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Previously, I took a look back at the two-part Ultraverse crossover story between Hardcase and the Strangers. It was, indeed, an enjoyable reading experience as a whole to see Hardcase and Choice have an adventure together with the Ultras who previously gained powers while riding a cable car in San Francisco that got hit by energy from the sky. The way the crossover was done resulted an entertaining story and even added to the continued development of some of the characters involved.
This time we examine another crossover of heroes within the Ultraverse by taking a look back at Prototype #5, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Tom Mason and Len Strazewski (with Steve Englehart on the plot) and drawn by Roger Robinson.
The story begins at North California facility where the Strangers – Atom Bob, Grenade, Electrocute, Zip Zap, Yrial, Spectral and Lady Killer – break in and bring down several uniformed personnel. Their purpose is to get into the rocket and make their way to the moon.
Quite conveniently, the Strangers wore space suits, get into the rocket (the JDH-3000) and launch successfully. This upsets the rich and powerful JD Hunt who rejects the idea of destroying the rocket. The next morning at the office, Hunt is very mad over the fact that his rocket has fallen into the hands of ultras. Knowing where exactly the JDH-3000 is heading, he tells one of his staffers to get him Gordon Bell as he plans to send someone up there to bring it back…
To put things in perspective, Prototype #5 is a well-written part of the big Break-Thru crossover of the Ultraverse that happened in late 1993. On its own, it forms the first part of the crossover between Prototype and The Strangers, and it sure is loaded with a lot of build-up (of key elements within the Ultraverse) and exposition.
In terms of writing, this comic book moved at a medium pace with strong emphasis on build-up. What I really found intriguing here is the politics of the fictional corporate world within the Ultraverse. There were these very powerful corporate executives communicating with each other, and there was JD Hunt who intensely joined a meeting blaming Gorden Bell for costing him billions of Dollars. The corporate politics here are actually connected with Prototype and the Strangers.
As this is a build-up comic book, you won’t get to see Prototype (Jimmy Ruiz the pilot to be precise) physically together with the Strangers until very, very late in the story. In fact, there is a lot development and a few character introductions to go through before Prototype (with two foreign companions developed by his corporate handlers) leaves for space.
Being heavy on exposition and light on spectacle, Prototype #5 is a decent Ultraverse comic book to read. If you were expecting to see Prototype together with the Strangers for the majority of the comic book (note: the cover art is quite suggestive), you will get disappointed. However, this comic book builds up mainly on other elements of the Ultraverse, specifically the corporate forces behind the scenes. By the time you finish reading Prototype #5, you will gain a better view of what causes events to happen and how they affect the ultras. The ending of the story, I should say, is compelling enough to make you anticipate what would happen next in The Strangers #7.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #5 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4. The near-mint copy of the newsstand edition meanwhile costs $13.
Overall, Prototype #5 (1993) is satisfactory.
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