mutant of some sort, though this could have been at least a bit of artistic license on the part of artist Esteban Moroto, who delighted in certain anatomical exaggerations with his characters.

The story was competently written, though nothing to write home about (but many readers said they liked it in the letter columns). The art by Maroto was good for its time, but would probably come off as stylistically "dated" by today's standards (unlike the great artistic style of Rich Corben, which stands the test of time quite well, as he recently proved with THE PUNISHER: THE END by Marvel's MAX line of titles). The story was a more or less standard formula of anachronistic elements that converged in a single story, in this case aliens and a robotic terrestrial warrior from the future interacting with the denizens of late Middle Ages Normandy, but not being recognized for what they actually were by the people native to that time. The ending, where the aliens actually turned out to be benign with their intent when it was previously suggested otherwise, and that it was the humans and their tendency to be intolerant of that which they do not understand who were the "true" villains, was a thematic trope that was overly familiar to readers even three decades ago. Hence, no kudos to Mr. DuBay for this one.

When DuBay published his next entry in this series two issues later, he completely changed both the focus and (evidently) the timeline itself, eschewing the originally intended formula of depicting different Exterminator robots dispatched to various points in time into what turned out to be a completely different and more compelling formula, that of focusing upon a single Exterminator character who was 'born' in a relatively not-too-distant future timeline rather than a far future era where space travel and even time travel routinely occur (actually, the single focus character DuBay ultimately settled upon for this series, renamed 'Exterminator One,' was a cyborg rather than a robot, since the character consisted of a human brain placed in a robotic body and forced to work in conjunction with a completely dispassionate and coldly logical A.I. system).

This dramatic change in series focus was likely made because EERIE then had an editorial policy that most of their series would have a finite life span, with their stories (and, by proxy, usually the characters' lives) would end after a certain number of tales were published. As the chief editor of the Warren mags at the time, DuBay had a direct hand in setting that policy with owner and publisher Jim Warren. A series about different Exterminators in various time periods wouldn't likely make way for a logical ending point. A series about one specific Exterminator droid, however, would provide just such an end point, and also allow DuBay much greater potential for character development and reader empathy rather than simply relying on the clichéd surprise ending to engage the readers.
Needless to say, Exterminator 212 never appeared again.

As things turned out, I certainly believe that DuBay made the correct decision in this case, both as a writer and as an editor.

WNU Connections: Since Exterminator 212 was from a far distant future that was presumably further up the line on the Schreck/Hunter/Hunter 2/Darklon the Mystic timeline (henceforth referred to as simply the "Hunter Timeline"), I'm not sure if the Middle Ages Normandy that he interacted with in this tale existed in the past of the "consensus" WNU or not (further research will need to be done), but if not, it was at least an alternate reality counterpart of either the WNU or the closely connected Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe [ERBU]. [Note: Though a single Hunter 3 story called "What Price Oblivion?" was published in a later issue of EERIE, that story and its feature character were a pure farcical satire of the first two Hunter series, and likely existed in an alternate universe if it "occurred" at all.]

Time Frame: Though the specific year of this tale wasn't given, it appeared to be sometime late in the Middle Ages, as a feudal system still prevailed, but it also appeared that the interactions between humans and denizens of the faerie realm were in steep decline by this time, thus forcing extraterrestrials to serve as a proxy for trolls or goblins in the minds of the Norman kingdom depicted here.
As for how far in the future Exterminator 212 hailed from, and when Future Control and the Exterminator Commission {groan} existed, I would opine that it was possibly as far into the future as the 26th century of the Hunter Timeline. Part of the reasoning for my conjecture here is that in the STU, time travel wasn't firmly established by the Federation until the 26th century, so it's possible (if not likely) that institutionalized time travel wouldn't be developed in the Hunter Timeline until a comparable era in time. If any creative mythographers or fanboys may disagree for whatever reason, please feel free to politely let me know, and why.

EERIE #61
[reprinted in EERIE #131]

“Killer Hawk”

Story: Bill DuBay

Art: Wally Wood

In an alternate future at some point between the late 21st century and the early 22nd century, all the Earth nations had politically united into the United Earth Nations, a worldwide capitalistic empire. By that time, Americans had long ago established bases on Mars, which ultimately became the United States of Mars, also a capitalistic empire. Its third president, a man known as President Tomkins, continued the tradition of carrying strong separationist attitudes towards the people of Earth, not allowing anyone from any of the Earth nations to set foot on any Martian city. When the government of the U.E.N. insisted on claiming portions of Mars, President Tomkins sent a small Martian military unit led by a man named Col. Jim Hawkins, a.k.a., ‘Killer Hawk,’ to attack and conquer a few major Earth cities to deter the U.E.N.’s integrationist policies.

Hawkins earned his nickname seven years earlier at Red Sands Boot Camp when he killed a drill instructor who insulted Hawk’s “lack of a father” and raised a nightstick against him (see Classic Dialogue below). When this was ruled as self-defense [making it clear that Mars observed very different military rules than the U.S. of the present!], Hawk went on to become one of the most feared and respected military commanders in the Martian militia. He noted that whenever he was threatened with physical violence, or ordered into combat, he would hear a mysterious ‘clicking’ sound in his head, he would then suffer a seeming blackout, and apparently his unconscious actions would subsequently take over, skillfully winning each of his battles. Strangely, he couldn’t even remember too many details of his life prior to his entrance into the Martian military at age 16.

Hawk’s military excursion on Earth was successful, and the U.E.N. president called off all of Earth’s designs on Mars, pending various diplomatic peace talks between the two governments. Hawk noted that he loathed this policy, preferring the bloodshed of battle to political deliberations and diplomacy.

During Hawk’s stay on Earth, after taking over Berlin, he had a dalliance with a German woman named Grechin. She ended up falling in love with Hawk after one night with him, and though he told her that she could not legally return with him to Mars, she stowed away aboard his ship, a sentence punishable by death. When she surrendered to Hawk, hoping that he would protect her, he found himself called into the office of the President upon returning to Mars, where he expected to be killed immediately. Once there, however, Tomkins told Hawk that he was impressed by him, and he would let him off from the death sentence if he proved two things…the true extent of his formidability and his loyalty to the Martian government.

For the former, Tomkins summoned a hulking, well-trained body guard to attack Hawk…whom he easily dispatched after experiencing another of his strange blackouts.

For the latter, Tomkins brought out Grechin, and demanded that Hawk prove his loyalty by killing her on the spot. Hawk was determined not to obey this particular edict…but he mysteriously did so anyway, despite Grechin proclaiming her love for him. Hawk was startled and sickened by his unexpected bout of murderous behavior, saying (in narration), “For the first time in my life…I felt ugly…and not a little insane! It was as if I were being controlled by a demon…
“Or something far more sinister!

Hawk was then promoted to brigadier, and he became the President’s personal bodyguard. He was so angered by being forced to kill Grechin, however, that he secretly vowed to take the President’s life as soon as he was able to.

The opportunity soon came, and when it did, Hawk murdered the startled President of United Mars. This time when he experienced his blackout, however, all of his questions were seemingly answered as his memories now came back to him.

As it turned out, Hawk was actually an android created by the Exterminator Commission on Earth, and programmed with faux personality traits to actually make him believe that he was Hawk. Hence, in reality, he was a superhumanly strong, militarily-trained robotic human-looking body with the brain of a thief and rapist named Seymour Bernowitz. Bernowitz was jailed and convicted of his crimes, and he agreed to an offer to undergo the conversion in order to be let out of prison. The memories of the ‘Killer Hawk’ identity were then programmed into his psyche and enforced by the computer intelligence that he was constantly connected to. He was then designated Exterminator 155 (spelled “one-five-five” in the story). His entire purpose was to eventually assassinate the President of Mars, a task he was working towards for the last seven years. The coup that the programmed Hawk persona initiated against Earth gave the terran governments the pretext for retaliating against Mars with all due force.

After killing the President, Exterminator 155 disposed of the body and assumed the dead man’s identity, informing his generals and cabinet members that ‘Hawk’ was a traitor for Earth who was planning a military coup against Mars at their own base. As a result, the base was destroyed, dealing a severe blow to Mars’s military capacity. Afterwards, Exterminator 155, in the guise of the President, then convinced the entire Martian government that there were spies for Earth all around them, and the Martian military thus launched attacks on several more of its bases with nuclear warheads, thereby thoroughly crippling its ability to defend itself against Earth.

With Earth now able to bring as many shiploads of people to Mars as its government wanted, Exterminator 155’s mission was completed. With Bernowitz’s memories now restored, he stood before the Exterminator Commission on Earth and was congratulated by his superiors. However, after he stated how he hoped he could serve the commission again in the future, he was told by the commission directors that he was so successful in his mission to subvert Mars that the Earth government concluded that he could never be counted on to be loyal to the U.E.N. forever, especially not after he “tasted the power of the Martian presidency.” As such, Exterminator 155 was hit from behind by a laser destruct beam, which summarily destroyed both his human brain and the A.I. that it was linked to.

Comments: This stand-alone Exterminator tale by DuBay was slick and well-executed with a first person narrative. Its twist ending was quite interesting. The artwork by the legendary Wally Wood was well done, and it actually resembled comic book art that was more indicative of the styles seen in the ‘60’s rather than the ‘70’s. DuBay managed to tell a bleak tale of the type of corruption and subterfuge typically seen in governments by using a futuristic sci-fi setting, and this was near the forefront of America’s collective consciousness during the 1970’s.

WNU Connections: This story certainly didn’t take place on the Hunter Timeline, so Exterminator 155 obviously had no direct connection to any of the Exterminator androids seen in that timeline. It’s possible that this story occurred on the Star Trek/Legion timeline (as postulated by creative mythographer Dennis Power), but further research would have to be done to confirm this. Exterminator 155’s origin (if not his specific mission) was very similar to that of Exterminator One, though it took place decades later.

Classic Dialogue: In first-person narration, Killer Hawk describes the incident with his ill-fated drill instructor that earned him his nickname: “A drunken D.I. made a facetious remark about my lack of a father. I was so mad, I blacked out! When I came to, the butt end of the D.I.’s nightstick had found a twelve-inch resting place up his bottomside!”
Hawk sure was programmed to be a sadistic little bastard, eh?

Time Frame: This story likely occurred on some alternate timeline of the WNU between the mid-21st century and the early 22nd, as Earth had by now achieved permanent bases on Mars and had interplanetary spacecraft, though it had apparently not yet developed warp drive, nor the capacity to leave its own solar system.

