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Welcome back Ultraverse fans, geeks and comic book collectors! Here is another trip back into the Ultraverse, which for me is the most defining line of superhero comics that was realized in the 1990s. The UV lasted for only a few years and along the way publisher Malibu Comics got acquired by Marvel Comics.
History aside, we are about to explore The Strangers again in the sixteenth issue of the monthly series that was spearheaded mainly by the creative duo of Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg. Here is a look back at The Strangers #16, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Englehart and drawn by Hoberg.
The story begins in a local community in California wherein one of the houses is hosting a block party. Already a disturbance to the neighbors (note: police officers had to temporarily close down a short stretch of the public road and restricted others from getting near), the said party offers people a chance to meet in person Atom Bob who has his teammates with him.
During a private meeting, The Strangers discuss what they encountered lately (note: this refers to their encounters with Gangsta and Brazen. Also involved was someone called the Pilgrim. As they keep talking, Lady Killer stressed that they all need to be ready for further encounters.
Meanwhile in the downtown area of the city, three costumed characters (who previously road a cable car just like The Strangers) are plotting something…
Let me start first with the art done by Rick Hoberg with ink work by Tim Eldred. I should state that since issue #1, Hoberg not only drew characters, places, creatures and backgrounds with his captivating style, he also maintained a high level of quality and proved he can bring any comic book script into life with images. His art is so good, this comic book is fun reading again and again. I should also state that the coloring for this story is very lively and more dream-like in style thanks to the color design by Moose Baumann and interior color by Prisms.
When it comes to the story, this comic book’s concept is pretty unique and Steve Englehart deserves credit for coming up with something fresh while still leaving room for spectacle and characterization. The idea of a block party held in the middle of a community of family homes celebrating the presence of superheroes is cool and it opened up new ways to define the characters not to mention emphasizing how their presence affects people not on the city level but on the local community! Having worked as a local community newspaper journalist myself, I know what’s it like when local communities have special activities or events that bring together (or captivate) the neighbors. Along the way, the dialogue is varied (note: lots of characters other than The Strangers had lines), the portrayal of The Strangers is consistent and the story’s pace flowed smoothly.
Speaking of characterization, there is notable focus on Atom Bob and Lady Killer who already have feelings for each other. As the home of Atom Bob’s family serves as the venue of the party, you will get to see the character interact with the local neighbors and others he personally knew for a long time which is a very refreshing way of developing him. Lady Killer meanwhile tries to maintain balance between being the team’s professional leader and having feelings for Atom Bob while trying to respect his parents.
And then there is a growing group of ultras who intend to destroy The Strangers. It was at this stage in The Strangers monthly series in which a genuine opposition against the title team really started to take shape. The good news is that the Pilgrim and the other opposing ultras were not portrayed as generic bad guys but people who are struggling and have a cause.
There is no doubt that The Strangers #16 (1994) is a whole lot of fun, very compelling and intriguing to read from start to finish. Anyone who loves the title team will find something to enjoy and follow, while those who keep on enjoying the conflict between good-and-evil will find something new and entertaining here. Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg not only continued to deliver high-quality superhero stories with The Strangers, they really were one of the best creative duos of the 1990s.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #16 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.
Overall, The Strangers #16 (1994) is highly recommended!
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