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Welcome back, superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.
As seen in my previous Sludge retro review, the stakes were raised even higher and Sludge finds himself in the middle of a major conflict between the gangs of the city with the involvement of the group of the Pump. By this point, the titular character is not only desperate but also is getting torn between good and evil.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #8, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.
The story begins with TV news coverage doing a recap of events that shook New York City and its people – the abduction of a drug mule, the destruction of a ship filled with illegal immigrants, the destruction in the cemetery left behind by a major conflict there, and the death of crime boss John Paul Marcello which involved action by Sludge.
Sludge then wakes up from another nightmare and finds himself inside a boiler room which has a TV set and a chair. It turns out the place was set up by a janitor who does not even know Sludge is present. Slowly, Sludge sneaks his way back to the sewer.
At a cemetery, the burial of Marcello is being attended by many people and among them is Don Celini who regarded the late crime boss as a man of vision who made a lot of money for many people. Vittorio, the former loyal assistant to Marcello, is told by Don Celini to demonstrate leadership qualities to the heads of the other gangs. In the evening at a discreet place, Vittorio meets with Bloodstorm with a lot of money on the side…
To make things clear about the storytelling, the conflict between the crime gangs not only became more intense but also turned out quite intriguing. Clearly writer Steve Gerber carefully planned out the events, character developments and twists for this series. That being said, this comic book has a fine mix of suspense, crime story and even the supernatural for the narrative’s progress, and the good news is that these elements were presented in a believable way.
As presented in the previous issues, Sludge’s desperation and death wish will keep on intriguing you especially when he gets bothered by the Pump (arguably the most evil figure of the entire Ultraverse). Even as the war between gangs heat up, the story even had space for investigative journalism moments through the news reporter Shelley (who encountered Sludge in person before) whose pursuit for the facts remains unrelenting.
While the previous issue made me think deeply about the state of Sludge’s character and the gang war he became involved with, Sludge #8 (1994) is an even more intriguing Ultraverse read complete with solid twists that must be seen. Without spoiling the story, this comic book will strongly resonate with readers who really started the Sludge series from issue #1 (note: Bloodstorm’s involvement in this comic book will be more relevant if you have previously read his detailed introduction in issue #2). The current storyline – Street Wars – went significant steps forward in this story and I can say that the creative team of Gerber and Aaron Lopresti were successful in making me anticipate the conclusion.
Overall, Sludge #8 (1994) is recommended.
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