A Look Back at Backlash #2 (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, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Image Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the wild 1990s and explore a part of the WildStorm universe through a tale of Backlash!  

Backlash #1 was indeed a fun and engaging read with the creative direction spearheaded by Brett Booth who was a co-writer and the illustrator. It built-up Backlash as a major WildStorm figure while also emphasized the concepts from his previous appearances in the Kindred limited series which paired him with Grifter. As seen in issue #1, he freed Taboo and it was clear that she was designed to be a key part of the Backlash series.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Backlash #2, published in 1994 by Image Comics with a story written by Sean Ruffner, Jeff Mariotte and Booth. Booth was the artist.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a meeting inside the high-tech headquarters of the W.O.R. (Wildlife Organized Research), a front covering the outpost for the criminal organization called the Cabal. During the meeting, the fall of Helspont was discussed and talk about running the Cabal intensified. Just as it was made clear that a new beginning and new leadership were needed to manage the Cabal, a warlord called S’ryn arrives with the deadly Pike behind him. After briefly overwhelming opposition from a Coda warrior and H’tarh, S’ryn performs a ritual and gets the pledge of loyalty from those who recognized him as the new leader of the Cabal. The stage is set for further escalation between the Daemonites and the Kherubim.

In the city of Chicago, Backlash and Taboo spend time together in an apartment that looks worn down and not so clean. It turns out, both of them are fugitives and they are waiting for Cyberjack to complete his surveillance of the security of a hotel where a celebrity ball is set to happen…

Quality

In the middle of a special event, Backlash and Taboo spring into action as WildCATS’ Jacob Marlowe gets into trouble.

Compared to what happened in issue #1, this story moved at a moderate pace in relation to the new mission which involved espionage and suspense. It’s not the action showcase the previous issue was but rather more moderated as the creators took a new approach to not only tell a new story but also do its own build-up of the Kherubim-Daemonite war and other WildStorm universe concepts. The story is well-written and while there is a lot of expository dialogue and creative explanations implemented, it never felt forced. Along the way, the creative team started implementing crossover elements by having Jacob Marlowe of WildC.A.T.S.: Covert Action Teams as well as established Image Comics figure Savage Dragon (from Erik Larsen) included in the story and even getting involved with the operations that took place.

As for Backlash himself, you will see a little less of him in this tale (compared to issue #1) which is not surprising as the creative team focused more on the plot and had to handle the crossover elements. Backlash did not become a supporting character here and you will see some superhero spectacle from him, particularly in his rematch with a certain villain.

Conclusion

S’ryn gets challenged before he becomes the new leader of the forces of evil.

Backlash #2 (1994) is a fun ride that cleverly combined crossover elements with its own approach on building up the WildStorm concepts, notably the war between the Kherubim and Daemonites. It also shows the consequences of what happened in the 4th issue of the WildC.A.T.S. mini-series particularly within the side of the opposition. As such, this comic book is pretty much a sequel to the said mini-series. At this stage, there was clearly something prepared to entertain readers while maintaining focus on establishing Backlash (note: Marc Slayton was one of the Team 7 members) as a major WildStorm character.

Overall, Backlash #2 (1994) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

A Look Back at What If #40 (1992)

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, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1992 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series.

For this particular retro comic book review, we look at a What If tale that is related with the X-Men, specifically through one of their major characters – Storm. For the newcomers reading, Storm is the black X-Men member whose mutation allows her to manipulate the weather. As seen in X-Men comic books decades ago, Storm was portrayed to be tough and brave, and she became a highly valuable learner under Professor X (Charles Xavier). In the 1990s, Storm rose in prominence among the X-Men, she became leader of their Gold Team. Storm was portrayed in the live-action movies by Halle Berry and Alexandra Shipp. It’s just too bad Storm’s role in X-Men: Days of Future Past (note: for me, it is the best X-Men live-action movie ever) was minimal.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #40, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Ann Nocenti and drawn by Steve Carr and Deryl Skeleton.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher recalling scenes from the life of Ororo who was born to a mother (a tribal princess in Kenya) and a photojournalist father. After moving from America to Egypt, Ororo loses her mother and became an orphan. Along the way, she experienced severe claustrophobia as a result of being buried under tons of rock. Having survived, she became a thief in Cairo and eventually traveled into Africa by chance. There she discovered her true nature as a walking idol. She eventually meets Charles Xavier.

