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Millhouse Underground

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A series of comic books, which have a few different media adaptations.

Comic Books

Noted author Maurice G Kernigan has created at least 3 separate universes in his comic books, all of which have copious amounts of fanon to support large expanded universes. The most popular two are a horror world, and a complex political thriller which is told through the eyes of a dozen highly developed spies, each of whom has adventures in different parts of the world and different strata of society. It would be possible for these stories to take place in the same universe, but it's never explicitly canon.

One location which seems to exist in multiple series is a pawnbroker's shop, Malarkey & Sons, which is run by a notorious dealer in stolen goods, especially religious artifacts and rare magical items. In the horror world, he is a vampire. There is a comic shop of the same name in the real world, in greater Ashfields. The owner is a scrawny old man called Isaac, who treats comics like holy items and will only sell them to people he deems worthy. the place gets a better description in chapter 61 of The Last New Start.

There is also a third series, about mafia enforcers who start dealing with supernatural threats to their city. This one is a lot darker. Fans generally refer to it as "Millhouse Underground". There is an ongoing argument (rarely civil) between fans about whether these stories are set in the same universe as either or both of Kernigan's main series; or as his 3 or 4 standalone superhero books. Some characters from this one make brief appearances in the 80s movies, but this isn't considered canon by most fans.

Known series/arcs in the Millhouse Underground universe include:

  • Cassarone Twins (Victor and Marten, a story of two choirboys trying to not be like their abusive stepfather, but on opposite sides)
  • Eighth Street Pilgrims
  • Falcon and Blade
    • Falcon and Strife (a sequel? Tess bought herself one issue and Spike bought her the second)
  • Flaming Bodyguard
  • The Clockwork Don (inspiration for an unauthorised French-language Shaaark! movie, which could be made because the cartoon rightsholders screwed up the Canadian trademark registration - also one book which could possibly have been the inspiration for Tags)
  • Canon Flash (an unpopular series including scenes of Cerberus Shark as a young man in Vietnam. Described in MCK chapter 101. Possibly an inspiration for Tags 2)

Characters include:

  • Mnemonic Harry - a technomancer. the Three Rings series might be his redemption arc (Gabby says he has had three volumes to redeem himself at the time of Golden Ring)
  • Don Cassarone (possibly related to Victor; played by Todd Lynchblud in the movie Striker)

About eight months before filming started on Tags, Kernigan posted on Twitter (or some equivalent site) that he was really looking forward to it, tagging the executive producer and both directors. This post was deleted after about an hour, and confused many of his fans. It was the first mention of the movie on social media; and came more than a month before it was even suspected that the producer and directors were working on a secret project together. Many of Kenigan's fans (including Ffrances Jones, who is a huge fan) then started speculating about which of Kernigan's series the movie was going to be based on.

80s movies

Some 80s movies (which were originally only available in a few countries) later came out on SVCD and laserdisc; they were mostly hated by fans because they translated events to different countries (moving the South American parts of the spy saga to China or Russia, where they inexplicably take place in the same cities as other stories but with a different mayor), or implied that some parts of the mafia books took place in Ukraine. Even fans who think the mafia and spy books are part of the same universe would have issues with the way those movies had characters from such different backgrounds happening to know each other. However, Tags included some characters who were clearly inspired by 80s movie-original characters, causing a sudden rush of people wanting to watch them now.

  • Crimson (sometimes stylised Crim Son) is one of the later ones. The plot is about the estranged son of a mafia enforcer ("Victor") making amends with his family as he discovers a natural talent for violence. Production values were terrible. It's a mafia story, but was moved to Moscow in order to let a few minor characters from the spy series make a guest appearance. The scriptwriters apparently did no research on Russian laws or culture when adapting it. Cerberus Shark was played by someone who might have been David Hasselhoff. (He was uncredited, so if it was really him he was probably embarrassed by the performance)


There was previously a kids TV series called Shaaark!, popular "a few years ago". Featuring a heavily modified version of the characters from the mafia comics.

The show is heavily reframed, with narcissist vigilante Cerberus Shark becoming a police detective instead and taking the lead role. Many of the more sympathetic characters also lost their criminal backgrounds, and Victor Cassarone became the heir to a family pizza chain rather than a mafia family. The show is one that anyone with kids in the right age group would have heard of, but it wasn't particularly successful. It was billed as an action-adventure show, but leaned closer to comedy more often.

It seems there was a Canadian-made movie based on the series, using the same voice actors as the French dub of the series. This was never released to the international market, and was pretty much unheard of. Even in Canada, it was only released on DVD in a gift set with some toys, and later split into 3 parts to be broadcast as a new finale to the series. Following the release of Tags, some arty cinemas around the world have decided to show this one too; as it is (very loosely) based on the same comic arc as the current movie. It seems that it was financed by someone who acquired the rights, but didn't understand how much had changed in the adaptation. They basically gave a Korean writers room (who had never seen either) the comic books the story was going to be based on, and a selection of scripts from the last season of Shaaark!, and told them to adapt it. Then hired a professional translation firm who weren't used to working with fiction or with children's material; and gave the resulting scripts to a bunch of actors and artists who either didn't care, or were hoping that this dumb movie would go viral among comics fans.


A movie that the main characters went to see in The Last New Start chapter 21; expanded on in My Cousin's Keeper chapters 22-24. Tess casually refers to it as "the Cerberus Shark movie".

The movie Tags is based on Kernigan's mafia comic books, although this fact was never publicised. Before release, there were only cryptic teaser trailers, which mostly showed people running around in dark alleys, threatening each other, a man dragging an injured girl out of a collapsing building, and a burst of bright light that could possibly have been something supernatural or a spy-fi superweapon. Even many members of the cast weren't known to the public before release. This was an experimental strategy by corporate sponsor (and organiser) Claughton Innovative. It worked, generating a massive amount of buzz. People talked about the movie a lot even when they didn't know what it was.

One aspect of the trailers that a lot of people commented on was a brief appearance of Samuel L Jackson, who many of Kernigan's fans took to be a main character but argued about who he was supposed to be. Popular guesses were Junior (from the spy series), or Justice Goldstein (horror). He ended the second teaser trailer by slamming his fist down on a table and saying "Mine!" angrily. In the end he turned out to be Cerberus Shark, although in a form that would be unrecognisable to anyone familiar with the TV series. He only showed up in the last fifteen minutes of the movie; and after it was out, many people suspected that he was setting the scene for a sequel. Even when they knew it was based on Kernigan's mafia books, most people wouldn't expect to see Cerberus Shark in it, so his sudden appearance was a big surprise to anyone who recognised his catchphrase (although his name was never mentioned in the movie, so people unfamiliar with the source material came up with a few different nicknames for him).


The second movie, currently in production, is named Striker. If is a prequel, following Cerberus Shark's time in the military. It is based on the story originally told in Canon Flash and comedy book The Biker, the Don, and the Pope; although the modified version of those stories adapted for the movie also appears in the Three Rings trilogy. People who aren't familiar with Canon Flash already will probably think that it is a screen adaptation of the three rings, but focusing only on the stories told in the flashbacks.