A Look Back at Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the 30th anniversary celebration of the X-Men which took place in 1993. Back then, Marvel Comics went full blast with the anniversary celebration of their mutants by releasing related merchandise, posters and comic books with gimmick covers (note: read my retro review of 1993’s X-Men #25) that came with high prices.

To put things in perspective regarding 1993, Marvel’s X-Men line of comics had monthly series of Uncanny X-Men, X-Men (Volume 2), X-Force, X-Factor, Excalibur, Wolverine and Cable. X-Factor #92 marked the start of the Fatal Attractions storyline which was the basis for the X-Men 30th anniversary celebration. X-Force #25 was released and it not only brought Cable back but also Magneto.  

Then came the 3rd chapter of the Fatal Attractions storyline which was published in Uncanny X-Men #304. Not only did that particular comic book bring together many mutants and moved the storyline forward to a crucial stage (note: tension leading to it was built up in Uncanny X-Men #300, Uncanny X-Men #303 and also in X-Men Unlimited #1), it also served as the very celebration of the 30th anniversary of the X-Men (although it was not the storyline’s conclusion as the plot continued in X-Men #25, Wolverine #75 and Excalibur #71).

So did this particular, anniversary celebrating issue of the Uncanny X-Men succeed with its objectives? Has it aged well through the decades? We can all find out in this look back at Uncanny X-Men #304, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by John Romita, Jr., Jae Lee, Chris Sprouse, Brandon Peterson and Paul Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with division among the Acolytes who learned that their lord Magneto actually survived (note: refer to 1991’s X-Men #3). They ganged up against their leader Fabian Cortez for betraying Magneto. After pushing his now rebellious team members away, Cortez reminds them that for several months already, they have been continuing Magneto’s work on behalf of mutantkind. Suddenly Exodus appears to them and describes himself as the voice of Magneto and will guide mutants to rise and mentions paradise for the faithful mutants. After subduing Cortez and tempering the tension among the Acolytes, Exodus tells them to prepare themselves for ascension. This frustrates Cortez who realizes that he no longer holds leadership.

Over at the X-Men’s headquarters, Charlez Xavier is personally disturbed over the death of Illyana Rasputin, the sister of Colossus. He starts questioning himself as Illyana’s death under his watch makes his years-long mission (of convincing his fellow mutants to leave their old lives to take risks to fight for a world that fears and hates them) doubtful and tries to figure out how he could present himself in front of them. A holographic image of Lilandra appears to him.

In outer space, inside the space station called Avalon, Magneto stares at planet Earth. With nobody around him, he speaks apologizing to his followers for he cannot save them all. He also mentions that he was wrong in previously believing that he could rescue each and every one of them from humanity as he recently realized that Earth, for the moment, is doomed.

After walking an unspecified distance inside Avalon, Magneto picks up his old helmet and wears it…

Quality

This 2-page art by Brandon Peterson is easily the best looking part of the comic book.

I will start with the visual aspect of this comic book. The artistic quality ranges from fine to weird which should not be surprising since this one involved five artists. The 4 pages drawn by Brandon Peterson (who was once a regular artist on Uncanny X-Men) made the X-Men, Magneto and the Acolytes look not only good but also intense. The Peterson art here is artistically similar to the respective styles of Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee of that particular time. Jae Lee’s art on the flashback of Magneto’s life (during the time of the Nazi occupation in Europe) is undoubtedly very stylized. While his art brings out the intensity of Magneto’s painful past, certain images can be a little challenging to understand especially to readers who focus strongly only following the plot and details. John Romita, Jr.’s art, for me personally, often looks rough and there were times I hardly recognized the characters. The other artworks by Paul Smith and Chris Sprouse have cartoonish aesthetics.

This is Jae Lee’s artistic contribution to the comic book. I found it weird that Magneto’s hair was shown as white during his past with the Nazis.

As for the plot, I can clearly see that a hard effort was made to compose a story that would push the Fatal Attractions storyline forward, establish a turning point and still become worthy of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the X-Men franchise. I can say that the storytelling is somewhat bloated. Early in the story, it was made clear that the respective sections showing Exodus with the Acolytes, Charles Xavier and Magneto pointed to an eventual confrontation that happened during the funeral of Illyana Rasputin.

As the build-up continued with the flashback of Magneto’s life, the fan service short scene of Kitty Pryde and the unfeeling Colossus (note: their romance was highlighted in Uncanny X-Men many years prior), and the talk scene between Bishop and Banshee, the pace of the story slowed down dramatically. By the time the attempt to move the narrative back to the core plot was made with the funeral scene (composed of the X-Men, X-Force and X-Factor), the pace was still really way down. By the time the conflict with Magneto, Exodus and the Acolytes stated, the pace recovery was incomplete and as such, seeing the scene unfold was very jarring (and not even the pages of Colossus’ frustration towards Professor X could solve the narrative pacing problem).

Unsurprisingly, the conflict was written to be overly dramatic complete with lengthy pieces of dialogue here and there. That being said, references to past comic books were established as Magneto once again emphasizes his beliefs about the human-mutant conflict using violence (while also side-stepping Jean Grey’s psionic powers to allow the Acolytes to come in undetected).

Human-mutant conflict aside, themes about faith, religion, idolatry salvation are clearly used. Magneto, who has a tremendous record of villainy and his previous leadership of the X-Men proved useless, was portrayed to be a walking wicked idol whose followers cannot do anything except idolize him and cause violence out of dedication to him. They really could not realize that idolatry is foolish and unholy which further adds to chaos on the world. As Magneto deceived himself to be the savior and lord of mutants, he further causes more pain and destruction to others around him. In short, Magneto will always be stuck with his wicked nature and clearly does not deserve heavenly authority no matter how hard he believes himself to be a savior.

The classic rivalry between Xavier and Magneto here was portrayed dramatically and yet I cannot help but think that their conflict was nothing more than a repeat of past encounters with the state and future of mutants at stake. To be fair, what happened here served as a logical build-up for the shocking encounter between Professor X and Magneto in X-Men #25.

Conclusion

Nobody among the X-Men, X-Force, Excalibur and X-Factor cared to dress properly for the funeral.

To be clear, even though I am an avid X-Men fan, I find Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993) hard to be engaged with and hard to enjoy. Efforts to make it a worthy celebration of the X-Men are very clear but it’s just not entertaining nor compelling to read. As for the X-Men traitor scene, the revelation was not that shocking as the foreshadowing made it too obvious. At best, this comic book served as a warm-up for X-Men #25 which itself paid-off nicely. Being more than sixty pages long (including the advertisement and bulletins), this comic book has too much creative baggage which ultimately hampered its storytelling. It’s not terrible. It’s really not that great to read. What I experienced way back in 1993 with this comic book is just the same as I re-read it. It has not aged well.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $20, while the near-mint copies of the signed-and-numbered edition and the newsstand edition cost $120 and $60 respectively.