The Watcher then explores another thread of scenarios of Ororo’s life in which she never stepped on the eventual boat, never sailed for Africa and never met the tribe that worshipped her.

In Cairo, Ororo is a very young thief who made herself look like a male. She uses deceptive tactics on a foreigner who walked by. A short time later, Ororo goes to New York City identified as Jack serving an old man who teaches her to work hard, to gain respect from his friends and immerse herself in a world of grifters and hobos. Ororo lives and works as a thief in the city targeting people who have more than enough…

Quality

A look at Storm as the super-powered thief. It’s also a portrayal of her as a super villain on the rise.

Among the many What If tales related to the X-Men that I have read so far, this is one of the most well-written and most intriguing alternate universe stories I have read thanks to Ann Nocenti. This was also released at a time when Storm was already established as a brave X-Men team leader and a potential successor to Professor X. In this comic book, there is this strong twist to the established legacy of Storm as a youth and the exploration of what would happen had she remained a thief (a super-powered thief no less) and never followed Charles Xavier turned out to be very compelling in my experience. For one thing, Storm definitely would have given police officers – who clearly are inferior to the powered heroes and villains – a hard time and even help the crime wave overwhelm society’s defenders. It is also quite striking to see Storm to follow and serve a principled yet theft-oriented superior. In fact, this story shows the popular X-Men team leader as a super villain on the rise.

More on storm, Ann Nocenti’s script literally dissected notable traits of Storm’s personality that are connected to the established comic book legacy which creatively created something new that fits in well in this alternate universe story. Through Storm, the story also sheds light on how thieves view life believing that theft is a necessity and their so-called principles justify it. No matter what the thieves and criminals in general think, nothing justifies theft and crime at all and those who commit such acts must be punished accordingly Without spoiling the details, I can say that there are some grey areas within Storm that were nicely emphasized.

Conclusion

Storm as a male-looking teenager behind bars with the ladies who got apprehended. Scenes like this should remind you NOT to vote for political candidates who are soft and sympathetic towards crime.

What If #40 (1990) is indeed a great alternate universe portrayal of one of the X-Men’s most prominent characters of the time. The story is very well structured and the characterization of Storm was clearly organized by Ann Nocenti to be powerful and intriguing to read. This comic book also has a twist that you must see for yourselves as well as an ending that will either surprise or satisfy you depending on what you anticipated. Ultimately, this comic book should remind you all to avoid committing crime and the truth is that poverty is a curse and it NEVER justifies theft. Always remember that the Lord is watching you. For enlightenment, read Exodus 22:1-4, Exodus 22:10-15, Leviticus 6:2-7 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 in the Holy Bible.

Overall, What If #40 (1990) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

Philippines achieves 7.6% economic growth in 2022

The Philippines’ recovery from the downturn of the COVID-19 crisis continued strongly as it has been confirmed that the national economy expanded by 7.6% for the entire year of 2022 which includes a 7.2% 4th quarter economic growth, according to a news article by the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Take note that the Philippines is expected to grow between 6.5% and 7% in 2023 according to the national authorities while there are signs that the United States economy will fall into a recession this year. Regardless, the Philippines ended 2022 competitively in terms of economic expansion among its Asian neighbors.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA news report. Some parts in boldface…

The Philippine economy expanded by 7.2 percent in the last quarter of 2022, bringing full-year growth to 7.6 percent, driven by increased economic activity mainly from pent-up demand as it fully reopened amid elevated inflation rate.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said among the major emerging economies in the region that have released their fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the Philippines grew the fastest, followed by Vietnam at 5.9 percent and China at 2.9 percent.   

Our improved Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) risk management and the easing of mobility restrictions have created a positive economic outlook, boosting economic activity and creating more jobs despite external headwinds,” he said in a briefing on Thursday. 

Balisacan said measures being implemented by the government to further buoy the economy’s recovery are working.

Our strong economic growth performance for 2022 proves that our calibrated policies and strategies have helped put us on the path to recovery and on track to achieving our aspiration for an inclusive, prosperous, and resilient society by 2028,” he said.

