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Welcome back superhero fans, enthusiasts of 1990s arts and culture, and comic book collectors! As the old saying goes…if you’ve got a problem that needs solving, you call The Solution. What if, for example, The Solution is in another world dealing with major problems and are out of reach?
In the previous two issues I reviewed (click here and here), The Solution got themselves in conflict with the powerful alien force called the Vyr as their member Shadowmage (also referred to as Aera) stole the Vorlexx from them many years prior. During the confrontation in France, the Vyr captured Aera who managed to discreetly pass the Vorlexx to Lela Cho (Tech) before their separation. Since after, The Solution traveled to different worlds with the Vorlexx and teamed up with a man called Harmonica who is knowledgeable about the Aerwan and the Darkur. Unbeknowst to them, the Vyr are watching them from a distance.
With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #11, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by John Statema with ink work by Barbara Kaalberg.
The story begins with Dropkick, Harmonica, Tech and Vurk in a desperate situation. Just as they need to get away fast, Dropkick notices that the Vorlexx is not working. Harmonica points to the cliffs as the only way out. With his wings, Vurk takes Tech with him to fly up while Harmonica takes Dropkick. As soon as they arrived up the cliff, they find themselves facing the massive Aerwan army whose members are scattered across the ground and the air. An Aerwan military leader tells The Solution to surrender the Vorlexx.
Meanwhile, the Vyr are watching the live video feed of The Solution and the Aerwan army. Shadowmage, who has been restrained in a very painful and humiliating position, has been watching her friends since they exited the cave. While she still remains unharmed by her captors, she knows that her torments are just beginning. The Vyr want her to see what will happen to her friends…
Wow! The storytelling and visual presentation in this comic book got even wilder and the sci-fi element of this particular storyline really went into overdrive! For one thing, much of the tension which started building up in issues #9 and #10 paid off big time in the early part of this comic book as the inevitable battle between the Darkur (Vurk’s people) and the Aerwans (Shadowmage’s people) which easily made The Solution and Harmonica ending up tiny in the middle. Of course, as this is still about the team’s desperate attempt to rescue Aera from the very powerful Vyr, you will really see Lela Cho, Vurk, Dropkick (who carries the Vorlexx) struggle a lot in close encounters with aliens just as they keep on trusting Harmonica (whom they formed an uneasy alliance with) to help them. It is compelling to see how the three mentioned Solution teammates not only struggle to survive but also strive to overcome great odds knowing that if they fail, Aera/Shadowmage will perish. Very clearly, this is a very high-stakes story that James Hudnall prepared and the way I see it, this storyline really added a lot to the development of The Solution.
As for the art, I can say that this, in my opinion, is John Statema at his grandest with the Ultraverse. While being supported by by Barbara Kaalberg’s detailed ink work, Statema really captured the wild sci-fi tale Hudnall prepared and showed The Solution within a very strange environment surrounded by death and uncertainty. A lot of this comic book’s pages are filled with action scenes (note: lots of bloody scenes but without the color red) that are also nicely structured and each member of The Solution had the appropriate dynamic visuals that fitted nicely with their respective big moments. More notably, Statema really worked hard showing the many, many Aerwans and Darkur warriors who filled the pages – especially the two 2-page shots that each showed a wide view of the field – and succeeded in presenting monsters that were scary and very alien in design.
The Solution #11 (1994) is a wild Ultraverse concept that succeeded in engaging and entertaining me from start to finish. It is a great pay-off to what was built up since The Solution #9 and having the team lost in another world in their pursuit of their captured teammate really moved this series forward. In fact, when it comes to expanding the boundaries of the Ultraverse itself, this comic book really achieved that! This is also the most ambitious sci-fi tale of the UV that I’ve read. The ironic thing is that this comic book is not even the conclusion to its storyline. There is still more to come and I can say I’m really motivated to read the next issue.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #11 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48.
Overall, The Solution #11 (1994) is highly recommended!
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