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Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s culture and fans of Malibu Comics. Today we return to the Ultraverse and I should say that I am getting very close to closing my retro review run on the Prototype monthly series. So far, I found Prototype to be a really enjoyable and engaging series. It is too bad that the Ultraverse did not last too long because as far as armored superheroes go, Malibu Comics’ armored hero concept is very unique and fun to read. Had the Ultraverse lasted long, Prototype would have been explored a whole lot more and writers Tom Mason and Len Strazewski would have created more new stories of him.
Last time around, Jimmy Ruiz (who no longer has the high compensation and big-time perks of his original employer) got into trouble and had to use his armor as he was the target of another huge and powerful armored rival. The battle ended costly for Prototype.
What will happen next to him? We can all find out in this look back at Prototype #17, published by Malibu Comics in 1995 with a story written by Len Strazewski and drawn by George Dove.
The story begins inside a top-secret facility. A man realizes that all the flesh below his waste are gone, completely replaced with metallic tentacles which make him look like a human octopus. The man in shock is none of other than Stanley Leland and his is welcomed to Terrordyne. Terrordyne makes clear they do not want to hurt him but have him as their new CEO and they know he desires revenge against Prototype.
Elsewhere, the Prototype armor is being repaired by Bob Campbell (Ranger). Jimmy, who is desperate to get Angella back, is eager to get back into action but the repair of his armor is not moving as fast as he wanted. Fortunately, Bob’s wife arrives with a man who believes he can help them. She tells Jimmy that the Prototype armor’s power coupling will be improved by forty percent.
Soon enough, the armor gets enhanced and Jimmy could sense the differences already. Soon enough, he goes on a mission with Ranger accompanying him…
Starting with the story, I’m happy to say that the writing here is stronger, the dialogue has more depth and the plot is much more intriguing to read compared to the previous few issues. The concept of this comic book is about the effort to find and save Angella but with Ranger getting involved not only to add assist Prototype on the field but also provide him insight on dealing with a serious matter like the kidnapping done by very powerful opponents. In a way, having upgraded armor and weapons are not sufficient and even though he fought lots of enemies before, Jimmy Ruiz lacks the maturity, the self-control and strategy needed to do his mission. The scenes showing Ranger providing Prototype assistance in the form of strategies related to past experiences (that Bob Campbell went through) were done cleverly and never hampered the pace of the story.
As for the art, George Dove did a good job visualizing the armors of Prototype and Ranger. He also was good with drawing the action scenes.
To be clear, Prototype #17 (1995) is a two-heroes-in-one type of story that is character-led. For one thing, Jimmy is desperate, impatient and does things recklessly while Bob Campbell does his best to keep him stable and to prevent him from screwing up everything due to recklessness. It shows that the protagonist is not only humanly fragile, but also getting close to his breaking point. The emotional element makes the story worth reading.
Overall, Prototype #17 (1995) is recommended.
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