EERIE #60
[reprinted in EERIE #137]

"Exterminator One"

Story: Bill DuBay [uncredited]

Art: Paul Neary [uncredited]

In an alternate future of the year 2010 [just five years away at this writing, truly scary!], the United States government narrowly passed a strict 'population control' law [see Comments section below], which decreed that in order for couples to legally conceive and give birth to children, they must be "100 percent genetically matched." A DNA test at any local medical facility could determine someone's legal eligibility to conceive a child under these new regulations. A happily married couple, Peter and Susan Orwell, were highly concerned with this news, since they were planning to have a baby, but like all couples who hadn't yet been tested, they didn't know if they could do so legally. Peter reassured his wife (without really knowing) that they were genetically "fit" to legally conceive, so she needn't worry. After being tested as legally required, however, Orwell was informed that he was not genetically fit, but they could delay registering those reports with the government if he wished to be re-tested. While having a somber discussion with his wife later that evening, Susan asked her husband what was wrong with his genetic structure, and he replied, "They didn't tell me a damned thing…except that I am genetically imperfect to father babies!" [It's a shame that author DuBay didn't tell us readers a damned thing about what this genetic "imperfection" the government was scanning for consisted of, either!].

As fate would have it, Orwell suggested to his wife that they not allow the government to tell them whether they had the right to reproduce or not, or with whom, and that they have the baby anyway. After the two did indeed conceive a child, the pregnant Susan expressed concern over breaking this law to her husband, as she feared what the government would do to them…or their baby…if they were found out. Peter simply replied, "What can they do, sweetheart…kill us? At least this country hasn't degenerated to that!" [I would have suggested "arrest us" first…but as Peter Orwell was to find out, his verb of choice was to prove darkly ironic in the end].

On the day that the baby was born, Peter Orwell was brimming with joy that he was now the father of a bouncing baby girl…only to be approached by two government agents before he even left the hospital nursery, who informed him that he was under arrest. His case went to trial, and Peter Orwell was pronounced guilty…and sentenced to life in prison, much to the disconcertment of his wife.

Over four years later, Peter Orwell was approached by the warden of the prison, who told him that a new, secret federal program had been initiated, and which Orwell, due to the nature of his crime, could acquire a permanent release from prison if he agreed to participate in the program [see Classic Dialogue section below]. Orwell agreed, presuming that he would have the chance to be reunited with his wife and daughter in time. In fact, Orwell still agreed to participate when the chief medical doctor responsible for carrying out the procedure, a Dr. Higgins, explained everything about the procedure to him. As the aforementioned procedure was in progress, another medical official involved in the process told Higgins, "Seems a shame, though…to do this to a man!" Higgins simply replied, "He's a criminal, Doctor…remember that."

What the procedure entailed was to surgically remove Orwell's brain and have it transplanted into the metallic 'cranium' of a roughly humanoid robotic body, and simultaneously hard-wired into a highly sophisticated A.I. system, which could completely take control over the robotic body and force it to function according to its pre-programmed parameters as the computer itself saw fit…or to manually turn the reins over to Orwell's still fully functioning and cognizant consciousness. Orwell and the central computer system, whom the man personally referred to as "George" to humor himself, were in constant 'silent' cerebral communication [okay, in case you didn't "get it" yet, i.e., DuBay's little combination literary/political joke with his readers, notice how Peter's surname is "Orwell" and he calls the computer "George," meaning that "George" and "Orwell" are essentially a team unit…I hope I don't have to explain it any further! Even more ironically foreboding with the forename designation "George" being used to evoke draconian political measures is how relevant that pun is today regarding a different gent who happens to possess that forename, especially when considering the issue of government legislation to tamper with people's reproduction rights and the present controversies involving genetics, such as stem cell research]. The robotic body also had a voice synthesizer that enabled Orwell to speak aloud to people.

This was all part of the new covert Exterminator Project (official name surmised), to create the first in a progressively more advanced line of heavily armed and trained cyborgs, each with a human brain working in conjunction with a sophisticated A.I. system, to perform missions of assassination for the U.S. government. All those offered the choice to engage in this ghastly conversion were convicted criminals who would be forced to serve life imprisonment or be executed if they refused. Peter Orwell was designated 'Exterminator One,' as this was the initial prototype in the planned Exterminator series of cyborgs. During the next few months, Orwell, in his new robotic body, was diligently trained in the art of assassination, including the use of blades, sophisticated firearms, and explosives in the process, as well as various stealth techniques, including the use of grappling hooks for climbing (which his bionic body could easily perform without anything akin to muscle strain or fatigue).

If Peter Orwell believed he was experiencing true horror following his conversion into a cyborg hit man, his new existence was pure paradise compared to the heart-wrenching terror he was to experience when he was informed of his first human target…his own four year old daughter. She was illegally conceived and considered "genetically imperfect," and hence he was to pay for the folly of bringing her into the world by eliminating her, albeit in a manner that could be attributed to some lone human psycho rather than an agent of the government. Orwell's mission supervisor told him, "This first mission is a test for you, Peter! You can make it easy on yourself and your daughter…or we can do it the hard way." That meaning, if Orwell refused to kill his beloved daughter his way, the computer he nicknamed "George" would forcibly switch the robotic unit they shared to automatic and kill her in the most efficient means possible for an entirely dispassionate machine…which was literally tearing the girl to shreds with the robotic unit's hands. There was nothing Orwell could do save carry out the mission his own way in the manual setting, since the A.I. unit that shared and ultimately dominated control over the robotic unit was privy to Orwell's every thought, and could take control of the robotic body in a fraction of a second if he considered turning on his superiors, committing suicide, or abandoning the mission.

Forced to carry through with this nightmarish objective, the Exterminator One cyborg used a combination of Orwell's newly acquired skills and the sheer physical power of his new robotic body to slip into his wife's apartment complex via grappling hook, expertly rendering a doorman/security guard insensate with his laser pistol in its stun setting during the break-in.

Upon quietly entering his little girl's bedroom, the child awakened with a "sense" that her father had returned to her and her mom…just as her mother told her that he eventually would. Orwell was hesitant to carry out the mission, but George incessantly spurred him on, warning its human compatriot that it would switch to auto and take matters into its own hands if he didn't commit the objective within the next few seconds. Forced to proceed as ordered, the horrified and grief-stricken Peter Orwell gently held his beloved little girl in his robotic arms, told her that he was indeed her father, that everything was going to be okay, and to go back to sleep…while quietly suffocating the little girl to death, as gently as he could, with her pillow…and saying goodbye to her in a soft but heartfelt matter, telling her that once she went to sleep tonight, she would awaken in a much better place than this horrible world.

Once the girl expired, George began repeating a congratulations to its human half that his first mission was "accomplished"…while an inconsolable Orwell, physically unable to shed any tears, made a fervent, silent prayer to God to please help him and end this indescribable nightmare of his…

Comments: The gut-wrenching, heart-breaking finale of the first story in the 'Exterminator One' trilogy said it all for the reader…and for Bill DuBay's empathic talent as a writer. While the script was rather pedestrian, with stilted dialogue and questionable pacing at times, he knew how to create a situation for a continuing character that was utterly unlike anything we would see any other series character--good, evil, or somewhere in between--face in a Marvel or DC comic at the time. Was this type of ending for a series character unprecedented in the annals of comics, if anywhere? I'm not entirely sure, but I can say that I never saw its like before…or since. The ending packed an enormous emotional punch in the gut and kick in the groin that the reader couldn't avoid sharing with Peter Orwell, and though he was a sympathetic character before this, as well as something of an "everyman" that most readers could readily identify with (i.e., an ordinary family guy who got caught up in government madness beyond his control), this ending brought a huge amount of sympathy to the character despite the unthinkable act he was forced to perform in the name of preserving legally defined "genetic purity." And it was the fact that he had absolutely no choice in the matter which made him truly sympathetic.

Orwell's first person narration of much of the story, where he was shown desperately trying to keep up his wisecracking nature in his mental banter with George despite the horror of this mission, as if forcing himself into a form of extreme psychological denial, made his character even more compelling to the reader once the nature of his mission was revealed.

DuBay did a good job in this story of tackling themes that would be considered highly "patriotically incorrect" during this day of conservative domination of government, media, and culture, as well as the current (but slowly changing) political climate in which people are relatively complicit with the idea of the government taking away freedom in exchange for often vague promises of "security." In fact, since the current time period (as I type these words) are consonant with the near future time where Exterminator One existed, the concerns that DuBay raises in this tale may be even more relevant for today's audience. His themes of the government regulating reproductive rights, trying to control the early 21st century's use of genetic engineering (which was but an embryonic science in the 1970s, but was just beginning to gain ground in the sci-fi literature of the time, as this series amply demonstrates), and passing freedom-stealing legal measures which render many people guilty of victimless crimes have very disturbing parallels to what is going on today. This is a relatively rare case of an author coming too close for comfort in making predictions about a given future time period. And then there's the thing with the main protagonist naming the oppressive "Big Brother" in his head "George"…I swear I would have passed out if I discovered that DuBay referred to the computer controlling Exterminator Two as "Bush"!

Author DuBay was quite vague in describing what the government "genetic purity" measure was supposed to address and prevent, other than calling it a "population control" objective. But what does population control, as an official policy in and of itself, have to do with genetics? Obviously, DuBay was in a hurry to finish this story after carefully constructing a well-conceived but skeletal plot outline, so he wasn't overly concerned with coming up with a detailed, logical governmental decision for going so far as to obstruct "genetically impure" babies from being brought into the world…so he simply (and almost off-handedly) listed the "population control" thing to explain it all, but the concept of governmentally enforced population control was always a purely economic rather than scientifically valid proposition whenever it was used in real life. Hence, my own theorizing will be seen in WNU Connections below.

Exterminator One did possess a laser pistol, and since the year 2014 is but nine years hence as I type these words, I don't think it's overly likely that such weaponry will be designed and routinely employed by even the military of the 'Real' Universe [RU] when we reach that year. However, such unusual technology has been sparingly seen in the WNU even prior to the 21st century, and the world governments of the WNU have been known to have possessed greater technology at their disposal from the 19th century to the present than their counterparts in the RU, so a few laser pistols given to a few select covert government agents in the year 2014 is hardly out of sorts with the schema of the "consensus" WNU, at least not IMO.

DuBay did a rather good job in this series of not depicting the year 2010-'14, which was 40 years in the future when he wrote this story, as being overly 'futuristic' in appearance (e.g., no flying cars, no thriving lunar colony, no quasi-sentient robot servants in the average household, etc.). The existence of cyborgs and laser pistols were evident, but scarcely seen, implying that they weren't common technology, and that such technology wasn't available to the general public. Although some of the fashions had a vaguely futuristic "Jetsons" look to them, this could merely be seen as artistic license on the part of artist Paul Neary, who surmised that fashion would be different 40 years in the future, but knowing that he couldn't really account in what way. Neary's artwork on this series, in most instances, was well done but not spectacular. His strengths, to me, seemed more suitable for the color rather than b&w medium, as evidenced by the fact that he produced most of his work during the '70s for color comics and with the second story of the 'Exterminator One' trilogy, which was done in color.