Overall, Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993) is satisfactory.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Suikoden II (1999)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Suikoden II (English version, released in 1999) and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Even though I have not played that many Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) on consoles over the past several years, I am really excited about the upcoming RPGs that will be released on Xbox Series X and the future JRPGs I am looking forward to are Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising developed by Rabbit & Bear Studios (led by Yoshitaka Murayama).

Who is Yoshitaka Murayama? He created the memorable Suikoden (AKA Genso Suikoden) RPG franchise during his time with Konami, specifically the first three games. I myself played and finished Suikoden on the original PlayStation in 1996 and it was a lot of fun thanks to the combined efforts of Murayama (who did the scenarios and game direction) and his teammates such as Junko Kawano (who did the design), Miki Higashino (who did the music along with four other teammates) and some others.

Then in 1999, the sequel to Suikoden was released and I can never forget the day I bought it at a local game store and rushed home with a lot of excitement to start playing it on our then aging PlayStation console.

So you must be wondering…how did I find the sequel? Was it an improvement over its predecessor? Did Murayama and the key creators do better than what they did in the first game? You can all find out in this look back at Suikoden II, published by Konami for the PlayStation (PS1).

The cover of the North American version of Suikoden II.

Early story

The story begins with two youngsters – Riou (your character whose name can be modified) and Jowy – who are close friends since childhood now serving the Highland Army as members of their youth brigade. They spend time in a military camp in the forest as a peace treaty between two great forces is pending (note: Highland has been in conflict with the City-State of Jowston).

As some soldiers expressed desires to go home once the peace has been finalized, Riou and Jowy are ordered by their commanding officer Rowd to go back to their tent and sleep. However, a surprise attack happened which alerted them. As soon as the two close friends left their tent, they are shocked to see parts of the camp burning. Their officer Rowd informed them that their enemy is responsible for the attack and deliberately broke the peace agreement. Riou and Jowy are told to take the mountain path to the east and save themselves before it is too late.

Fearing that they might get ambushed in the woods, Jowy tells Riou that they should return to camp. Upon returning, they quietly witness the unexpected presence of Highland prince Luca Blight who gets briefed by Rowd. As it turns out, the attack on their camp was not committed by the opposing forces but rather it was all a self-inflicted operation by Highland. Rowd’s instruction to some of their selected soldiers to head east was a set-up. What happened was all part of a plan by Highland to escalate the conflict by blaming their losses on Jowston. Luca Blight expressed clearly that a peace treaty with Jowston and its states was not needed, and he strongly believes in the power of Highland to conquer them all.

Jowy and Riou (upper-right corner) quietly witness the conversation between prince Luca Bright and the captain.

After learning the shocking details, Riou and Jowy decide to leave for the cliff to the north as a way of escape. At the cliff, Rowd catches up to the two. Fortunately, Riou and Jowy were successful in defeating Rowd’s soldiers and pave the way for their escape. Before fleeing, they marked a rock and promised to return to that same place if ever they get separated.

Riou and Jowy jumped off the cliff and get separated. Some time later, Riou wakes up and finds himself in the presence of three men. One of them identifies himself as Viktor, the leader of an army of mercenaries and an ally of Jowston. Another member of the mercenary army in blue arrives and he is Flik.

Being powerless, Riou marches with them to the headquarters of the mercenary army…

Quality

Luca Blight (with sword) is a lot more than just being evil as the game’s main antagonist.

Having played Suikoden a lot in 1996, I got familiar with the game design, the varied battle systems and other features that made it a solid RPG on its own. As for Suikoden II, I can clearly say that Murayama and his creative team built up on their foundation (in the first game), expanded the fantasy concept dramatically and ultimately made an extensive series of improvements and additions over each and every aspect of the sequel!

I’ll start first with the storytelling and writing. Compared to its predecessor, I found Suikoden II to be deeper and it took great advantage of the fact that the plot took place just years after first game and by this time the established world, the cities, tribes and geopolitical concept have been developed so much – backed with solid writing – they all become a lot more believable. In the middle of the great conflict are the three main characters Riou, Jowy and Nanami whose exploits and portrayals are pretty rich and lively to follow. It’s kinda like following the love triangle of Hikaru, Misa and Minmay through the war in the classic Super Dimension Fortress Macross anime TV series, except that you – the player – get heavily involved as Rious by making decisions that affect yourself and others, leading missions, building up a community (and force) of over 100 members, and overcoming challenges related to the conflict between Highland and Jowston.

The great news here is that the Riou-Jowy-Nanami emotional arc was written to be dramatic, engaging, intriguing and sentimental which ultimately will make you feel for them just as you make your way through the many events and twists of the war story. Beyond these three key characters, it should be noted that the scenarios are excellently executed and really showed how lively the fantasy world of Suikoden II really is. I’m talking about the portrayal of the many, many supporting characters and the interactions you have with them as the plot moves forward. Remember how lively your troops were in welcoming you back after winning your first army battle? Such a scenario was well directed and scripted, and the supporting characters you recruited really had their moments of participation which make sense within the narrative. I also should mention that the opposition figure of the game – Luca Blight – is still a powerful and complex villain in JRPGs even by today’s standards. Luca Blight is not evil for the sake of being evil, but if you pay close attention to the details about his background as the game’s story goes on, you will realize he is quite a complex character whose evil made sense within the narrative. Very clearly, the writing and storytelling done by Yoshitaka Muraya is not only greater than in the first game, but also very inspired.

Viktor, who also appeared in the first game, continues to be an important supporting character in this sequel! He is one of several characters from Suikoden who returned.

On the gameplay and design, Suikoden II’s exploration of the world, towns and locations uses good old 2D graphics. The big difference here is that the 2D visual elements are more varied in terms of detailed sprites for non-playable characters (NPCs) and interactive characters, and visually the sprites as well as the art used for the in-game environments looked more polished (clearer, smoother and less pixelated). The controls are responsive enough for my taste, and it is also nice that my character moves faster while exploring. More on exploring, I do confirm that there are indeed more locations to visit (including those that are part of the quests related to finding the 100+ characters) and the art made for the locations are more varied as well.

More on the gameplay, two types of battle systems from the first game are back but with refinements. First to talk about is the party battle system in which players get to control a group of up to six members who face off with enemies by group, or a single powerful boss-type enemy. During the party battle, you get to pick options as to what type of action each member of your party will do – Attack, Magic (note: this involve Runes), Item or Flee (note: if your party is much stronger than the opposition, Bribe or Let Go options will appear).