Balisacan said pent-up demand drove growth in the fourth quarter as the economy was fully reopened during the period, with household consumption accounting for around three-fourths of domestic output, and investments contributing around a fifth.

The improvements in labor market conditions, increased tourism, revenge and holiday spending, and resumption of face-to-face classes supported growth in the quarter, further reflecting a solid rebound in consumer and investor confidence in the economy,” he said.

Balisacan said had it not been for the elevated inflation rate, which rose to its highest since November 2008 last December when it accelerated to 8.1 percent, “growth could have been higher by another perhaps 1 to 2 percentage points.”

“It shows how overall demand is sensitive to inflation,” he added.

In terms of the volume of economic activities, Balisacan said domestic growth has recovered for many sectors, except for others such as tourism.

“(But) in so far as per capital income… we haven’t fully recovered yet,” he said.

Balisacan said the government is firm on ensuring that quality jobs will be available to Filipinos to lessen their need to work abroad.

“Inclusive growth across the archipelago will be our vehicle for reducing poverty incidence from 18 percent of the population in 2021 to a single-digit level by 2028,” he said.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa said 2022 full year GDP growth of 7.6 percent exceeded the government’s 6.5 to 7.5 percent growth assumption for the year and the highest after the 8.8 percent in 1976.

Mapa said the fourth-quarter growth, slower than the 7.6 percent in the previous quarter, was driven by the wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, financial and insurance activities and retail estate and ownership of dwellings boosted domestic growth.

He said domestic demand remained strong, with the household final consumption expenditure (HFCE) rising by 2.1 percent quarter-on-quarter, led by the restaurants and hotels, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and miscellaneous goods and services. Year-on-year expansion of HFCE stood at 7 percent.

Among the major economic industries, Mapa said agriculture, forestry, and fishing contracted by 1.7 percent because of the lower output of sugarcane, palay (rice), and poultry and egg production.

Meanwhile, Balisacan said the government is doing pro-active assessment of the current situation to address the elevated inflation rate in the country, which is expected to go back to within the government’s 2 to 4 percent target band by the second half of this year.

He said the government continues to allow the importation of several food items to boost domestic supply, adding that not doing so will hurt both the consumers and domestic growth.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this new development? Do you believe that the economy of the Philippine economy will grow between 6.5% to 7% this year? Do you think that more foreign tourists coming into the country will be able to help the nation achieve its economic growth targets this year? Apart from what was already mentioned, what do you think the national government should do to combat inflation? Do you think that the lower income tax for middle income earners will make a positive contribution to economic growth?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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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. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/.

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

A Look Back at What If #61 (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, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the wild 1990s and examine an alternate universe portrayal of one of Spider-Man’s many events told through the What If monthly series!

If you are looking for a portrayal of Spider-Man going over the edge and into the extremes emotionally, you are about to experience something in this retro review of mine. Some time ago, I reviewed a What If comic book about Spider-Man becoming a murderer which was compelling but ended on a whimper.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #61 published in 1994 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Kirk Jarvinen, Andrew Wildman, Derek Yaniger and Jim Amash.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Richard and Mary Parker (Peter Parker’s parents) arriving in the presence of Aunt May who happens to be visited by their son Peter (Spider-Man). Having learned something from a while back, Aunt May tells Richard and Mary that they are not genuine persons. Suddenly, Peter Parker’s spider sense intensifies and in an attempt to defuse the situation, he leads his aunt to walk out of the house with him. Richard and Mary watch them walk away.

It turns out, Richard and Mary are impostors and they have been working all the time for a secretive boss. Richard calls his employer under an emergency and reports that they have completed phase one of their assignment, that Aunt May knows the truth about them and is about to inform Spider-Man. Richard is then told that under no circumstances is the plan to be jeopardized and anyone who suspects must die. He is also told to flush Mary’s programming and reset her as she showed signs of acting odd to the situation.

A short time later, Richard and Mary – now in morphed forms with vastly different bodies and half their heads resembling their human selves – suddenly break into an apartment surprising Peter, his wife Mary Jane and Aunt May. Violent action by one of them accidentally ripped open Peter’s shirt, revealing his Spider-Man suit to Aunt May. Just as Peter’s aunt figures out the secret, he tells Mary Jane to grab her and get out.

