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If you are looking for a great origin story set within the Ultraverse, you can’t go wrong with Prototype #0. Before we explore the said comic book, let me remind you that during my review of Prototype #1, I stated that it was great and it had a nice balance between spectacle, storytelling and characterization. There were also references to some threads to the past with regards to Bob Campbell (the original Prototype pilot) who could not help but witness his replacement Jimmy Ruiz have the spotlight being the new Prototype.
That being said, we can take a trip to the events that happened in the past with this look back at Prototype #0, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Tom Mason and Len Strazewski with illustrations done by Gordon Purcell and Keith Conroy.
The story begins some time in the past with an interview with top executive Stanley Leland who recalls how Bob Campbell got involved with his corporation Ultratech. As it turned out, Campbell was working in Hollywood as a stunt performer in science fiction films. Campbell fit in nicely with Hollywood job having previously served as a member of the United States Army’s special forces and has been experienced with tactical weapons and hand-to-hand combat.
The advertising agency of Leland’s company hired Campbell to wear a multipurpose exoskeleton prototype armor for the filming of a promotional project meant for the military. Campbell used what turned out to be the original Prototype armor which was very bulky and had a dome-style metallic head (that reminds of Marvel’s Mysterio). Even though it was bulky, the armor was still loaded with weapons and enhanced the pilot’s physical strength by twenty times complete with artificial intelligence (AI) assisting with the operation.
Even though there was a hitch (something went offline) during the filming, Bob Campbell still managed to make great use of the armor and delivered results so spectacular, Leland hired him with a high-paying contract to work officially as Prototype.
Ultratech benefited nicely in terms of sales with Prototype as their key figure and Campbell had that Rambo style which impressed the military. Shortly after, the success started entering Campbell’s head resulting more costs for Ultratech…
This is one great and very cleverly crafted superhero origin story! When it comes to the presentation, the exploration of past events by means of recollections and memories of different people interviewed is excellent! Having worked before as a reporter for a local community newspaper, I myself interviewed a lot of people to dig for information about the past and as such, this comic book’s approach is something I personally strongly relate with.
Through the words of Leland, Campbell’s ex-wife, Marjorie Fredericks and Hastings the caretaker, the details of what happened with Bob Campbell as the original Prototype are clearly defined. The same goes with the nature of Ultratech as a corporation and owner/developer of the powered suits of armor, not to mention how they affect the public’s perception and how they treat their employees. The last chapter focused on Jimmy Ruiz and how he became the present-day Prototype was handled in a more conventional way.
Along the way, the dialogue is very well written and the characters are nicely defined which is no surprise considering the combined high talents of Tom Mason and Len Strazewski. The art provided Gordon Purcelli and Keith Conroy is very good. Apart from the in-depth writing, the dynamic action and strong visuals, I should say that this comic book is a lot of fun to read and it perfect connects with issue #1.
Prototype #0 is undoubtedly a great comic book to read and easily one of the very best Ultraverse stories I read (apart from being one of the best superhero origin stories of the UV) so far. I was really engaged from start to finish, and I should state that Bob Campbell’s importance is real even as he became the has-been character in the later Prototype issues. This comic book successfully achieved its purpose on telling the origin of Prototype and made sense out of what Roland Mann said: the race has only just started!
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #0, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $4.
Overall, Prototype #0 is highly recommended!
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