The party battle system is a lot of fun and not too stressful.

The way the battles are designed, as in the first game, is smooth, very visually appealing (thanks to the dynamic camera and fine level of detail of the sprites and animation) and fun to watch. Adding further depth to the party battles are the combined attacks involving at least two characters. Take for example Flik and Viktor doing the cross-attack, or Riou and Nanami performing a series of combo attack moves in strong coordination with each other. These combined attacks are not only fun to perform and see, but also encourages you to experiment by mixing up characters (specifically combatants) and paying attention as to which characters they can do combined attacks with. This alone will encourage you to complete the 108 characters of your force.

The use of Runes has been improved a lot in this game as the combatants now have three slots to equip Runes (note: these slots gradually open up as characters’ levels go up). Runes are essential to use magic spells in battles and the improvement of the Runes – plus the Run Affinity system – add more variety in the battles.

The 2D sprites are very visually appealing, especially when you watch the characters perform varied forms of action during the party battle.

Compared to other Japanese RPGs, the party battles here are much less stressful even though a random encounter system is used. There is also the option for automated attacks, which spares you from having to choose options for each member of your party to perform when fighting the enemies. Granted, I went through lots of random encounter battles and some challenges, but ultimately the stress level and tedium were very low. Doing party battles is fun overall.

The 2nd battle system inherited from the first game is the duel. Duels happen the least throughout the game but each time they happen, they can be quite engaging to do. As the one-on-one battle between your character and an opponent begins, you will see them in a 3D realm with the dynamic camera capturing the action. Your options are mainly Attack, Wild Attack and Defend, and before you can pick an option, you must pay attention first to the clues (note: taunts) from your opponent which can help you anticipate his/her/its next move. While the visuals are clearly improved, the duel is pretty much the same as in the first game.

Duels happen in a 3D environment with the characters still presented as 2D sprites that are not only highly detailed but also are smoothly animated.
Like in the party battles, duel sequences also have a dynamic camera system complete with zoom during the action.

The 3rd battle system – army battles – is clearly the most revised part of the game as it is radically different from the army battles of the previous game. This time the army battles involves the heavy use of a tactical map (where you move units in a grid-like system). Your units – composed of mainly characters you recruited, including the non-combatants – can be moved on the map to counter an enemy unit. Then a short, animated battle sequence will commence and based on the statistics of each unit, the winner and loser of the sequence will be determined. Take note that in events of defeat, recruits can die permanently. As such, it is important to pay attention to not only the statistics but also the types of troops you have such as archers, healers, knights, and foot troops. When controlling units on the map, your options are Attack, Wait and Rune. It is also very entertaining to see how the characters react (with dialogue, no less) to the battles. Overall, the army battle system here is clearly much deeper and more strategic than what was used in the first Suikoden.

The army battles in this game are more tactical than what was presented in the first Suikoden. This is also the main map used for such battles.

Battles aside, there are also lots of things to do related to exploration. For one thing, there are these fun-filled mini-games the game creators set up such as fishing (note: not as boring as it may sound), the whack-a-mole game, rope climbing, Chinchirorin (dice game in a bowl) and, the most exciting and deepest of them all, the cooking contest game. When you fully invest your time into each of these mini-games, you will not feel relieved from the stress of battles and exploration, but also have a lot of fun free of stress. I enjoyed these a lot myself.

If you enjoyed building up your fortress in the first game, you will experience that here also! Building up your stronghold is related to your recruiting of people and some of them have certain talents that will establish key parts of your place like a store, a Rune shop, aa tavern, a restaurant, an armor shop and even a detective agency to name some! It may take an effort to have all possible establishments get realized in the game but I promise you, they are all worth it and you will feel thankful that you got to recruit lots of people. The other reward of building up your fortress is the establishment of a thriving community of people!

Your party members can take a bath and even use the collected artifacts as decorations. This is one of the many side activities you can do at your stronghold.
The cooking contest mini-game is easily the best in the game! This alone will encourage you to keep searching for recipes during your adventures!

With regards to continuity with the first Suikoden game, the game developers implemented certain content (locations, dialogue, story and characters) that get unlocked by having your preserved Suikoden saved game content successfully loaded with Suikoden II running on PS1. I’m talking about being able to meet and even recruit Suikoden hero Tir McDohl, plus meeting even more characters from the first game. Very clearly, this is a clever presentation of fan service done by Murayama and his creative team who paid attention to the feedback of the first Suikoden.

The music done by Miki Higashino and Keiko Fukami are very varied and many of them reflect the places you get to visit, the emotional scenes you witness and the epic moments that happen. The great news here is that each and every tune in the game was made and performed with special care. This game’s soundtrack really stands out high among Japanese RPGs of the 1990s and even by today’s standards, it still is a great soundtrack to listen to.

If there are any flaws in this great game, it is the English translation itself as there were typographical errors, mistranslations and even NPCs with lines of dialogue that made absolutely no sense. Clearly there was a rushed job with the translation.

Conclusion

The political aspect of the game’s story is simple and never overwhelming.

I really love Suikoden II and very clearly, it is a major improvement over its predecessor (which itself was a solidly good RPG). Suikoden II is a labor of love done by Murayama and his creative team and the result is a true epic RPG that has so much enjoyable stuff and high replay value for gamers. Its quality is still great and by today’s standards, Suikoden II is indeed a classic RPG that gamers should play even though Konami itself does not care to make it more accessible in this modern age of gaming.

Given the legacy of Suikoden II and the fact that Konami showed no signs of reviving the Suikoden RPG franchise, now is the time to look forward to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes which Murayama and his team are developing for release in 2023 for Xbox consoles, Xbox Game Pass and other platforms. Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes clearly has strong Suikoden vibes and the distinct combination of 2D sprites with 3D polygonal environments, plus its party battle system strong resembles that of Suikoden and Suikoden II!

Overall, Suikoden II is highly recommended!

Now if only Konami would change its ways to make Suikoden II more accessible (go way beyond the PlayStation online store and ecosystem) to gamers by releasing it digitally through Xbox LIVE, Steam, Xbox Game Pass and other online stores or ecosystems. Paying hundreds of dollars for a legitimate hard copy of the game is simply too much.

There is nothing like building up your stronghold and seeing your recruits become part of its development as well as your campaigns.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Freex #12 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, Ultraverse fans, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, enthusiasts of 1990s pop culture and all other geeks! Today, we revisit the Ultraverse for more 1990s comic book nostalgia through another tale of Freex, the team of super-powered social outcasts!