Here, I note the similarity between Exterminator One and other cyborgs appearing in the comics of the time, or before the '70s, which were published by other companies.

The idea of a human being having his/her human brain transferred into a robotic shell was a familiar trope in comics even by the '70s, since DC Comics had previously published the exploits of two separate characters called Robotman, both of whom had the brain of a human transferred into a powerful robotic body. The first of these very similar but unrelated Robotman characters, Dr. Robert Grayson, had his adventures published by DC as far back as the early '40s; the Grayson Robotman was later featured as a member of the retroactive WW 2 super-team known as the All-Star Squadron in the eponymous title and its post-Crisis sequel series, THE YOUNG ALL-STARS, in the '80s.

DC's second Robotman character, Cliff Steele, appeared as a member of DC's strange 1963 super-hero team called the Doom Patrol, has reappeared through the years in various revivals of that title, and as I type these words, he is currently being featured in a new DOOM PATROL comic written and drawn by John Byrne (don't expect that one to last, however). Both the Grayson and Steele versions of Robotman, unlike Exterminator One, fought on the side of the angels and possessed full volition rather than being beholden to any government activity (though Dr. Grayson often cooperated with the U.S. government during his days with the All-Star Squadron). This author has personally doubted that an actual brain transplant into a robotic shell, especially without damaging the delicate organ when it's removed from its cranial housing, and then hooked up to invasive wires and electrodes so as to function as a viable part of an advanced bio-technological unit, was likely to have been accomplished in the 20th century of even the WNU.

However, by the advent of the 21st century, things may be different there. In fact, a short story by Don Glut called "The Man Who Built Robots" was published in his pulp anthology THE NEW ADVENTURES OF FRANKENSTEIN, Tome #10: TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN, where a member of the Frankenstein clan living in the late 20th century, Dr. Rex Frankenstein, was revealed to have invented a process of (apparently successfully) placing a human brain into a robotic body, and this story is believed to have occurred in the WNU (as does all of the Warren stories indexed on this web site). Some of Dr. Rex Frankenstein's earlier, non-human looking robots looked as if they were clearly based on designs inspired by the heroic sentient robot Adam Link (created in the early 20th century of the WNU, and whom I believe to have inspired both of DC's Robotman characters), and in a WNU context, it's quite likely that Dr. Rex Frankenstein's designs could have influenced the 'Exterminator One' model of U.S. government's Project: Exterminator by the year 2014.

[It should perhaps be noted here that Warren Comics' first continuing series featured illustrated story adaptations of the Adam Link tales by classic sci-fi writer Otto Binder (under the pseudonym Eando Binder, combining his forename with that of his brother Earl) from the early '40s pulp mag ASTOUNDING STORIES, and these adaptations were featured in some of the earliest issues of CREEPY, one of the very few continuing series to ever appear in that mag; most of Warren's continuing series were featured in EERIE and VAMPIRELLA, and later in 1994, THE ROOK, and THE GOBLIN.]

Another cyborg character from yet another comic book company that Exterminator One bears a resemblance to, but for different reasons than either version of Robotman, is Deathlok, the cyborg assassin who was published in his own four-color series by Marvel Comics during roughly the same time that Exterminator One's exploits were being published by Warren. A former military man named Luther Manning who lived in a dystopic, then-future world of the 1990s, had much of his damaged body (not just his brain) rebuilt via robotic parts and limbs surgically attached to his organic remains, and was initially forced to work as an assassin for the government, even wielding a laser pistol as his main weapon of choice. Deathlok eventually broke free from this control and became something of a freedom fighter in his timeline, his career taking a very different turn than that of Exterminator One.

It's my opinion that in the WNU, there may be a connection between the U.S. government black ops program that created the Deathlok cyborg during the '90s and the one which created the Exterminator cyborgs by the second decade of the 21st century. In fact, in a WNU context (as opposed to any of his MU counterparts in various connected timelines), Luther Manning could have been an early prototype for the later Exterminator line of robots in the Exterminator One Timeline that branched off from the present of the WNU (as opposed to a disparate future time track, the Hunter Timeline, which produced 'Exterminator Two' style cyborgs under different circumstances and later in history), even if some of the design work of Dr. Rex Frankenstein may have been allocated towards the design of the 'Exterminator One' prototype model.

And yes, I will mention the similarities between Exterminator One and RoboCop, and I do believe it's possible that they could have co-existed on the same timeline, since both were created during the same decade. It's possible that the government program that produced RoboCop was a more overt, public relations-friendly "sister" program to the covert black ops Project: Exterminator, which was designed to create cyborg assassins rather than cyborg police officers.

This story was told in a non-linear manner for a (well-crafted) dramatic effect. However, in the above synopsis, I described the events in a fully linear fashion for purposes of clarity.

WNU Connections: Exterminator One exists on an alternate future time track of the "consensus" WNU, as evidenced by the fact that he was able to be "snatched" from the timestream and brought to the WNU of the year 1981, courtesy of the machinations of the evil technocratic wizard Ten Ichi, to become one of the "Time Force" in the book-length story published in EERIE #130. There, Orwell was forced by Ten Ichi to go up against Vampirella and her various allies, and was defeated by Conrad Van Helsing. While there, George didn't interfere with his activities, possibly because Orwell was then severed from the huge building that contained the apparatus that fully housed the computer's A.I. system, so Orwell had his full volition during his brief sojourn a few decades in the past; he was under the control of Ten Ichi for much of that time, and upon being freed from the wizard's influence, he was bent on exacting revenge on Ichi, which would explain why he didn't take this opportunity to commit suicide. Having his own volition returned to him in the latter incident enabled the cyborg assassin to rally the rest of the group of time-tossed warriors into turning on their former master and to fight on the same side as Vampi and her crew. It's not certain at what point in time that Ten Ichi snatched Orwell from, but it likely occurred at some point in between this story and the next. It's unknown if he ever had any memories of being brought to the year 1981 or not, but if he did, he never seemed to acknowledge them.
Nevertheless, the Exterminator One Timeline appears to be distinct from the Hunter Timeline, despite the fact that Exterminator cyborgs were produced on both.

Since it's known that in the WNU (including the 'Warrenverse' sub-section) posthuman mutants exist (even though rarely, if ever, any specimen so fantastic as what we have seen in the Marvel Universe [MU], e.g., Magneto or Storm), and were roundly persecuted (though much less visible from the general public than they were in the MU), the "genetic impurity" that DuBay mentioned was likely (in a WNU context, not his own intention) a reference to people carrying the genetic x-factor that had a likely predisposition to produce a posthuman mutant. Since the human genome was mostly de-mapped by the year 2001, it's likely that by the year 2010, the U.S. government's medical research institutions had found a way to isolate and identify the x-factor chromosome.

Since the government was known to produce Sentinel robots in previous decades to deal with the mutant menace, and to use both governmental and media propaganda to convince the public that the "mutant menace" was a serious problem that had to be dealt with, regardless of the measures utilized, for the "protection" of the 'normal' and genetically 'pure' folks, that it would create such a draconian government measure to prevent mutants from being born in the first place…and to covertly produce advanced cyborgs and/or robots to eliminate any such errant mutants. And this is not to mention the general usefulness of having cyborg and other posthuman assassins at the government's disposal.

I also theorize that in the WNU, the Project: Wideawake program designed to produce Sentinels (the first anti-mutant robots or cyborgs) was done much more covertly than in the MU, the Sentinels weren't gigantic in height, and weren't as incredibly powerful as those seen in Marvel Comics. In fact, they were likely less sophisticated than the Exterminator cyborgs. Future creative mythographers will hopefully tackle this issue in the future.

Nevertheless, Project: Exterminator may have been a redisigned successor to the Project: Wideawake of the WNU.

See my various anecdotes in the above Comments section for more discussion relating to how the future time track where Exterminator One existed may have had a bearing on the greater WNU, and how Project: Exterminator (later referred to by the government as their Exterminator Force) may relate to other aspects of the greater WNU that were presented outside the purview of Warren Comics.

Classic Dialogue: When the warden approached the imprisoned Peter Orwell with the offer to get out of prison before explaining any details of the deal, Orwell quipped, "Are you kidding, warden? Who do I have to kill?" To which the warden replied, "Under the circumstances, Orwell, that isn't very funny."

Time Frame: The sequences featuring Peter Orwell and his wife prior to the former appearing in prison occur early in the year 2010, quite possibly in January of that year. As stated in the opening text caption, Exterminator One's first mission took place in February of 2014.

EERIE #63
[reprinted in COMIX INTERNATIONAL #4]

"Assassin"

Story: Bill DuBay [uncredited]

Art: Paul Neary [uncredited; color by Michele Brand]

One month following Peter Orwell's horrifying first mission, he appears to have more or less resigned himself to the fate that he had inadvertently made for himself…as a cyborg hit man for the government, specifically their black ops org identified in this story as the 'Exterminator Force' for obvious reasons. His mission supervisor had come up with a different sort of test for Orwell's second bloody outing…now he would have two targets, but this time "George" would be turned off. He would be completely on his own, as a test of both his loyalty to the government and his fledging skill as a purveyor of death. Since these two victims, unlike his first target, had no emotional connection to him whatsoever, he wasn't displaying a large degree of hesitance in carrying out the assignment without George being activated to enforce it (which implied that his first mission may have "broken" or unbalanced him mentally, thus causing him to become emotionally detached from his conscience when it came to his targets…this was possibly part of the Exterminator Force's rationale for marking Orwell's daughter as his first target).

Orwell's classic first person introductory narrative to the reader: "It's March, 2014. This is New York City. And I'm Peter Orwell…! At least I used to be, before the government threw away my body and wrapped my brain in a tin can!

"Now, I'm a machine, built for one purpose…to kill! My sole function is to eliminate imperfect human life in an overpopulated society."

[Once again, the "overpopulation" motif is claimed by DuBay as the reason the government created the Exterminator Force…which, as the Brits might say…isn't bloody likely. The U.S. has never been overpopulated, it isn't overpopulated as of 2005, when I typed these words, and it's not likely to suddenly become overpopulated nine years hence. Also, how can you reduce a population problem by having even hundreds of assassins picking off one or two people at a time here and there, and being able to cover up every single one of those murders before the press and the general public become fully aware of what is going on? It's possible that "overpopulation" might be a rationalization mantra that the government issues to the people to justify any given austerity measure or new round of draconian legislation to control reproduction, just as it does with other propagandistic mantras, such as an "energy crisis," when there is no real scientific basis behind it.