However, the sight of the morphed Mary Parker shocked Aunt May and Mary Jane so much, they failed to move. Mary Parker then morphs her two hands into large, makeshift hammers, and swiftly killed Aunt May and Mary Jane. Peter is instantly shocked by their sudden deaths but deep inside, rage begins to burn…

Quality

Spider-Man already over the edge and reacting violently to the abusive Daily Bugle.

I can start by confirming that Kurt Busiek’s writing is very strong and his alternate take on the events of Amazing Spider-Man #388 (1994) is indeed very solidly composed. In one way, I find the emotional stakes for Spider-Man has been raised a lot higher than what was portrayed in the 400th issue of Amazing Spider-Man (the canon story). The concept of losing his beloved family members to enemies who were impostors that looked like his long lost parents is indeed disturbing as well as highly emotionally charged. In relation to this, Busiek and the illustrators brought to life a Spider-Man who really went over the edge by taking matters into his own hands as the loss of beloved ones led to the blurring of the boundary between good and evil. Even the boundary between innocence and guilt gets blurred which adds more depth to the emotions of the story. As I read the story, there were moments when I felt that Spider-Man became as bad as the evil ones even though he is clearly the victim and his family was targeted.

Apart from showing Spider-Man getting outraged and pushed to the limits, Busiek inserted elements about how people perceive incidents without knowing all the facts and how easily they get manipulated by a news outlet – the Daily Bugle where Peter Parker worked as a freelance photographer – that does not care about ethical journalism nor the pursuit of the truth. In this age of widespread fake news and liberal news media outlets in America doing propaganda for American Communists (read: Democrats, abortionists, LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the terrorists, the climate change extremists and the socialist hordes), this particular aspect of the story makes this comic book strongly relevant to read today.

The story also sheds light on Spider-Man’s connections with other Marvel superheroes who happen to be in New York City. You will see Captain America and Johnny Storm express their concern about Spider-Man’s state of mind as they themselves still tried to figure out what really happened. In short, the superheroes here showed restraint even as Spider-Man goes to the extreme being a victim as well as a fugitive.

If there are any weak points in this comic book, it would be the art which has this cartoon-like aesthetic. Considering the serious subject matter, the visuals are quite contradicting as they make this look like it was made for much younger readers.

Conclusion

Spider-Man takes on the impostors who looked like his parents.

As far as storytelling and characterization goes, What If #61 (1994) succeeded a lot on portraying the iconic Spider-Man as the superhero who went over the limits of his emotions and his reasoning which is the result of the tragic deaths of two beloved family members caused by individuals who pretended to be his parents. This is a very solid story which also has a powerful ending. Where What If #72 failed, this comic book succeeded and even exceeded it with Spider-Man truly becoming unheroic. I should state that this comic book should convince readers to go to the Amazing Spider-Man series and follow the Lifetheft storyline in issues #386 to #388 (which were released months before this comic book). Kurt Busiek’s script is indeed great and it is easily the driving force of the comic book, more than enough to overcome the cartoon-like visuals.

Overall, What If #61 (1994) is highly recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

A Look Back at Spider-Man 2099 #11 (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, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the will 1990s and explore the far future of 2099 within the Marvel Comics shared universe through one of the tales of Spider-Man 2099.

Shortly after his return from the old lower city of New York, Miguel O’Hara’s personal life got more complicated and intense. Aside from that, his rift with his mother remains unresolved. Miguel then begins to assess his personal life as well as his secret life as the swinging hero Spider-Man.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man 2099 #11, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins when armed security personnel apprehend a man for defacing Alchemax property with spray paint. As the suspect gets threatened with physical violence, Spider-Man suddenly appears and surprises the one holding the suspect down. It turns out, Spider-Man secretly knocked out one of the security personnel quietly.

The active security officer lets the suspect go and he activates his armor which turns out to be the Situation Emergency Gear (SIEGE for short) which is the result of a project between Alchemax and Stark-Fujikawa. The armored man then begins to strike at Spider-Man in response for the sudden intervention. Very notably, the security officer wearing SIEGE tells Spider-Man he apologizes for taking action and will do everything he could to harm him as little as possible…

Quality

The futuristic Spider-Man has serious opposition here.