Last time around, Plug’s origin story was told just as Freex had a very notable encounter with Contrary and her super-powered students (with ex-teammate Ray on their side) at the headquarters of the Academy for The New Elite. After going through some hard struggles, Freex left losing Ray but gained a scaley new member who left Contrary’s school.

To find out what happens next, here is a look back at Freex #12, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Scott Kolins.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the middle of an ongoing misadventure (note: started with Giant Size Freex #1) with the Freex, Prime, and Old Man together beneath the Earth. To the shock of Freex, there are statues of them. The Old Man claims that more than a thousand years prior, he saw people with powers very much like those of Freex. Legend has it that they came from underground and got chased back by some scared fools. What Valerie and her teammates realize is that the cavern they are in is a place of retreat for super-powered freaks that existed before them.

Suddenly, an oversized deformed creature walks through them and grabs Valerie. Prime tries to help by punching the creature but this only made his body deteriorate into green liquid matter. Freex’s newest teammate jumps to strike the creature’s head which helps Valerie get free.

After noticing a hole on the ground, Lewis calls his teammates to escape. He forms his body into a makeshift slide to pave the way for escaping…

Quality

Angela takes action!

To begin with, I should state that this comic book really had a very wild and ambitious concept for its plot. Something really big with adventuring in mind which, in my opinion, was meant to be made to make the 12th issue anniversary of the Freex series stand out. The good news here is that the script if well-written and continues to deliver the good stuff that dedicated Freex readers and superhero enthusiasts will enjoy.

As this is the continuation of the story that started in Giant Size Freex #1, the team of misfits went on to travel and work together with Old Man and Prime (whose spotlight is lessened in this comic book) in a wild misadventure that brought them deep underground which reveals the existence of creatures and remnants of creation that the whole world has not seen. What was conceptualized here significantly expanded Earth’s realm within the Ultraverse and quite intriguingly, there are connections between the new places and Wetware.

When it comes to character development, new team member Cayman’s fitting in was portrayed nicely and his interactions with the other members were pretty interesting. What stood out most, however, are the interactions between Kevin Green (Prime) and Angela (Sweet-face) which I encourage you to read as it will open up a new dimension within his personality (and his being a teenager).

Conclusion

How would you react if you discovered all of that deep underground?

Freex #12 (1994) has a fine mix of grand misadventure, discovery, as well as memorable interactions between Freex and Prime. This is definitely not a throw-away story of Freex, nor is it generic when compared to other superhero comic book tales. This comic book also expands the Ultraverse in a really solid way just as it also moved smoothly on redefining the Freex themselves.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Freex #12 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $16.

Overall, Freex #12 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at The Night Man #4 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s pop culture enthusiasts and fans of Malibu Comics! Are you ready for another retro review of The Night Man?

Last time around, Night Man pursued the group Freex during the events of the Break-Thru crossover. By the time the story ended, there were these intriguing details about the powerful J.D. Hunt and his son Guy Hunt.

To find out what happens next to the Ultraverse vigilante after the end of Break-Thru, here is a look back at The Night Man #4, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Kyle Hotz.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with newspaper coverage of the Night Man (pictured with Mangle) whose acts caught the attention of people at the Bay Area. Johnny Domino (Night Man) carefully listens to people around him commenting about his published acts and his radio transmissions as the vigilante. Even driving around San Francisco does not spare him from the continued public chatter of the Night Man. He then remembers a lady named Ginger and visits a unique place.

There, he notices a lady approach him. She introduces herself as Rita Diamond and recognizes him for his work with the saxophone. Rita tells him that she and her fiancé Roger Carrington are sponsoring a benefit event and that Johnny’s music would be fabulous for it.

After expressing some hesitation, he then accepts and plays at the event…  

Quality

The Night Man on his unexpected exploration.

Another solid story crafted by Steve Englehart here, only this time without the extra baggage of Freex and Break-Thru. I really enjoyed the way the build-up was staged during the first nine pages of the comic book (note: complete with key references to issue #1) leading to an encounter with the new villain.

Before the encounter started, Englehart developed Johnny’s personality even more and took time examining him as a person and as a member of local society (as opposed to being a vigilante) of the Bay Area. When he changes into Night Man, he is portrayed to be reactive and very observant which I found enjoyable to read.

As for the new villain, I don’t want to emphasize details given the structure of the plot. This is something you readers should find out for yourselves.

The art done by Kyle Hotz is pretty good. There was this nice contrast of the art style between the day-time scenes and the night-time scenes. I also liked Hotz’s gritty look not only on Night Man himself but also on the villain and the many other characters in general.

Conclusion

Johnny Domino’s personal observations are nice to read.

The Night Man #4 (1993) is very enjoyable to read and intriguing as well. It has a very good concept, more in-depth development of the protagonist, a solid twist and its references to issue #1 should encourage you to revisit it. Adding value to this comic book is a short story about Firearm which should attract fans of the character.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Night Man #4 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $16.

Overall, The Night Man #4 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Punisher 2099 #13 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s pop culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! We finally made it at last with the conclusion of The Fall of the Hammer crossover storyline that highlighted Marvel’s 2099 franchises.

Last time around, Doom 2099 #14 saw the raising of the stakes and tension of the storyline leading up to the sudden team-up of the 2099 universe’s pioneering heroes – Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099 and Punisher 2099 – facing the so-called Thor (the flying idol of the people in 2099), the minions and the secret forces behind the conflict.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Punisher 2099 #13, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner, and illustrated by Tom Morgan.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Spider-Man, Punisher, Doom and Ravage together facing a horde of Berzerkers approaching them. The four engaged with the horde using violent action. When things calmed down, Doom 2099 tells them that they need to split into duos so that they can prevent the city of Valhalla from harming the millions of people below (in New York).

Before they start their tasks, the schemer Avatarr appears to them through holographic imagery and tells them that Valhalla was created as a base for the heroes that would destroy them and lead mankind along more productive lines. Thanks to Ravage’s move, Doom detects Avatarr’s frequency…

Quality

As Punisher 2099 arms himself, look closely and you will see the conflict between him and Jake Gallows.

When it comes to the storytelling, this conclusion to The Fall of the Hammer storyline felt unsatisfying. There were clear signs of rush on the resolution to the plot that preceded the ending which itself had a sudden shift of focus on Punisher 2099.

The real meat of this comic book is the team-up of the Marvel 2099’s pioneering protagonists, including the duos that were spawned as the plot required it. For most of this crossover storyline, Spider-Man 2099 and Punisher 2099 were just riding together going to Valhalla. In this comic book, you will really see the two work together which was satisfying enough as pay-off (to the build-up the preceded this issue). The duo of Doom 2099 and Ravage 2099, however, was nowhere as satisfying and, more notably, there was no real chemistry between them.