In "reality," by the year 2014 in the WNU, it's likely that some black ops division of the government is trying to pick off certain perceived "leeches" to society who are considered a drain on the public resources that an increasingly deregulated capitalist society would prefer to have spent on shoring up the Defense Department or to compensate for huge tax breaks and a massive deficit…this assuming that the economic landscape of the WNU is near-identical to that of the RU, which it appears to be. This makes logical sense in lieu of the evidence in this story, particularly the stated reasons for the Exterminator Force in their selection of Orwell's targets; see below]

The two men whom Orwell was targeting were two people "who have become leeches on society." One of them is an elderly war vet called 'Jangles,' who had both of his arms amputated after he was severely injured during the "Korean skirmish of '77" (it seems that author DuBay, who wrote this story in 1974, incorrectly predicted a RU incident with Korea involving the U.S. three years in the future; in a WNU context, Orwell's supervisor was likely referring to a little known military incident, and not one that would headline too prominently in the world press or cause a major global ruckus). Since being discharged from the service in 1977, Jangles spent the following 36 years "liv[ing] off a small military pension…and handouts!" [Gasp!] He tends to spend most of his pension on cheap liquor at a local bar, and the good-natured, somewhat mentally disturbed (but harmless) man earns the rest of his drinks by begging or doing a dance in the bar that amuses and endears the regular patrons, which generally "nets him about two bucks and a half dozen drinks per night" [the poor dude…considering how far 2 dollars goes in a bar circa 2005, I can only imagine how many steps beneath chump change it must be by 2014!].

Orwell's second target that same night is a man called "Turks" O'Malley, who is one of the NYC mob's "lightweight enforcers." Being large in size and good with his fists, O'Malley is often hired to collect for loan sharks, and he is sometimes seen "kicking the crap out of some senior citizen for a social security check" [nice to hear that SS didn't go bankrupt by 2014, at least on this timeline!] Since Turks is not renowned for his intelligence, the mob avoids using him for any of their important capers. Needless to say, Turks has also been designated an "undesirable" by the government black ops division identified as the Exterminator Force in this story.

As the deadly cyborg's supervisor concludes his mission briefing, "You needn't be reminded of your main priorities, Peter. First, you must assure that no one outside this base learns of your existence. And finally…no innocent bystander must be hurt."

At the bottom of the first page, DuBay treats us to the masthead of a February 12, 1999 edition of the NEW YORK POST with the headline, "Mysterious Assassin Kills 3 In Waterfront Bloodbath! Police Search For Madman!" for absolutely no reason I can possibly fathom.

As Orwell begins his second mission, he describes via first person narration how this mission differs tremendously from his first, outside of the obvious major emotional implications. This time, he isn't fitted with a souped-up sports car or laser pistol…only a high-powered sniper rifle that fires ordinary lead projectiles. They also give him the dirty clothing of a bum who was discovered dead on the streets that morning so the cyborg could walk the nighttime streets incognito. His mission took him into an area of the city then known as Highball Alley, which he describes as "New York's haven for the downtrodden, the forgotten, the soused!" [In case I didn't mention it before, this whole story, taking place in 2014, contains a surfeit of anachronistic slang, which would make one think it was written in the 1970s or something…hmmmm…]. Orwell had a room in a fleabag hotel room within Highball Alley secretly paid for by the government agency that controls him, and there he set up a temporary base of operations for the evening. He found himself on his own, without an activated George to force him in auto mode if need be. As Orwell noted to himself upon doffing his disguise in the hotel room and fully realizing that he was no longer in constant communication with his computer half, "There's something about a roach and flea-infested hotel room that makes the loneliness even more acute." He then reminded himself: "This mission was all mine! A test of my intelligence, my loyalty, my mastery of the science of murder."

Orwell noticed that his first mark, Turks, entered the hotel, picked some items up from his rented room, and left again. Orwell let him go for the time being since he had planned the murder of his two targets methodically…for one thing, he was going to commit both of the hits from Turks' room, and frame Turks for Jangles' murder. Upon picking the lock to Turks' room, the cyborg assassin set up his rifle, and used the large laser scope atop his sophisticated piece to observe the bar across the street, owned by a small-time mob man named Lucio Gambino. This is where the assassin first sighted his second mark, Jangles, as the old man performed his one-armed "hully gully" dance to earn himself a few coins and hopefully a few glasses of liquor by amusing his fellow patrons. Orwell's bionic audio receptors enabled him to pick up conversations going on in the bar across the street with full clarity. Though Orwell could have nailed his target immediately, he chose to abide by his plan, to hit both men at the same time, and to set up a plausible cover story for the police and the media. He also wanted to make sure that no non-target got in the way of his hits, since such situations are potentially impossible to account for with the media and local law enforcement agencies.
It was just then that an unexpected factor entered the establishment.

This factor was a young, tough-looking man who happened to be a (fully human) hit man of high skill known to the underworld as Slaughter [very ingenious, Mr. DuBay! I'm surprised the mobster in this story didn't have the surname "Maffia"…or there wasn't a drunk in the bar by the name of "Al Coholic"…or a prostitute whose surname was "Cheepsex"]. Orwell, however, didn't recognize this individual.

Slaughter was a hit man with a high level of redeeming qualities, however, and he had befriended Jangles, taking a liking to the good-natured old man and his kindly nature. The two sat and enjoyed a round of small talk. Then, another part of Orwell's plan came into motion when Turks barged into the bar with an obvious mad-on, and the burly man characteristically picked out the most vulnerable person he could find to be the target for his anger by roughly bumping into the sitting Jangles and accusing the innocent old man of trying to deliberately trip him. When Jangles apologized for something he didn't do, Turks warned the armless old man not to let that happen again "if you don't want to lose your legs next!" When Jangles told the now irate Slaughter that he was sorry how he almost tripped Turks, his tough-as-nails friend replied, "You didn't trip him, old man…the guy barged into you…looking for trouble. And he just might get what he's looking for!" [I guess in 2014, it's not considered impolite to constantly remind a senior citizen of the fact that they're elderly by calling them "old man" in every other sentence spoken to them…I suppose that Slaughter calls all of his hair-deprived friends "baldy" and his chunky friends "fat ass"…I don't even want to know what he calls his female friends with large breasts or his black friends, and I'm almost surprised that he didn't call Jangles "no arms" or something similar]. To Slaughter's credit, however, despite his bad choice in nicknames for his friends, he reminded kindly old Jangles that the armless man is indeed someone important, and to never see himself "any other way."

In the meantime, the reason for Turks' bad mood (worse than usual, that is) was because he needed work, and he approached Gambino to ask for it. However, the small-time "wise guy" reminded O'Malley that if he needed the enforcer's services, he would get in touch with him first.

Storming out of the bar in a highly irascible mood, Turks again harshly bumped into the seated Jangles as an excuse to accuse him of deliberately tripping him…only to have an angry Slaughter get up, draw his hand gun, and slam the big guy up against the wall, warning him that he better never see the man near Jangles again. He then insisted that Turks help the old man to his feet, apologize to him…and smile to let him know that there was "no hard feelings" between the two. To all of which the highly intimidated leg-breaker complied with, looking every bit the humiliated fool that Slaughter intended in the process [see Classic Dialogue below].

Witnessing all of the above from his snipe position across the street, Peter Orwell, a.k.a., Exterminator One, was pleased, realizing that Turks was going to walk right into his trap, and provide the cyborg assassin with the perfect alibi for Jangles' intended murder.

Jangles thanked his friend for standing up to Turks on his behalf, to which Slaughter stated that he wish he could have gotten rid of the burly troublemaker permanently, but there were "too many people watching" (kindly old Jangles was blissfully unaware of what the man he considered his best friend did for a living). Slaughter then began to walk to the upstairs portion of the bar where Gambino had his office and living quarters…and it then became obvious to Orwell that the young stranger was also a hit man, and that he was probably hired by someone higher up in the mob to "ice" Gambino. Thinking that he should have stopped Slaughter's intended hit [because it would leave three corpses instead of two in the vicinity to account for, I suppose…a problem that wouldn't have been solved if the robot dude whacked Slaughter instead] the cyborg killer realized that he didn't have the time to do so, since Turk was now in the process of re-entering his hotel room. As the big grungy leg-breaker shut the door behind him, the Exterminator surprised and easily overpowered the man with his bionic strength ("Turks must'a thought he was being jumped by the biggest damned cockroach he'd ever seen!"). The cyborg then began carrying out the next phase of his plan, tying the still-living Turks to a chair in front of the window and gagging him, then arming himself with his advanced sniper rifle again. It was clear even to a man of less than stellar intelligence like Turks that he was in the process of being framed for murder by an individual whose true nature was totally beyond his meager ability to comprehend.

As the cyborg now concentrated his attention on Jangles through the rifle scope, he was unaware that upstairs in the bar, Gambino was pleading with Slaughter to spare his life, telling the hit man that he would give him a large amount of money and then disappear from town, so the mob would have no idea that the contract on his life wasn't honored (all on deaf ears, of course). Orwell's timing was working out perfectly, as a police car on routine patrol was making its usual rounds in front of the bar, just as he had planned it. It was now time to act.

The Exterminator shot and murdered Jangles, intending for the police to hear the blast. What the cyborg didn't realize was that Gambino's office apartment was on the same adjacent floor as his hotel room, and Slaughter heard the shot also. Reacting instinctively, Slaughter looked out the window and noticed the strange robotic being standing in the window of the hotel directly across the street from him, and returned fire, obviously thinking that the cyborg had fired on him. The round from Slaughter's high-caliber hand gun struck Orwell in his shoulder unit, blowing off his right bionic arm. Gambino then attempted to flee in the confusion, but Slaughter quickly turned and carried out his contract, sending the would-be mob boss to an early grave [but why he needed to empty the entirety of his remaining rounds into Gambino to do so is beyond me, especially when you consider how obviously powerful the ammo in that hand gun is, since it tore off the Exterminator's powerful robotic arm].

As part of Orwell's plan, the police, after hearing the shot from the hotel window, exited their vehicle, looked up and saw Turks in the window, and thinking that he had fired the shot into the bar, pumped the constrained leg-breaker full of lead. The cyborg then quickly untied Turks' corpse so that no one would know he was ever constrained, he fled from Turks' room before the cops rushed in there to find the man's body, and the plan had worked perfectly with both the armless old man and the big churlish leg-breaker dead…except that the Exterminator was now missing an arm, a third murder had occurred at the same time in the general vicinity, and worst of all, another deadly hit man who had no connection to the Exterminator Force was aware that a killer robot was loose in the city.

Even worse still, since Orwell had killed a friend of Slaughter, he knew that the relentless young hit man would now be hunting him.

Comments: The title of this story was not listed on the first page or anywhere else, but was surmised by this author based upon the inexplicable faux issue of the NEW YORK POST from Feb. of '99 at the bottom of page 1 in connection with the fact that this series was all about an assassin.