Considering what happened in issue #10, this comic book ramped up the spectacle showing more of Spider-Man 2099 in action-packed conflict with one of the local authorities who happened to be armed with a powered suit of armor. The figure of opposition here is almost like a super villain but one who is not evil but rather doing what he was hired to do. Apart from being an action-filled conflict with strong sci-fi elements, this conflict symbolizes Miguel O’Hara’s willingness to put himself at risk by taking on the authorities as a deliberate violator of local law even though he himself works with Alchemax. This also shows Miguel’s recklessness as he struggled with the lack of a clear direction with his second life as Spider-Man. At this stage, Miguel’s inner rebellion against his corporation is very clear and this alone will put readers on the edge as they figure out what the deeply troubled hero plans to do next.

This comic book is not an all-out action fest. There was still enough room for Peter David to craft more of Miguel’s affairs at Alchemax, only this time he gets to meet someone who happened to be connected with one particular member of X-Men 2099 (note: this is related to the eventual 2099 crossover storyline). This only adds more intrigue into Miguel’s troubled personal life which is something you must read and find out here.

Conclusion

This comic book will make you wonder if Spider-Man 2099 himself is slowly becoming evil by getting into direct conflict with the law.

Spider-Man 2099 #11 (1993) is a fine example of plot really thickening while also making life not only harder but more intense on the part of Miguel O’Hara. At the same time, this comic book built up something new for Spider-Man to eventually face off with. Peter David’s writing and direction of the character are very engaging to follow from start to finish.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #11 (1993) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

HSBC sees Philippine economy growth of 4.4% for 2023 due to key factors

HSBC, one of the biggest players of the global financial industry, recently made its forecast of the Philippines growing economically at 4.4% for the year 2023, according to a news article by the Philippine News Agency (PNA). There are certain factors mentioned in HSBC’s assessment for the nation.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

Hikes in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) key policy rates are expected to dampen the strong domestic output for 2023, with an executive of HSBC forecasting a 4.4 percent expansion this year.

In a virtual briefing on Thursday, HSBC chief investment officer for Southeast Asia, Global Private Banking and Wealth, James Cheo, said private consumption contributed to the strong recovery of the domestic economy last year but this is seen to be limited by the monetary tightening aimed to temper the elevated inflation rate.

Other factors that boosted gross domestic product (GDP) last year include investments, higher government spending on infrastructure and increased mobility following the resumption of face-to-face schooling, he said.

Looking into 2023, the country’s growth will slow and the recovery is going to be more gradual as the reopening boost fades and monetary tightening weighs on domestic demand,” Cheo said.

As of the third quarter of last year, growth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), rose by 7.76 percent, exceeding the government’s 6.5 to 7.5 percent growth assumption for this year.

The BSP’s key rates have been hiked by 350 basis points from May to December last year, after being at record-low of 2 percent in 2020, as monetary authorities help address the elevated inflation rate.

Last December, domestic rate of price increases further accelerated to 8.1 percent, the highest since November 2008, due to faster annual jumps in goods and energy prices.

Cheo said “household’s consumption in 2023 will likely be curtailed” given the elevated inflation rate.

Strong employment, tourism recovery, expanding production and retail sales, and public investment will continue to support growth in 2023,” he said.

With inflation expected to remain high, Cheo projects the BSP to make three consecutive 25 basis point increases this year, “pausing at 6.25 percent by Q2 (second quarter) 2023” and keeping this decision until at least the second half of 2024.

The above article ended with HSBC predicting that the Philippine Peso will weaken to the United States Dollar at a rate of US$1 = P56.50.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this recent development? Do you believe that inflation and interest rates will somehow slow down the ongoing economic growth later this year? Do you think that Philippine tourism will become a factor to help the Philippine economy grow at least 5% this year? What do you think the national government and its economic managers should do to maintain strong growth as the nation keeps on recovering from the depression of the COVID-19 crisis? Have you been managing your personal or business finances carefully recently?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

A Look Back at Venom: Lethal Protector #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, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the first-ever limited comic book series featuring one of Marvel’s most iconic villains – Venom.