This comic book continues the theme of false deities and a series of unfortunate events pulled off from a distance by some sinister force located in a secret place. While this storyline had touched on the faith of the Thorites (most notably in Doom 2099 #14), this one simply abandoned it to focus more on 2099’s original heroes doing something heroic.   

When it comes to Punisher 2099 himself, fans will have a lot of stuff to enjoy. There is a short but notable moment in the story implying that Punisher 2099 and Jake Gallows are separate entities presented in the character’s mind.

Conclusion

This opening image is easily the best image of the comic book. Things went downhill from after this image.

Punisher 2099 #13 (1994) is not the solid conclusion The Fall of the Hammer storyline deserved. There were clear signs of rush as well as compression of details that had to be done in order to fit the 22 story pages. The so-called final conflict felt hollow and 2099 fans who got invested with the era’s self-declared Thor (who was initially the main antagonist) in the previous chapters will be disappointed with the way he turned out here. That being said, Avatarr as the main villain is just not convincing and was unsatisfying. Having Punisher 2099, Spider-Man 2099, Doom 2099 and Ravage 2099 together to do some saving was pretty interesting and symbolic, as well as the main attraction of this comic book. Sadly, not even those pioneers could save this comic book and the storyline from ending with a whimper.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Punisher 2099 #13 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $6 while the near-mint copies of the signed-and-numbered and the newsstand editions cost $50 and $16 respectively.

Overall, Punisher 2099 #13 (1994) is worth getting below its cover price.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Doom 2099 #14 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s pop culture and fans of Marvel Comics! We return to The Fall of the Hammer crossover storyline of Marvel’s 2099 universe and this is my first time to review a comic book of Doom 2099 (note: this comic book marks the 4th chapter of the crossover).

Last time around, the X-Men of 2099 got involved in the events and their member Skullfire got reunited with them thanks to some help by Doom of 2099. The self-proclaimed Thor realizes that a powerful friend of his is down on the floor.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Doom 2099 #14, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Pat Broderick.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Valhalla where Thor sees his powerful friend lying down helpless. X-Men’s Bloodhawk, Krystalin, Meanstreak, Skullfire and the self-proclaimed Loki witness Thor’s curiosity. Loki, who is actually Meanstreak’s friend Boone in disguise, tells Thor to blame what he calls the spoiled children for conspiring against him. Meanstreak tells Boone to stop his act and reminds him that he was the one who caused the short-circuit.

Doom 2099 then tells them that none of the gods are real for they are the fabrication of science created to exploit the believers of Thor who have desperately awaited the return of their god. Doom points out that the real threat is not the Asgardian play actors but rather the flying city of Valhalla itself.

After hearing the ramblings of the others, Thor then makes his move to strike Doom 2099…

Quality

This comic book shows Spider-Man and Punisher of 2099 finally ending their long ride together.

As expected, there is indeed pay-off executed in this comic book in relation to the gradual build-up that took place in the first three chapters (Spider-Man 2099 #16, Ravage 2099 #15, and X-Men 2099 #5). You must be wondering how was the pay-off…I can say it was executed good enough. Not only does this comic book reveal the truth about the so-called Asgardian deities, it also sheds light on who the pretenders really are and, more notably, who is the mastermind behind everything and why did all these unfortunate events happen in the first place.

Behind it all, there is subversion in the form of criticism and accusations against corporations, against people of faith and even against idolaters who don’t realize that idolatry is unholy and foolish. In a certain way, this comic book made its case in support of Marxism, socialism, Communism and atheism even though those four forms of evil were not explicitly emphasized.

When it comes to the characters, Doom 2099’s presence here is actually light but it should be noted that his civil discussion with a powerful figure behind the scenes gave the story a lot of weight. What I enjoyed about Doom 2099 is his Darth Vader-like way of talking and taking action.

The X-Men of 2099 surprisingly have a good share of the spotlight here while Spider-Man 2099 and Punisher 2099 finally stopped riding together and begin to get involved with the troubles of Valhalla. I should state that the first-ever meeting between Spider-Man 2099, Punisher 2099 and Doom 2099 is a short yet powerful scene.  

Conclusion

Doom 2099, the X-Men 2099 members, Loki and Thor on the 2nd page.

Being the fourth chapter of The Fall of the Hammer crossover storyline, I can say that Doom 2099 #14 (1994) proved to be the most engaging chapter yet mainly due to its pay-off in relation to what was built-up before it. The revelations were quite strong and clearly this comic book was the tuning point of the storyline, and even set the stage for the concluding chapter. I caution you, however, that the anti-capitalist and anti-faith themes of this comic book can lead you to trouble if you decide to take them seriously. It is bad enough that American society today is being torn down by Marxist, socialist, Communist and atheistic forces. You have been warned!

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Doom 2099 #14 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $60 while the near-mint copies of the newsstand edition and the signed-and-numbered edition cost $180 and $300 respectively.

Overall, Doom 2099 #14 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at The Night Man #3 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s pop culture enthusiasts and fans of Malibu Comics! Today we return to the Ultraverse through the 3rd issue of The Night Man series. While the Night Man continues his pursuit of a rather deformed rival, this comic book is a spin-off of the Ultraverse crossover Break-Thru and it also marks the protagonist’s continuing crossover with Freex (which officially started in Freex #6).

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Night Man #3, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Gene Ha.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Night Man overlooking a portion of a major city from a high tower. He wonders how he could find five kids, referring to Freex who have gotten involved with his rival Mangle. For Night Man, the team of teenagers think Mangle is a freak like them and he knows that his rival targets kids as victims.

After acquiring almost a thousand Dollars worth of new equipment, he goes on the air reaching out to Freex. Freex, meanwhile, are with Mangle hiding inside am unknown place. After a news report was aired revealing that the Strangers used a rocket to go to the moon and mentioned J.D. Hunt’s name, Mangle reacts loudly and states that the said business tycoon will be at Moffett Field.

Freex, believing that Hunt can cure them, leave with Mangle by car…

Quality

Night Man, Mangle and Freex!

With regards, Steve Englehart raised the stakes and added a lot of intrigue throughout the story. Without spoiling the plot, I can say that I enjoyed the pay-off executed here in relation to what was built up in Freex #6 and The Night Man #2.

The biggest selling point of the story is not the crossover between Night Man and Freex, but rather the presentation of JD Hunt and his young but wicked son Guy, as well as their involvement with Mangle. Themes explored in this comic book include manipulating a person to actually believe what evil acts he commits are not evil, and the manipulation of helpless youth to join a wrongful cause.

As for the title character himself, Night Man does more than just action and solving problems. You will see a more ethical side of his personality and his insistence on doing what is right without ever going overboard.  

