"Journey To The West", or as we know it here in the West, "Xi You Ji", is an ancient Chinese folktale about the Monkey King and his trip to India while bodyguarding a Buddhist monk. This classic fairytale has it all: flesh-eating demons, unbearable headaches, insatiable appetites for food and sex, flaming mountains, Taoist sages, and magical monkeys and pigs. As such it's influenced Asian pop culture for something like 400 years, and has been the basis for Japanese cartoons like "Alakazam The Great", "Spaceketeers", and "Dragonball". But that's not all! It's also the basis for comic books. And that's where we come in.

Now I know what you're saying to yourself. "Sure, this comic book about a fourth-dimensional monkey and a ninja fish looks great. But does it come with a Christmas card?" Yes it does - and it's FREE, as you'll note by the handy blurb on the cover. Another thing I notice about this cover is the author's familiarity with the poster for the 1980 animated film TOWARDS THE TERRA.

Hey, if you're going to swipe, swipe iconic images from slow-paced anime films based on Keiko Takemiya manga, that's what I always say.

The original Monkey King was born from an egg that came from a rock that was formed by the merging of Heaven and Earth. But our new Fourth Dimensional Monkey is born of the super-science of Dr. Wise and his scientific ray that can extract memories of living people from their surroundings - rocks, dirt, Barcaloungers, etc.- and inject them into helpless lab animals. Somebody call People For the Ethical Treatment Of Animals And Rocks And Memories!

But what counts is results and Dr. Wise seems to have succeeded in bringing the Monkey King back to muscular, six-packed life, to the wonder of easily impressed daughter Nancy, whose role in this comic seems to be expressing open-mouthed amazement at the scientific miracles wrought by her dad.

Is our Fourth Dimensional Monkey lacking a Super Metamorphosis Supplementary Board? No problem, says Dr. Wise!

So basically after you die Dr. Wise can use his computer to call up your previous existence and combine it with any one of hundreds of different helpless lab animals, subject only to the ethical guidelines of his daughter. I don't think this is what those transhumanists had in mind.

Yee woo woo! Playing god is fun!

That's the afterlife for me, brought back from death to become a horrifying fish-man for the amusement of easily impressed teenagers.

And when you combine a famous karate fighter and a pig, you get... 70s Elvis in the grip of one of his more embarrassing obsessions! No, I kid. You get a karate pig with a Hitler moustache. Be sure to ask him if he knows karate.

Seeing as how I have defiled Nature to bring forth hideous abominations, and it's the year 2988, it's time for you appalling homonoculi to begin intense military training.

Intense military training, that is, administered by a drill-sergeant robot with a hammer. FULL METAL JACKET this ain't.

Your mission, Angels, is to travel to the small South American nation of "McGuffin" and retrieve a "black box" from the fortress of "Plot Device."

As the mission progresses, Fishy The Ninja Flounder is proving to be the most valuable member of the team. Also the tastiest, when grilled over mesquite with a little lemon. But I'm getting ahead of myself here!

Fishy can also be used as a fish surfboard. I think this is what the kids call "planking", right?

Whoops they ran into the electric force field and they all died. Kind of a blessing, really. Still, you have to admire a comic book willing to come right out and admit its own terribleness with the simple phrase, "Things are very bad!" Yes they are, comic. On the other hand, it did come with a free Christmas card. Merry Christmas everybody!