DuBay crafted a good story here, one containing dialogue much improved over the last story and with an obvious degree of planning going into the script that was commensurate with the care he put into the plot (if you ignore all the '70s slang). The pacing was also near-methodical, further adding to his kudos. It would appear that he didn't write this story overnight. The plotting of the murders was well-crafted and logically planned…the fact that Peter Orwell had so largely resigned himself to his fate as an assassin, murdering even without George's A.I. system as a potential enforcer, took away some of the character's previous pathos and began the process of sending him down a different road. The government obviously wanted a psychologically conditioned and loyal soldier under their control. Since Orwell was an average man, and had no exceptionally noble nor virtuous qualities as a person, the shock of killing his daughter must have quickly caused his resignation to his new role in life, especially since his government superiors were by now confident that Orwell wouldn't take his own life when out on a mission sans constant regulation by George. Further, Orwell evinced no thoughts for his estranged wife Susan anywhere in this story.

This time around, Slaughter replaced Orwell as the deadly but sympathetic character in the story.

As noted above, despite the fact that Orwell was much less sympathetic in this tale than he was in the last one, coming off more as a villain in his own story, the characterization of the others appearing in this yarn, particularly Jangles and Slaughter, did much to catch the reader's attention and make them care about what happened. The murder of the innocent and harmless Jangles was, in its own way, as sad as the murder of Orwell's daughter in the previous story, even if not as gut-wrenchingly heart-breaking. I'm sure few readers shed a tear over Turks or Gambino, but Slaughter was a surprisingly sympathetic character for a hit man. Though he didn't have any visible element of tragedy to his persona and his backstory was never revealed, despite the fact that he was a hit man he nevertheless had many positive qualities to his character and a sizable conscience, displaying a liking to those who were naturally kind and unassuming. Slaughter was another classic "gray" Warren character who could have easily carried a series of his own, and it's a shame that DuBay apparently never considered this.

With this story, it was clear that Slaughter was introduced to provide a continuing worthy opponent for Exterminator One, and that the series was initially intended to go on for longer than it ultimately did, with the hunt originally intended to occur over the course of at least a few more stories. With the next issue, however, it was clear that DuBay reconsidered and decided on another "quickie" ending for a series that was originally intended to run longer, as he presented the final confrontation between Exterminator One and Slaughter, continuing immediately from this story.

Like the previous tale, this one was told with a combination of Peter Orwell's first person narration and dialogue between the various characters, but with somewhat more dialogue than the previous story (in marked contrast to the next and final story in the 'Exterminator One' trilogy, which had no dialogue at all).

The artwork by Paul Neary, as I noted in the last entry's Comments section, was much more crisp and lively when it was presented in full color. Michele Brand did a good job on the color process and separations, and though it was hardly up to the quality one would see in a Marvel or DC comic, it was still well done (much better than the botch jobs one would often find with the coloring in a Charlton comic, who printed their own books).

Neary dispensed with the 'futuristic' fashions we saw in the first story, this time going with the general attire he knew from the early '70s…this made it look somewhat dated but hardly out of sorts with fashions we see in 2005 (the year I wrote this index), and will likely still be seen in 2014. We also saw no futuristic weaponry like laser pistols here, but the guns used by the Exterminator and the police were rather 'futuristic-looking,' including the odd fin-like projection at the end of the turret. The police car, though flightless, was reminiscent of something you expected to see soaring through the air in a "Jetsons" cartoon. Other than these few artistic "concessions" to remind the reader that this story took place in the future, the general landscape of 2014 was much like that of 1974…and the present decade. For this, Neary deserves credit for not going overboard with his visual depiction of a time period 40 years in the future from his own time. As history seems to show, when a relatively brief time frame such as 40 years pass, many things change (note home computers, the Internet, and DVD players), but at the same time, many things do not. Neary wisely kept in mind the idea that though our world may end up looking somewhat like the STU a few centuries from now, the landscape won't be like that over the course of only a few decades.

Too bad DuBay and Neary didn't predict a version of the Internet or satellite television, though, as both the writings of Jules Verne in the late 19th century and writers of the "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" series in the 1920s did indeed predict television. The Internet seems to have taken everyone by surprise, however.

As noted in the Comments section of the previous story, it would appear that this second story verified that the "mutant menace" (as per my theories) couldn't have been the only "imperfects" in society whom the black ops Exterminator Force had constructed the cyborgs to eliminate. Genetics was far from the only factor regarding the choice of targets…also on the potential hit list were anyone who were seen as a likely "drain" on the system, including people on social security insurance for too long a time or disreputable individuals like "collection agents" for loan sharks. It was interesting how DuBay explored another common issue during the liberal '70s here…the idea of the government engaging in a "war on the poor" and other misfits within society (though I can hardly see how a man like Turks could serve as a symbol of liberal galvanization, but he did serve the requirements of the plot). The theme of the government showing a fiscally derived contempt for certain people who require a degree of welfare from the system due to illness or handicap, or simply due to a bad economic downturn resulting from the latest wave of downsizing (and, by 2014, outsourcing) was a major point of contention in the '70s. Since DuBay seems to have taken a bit more time crafting this story than he did the last, he now gave up the vague issue of "genetic imperfection" in place of "undesirables" who were not hidden behind a sci-fi metaphorical context.
With that said, I have tried my best between the Comments section of the first story and this one to reconcile the seeming disparity regarding Orwell's imposed choice of targets.

The issue of EERIE in which this story appeared (#63) had an absolutely beautifully rendered alternate cover painting of Exterminator One on the back of the magazine, courtesy of the great Ken Kelly. It included "Exterminator One" in stylized block letters at the top of the cover, in place of the EERIE title that adorned the cover seen on the front of the mag. DuBay, both the writer of this series and the editor of EERIE at the time, had a field day peppering the back cover with dramatic and semi-accurate plugs for the Exterminator One story in this issue. Those blurbs read:

"Inside his metal body were two minds: the mind of a cold-blooded human killer…and the infallible brain of a computer!" [Never mind the fact that Orwell, despite becoming more inured to his role as an assassin by this story, was hardly a "cold-blooded killer" of the standard type…and George the computer didn't even appear in this story, or the next and final tale in the series!]

"He was an engine of total destruction…

"…an eliminator of imperfect life in an overpopulated society!" [Right on, man! We get it! He was a bad ass mo fo!]

"He was a destroyer…an assassin built and paid for by the government!" [Did you know that your tax money is used to finance the construction of cyborg assassins? Whoa! Scary shit, dude!]

"He was a mercy killer!" [He was?? I guess DuBay was using the government's definition of "mercy killing," then.]

"One of six EERIE classics inside this issue!" [Finally, a little reminder that this magazine doesn't belong to Exterminator One alone!]

WNU Connections: As noted above, the Exterminator Force may have been formed from the remnants of the same government black ops division involved in the WNU version of Project: Wideawake a few decades earlier, as well as the one that created a (possible) WNU version of Deathlok.

Classic Dialogue: When Jangles asks Slaughter what he does for a living, the hit man smiles and replies, "Well, old man…y'might say I eliminate pests!"

When Slaughter thrashes Turks after the enforcer bullies Jangles, the hit man orders the burly dude to smile at the old man, and then remarks, "There we go. Gosh, you're pretty when you smile. You should do it more often…like every time you see the old man here! Understood?" Damn, I sure wish that I could have hired Slaughter as a body guard back when I was in high school…it would have been amusing to see all my peers who picked on me do nothing but flash their pearly whites at my face when they walked past my locker in the morning!

Time Frame: This story was reported in the text as occurring in March, 2014, just over a month after the previous story.

It's possible that inbetween the last story and this one, Exterminator One was briefly snatched and extra-temporally transported back to the year 1981 by the techno-wizard Ten Ichi, where the cyborg assassin was briefly forced to become one of the wizard's minions in a plot to take revenge on Vampirella. Orwell was freed from Ichi's control after a great battle, however, and he led his fellow 'Time Force' warriors (which included Dax the Warrior, Derek Schreck, Demian Hunter, and Child) alongside Vampi and a few of her allies against Ten Ichi and a second 'Time Force' contingent summoned by the evil sorceror, until a chronal vortex transported Orwell (and the other members of both 'Time Force' contingents) back to his proper time period. This story was chronicled in the book-length Vampirella and the Time Force story from EERIE #130, and is indexed elsewhere on this site.

EERIE #64

"Exterminator Two"

Story: Bill DuBay

Art: Paul Neary

Several minutes after the previous story, Orwell had once again pulled his wino clothing over his robotic body to enable him to walk down the streets of NYC incognito, well aware that the lethally expert hit man Slaughter was now stalking him out of revenge for the cyborg killing his peaceful old friend, Jangles. Slaughter's modified M-18 (identified as such in this story) already cost the cyborg one arm, and Orwell was determined to make it back to the covert Exterminator Force base before he could be destroyed. Using all of his stealth training to full effect in an attempt to shake the deadly human hunting him down, Orwell brought his robotic body atop an elevated subway train…only to find Slaughter standing right behind him, his high-powered hand gun extended.

The young hit man released a volley of four shatterslugs into his mechanized opponent, shredding much of the circuitry in his chest unit, including his synthetic vocal apparatus, and tearing the operating mechanisms out of his left arm. Now bereft of both of his arms, his ability to speak, and seriously damaged in general, the Exterminator quickly pulled his powerful bionic body to its feet and scuttled back into the subway chamber. During this time, the cyborg mused to himself that if he still had the computerized A.I. he called 'George' at his disposal, the computer would be "disgusted" with his performance right now, and could have forced the robotic unit into automatic mode and probably taken Slaughter out by this time. Nevertheless, Orwell knew that the government spooks back at his base were at least aware of his predicament since they were constantly monitoring his systems, and they would soon send him assistance.

Still, Peter Orwell, the man inside the machine, didn't truly want to survive this encounter, and he refused to kill anyone without being ordered to do so by the Exterminator Force, who had the ability to force him to kill. The cyborg also hoped that the agent who would undoubtedly be sent by the Exterminator Force to help him wouldn't arrive until he was reduced to a pile of metal and plastic scraps, since his failure in the field may prevent them from placing the brains of more convicts into other Exterminator bodies, perhaps even ending the project entirely.