In my previous retro review, Venom discovers a long lost section of San Francisco that fell deep underground. Even though it is cut off from the resources and fresh air of modern San Francisco, the lost city section is filled with homeless people and social outcasts. Even though he helped the city dwellers by defeating the two armed mechs (employed by a powerful organization who oppose the city dwellers and are in pursuit of something related to San Francisco’s park), Venom still gets rejected by the so-called council. This only led him to returning to the surface not knowing that he is being targeted by a certain group.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Venom: Lethal Protector #3, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by David Michelinie and drawn by Mark Bagley.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Venom suffering from a sonic blast while being restrained by one of the armed members of the group called The Jury. Their leader (who wears a suit and necktie) introduces himself as Orwell Taylor and he addressed Venom as Mr. Brock. It turns out Taylor spent lots of time and resources researching everything about Brock and the alien costume. More shockingly, The Jury’s leader reveals that he lost his son Hugh years ago due to Venom’s arranged killing of him as he escaped from his prison cell in the federal prison called The Vault. Hugh Taylor is the first man Venom killed when he escaped.

Venom responds by say that he and his symbiote did not want to hurt anyone. This provokes Orwell Taylor into anger and he orders The Jury to kill Venom. Due to the lengthy explanations of Orwell Taylor, Venom managed to recover and regain strength which he uses to free himself and throw one Jury member to another causing quick chaos.

After punching another Jury member, Venom then moves out of the alley and away from Taylor and his team…

Quality

Very clearly, The Jury is a very formidable force of opposition. Their battle with Venom here comes with a lot of spectacle.

In terms of storytelling, this one is another improvement over issue #2 (which itself is an improvement over issue #1) as the plot got more interesting and even intriguing. For one thing, I like the fact that David Michelinie recalled Venom’s murderous escape from prison told way back in Amazing Spider-Man #315 (1989) and came up with the establishment of a very angry powerful father who formed the dangerous cybernetic team called The Jury. In a rather symbolic way, this comic book shows how Venom’s past comes back to haunt him and creatively, the battles between Venom and The Jury here are packed with a lot of action and visual dynamism delivered by Mark Bagley. The irony is that The Jury itself is not the main antagonist of this limited series as they are clearly presented to be a recurring force of opposition within Spider-Man’s realm in Marvel Comics’ shared universe of the time.

Still on the plot, the sinister organization hounding the dwellers of the lost city was revealed to be the Treece group whose leader is pursuing something very valuable to feed his greed. Still, even though this is already the third issue, the Treece organization’s presence is very subtle and as the force of opposition towards Venom, they are outclassed by The Jury.

As in the previous issue, Spider-Man got a good share of the spotlight but this one is even more limiting which should delight Venom fanatics who complained about Marvel’s icon overshadowing their guy with the symbiote. Spider-Man serves mainly as a tool for exposition as the creative team showed images from the past of Eddie Brock with his father (whom Spider-Man approached for answers).

The problem here is that showing flashbacks from the past and explaining how Eddie Brock became bitter and sinister as a result of receiving almost no affection from his father ruins the mystery of Venom as a character. During the time of Todd McFarlane drawing Amazing Spider-Man comics and the early Venom tales, the mystery of Eddie Brock’s past added to the intrigue of Venom and his quick rise as the deadliest villain Spider-Man ever faced. I understand that this limited comic book series had Venom as the protagonist who was in high demand among readers of the time but for me the creative team went way too far emphasizing Eddie Brock’s past.

Nothing changes the fact that Eddie Brock aided by the alien costume is a murderer who happens to have previously been a prolific print media journalist whose career got ruined by Spider-Man which in turn led him to a downward spiral and eventually to bonding with the symbiote that once bonded with Peter Parker. The flashbacks were pointless and if there really was an attempt to humanize Eddie Brock and make him sympathetic to readers, the creative team clearly failed.

Conclusion

Spider-Man with Eddie Brock’s father in California.

Venom: Lethal Protector #3 (1993) is a mixed bag. Its plot is clearly more intriguing and more interesting to read while there was enough creative space to show The Jury as a powerful force of opposition which is the result of Venom’s murder of Hugh Taylor (read: Amazing Spider-Man #315) while making a prison escape. The spectacle of the battle between Venom and The Jury must be seen! However, the creative team’s move to dramatize Eddie Brock’s past using flashbacks back-fired in my opinion and ultimately they destroyed whatever mystery was left behind Venom. As a protagonist, Venom has no appeal whatsoever and his portrayal here only reminds me that he works best as an antagonist opposite Spider-Man. Venom as a hero for those he perceived to be innocent and helpless remains forced and unconvincing.