Conclusion

Night Man learning something from the people on the street.

The Night Man #3 (1993) is an enjoyable and compelling part of the Break-Thru crossover (with creative connections to what happened in Prototype #5 and The Strangers #7) that also succeeds in developing Night Man further while showing more personality from JD Hunt and his son. The crossover between Freex and the title hero, again, did not last long but this is understandable considering the focus on the Hunts and Mangle. Lastly, I should state that artist Gene Ha’s dark and gritty style worked nicely in this comic book.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Night Man #3 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $16.

Overall, The Night Man #3 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at V #5 (1985)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book, watching the V mini-series (Original Miniseries and The Final Battle) and the 1984 TV series, and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, science fiction enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the V entertainment franchise of the 1980s! Before I start this newest retro comic book review, I am happy to say that I recently published my retro review of V: The Original Miniseries which is one of the most in-depth retro reviews I wrote so far. I recommend you to read it now. If you are a fan and you are interested to buy yourself the original mini-series on Blu-ray disc format, head on to Amazon. Now we can return to the 1980s comic book series.

Last time around, Ham Tyler and Chris continued their operation which resulted getting reunited with the star child Elizabeth Maxwell (refer to V: The Final Battle mini-series of 1984). Meanwhile, Mike Donovan and Julie Parrish met with delusional astronomer Earl Meagan (patterned after Carl Sagan) who is obsessing with meeting Diana of the Visitors.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V #5, published in 1985 by DC Comics with a story written by Cary Bates and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Diana, Linda and Charles watching a video message from the delusional Earl Meagan expressing his thanks to her (Diana) for accepting his peace proposal for a summit of peace between the humans and the Visitors. He expressed more of his delusion stating that he is confident that both of their races will benefit from the meeting.

Diana explains to her powerful companions that they have a lot to gain by turning one of Earth’s most influential figure to their side. After Diana left, Linda expresses that their commander has gone too far. Charles tells her what she is thinking of.

On Earth, in the presence of Ham, Chris and Bates, a weakened Elizabeth recalls her time with Kyle when they went into hiding away from the Visitors’ search team. She then makes mental contact with Kyle.

Elsewhere, as Mike Donovan and Willie watch the newscast about the peace summit between Diana and Earl Meagan set to happen soon, Julie Parrish personally tells the astronomer (by the helipad within a city) that he just can’t go as such a meeting is suicide. Still delusional, Meagan tells Julie that she is no different from her short-sighted friend Mike, leaves her and rides the helicopter to push through with the summit…

Quality

Realizing her mistake with the delusional astronomer Earl Meagan, Julie comes back to Mike.

First thing to mention is the good news that the quality of the writing and plotting by Cary Bates has the high quality maintained throughout. While the story about the peace summit between Earl Meagan and Diana is the highlight here, the other story (told through Ham and Chris) about the discovery of a secret camp where the Visitors conduct experiments on humans is itself very intriguing as it parallels what the Nazis did to prisoners during the dark days of World War II.

Going back to the highlighted plot of the comic book, Earl Meagan is not only delusional with his old belief that any extraterrestrial race capable of traveling through the depths of space is surely friendly and benevolent to humanity…he is completely wrong and a danger to his own people as clearly lost his touch with truth and reality. He is a perfect example of what happens when a scientist refuses to realize the limits of science and goes over the edge believing in the falsehood that another scientific breakthrough will prove him right and all others wrong. By today’s standards, Meagan can be compared with the radical socialists in America who foolishly believe that all foreigners (including criminals and terrorists) should be allowed free entry into their country without consequence and without responsibility, and at the expense of their fellow American citizens.

When it comes to characterization, I still recognize Ham and Chris as I remembered them from V: The Final Battle thanks to solid writing. Julie’s portrayal in this comic book, however, takes a drastic turn from powerful receiver of Earl Meagan in issue #4. More notably, it is refreshing to see the relationship between Mike and Julie getting strained as a result of Meagan.

Conclusion

The closest thing you can have about Carl Sagan betraying the entire human race in favor of aliens from outer space.

V #5 (1985) is another solid tale about the conflict between the Resistance and the Visitors, but with Earl Meagan as the mad scientist with charisma who puts his fellow humans into more danger. It’s a worthy read from start to finish.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of V #5 (1985), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $36.

Overall, V #4 (1985) is highly recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at V: The Original Miniseries (1983)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching V: The Original Miniseries and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Way back in 1983, I was fortunate to watch the 2-episode sci-fi mini-series on television titled V: The Original Miniseries. Because there was no Netflix, no YouTube, no Internet access and no DVD at the time, getting to replay the said mini-series as well as its sequel V: The Final Battle was really hard. Replays of them on local TV rarely happened.

Then in 2001, V: The Original Miniseries was released on DVD format and I got to watch it all over again with a good amount of enjoyment. In recent times, I purchased the Blu-ray release and replayed the original miniseries in high-definition at last!

You must be wondering if the original mini-series aged well through the decades, and is it still good to watch by today’s standards? While I will comment about its overall quality below, what I can say is that its theme about people fighting to be free from fascism, oppression, terrorism and dictatorship remains relevant to this day.

For his part, star Marc Singer stated: “I think themes of what holds society together and what tears society apart, those themes are universal themes and I think they’re always going to be relevant. I think there’s going to be a necessity for things like V to be revisited in order that society remember what it is that’s cohesive and coherent about it and why is it that we should all stand together and treat each other well.”  

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V: The Original Miniseries, written and directed by Kenneth Johnson. The first episode was broadcast on television in the United States on May 1, 1983.

V: The Original Miniseries

Early story

The story begins in El Salvador where camera operator Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) and his companion Tony risk their lives capturing footage of an armed conflict. As the two tried their best to move away from the heat of battle, a helicopter of the enemy tracks them and corners them. Just as hope seems lost for Mike Donovan, the helicopter suddenly flies away. He turns to the other direction and witnesses the presence of a huge, floating saucer-like space ship coming his way. He begins to record footage of it.

Soon enough, several other space ships arrive and float above many other cities around the world. In America, medical student Julie Parrish (Faye Grant) and her colleagues carefully watch the TV news coverage. In a nice neighborhood, several residents – including Robin Maxwell (Blaire Tefkin), Eleanor Dupres (Neva Patterson), Daniel Bernstein (David Packer) and his grandfather Abraham (Leonardo Cimino) to name a few – marvel at the sight of a space ship above them. At another location, the research of scientist Robert Maxwell (Michael Durrell) and his colleague got interrupted with the arrival of a space ship.

The Visitors formally begin their new relationship with the people of Earth.
Diana of the Visitors played by Jane Badler.