Still following his orders by fleeing from his assailant, the cyborg suddenly had one of his metallic kneecaps blown out by yet another round from Slaughter's gun, and with only one leg among his active limbs, he was forced to crawl out of the subway via a muck-encrusted drainpipe. He then helplessly turned to see the smiling form of Slaughter standing above him, who proved that despite the fact that he was totally human, his skills and experience completely overshadowed that of Peter Orwell. The hit man then proceeded to empty more of his powerful lead slugs into the Exterminator's chest unit, shredding it further in the process, but never aiming for the head unit containing his brain. This was because Slaughter likely believed that he was battling a robot with no human organic matter in its shell at all. With the head unit mostly intact, Peter Orwell's living brain would remain functional and cognizant, possibly "forever" [one may question whether all the circuitry needed to keep Orwell's living brain nourished and functional is entirely located within the head unit, and that the latter unit could operate independently of the large amount of circuitry in the torso unit…but I digress]. The Exterminator now found himself rendered completely immobile, his shattered speech synthesizer meaning that he couldn't verbally tell Slaughter to fire at the head casing so as to kill the human brain within.

Before Slaughter could leave the area, however, Orwell's still functioning audio receptors heard a powered-up sports car drive into the vicinity…which his enhanced sense of hearing instantly identified as the same type of vehicle that he was given for his first mission. His rescuer from the Exterminator Force agency had arrived to bail him out…if for no other reason than to simply assure that his metallic carcass wouldn't be found by anyone outside the black ops org. When the huge side door of the vehicle opened and its occupant emerged, Orwell realized (though his still functional visual receptors) that his rescuer was another Exterminator cyborg…but of a very noticeably more advanced caliber.

This new unit, the Exterminator Two, resembled the Exterminator One unit in semi-humanoid form from the waist up, but this entity had no legs, instead moving around on miniature tank treads. His much greater size meant that he was considerably stronger and much more heavily armored than his predecessor…which was proven when Slaughter's heavy rounds did nothing more than leave small dents on his new adversary's metallic husk. This new Exterminator was also heavily armed, and blasted at the human hit man with a high-powered rifle. It was clear that Slaughter was greatly outmatched here. It was also clear to Peter Orwell, for the first time, why he was transformed into the Exterminator One cyborg assassin.

It occurred to Orwell in light of this new evidence that the "overpopulation" story was a fasaud, a bunch of smoke and mirrors. The government didn't truly care about eliminating the people he killed, including his own little girl and an innocent old man. He wasn't sent on his second mission to test his loyalty or his intelligence. His sole purpose was to serve as an observable prototype for the Exterminator Two model, a trial product that would show the Exterminator Force all the areas they needed to improve on with their cyborg killer. And if Exterminator Two turned out to be a success, the world could count on many more such cyborgs being created, and Orwell doubted that these new models would be used to kill little girls and old men.

In fact, it boggled Orwell's imagination as to what type of target these formidable new Exterminator models would be used to kill: "…a Russian premier, maybe! Or a commie Chinese dictator! Maybe the Exterminator Force bosses even planned an attack on the White House itself…a political coup!" [Assuming the President didn't authorize the program in the first place, of course]. He now also realized that his humanity was stolen from him, along with his daughter's life, for no good reason whatsoever [I stick by my "mutant menace" theory explained in the WNU Connections section for the first story, since it was shown that in the year 2010 of this timeline, the government passed laws against people with certain "genetic imperfections" to conceive a child, and Orwell was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for this…also, posthuman mutants would be likely targets for the much more powerful Exterminator Two cyborgs, as I surmised].

The first Exterminator now realized that he somehow had to help Slaughter destroy this Exterminator Two…a menace the skilled young hit man was rapidly losing ground to, as he lacked the firepower to do serious damage to this second incarnation of cyborg warrior, who had already succeeded in firing a bullet through the young man's shoulder, giving him a serious wound (Slaughter only lasted as long as he did due to expertly keeping out of range of Exterminator Two's weaponry by hiding in the drainpipe). Knowing that he had to act fast, Orwell gathered every single iota of his willpower and forced his left arm to move again, despite its decimated synthetic musculature. Managing to pull one of the few grenades he was carrying from his torso harness, Orwell struggled to pull the pin with just one hand, finally managing to do so.

Then, summoning the last of his circuitized might, the emaciated cyborg hurled the grenade towards the Exterminator Two before the cyborg could deliver a killing blow to Slaughter. The grenade rolled directly under the more powerful Exterminator's lower-extremity tank tread unit, exploding at very close range and succeeding in blowing the next generation cyborg to scrap metal. This was seen by the injured hit man, who walked over to the pile of smoldering metal and plastic to see spattered human brain matter laying amidst the mess at his feet. He then fully understood the true nature of the two strange mechanized assassins he scrapped with that night.

Both understanding and appreciative, Slaughter gladdened what remained of Peter Orwell's heart by walking up to his first fallen foe, giving him a smile of gratitude while pointing his hand gun at Exterminator One's metallic cranial unit…and the human brain laying beneath.

Peter Orwell's final thought before Slaughter pulled the trigger was regret over the fact that he couldn't verbally thank the gracious young hit man.

Comments: This was the final entry in the 'Exterminator One' trilogy, and it bridged the gap (sort of) between the Exterminator Two cyborgs we saw in the Hunter Timeline and the one such cyborg built on the Exterminator One Timeline. The first Exterminator of the Hunter Timeline was Corben Steele, whose sole story appeared years later in 1994 #19 (indexed below), finally providing the last bit of info to explain the origin disparities surrounding the Exterminator cyborgs in these two distinct timelines that branched off from the "consensus" WNU proper.

The title of this story was surmised by this author based upon a cover blurb.

This final story in the trilogy by Bill DuBay was told exclusively via first person narration by Peter Orwell, and it was completely bereft of dialogue. The story was clearly plotted and scripted quickly, though the lack of spoken dialogue as opposed to expository narrative enabled the author to avoid the usual stilted dialogue that often results from a "quickie" DuBay script (could this be why he chose to leave out the dialogue altogether here?). The story was a fine and touching end to Peter Orwell's short but tragic sojourn as a cyborg killer, and all of his positive character traits had returned in this story after they appeared to have been abandoned in the previous tale. This three-entry saga can be said to be one of the relatively few tragedies, in terms of story category, published in genre fiction during the 20th century, and it was one of the best of all the series published by Warren.

Once again, Paul Neary did a good job with the art chores, but also once again, when the series shifted back to b&w after one great color story, Neary's artwork was clearly shown to be accustomed to the four-color format. His b&w work lacked the detailed finesse one could find in his color work, which is why the second story remains the best of the trilogy.

Exterminator Two was an interesting creation, even though I always felt the lower-extremity tank tread design looked more unwieldy than formidable, and it lacked the sleek grace of the semi-humanoid form. Unfortunately, there was only one Exterminator One in all the timelines we saw, but many of the Exterminator Two models, at least in the Hunter Timeline. Oh, well.

The front cover of EERIE #64 had another amazing Exterminator painting by Ken Kelly, this time depicting Exterminator One and Exterminator Two fighting side-by-side with each other in a generic but dramatic pose. If a poster was made out of this cover, then I want it! The accompanying cover blurb read:
"Exterminator One: his mission had been to destroy. But now he was hunted. Trapped. The target of a deadly assassin.
"Only one being could save him. The indestructible Exterminator Two!"

The man called Slaughter (I hope that was just a nickname, as this story implied) was an intriguing and dynamic character, even if his white man '70s 'fro looked out of place in a story today. Won't it be something if those awful 'fro's come back in style by 2014, and DuBay and Neary end up having the last laugh?

The next appearance of an Exterminator cyborg is in the "Hunter 2" series, when the last of the Exterminators becomes a major member of the latter series' supporting cast.

WNU Connections: I expounded in the Comments and WNU Connections sections of the first 'Exterminator One' story regarding the connection that the Exterminator Two model may have had with the greater WNU, including one of its distinct future time tracks, the Hunter Timeline.

Time Frame: This story takes place several minutes to a half hour after the events of the previous story, which sets it in March of 2014.

1994 #19

"Steele"

Story: Budd Lewis and Bill DuBay [under the pen name Will Richardson]

Art: Alex Nino

The story begins with a first person narrative via a small group of scientists from the future, which introduces us to Corben Edward Steele, a man who was born a few centuries earlier [see Comments and Time Frame below], whom one of the doctors described as "A product of the sub-standard environment of ancient New York" who was "reared on the streets, and arrested twenty-two times by the age of twenty-one!
"His favorite pastimes seemed to be robbery, unaggravated [?] assault and rape! He was considered an outcast…incorrigible!" [I personally think the term "outcast" is a bit too gentle to be applied to an armed robber and rapist, since it implies a degree of sympathy that would not apply to a sociopath who violently preys on other people, but whatever works for Dr. Swain…]

Now that Corben's charming personality was introduced to us, we were informed that his right hand was severed by a mob boss whom he was selling illicit drugs for when the big man caught him skimming money from the "family" profits. Steele then managed to purchase an artificial metallic hand that he learned to utilize with "extraordinary ability" [shades of Anakin Skywalker! And you will soon see that this isn't the only analogy between the criminal-turned-cyborg-assassin and the controversial-jedi-knight-turned-Lord-of-the-Sith…which is even more interesting when you consider that this story was published in early 1981, two years before "Star Wars, Episode 6: Return of the Jedi" was released, and the full story of Darth Vader's cyborg nature was made clear].

Corben then intensely trained himself into becoming an expert marksman again, despite his artificial hand, and murdered his former employer who had cost him his real hand several months later. He managed to escape prosecution by joining the U.S. Marines during the "height" of the Middle East War [see Comments section below]. Once there, he soon found himself working for NATO as an "assassin supreme" [So are we to understand that the U.S. military was so hard up for recruits at the time of this Middle East War that they were accepting applications from people with such an extensive list of serious criminal convictions?]
The first person description of Steele concludes with coining him as, "A cold, emotionless [conscienceless?] killer, Steele logged more than one hundred political kills, before stepping on a mine, and turning the lower half of his body into hamburger!"

Instead of having the remains of his upper body (which included his fully intact brain) sent to a "gut-bag," the U.S. military had them placed in a cryo-preservation unit, which (lucky for us) managed to stay in operation all this time to become the Eternity Keep Cryovault in the distant future [the text describes the amount of time as "almost four hundred years," but I think this is a rather substantial exaggeration based upon previous evidence seen in the Hunter Timeline stories…see Comments and Time Frame below].

The group of scientists giving us the narration of our delightful protagonist then pointed out that it was now time to revive Steele at long last, with his lower extremities and his entire right arm replaced by advanced technology…though his new bionic lower extremities resembled a mini-tank rather than an analogue of human-like legs. Steele greeted the world anew with screams of incredible agony as his body adjusted to the "mechanical resucitatory [is that a real word? It is in at least some future timelines, at any rate] system and the nerve desensitizing fluids in his blood!" Their reasoning for reviving Steele at this point? He's a psychopathic killer…and they need him [works for me…I guess].