Overall, Venom: Lethal Protector #3 (1993) is satisfactory.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

Xbox Series X and Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition Bundle coming out for your enjoyment!

If you still have not yet acquired an Xbox Series X console but you already have the means to buy it, then you should seriously consider buying the Xbox Series X and Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition Bundle once it becomes available for $559, Team Xbox announced recently. Having played Forza Horizon 5 a lot on my Xbox Series X since late 2021, I can say that the bundle is great value for you gamers as well as others struggling with inflation.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com announcement. Some parts in boldface…

Introducing the Xbox Series X – Forza Horizon 5 Bundle, including an Xbox Series X and wireless controller, and Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition with Hot Wheels Expansion, VIP Pass, Car Pass, Welcome Pack and a second expansion when available.  This Xbox Series X bundle will be available worldwide and will start shipping to retailers in the US, Canada and select markets in Asia this week. Bundles will start shipping to Europe, Latin America, and more regions around the world later this month.

The Xbox Series X bundled with Forza Horizon 5 and additional content offered for $559.

Xbox Series X: 12 teraflops of raw graphic processing power, DirectX ray tracing, a custom 1TB SSD, and 4K gaming – Xbox Series X is the fastest, most powerful Xbox ever. There are thousands of playable titles from four generations of consoles, and all games look and play best on the Xbox Series X. Load times are virtually eliminated and framerates are increased with a custom-built NVMe SSD, which enables larger, more robust games to operate at their full capacity.

Forza Horizon 5 runs at 4K and 60 frames per second on Xbox Series X in performance mode and provides the most technologically advanced Forza Horizon experience yet. You’ll get to explore the vibrant and ever-evolving open world landscapes of Mexico in the world’s greatest cars with 12 teraflops of raw graphic processing power, DirectX ray tracing, a custom SSD, and 4K gaming.  The power of the Xbox Series X console delivers incredible realism and immersion with a world rendered in higher detail and with extreme draw distances.

Forza Horizon 5 Premium Edition includes Forza Horizon 5 plus the Premium Edition add-ons -Forza Horizon 5: The latest entry in the open world racing series showcases powerful, all-new graphical features. Experience sweeping vistas and scan the distance to see the adventure that lies ahead. Encounter the smallest of details throughout the world, which is rendered with striking realism, down to the smallest details like the light that glows through each needle on a Cholla cactus. Our Mexican HDR sky captures illuminate the world to the point that you will feel as if you are right there. And thanks to Xbox Series X|S, ray tracing is utilized in ForzaVista to make the cars look even more true to real life.

Hot Wheels Expansion: Race 10 amazing new cars on the fastest, most extreme tracks ever devised. You can even design, build, and share your own Hot Wheels adventure! What’s not to love about that? You can blast off to the visually stunning, exhilarating Horizon Hot Wheels Park in the clouds above Mexico today.

VIP Pass: The VIP Pass features 3 exclusive Forza Edition cars, Crown Flair, Vanity Items, Emote and Car Horn, Player House, Double Credit race rewards, weekly bonus Super Wheelspins, and more to give your game a boost and make you stand out at the Horizon Festival. 

Car Pass: Expand your garage with 42 new cars, including 8 Formula Drift Cars to get you started in style. Plus, you’ll receive a one-time grant of each car to your in-game garage.

Welcome Pack: 5 special pre-tuned cars, a Player House, a one-time grant to own any car from the game’s Autoshow, and 3 one-time grants for any Common or Rare clothing item.

Second Expansion: The next Forza Horizon 5 expansion will be included when it launches.

Wow! That’s a ton of gaming value for those who will buy the Xbox Series X bundled with the blockbuster game! Indeed, Team Xbox is offering big value for $559 to those who want the premium, fun console gaming experience. I myself am still having fun replaying Forza Horizon 5.

Personally, I see this premium bundle announcement as a form of warm-up on the part of Team Xbox to deliver not just more game-related features and Xbox Game Pass (XGP) content but also the big-budget Xbox-exclusive games that are expected to be released this year such as Starfield (note: first half of 2023), Forza Motorsport (2023), Redfall (note: potentially May 2023) and others. 2022 is over and ended without big budget exclusive games and this is the year that Team Xbox should deliver the great stuff that cannot be found on PlayStation and Nintendo consoles. If you want tremendous gaming value and content at a small price per month, I encourage you to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

Watch out for the Xbox Series X – Forza Horizon 5 premium bundle online and at the local retailers.