Some time later, the Visitors make verbal contact with the people around the world using varied languages of Earth. In a special arrangement held at the top of the United Nations (UN) building in New York closely viewed on TV by the general public, the Visitors reveal themselves represented by John (Richard Herd) who expresses their message of reaching out peacefully to the people of Earth, seek their help and, in return, share with them their advanced technologies that could help humanity a whole lot for future generations. The Visitors are human in appearance but speak with very distinct sounds.

As a result, the governments of Earth agree to the offer of the Visitors and establish ties with them. Symbolically, a large group of Visitors’ engineers led by Diana (Jane Badler) and security chief Steven (Andrew Pine) arrive at a refinery to formally begin collecting chemicals and minerals.

Then things start to turn bad…

Quality

I can clearly declare that the writing and directing done by Kenneth Johnson remains great, and for many reasons why. On storytelling, Johnson (who was inspired by the anti-fascist novel It Can’t Happen Here and made an adaptation of it before finally coming up with V) clearly took his time on establishing the core concept stage-by-stage, and he also found efficient ways of explaining details to viewers by using in-story news reports and videos and retrospective as effective tools of exposition (these helped cut down the reliance on expository dialogue).

As the story goes on, Johnson carefully introduced the many characters on-screen (including the use of quick introductions of some characters who are located away from others they are connected/related with), established who they are and, most notably, showed how the events that took place affected them.

The Visitors (and one member of their youth auxiliary movement wearing brown) posting propaganda material to condition people’s minds they are friendly and trustworthy. These posters are familiar to many Nazi propaganda materials used in Europe decades earlier. Prior to the release of the Original Miniseries, a real-life marketing campaign of putting up such posters happened in real life.

Johnson also used symbolism which reflects what happened decades ago in Europe with the rise of the Third Reich. The Visitors’ symbol resembles the Nazi Swastika while the persecution of scientists (as well as their families and associates) resembles the Nazi persecution of Jewish people, and the scene of Daniel Bernstein joining the Visitors through their “Friends of Visitors” movement recalls memories of the Hitler Youth. I should state that Earth citizens who chose to collaborate with the aliens from space (strongly symbolized through Eleanor Dupres), images of the armed Visitors watching several helpless Earth people being taken away from their homes and the dominance of propaganda over the free press also reflect what happened back in World War II when the Nazis occupied many parts of Europe. The fact that Johnson used alien humanoids as the Visitors make them a more universal antagonistic force that viewers can relate with.

When it comes to the cast members and their respective performances, there is a whole lot to enjoy here and I can confirm that the quality of dramatic performances is pretty good and adds a whole lot of believability to the story. The most notable performer here is none other than Faye Grant who believably portrayed Julie Parrish on her in-depth transformation from a promising medical student to a reluctant organizer of a movement of freedom-loving people called the Resistance. Faye Grant excellently portrayed emotions and even showed the fragile side of Julie as she struggles to strengthen herself to lead her fellow people who seek freedom and survival. Julie also is the most charismatic and likeable character in my view.

Marc Singer’s Mike Donovan is the closest thing this miniseries has to an action hero. Donovan is not a soldier, nor a policeman, nor a combat specialist. He is a hard-working media employee who has covered a lot of armed conflicts overseas and along the way he learned how to fight. As he is not a fighting machine, Donovan was portrayed to be vulnerable and really ends up struggling a lot. In a way, Donovan symbolizes people who take action once they realize what is wrong and what lies they have been fed with. It should be noted that before Bruce Willis wowed audiences as the vulnerable hero John McClane in Die Hard, Marc Singer’s Donovan was the vulnerable and struggling action performer realized ahead in time. On the dramatic side, Donovan’s talk with his mother Eleanor is a great scene to watch, and his contrast with Kristine Walsh (Jenny Sullivan) must be seen! If you ask me, Mike Donovan is Marc Singer at his best!

Faye Grant’s portrayal of Julie Parrish is highly believable complete with a good range of emotions. Her character development all throughout the Original Miniseries is very believable.
Marc Singer as Mike Donovan.

The other most notable role is none other than the Visitors’ commander Diana excellently played by Jane Badler. Diana was played to be charismatic, powerful, and sadistic at the same time. She is not a mere evil figure nor is she your typical pure evil antagonist. In fact, she is the powerful extension of an unseen high authority of the aliens and this alone makes her worth your attention. Also, through her interactions with her fellow aliens Steven and Brian (Peter Nelson), you will see very interesting traits of Diana’s personality. I should state that Jane Badler’s eyes and expressions really gave her character a very commanding presence on-screen. Even though her screen time is not dominant, Diana’s impact remains very strong.

As for the other cast members and their contributions in the film, I can state that Robert Maxwell was excellently portrayed by Michael Durrel to be the very caring father striving to protect his family even as society has been manipulated to demonize scientists like him. Daniel Bernstein is clearly the traitorous Earthling who has gotten so involved with the Visitors, and I am confident that David Packer will get on your nerves. Willie is the good-natured Visitor who tries to fit in with the people of Earth and his friendship with Harmony Moore (Diane Cary) is very symbolic. Given the reputation of Robert Englund as a horror icon, his performance as Willie is a must-see!

The most notable of all the supporting cast members here is none other than Leonardo Cimino’s Abraham Bernstein who is a Jewish man who went through the Holocaust and survived to establish the family in America only to see evil return in the form of the Visitors. His dramatic scene of protecting a certain family is a must-watch, and most likely it will stir your emotions.

This scene shows the contrast between Abraham Bernstein (Leonardo Cimino) in the background and his grandson Daniel (David Packer) in the foreground. Abraham is an old Jewish man who went through the Holocaust and lived on. Daniel, who is 17-years-old, willingly joined the Visitor’s youth auxiliary movement which parallels that Hitler Youth.

In addition to being successful with telling the story, spreading the details and getting solid performances from the cast, Kenneth Johnson also proved to be really crafty with the way the camera captured images and how the very important moments were presented to captivate viewers. Johnson’s work here is clearly a labor of love. As for the music, Joseph Harnell did a good job overall. His style gives V a distinct aesthetic on tunes and I noticed his music becomes more lively late in the 2nd episode. Harnell also knew how to add musical excitement when the narrative needed a boost of energy or speed.

People of Earth, including children, are helpless under the Visitors.

Last but not least, I want to talk about the action and visual effects here. The action is, for the most part, raw and believable to watch. The action performers dressed as the Visitors never looked like they were trained but at least their ways of positioning themselves to fire their laser weapons made up for it. The hard action has that raw aesthetic which I actually liked because the action performers – including Marc Singer himself – were convincing with the way they exerted efforts. In this modern age of wire works and digital effects, seeing raw action and real human effort combined with risk taking is refreshing to watch.