The chief medical scientist of the crew responsible for the revival procedure, called Dr. Swain, welcomed the now cybernetic mercenary killer of times past back into the world as he adjusted to the chemical desensitizers and responded to the powerful stimulants he was injected with. Steele was understandably angered and confused by his strange situation, but Dr. Swain reminded him not to risk pulling himself from the apparatus that he was connected to, or he would die…and by proxy, so would the Earth. Swain then gave Steele (and the readers) the full skinny on the situation with the world in this future timeline that the killer was unfortunate enough to wake up and find himself a resident of.

First off, Steele was revived and his missing body parts were replaced with "mechanical improvements" designed to enhance his natural skill at dealing out death to others for an important if obvious reason…so he could kill for them. As Dr. Swain described his new cybernetic physical attributes (explained to the reader via third person narrative by authors Lewis and DuBay):
"His right arm, ripped away in the blast which shattered his lower torso, was outfitted with a mechanical limb, capable of extraordinary strength and agility! [How does an arm have 'agility?' Did the authors actually mean 'dexterity?']
"For mobility, far greater than any he had ever known, the mercenary's torso was mounted to a miniature tank which responded instantly to electrical impulses from the brain!
"The difficult task, or so the scientists believed, was conditioning their subject's explosive psyche into accepting the rather drastic alterations to his humanity!"

As it turned out, the scientists' concerns proved "groundless," as Steele quickly learned to use his tank-like lower body and fully bionic right arm, as well as mastering the uber-advanced firearm weaponry of the new time period, to become a world class powerhouse of a cyborg assassin [once again, shades of Darth Vader, as we have a character whose exponentially "dark" ways initially cost him his real hand, to be replaced with a synthetic one, and eventually leading to…the significant destruction of his physical body and the substantial re-working of his body into a cybernetic organism…at least Vader got all human-shaped parts, though! Then again, at least Steele didn't always have to sound like he had a chronic case of emphysema…though he was also saddled with a funky hi-tech helmet, even though it didn't cover his entire head].

The text then told us how "Steele took enthusiastically to a regimen of rigorous training exercises, which he knew were designed to prepare him for an enemy and a world far more dangerous than any had ever faced before!"

Once the cyborg completed his intense training regimen, Steele demanded answers from Swain and his crew as to why he was revived and turned into essentially a living tank…and why, with all of this era's advanced bio-technological acumen, they didn't give him more human-looking bionic parts [see Classic Dialogue below]. Swain replied that they could give him new, human-looking body parts…but they gave him the tank tread in place of legs because they presently needed him at the most efficient level of power and mobility they could manage…but they would give him a more reasonably human-looking form if he fulfilled the purpose for which they had awakened him: to kill the "most dangerous man alive."

This esteemed holder of the "most dangerous man alive" title in this vile future era was General Ophal, the leader of the mutant off-shoot race of homo sapiens who now relentlessly warred upon and butchered the fleeting remnants of humanity in this violent dystopian world. Ophal's mutant race resulted from the last war that Steele remembered in his native time period…the Middle East War, which in turn escalated into World War III, which in turn resulted in a nuclear devastation that came close to destroying human civilization completely and in spawning a dominant mutant race of semi-reptilian beings from the human species (not the same type of 'mutant' as posthuman mutants that possess paranormal abilities), who exhibited a degree of immunity to nuclear waste and who referred to themselves as "demons" (though they had nothing to do with the evil supernatural entities who also carry that epithet). The war between humans and mutants was now picking up steam, and hordes of mutant troops under the command of Gen. Ophal, the head mutant in charge, were routinely attacking and preying upon scattered and unprotected human villages residing in areas free from the worst residual nuclear waste [authors Lewis and DuBay made a half-hearted, less than articulate attempt to provide a 'socially relevant' metaphor for the mutants, and even tossed in an awkward theological metaphor, when Dr. Swain told Steele, "People reproduced, as they are wont to do, Mr. Steele! Many of them gave birth to mutant monsters! You had them in your day! The poor! The black! The economic and social outcasts! The mutants are our outcasts! They're rising up against us…led by our own unique version of the Anti-Christ…General Ophal!" Then again, unlike the other Warren mags, 1994 was known more for offensive and clumsy stories and seen more as wild, raucous, and amazingly bawdy mindless sci-fi entertainment tool rather than a legitimate story showcase that used the sci-fi medium to present 'relevant' stories…and when it tried to do so, as in this story, the results were hardly worth any type of admiration. In fact, a politically-minded literary deconstructionist could argue that humanity's battle against the mutant hordes as depicted in EERIE's popular Hunter and Hunter 2 series, along with this non-popular Exterminator story from 1994 #19, could be viewed more as fostering an "Us vs. Them" mentality, i.e., that one group of people are "naturally predisposed" to prey upon and oppress another group, a horrid type of extreme Left reasoning frequently used to attack anyone who happens to be white, male, and heterosexual, rather than providing a responsible left-wing "United We Stand Against Tyranny" metaphor. Others, however, will likely disagree, seeing the mutants and Gen. Ophal as personifications of a type of political mentality rather than representations of any particular race or ethnic group, this latter principle often adhered to by the more rational-minded, non-extremist, and non-revenge oriented thinkers of the Left].

Swain then acknowledged that he and his fellow scientists were determined to help their fellow humans survive, but they were not brave men, nor were they warriors…hence, they needed to revive and rebuild Steele to fill that purpose. They needed him to save the human race, as only he could (as revealed elsewhere in this story, the events of this tale take place in the early days of Demian Hunter's career, before he had become a legend and symbolic freedom fighter to the people of this hellish future timeline). The scientists reasoned that with Gen. Ophal killed, his 'Demon Forces' would lose the brains behind their organized attacks and strategic maneuvers, and become stifled and crippled. Steele then hit Swain with a very salient political observation: "For an intelligent man, you're extremely naïve, Doc! Yes…I could probably snuff Ophal! With this mini-personnel carrier you call my body, I could even waste a few hundred mutants, as well[...]
"But others will step up to take their place! If these Demon Forces are serious about exterminating humankind…one man, no matter how much tank tread he wears, won't be able to stop them!"

Suddenly [and yes, it's depicted on the page just as silly and incoherently as I'm making it sound here] an (outrageously bizarre-looking) mutant pops up out of absolutely nowhere and slits Swain's throat. Steele blasts the creature to pieces, and the next several ill-defined panels depict the cyborg warrior engaging in an orgy of slaughter against the Demon Forces as he attacks and murders scores of mutant soldiers and mercenaries who are out for human blood. He found himself horrified by the torture and abuses he witnessed being promulgated towards hapless human villagers by the mutant legions, as well as the butchered human remains laying amidst the streets of the villages that he didn't arrive in time to save. He likened the situation he saw being played out in this nightmarish future world to Armageddon itself, worse by far than any bloody conflict he ever saw or participated in back during his indigenous time period. He suddenly became repulsed by his prior elation at the thought of committing acts of violence against another human being, but at the same time resigned himself to the fact that violence against others was what he was "born to do."

At one (important) point, when Steele's tank treads carried him through the eviscerated human remains strewn throughout a village that had been victimized by a mutant horde, he discovered that one young male child had been overlooked, and successfully hid under a pile of debris. As he extricated the toddler from the rubble, Steele suddenly turned and raised his rifle at the sound of footsteps moving towards him from behind…which turned out to be from a hooded, older human, and not a mutant. The old man revealed that he was another survivor of the mutant carnage, and with great horror evident in this voice, he told Steele how the mutants arrived at this village hours ago, and took the boy's mother, along with most of the other women ("They…were here…h-hours ago! They…did…this! To…everyone!") Steele then realized that the mutant horde and their human captives couldn't be far from that locale, and the resolved to pursue them. He told the old man to take care of the child left in his care, saying, "Who knows, he might grow up to be a hero one day! He's a tough-assed little survivor…and from what I've seen, this world needs tough-assed survivors!" [As all big-time Warren hero fans are well aware, this child did indeed grow up to be one of the Warrenverse's greatest heroes…Karas Hunter, a.k.a., Hunter 2].

When Steele finally located this particular division of Ophal's army, he noticed that only some of the women taken from the village yet survived, and the mutants were viciously and gleefully taking turns raping and butchering them. Horrified by the sight [which is a bit surprising, considering the early text in the story claimed that Steele himself was a rapist during his indigenous time period] the cyborg warrior began blasting the vile creatures literally to pieces "with a rage he hadn't felt in four hundred years [sic]…not since he blew away the son of a bitch who had axed off his right hand!"

As the huge slaughter-fest continued, more and more mutant soldiers began arriving and retaliating against the cyborg assassin. Greatly outnumbering Steele, many of them managed to leap upon him and tear at his remaining organic flesh and circuitry and to pummel him mercilessly with their hand-held implements, even thrusting several makeshift spears clear through his torso unit. Both adversaries dealt extreme damage to the other in the midst of the barbaric melee that ensued, but the strength of numbers that the mutants enjoyed clearly began to turn the slaughter in their favor.

Suddenly, just as the extremely damaged and injured Steele began to lose his ability to fight, some unseen assailant appeared and blew the numerous remaining mutants to pieces before they could deal the final death blow to Corben Steele. As the horribly battered cyborg warrior looked up at his unexpected ally, it could be seen that what remained of his organic skin and muscle had been torn from his body, with his flesh literally hanging from what was left of his still human skull. Standing before him, Steele's savior was revealed as an imposing, powerfully built young man who was clearly a human/mutant hybrid and carrying a distinctive looking metallic staff with a large sickle-shaped slashing and shocking weapon protruding from the end of it, along with an equally distinct looking combat helmet. This young man, of course, was Demian Hunter, who would soon become a legendary hero in this world, the inadvertent creation of Gen. Ophal himself when he raped a human woman many years ago after first killing her husband…a woman who made sure that her hybrid son grew up with all the training and gumption he needed to oppose his own biological father and the horror that the General wreaked upon the struggling remnants of human civilization. Hunter told Steele that he aided him because they were both mutant-killers, the only two in the world at this time, and the human race couldn't "afford to lose either of [them]."

However, Steele was too gravely injured/damaged, and would soon die. As a result, Hunter saw to it that the cyborg was returned to the scientific unit that first created him, now headed by Drs. Treskin and Lewis, in the hope that the cyborg warrior could be saved.

Though what remained of his human body was injured beyond saving, Dr. Lewis declared that since his brain was still intact and relatively uninjured, they could at least preserve this vital organ: "We can still save his intelligence…his personality…the very essence of his being…
"…by transplanting his brain into a totally robotic shell!"

When Dr. Treskin asked Lewis if doing such a thing would be "ethical" or "moral" [ummmm…don't you think it's a bit late in the game to finally be asking those types of questions, Doc?], Lewis replied that they had no choice with the mutant situation being what it was ("We need Steele! We've got to pull him through! He started something out there that only he can finish!").