In concluding this article, posted below for your enjoyment are Xbox-related videos.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

Philippines attracted 2.65 million international arrivals and over P200 billion in tourism revenues in 2022

With the year 2022 officially over, the Department of Tourism (DOT) officially confirmed that the Philippines attracted 2.65 million tourist arrivals (exceeding the target of 1.7 million) and over P200 billion in tourism revenues were generated for the year, according to a news article by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

The holidays delivered further gains for the Philippine tourism industry as it breached its 1.7-million target with 2.65 million international arrivals as of the end of 2022.

The arrivals translated to PHP208.96 billion or USD3.68 billion in tourism revenues, a whopping 2,465.75-percent increase from 2021, according to a news release on Monday.

Based on the monitoring of the Department of Tourism (DOT) from the time the country reopened its borders to all travelers in February until Dec. 31, 2022 arrivals peaked in December as more Filipinos and tourists alike opted to spend the Christmas and New Year vacations in the Philippines.

Of the total 2.65 million international arrivals last year, 628,445 were returning Filipinos while the bulk of 2.02 million tourists were from top markets United States (505,089), South Korea (428,014), Australia (137,974), Canada (121,413), the United Kingdom (101,034), Japan (99,557), Singapore (53,448), India (51,542), Malaysia (46,805) and China (39,627).

The year just ended likewise generated an estimated 5.23 million tourism-related jobs, 11,989 DOT-accredited tourism enterprises as of Dec. 29, 2022 and 25,770 tourism stakeholders who were trained.

DOT Secretary Christina Frasco was elated over the achievements of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., just six months into office.

She said the tourism sector’s growth clearly showed the hard work of the entire industry in order to recover from the unprecedented crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Moments of great difficulty are also moments of great opportunity. In the past, we have overcome a global pandemic and survived various calamities. The Philippine tourism industry has managed to exceed expectations and our tourism partners and frontliners continue to offer the best of Filipino grace and hospitality to the world,” Frasco said in a statement.

“We welcome 2023 with gratitude and excitement for Philippine tourism to bounce back stronger than ever. We shall welcome with warmth and that distinct Filipino smile visitors from all over the world as they visit our award-winning beaches, experience the richness of our culture, and enjoy our world-renowned Filipino brand of service excellence,” she added.

Frasco is hopeful that the DOT will surpass its targets anew in 2023.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this recent development about the Philippines tourism? If you are managing a business, did your business benefit somehow from the arrival of foreign tourists and/or Filipinos who arrived from overseas? Do you think the DOT will be able to achieve its targets for 2023?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Philippines counted 2.6 million tourist arrivals in 2022

Since it opened its borders for travelers from abroad in early 2022, the Philippines registered a total of 2.6 million tourist arrivals for the year, according to a GMA Network news report quoting the Department of Tourism (DOT). Take note that the DOT has higher targets for attracting foreign tourists this new year.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the GMA news report. Some parts in boldface…

A total of 2.6 million tourists arrived in the Philippines in 2022, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

This is due to the opening of borders to all international travelers in February, the DOT added, according to a report on GMA Integrated News’ Unang Balita on Monday.

Some P173 billion tourism revenue was recorded in 2022, the department said.

The DOT said more than 628,000 arrivals are returning Filipinos.

The top arriving international tourists were from the US, South Korea, Australia, and United Kingdom.

Very clearly, the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to happen in different ways around the world. For the Philippines itself, the arrivals and presence of foreign tourists as well as Filipinos based overseas are crucial for the socio-economic development of the whole nation. As such, we Filipinos can be more supportive towards the DOT and other national stakeholders to make tourism – both foreign and local – thrive again with the nation in mind.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this new development? Do you believe the DOT can achieve its targets for 2023? Do you think the local government units (LGUs) should become more pro-active on emphasizing local tourism? What is the most notable local tourist site in your city right now? Did you notice your favorite local coffee shop or restaurant having more foreigners as customers lately?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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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. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/.