More on the action scenes, I should state that the concept of showing the humans using conventional guns against the laser-armed Visitors was done in a satisfying and believable manner on-screen. Such concepts could have turned out bad had Kenneth Johnson and his team lacked talent and precision. As for the visual effects, they resulted a mixed bag as far as quality and artistry are concerned. While the laser blasts still look very good (and their impact was felt thanks to excellent timing with the on-set explosions and fireworks), the huge motherships really look dated as they were matte images (not miniatures), and in a few shots the matte lines were clearly exposed in high-definition which broke the immersion for me. The smaller space crafts that were shown flying also had that similar, out-of-place look (note: they did not match the lighting of the live-action footage). Still, the practical effects used are good to see and the matte paintings used for two key shots in the 2nd episode were photo-realistic.  

Conclusion

The free and righteous praying to the Lord.

As it is clearly still great and engaging to watch, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) certainly aged well, it remains essential to watch even by today’s standards and most of all, its theme about the conflict of freedom and dictatorship makes it completely relevant to this day. It is a reminder about what your part in your society is, who you are, what your values are, and why you have freedom in your local society which can be destroyed by an alienating force once your fellow people refuse to resist it. As mentioned earlier, the cast is great and I am confident that you readers will find a character or two to relate with.

The focus of this miniseries on fascism invading the lives of the free people easily reminds me about how, in this modern age, sinister influences like Marxism, socialism, Communism, unrestrained political correctness and fascism poisoned the minds of millions of people through the academic system and turned them into social rebels, domestic terrorists, looters, rioters and new criminals who are so determined to go against their fellow people who do not share their beliefs. In modern-day America, the ongoing movements of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, SJWs, the anti-Semitic BDS movement, the rabid LGBTQ+ movement, the so-called democratic socialists and other agents of Satan have been harming patriotic Americans, attacking their values, taking the innocence of the youth and children away, destroying businesses and tearing down societies as we know it. The 1983 mini-series will remind you that from time to time, social order will be pushed hard by the invaders (be it people or be it influences so alien to the society) and the people who are righteous can choose to restore the said order as well as their respective lives.

Seriously, if you value your freedom, your culture, your values, your people and your faith in the Lord, you certainly would not want to submit yourselves to a foreign people who intend to destroy you.

No matter what happens, people should never lose faith in the Lord and they must look up to Him for deliverance. The Lord will punish the wicked and make ways happen to lift up the faithful. Clearly, V’s theme about the fight for freedom is truly universal.

Symbolism and socio-political relevance aside, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) also comes with a good amount of spectacle that make sense within the narrative. Do not expect to see extensive, over-the-top action scenes of modern-day cinema/television here but I assure you that the spectacle (note: even with the flawed matte imagery of the visual effects) in this production paid-off nicely in relation to the build-up of events throughout the story.

I strongly recommend you acquire V: The Original Miniseries on Blu-ray while it is still available. Watching it in high-definition is a great experience on my part.

Overall, V: The Original Miniseries (1983) is highly recommended! That being said, I strongly encourage you to buy it on Blu-ray disc format while it is still available and affordable. If you want more of Kenneth Johnson’s other work related to V, I suggest you to look for his book V: The Second Generation. Don’t forget to visit Johnson’s website at http://www.kennethjohnson.us/

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more V-related writings of mine, check out my retro comic book reviews of the V comic books (published by DC Comics) issues #1, #2, #3 and #4.

A Look Back at X-Men 2099 #5 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! This is the continuation of a look back at the Marvel 2099 crossover storyline The Fall of The Hammer which started in Spider-Man 2099 #16 followed next in Ravage 2099 #15. The 3rd chapter of the said crossover filled the fifth issue of the X-Men 2099 monthly series.

For the newcomers reading this, a few of the X-Men of the far future were officially involved in this 5-part crossover storyline that was meant to celebrate the Marvel 2099 franchise back in the 1990s. This was the reason why Skullfire, Meanstreak, Krystalin and Bloodhawk were separated from their team leader Xi’an and the remaining teammates. Last time around, three of the mentioned X-Men got involved with Ravage and eventually reached the floating city of Valhalla together only to get separated.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men 2099 #5, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Ron Lim.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in New York City where a vehicle moves at high speed until it hits a wall and stops. Out comes Tim Fitzgerald/Skullfire who moves away and spots Valhalla above him. In the floating city, Krystalin, Meanstreak and Bloodhawk are in confrontation with a powerful enemy called Heimdall who tells them to bow to him and swear allegiance.

Bloodhawk attacks Heimdall only to get pushed back. Krystalin fires crystal bits at him but to no success. Thinking that he’s too fast for Heimdall, Meanstreak tries a sneak attack from the side only to be hit hard, lose control and crashes to a wall. As the X-Men’s fastest member is down, a shadowy figure approaches him nearby…

Quality

This quick flashback explains how the four X-Men 2099 members went to New York.

As an X-Men 2099 tale, this one felt like a catch-up for Skullfire who was absent in the first two parts of The Fall of the Hammer storyline even though it was confirmed in X-Men 2099 #4 that he joined his teammates and help Meanstreak find his friend Jordan. That being said, there is a good amount of scenes focused on Skullfire as he makes his way up to Valhalla. There is also a quick flashback showing that indeed he was with his teammates as they arrived in New York only to get separated (which explains why only Krystalin, Bloodhawk and Meanstreak approached Ravage). More importantly, the flashback also contains additional details that explain what the X-Men discovered before arriving at Valhalla and why they decided to approach Ravage.

As the 3rd chapter of The Fall of The Hammer storyline, this comic book barely moved the present-day narrative forward mainly due to having to use a few but precious pages to tell the short flashback to explain the X-Men’s involvement. Still, key revelations related to what happened behind-the-scenes added a lot of depth to the narrative and this properly sets the stage of for the remaining chapters. The 2099 major figures like Spider-Man, Punisher, Doom and Ravage all appeared here but very sparsely.    

Conclusion

Ravage 2099 helps Krystalin.

X-Men 2099 #5 (1994) pushed the narrative of the crossover a few notches forward but the revelations written saved it from being a throw-away story. For fans of X-Men 2099, there is a lot to like here and Skullfire’s late entry into the crossover will delight them. The writing was good enough and by the end of the story, the explanations were satisfying and the ending suggested that the stakes would be raised for the final two chapters of the crossover. Those who missed the presence of Thor 2099 should be happy to see him here, even though it was clear that he was being conserved for the last two chapters.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #5 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $6 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $18.

Overall, X-Men 2099 #5 (1994) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com