Hence, Corben Edward Steele's brain was preserved and placed in a fully robotic body on tank treads that entirely resembled the Exterminator Two cyborg from the Exterminator One Timeline in form and function, despite having not being created on the Hunter Timeline until much, much later in history.

As Dr. Lewis coldly stated as Steele's second cybernetic overhaul commenced, "He's a cold-blooded assassin, doctors! That's what he'll always be!
"And in that assassin's hands lies the fate…of the world!"

Comments: Whether or not this throwaway story was intended by Bill DuBay to be the springboard for a new series in the much maligned 1994 mag, Warren's latter day genre rip-off of the then fairly new and ultra-popular HEAVY METAL magazine (itself an American offshoot of the European sci-fi mag METAL HURLANT) cannot be definitively answered today without asking DuBay himself. Regardless of whether he intended this to become a new Exterminator series or not, however, such a thing never materialized, despite the fact that the mag ran for ten more issues before Warren Comics itself expired after a long and illustrious publishing career.

Interestingly, this was the only story to ever appear in an issue of 1994 (it was titled 1984 for its first ten issues, before the George Orwell estate complained, hence the title logo abruptly moving up a decade) where we saw characters from one of Warren's two respectable fan fave mags that regularly featured horror, fantasy, or sci-fi series, EERIE and VAMPIRELLA (CREEPY didn't ordinarily feature series, but mostly stand-alone tales). Hunter and Hunter 2 both had popular, long-running series in EERIE during the '70s, and obviously DuBay wanted to transfer some of that magic over to 1994, possibly to give some 'respectability' to a mag that was often downgraded by fandom (then and now) as a wasteland of shamefully offensive, nasty-edged, and misogynistic tales thinly disguised under a sci-fi or fantasy milieu, this being in regards to both its stand-alone and series tales (one of the mag's early series, Haxtur, shifted over to EERIE after a few installments in 1994, but this character never crossed over into the main Warrenverse). Or…one could argue that he did so because in the pages of 1994, he could make the series much more over-the-top than he would if it ran in EERIE (and this story certainly did read more like the sometimes puerile and 'offensive' fare one would find in 1994 as opposed to the violent and gruesome but compelling and often intelligently relevant material you would find running in the pages of EERIE and VAMPIRELLA). Some series and stories in 1994 were celebrated, such as Rich Corben's fan fave "Mutant World," which would not have been out of place if it ran in EERIE, but many other series and stand-alone stories in this mag were roundly castigated. I'll leave the matter of 1994 deserving or not deserving said castigation to the individual fanboy (or fangirl).

Whatever the merits of this story (which weren't many, IMO), it did at least provide us with the origin of the Exterminator line of cyborgs on the Hunter Timeline, who resembled in both appearance and function the Exterminator Two droid from the third and final entry in the "Exterminator One" series from EERIE, along with another such cyborg who first appeared in the Hunter 2 story "The Flight of the Phoenix" from EERIE #101. The prominent guest role by Demian Hunter gave this tale an "official" approval in the canon, as well as providing us a brief glimpse at the early history of Demian's eventual successor, Karas Hunter.
This story also made it clear that the time tracks where Exterminator One (on one track) and Hunter, Hunter 2, and Darklon the Mystic (on the other track) existed were two distinct timelines.

This tale wasn't well-written, and seems to have been just thrown together by Lewis and DuBay, possibly by pulling an old DuBay plot outline out of inventory and handing it over to Lewis to tack on some tacky script dialogue (or vice versa). Alex Nino had an interesting and fan-friendly--if rather wild--art style, but here he played fast and loose with panels and convention, basically showing whatever sequences he wanted on any given page without bothering to divide or differentiate one scene from another with panel borders, and the degree of artistic license he took with his gory action scenarios and the grotesquely caricaturized depiction of the mutants was totally insane. In fact, his mondo bizarro depictions of the mutants have to be considered an extreme form of artistic license, because he drew each one any way he pleased, making them often look far less human than any we saw in the Hunter, Hunter 2, or Vampirella and the Time Force stories (the latter having included a brief jaunt to Demian Hunter's future time track). Under Nino's pencils, we had mutants that were somewhat human-like in the upper body but with a huge head and two eyes in place of legs, with two faces on one head, some resembling floating eyes, and what not. There were suggestions of sometimes grotesque variations of the basic mutant phenotype in past stories featuring these beings, but General Ophal's race was generally depicted as looking quite human save for a reptilian skin texture with other disparate features such as talons, protruding canines, horns, bird-like attributes, Neanderthalic facial features, etc., thrown in here and there. Never anything like this, however.

In other words, it can be said that this story served a purpose, but entertaining and enlightening the reader certainly wasn't one of them. Hence, I do not recommend seeking out this issue of 1994 simply to collect this story unless you're an incessant completist for either Hunter or Exterminator fare. In fact, the more sensitive among you, both on the Right and at the Left of the political spectrum, will likely feel "dirty" for owning any issue of this mag, but for others, many of the tales within the 29 issues of 1984/1994 can be entertaining for their sheer oddness and extreme willingness to go against every defined notion of good taste, with its unsuccessful attempts here and there at providing social relevance giving the tales a sometimes offensive "so bad it's good" motif. Further, for what it's worth, Corben's "Mutant World" series is highly recommended to the many Corben fans out there, especially those who love stories of giant monstrous creatures battling and beating the ever-living gore out of each other, and "Ghita of Alizarr" is recommended to all who may want to check out the more erotic, porn-oriented frontiers of the sword and sorcery genre, especially those who happen to think that female barbarian warriors (such as Red Sonja) are mega-hot (and Ghita is hardly the virgin that Red Sonja was!).

However, except for this single Exterminator story, there is no other evidence as yet to bring in any of the other stories or series from 1984/1994 into the WNU or the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe [ERBU], or any of their sometimes interconnected alternate time tracks. Future research will tell us more, however.

I think placing this story, and by extension Demian Hunter's time period, in the early 24th century was a wrong-headed error that conflicts with previous story info. In the Vampirella and the Time Force story from EERIE #130, which included an extended sequence in Demian Hunter's native time period, and which took place at least a few years after this story, the year was given as 2207, thereby implying that his stories took place in the early years of the 23rd century. This, however, doesn't jibe with the Schreck stories that were later revealed to occur on the same timeline as the Hunter stories. Those tales couldn't have happened later than somewhere between the third and fifth decade of the 21st century, and the very elderly Derek Schreck who appeared in the last two Hunter stories strongly argue against the latter's native time period being so far in the future, otherwise Schreck couldn't have been alive at all.

In fact, the events in the Schreck series that were later revealed to have directly led into the Hunter series, with the radiation-created "werewolves" of the Schreck series later revealed to have evolved into the "demons" of the Hunter and Hunter 2 series, wasn't accounted for at all in this tale, instead listing the Middle East War which segued into WW 3 as the cause of the nuclear devastation that spawned the mutants (though this seeming contradiction can be reconciled with a close examination of the Schreck series, something I will eventually put to paper, so to speak). More likely, in my estimation, the year listed in the Vampirella and the Time Force story should have been 2107 rather than 2207, and the events of this story occurred several years earlier than that [see Time Frame below].

This story contradicts an established facet of Karas Hunter's origin story from EERIE #67. In the latter tale, it was established that Demian Hunter rescued the young Karas and placed him in the custody of Mandragora to be raised. In this story, however, it's alleged that Corben Steele was the one who performed the rescue deed. Which version of the events is more likely to be "true" is currently unknown.

What happened to the Corben Steele Exterminator, the first of his line in the Hunter Timeline, following this story is unknown; evidently, he never fought alongside Demian Hunter again, which implies that Steele's renewed career was short-lived, a theory backed up by later evidence in the Hunter 2 series asserting that there was a line of Exterminator cyborgs between the time of Demian Hunter and Karas Hunter. The last of the Exterminator cyborgs from the Hunter Timeline fought alongside Karas Hunter as seen in the "Hunter 2" series (indexed elsewhere on this site), which can be considered the next chronological appearance of an Exterminator cyborg indigenous to the Hunter Timeline in the Warren chronicles.

The references to the Middle East War, and it's leading into WW 3, have logically chilling parallels with today's events, making it clear that even in the early '80s (this story was published early in 1981, during Warren's twilight years) the future political ramifications of U.S. and other powerful nations' involvement in the Middle East could be accurately predicted.

To those Warrenphiles and pop culture mavens who may be wondering…yes I did notice that the authors used the names of various Warren scripters and artists for the various characters in this story (I was shaking my head and rolling my eyes throughout), including the borrowing of Rich Corben's surname to provide Steele's forename!

WNU Connections: This story fits into the Hunter Timeline, a future time track of the "consensus" WNU that is distinct from the Star Trek/Legion future, and shows the origin of the Exterminator line of cyborgs on that particular timeline.

It's the opinion of this author that the reason Ophal's mutant race was created after a nuclear war was the result of the demonstrably hardier and more biologically "fluid" genetic structure that the human race of the WNU possesses in comparison to their counterparts in the RU, who would have simply been sterilized or given birth to terribly malformed children in almost all cases rather than a viable, robust mutant offshoot race in the space of just a few short decades, let alone many of the humans earlier in that timeline themselves reverting to mutant "werewolves," as seen in the Schreck series.

Classic Dialogue: In a conversation with Dr. Swain, Corben Steele explains why he didn't go medieval on them after first discovering that he was given a mini-tank for a body rather than more human-looking parts: "With your technological advancements, you could've replaced my shattered limbs with a reasonable facsimile of something human! Yet you didn't! You had your reasons! I'll reserve my judgement until I've heard them! Then I'll kill you!"
Mighty reasonable of him!

When an enraged Steele first wades into an encampment of mutants he caught torturing a group of human women they kidnapped, he silently and declaratively shouts, "The clit-licking sons of bitches!" Um…is calling a group of males "clit-licking" exactly an insult? According to the linguistic aesthetics of English slang that Steele (and all of us) are familiar with, wouldn't calling them something like "cock-suckers" perhaps been more satisfyingly pejorative? But then, I digress…it must have been a long week for whichever of the two authors hacked out the script all night long with a cup of coffee at hand.

Time Frame: As noted above in the Comments section, I disagree that this story took place in the 24th century of the Hunter Timeline, as the text would have us believe. Based on the available evidence I have studied, it's my opinion that Corben Steele was born in the late 20th century and the incident during the Middle East War that sent him to an extended rest in the freezer occurred during the second or third decade in the 21st century, shortly before WW 3 and the events of the "Schreck" series on the Hunter Timeline. He was revived and converted into a cyborg by Dr. Swain's crew somewhere between the years 2102 and 2104 on this timeline, a year or two before the main events depicted in the "Hunter" series, as he clearly met Demian Hunter at a very early point in the legendary hero's mutant-fighting career.

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