A Look Back at Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995)

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 culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we will take a look back at a certain crossover comic book that involved both Marvel Comics and DC Comics published in the mid-1990s. On my part, it’s been some time since I last reviewed a Marvel-DC crossover comic book. That being said, you can read about my retro comic book reviews of Batman versus The Incredible Hulk and Superman and Spider-Man on this website.

For this new retro review, we will focus on the 1995 crossover that brought two of Marvel and DC’s icons together for the first time – Spider-Man and Batman! To put things in perspective, the 1990s still remembered as the decade when Bane broke Batman’s back while the publishing of Spider-Man comic books became highly controversial with the Spider-Clone Saga. In the 1995 crossover produced the two comic book giants, Spider-Man and Batman are presented in their classic identities as Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds published in 1995 by Marvel Comics and DC Comics with a story written by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Mark Bagley.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a nightmare in which Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben got shot by an armed man in the presence of Aunt May inside their home. Immediately Spider-Man arrives and grabs the man by the neck. The armed man creepily laughs and his face suddenly turns into the Joker. Peter Parker wakes up in bed with Mary Jane on his side. After a short talk with his wife, Peter decides to leave their apartment and swing around the city as Spider-Man.

In another nightmare, a very young Bruce Wayne witnesses the death of his parents caused by a man with a gun. He suddenly turns into Batman and grabs the gunman by the neck. The gunman suddenly turns into the horrific Carnage. Bruce wakes up and decides to reflect. As soon as his butler Alfred opens the door to check on him, Bruce immediately leaves as Batman in the middle of the night.

Somewhere that same night inside a secret facility of the Ravencroft Institute, Cletus Kasady/Carnage is restrained in a secured chamber surrounded by armed security personnel with Spider-Man and psychotherapist Ashley Kafka watching him…

Quality

The two superhero icons together.

I’ll start first with the visual quality of this crossover comic book. Mark Bagley, who was the lead artist on Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man comic book series, delivered an unsurprisingly stylized look at the two superhero icons, super villains and characters, as well as on DC’s Gotham City (which was the most prominent location in the story).

While Bagley’s work on Spider-Man and the characters associated with him were typical of his Amazing Spider-Man of the decade, I can say that his take on Batman, Joker, Alfred, the Bat Cave and others on the DC Comics side resulted a unique look. Bagley drew Joker looking sinister, maniacal, clueless and even tamed as the plot progressed. Bagley’s Batman has a larger yet familiar style of muscular body compared to Spider-Man, and the visual presentation of his cape ranged from dynamic to looking authoritarian. There were however a few moments wherein Bagley went over the limit on emphasizing the length of Batman’s cape which resulted a few inaccuracies. Remember how there were times that Bagley drew Marvel characters’ thighs to look excessive with muscle? You will see that too on Batman here.

When it comes to artistic dynamism, it is clear that Bagley pushed himself hard creating some mixed results. Some scenes (action scenes and talk scenes included) had the appropriate amount of flash and style, while other scenes had an excessive amount. When it came to spectacle, Bagley succeeded in making the action, hard-hitting moments and explosions look very lively. To be clear, this comic book is entertaining to look at but ultimately it will resonate best with readers who are best familiar to the way Bagley draws.

For the storytelling, J.M. DeMatteis crafted a script that did not reach its full potential as there were obvious limits imposed to ensure equality on presenting the characters and the situations. This explains why in the beginning Spider-Man and Batman each had nightmares related to their respective past and end up seeing their respective super villains interchanged (Spider-Man sees Joker, Batman sees Carnage). The characters of Ashley Kafka and Cassandra Briar are not only looking too similar to each other (just imagine their characters having no colors), they both feel like cardboard cut-outs of a single character who specializes on analyzing people with dangerous minds and coming up with solutions to help them. The more known supporting characters from the respective sides of the two icons – Mary Jane and butler Alfred – made short appearances but did not really contribute much to the plot.

The limitations are also felt on the way Spider-Man and Batman – plus Carnage and Joker – were presented, right down to their interactions with each other. While it was expected that Batman and Spider-Man would be brought together by an unfortunate development, the complete absence of a fight between the two superhero icons was itself the biggest surprise here effectively defying crossover superhero tradition. Even without a fight, you will see Batman and Spider-Man do things separately in accordance to their respective traditions or character traits before getting back together leading to the big conflict with the super villains.

As for Joker and Carnage being together, the spotlight on them in this comic book is pretty limited. There simply is not enough space in this comic book to bring out the full potential of the two super villains who each are known to be murderers and psychologically dangerous. What is interesting in their limited time together is that the story emphasized the differences between them when it comes harming people. The Joker has his own sadistic style of leading people to their deaths in time-consuming ways which is opposite of the quick deaths Carnage enjoys. Considering their respective reputations, it is just a shame that this comic book not only failed to bring out the full potential of Carnage-Joker, it also failed to establish them as clear and present dangers to the public.

More on the plot itself in relation to the comic book sub-title “Disordered Minds”, the elements of mental instability, psycho-therapy, psychology and rehabilitation are present but they are all thrown out by the time the second half of the story begins, clearly making space for the crossover dynamics of Batman, Spider-Man, Joker and Carnage.

Conclusion

Joker and Carnage.

Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) is a flawed crossover event comic book that just so happens to have more positive stuff than negative ones. It is enjoyable but not great and certainly not memorable. The imposed limits on the presentation made this comic book’s story feel very staged and predictable. With what little creative space was left, it is quite an achievement for the creative team to tell a cohesive and stuffed story (note: there is a lot of filler and some psychology related stuff may not interest some readers) while featuring Batman and Spider-Man the best way they could. It has enough superhero spectacle to be enjoyed although the interactions between Batman and Spider-Man and between Joker and Carnage could have been better.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that a near-mint copy costs $120 while the near-mint copy of the signed-and-numbered edition is at $120.

Overall, Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) 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 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/

A Look Back at Sludge #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 culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories through the Sludge comic book series.

Previously I reviewed issue #2 of the series which was a surprising and fun comic book to read as the creative team took the risk of emphasizing the violent character Bloodstorm over Sludge himself. Ultimately, this move served as a way to not just build up tension but to expand the specific place of Sludge and the dark forces within the Ultraverse. For this retro review, issue #3 is set during the events of the memorable Ultraverse crossover story Break-Thru.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #3, published by Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Sludge still lying down at the dock after just being defeated by Bloodstorm. Suddenly a mob of chaotic people (driven mad by the effects of Break-Thru that just happened) lift him up and throw him into the water without any regrets whatsoever. In hiding, Bloodstorm witnesses their act and thought to himself that he should avoid the madness happening. Suddenly, other mad people ganged up on him forcing him to react by firing his gun and set himself free from their grip. He safely makes it to his car and speeds away, even bumping off a few people on the way.

As Bloodstorm speeds away, another man in hiding who knew him and the boss Marcello was found by the mad people. Out of desperation he runs away and jumps into the water. He realizes that the people are so obsessed with going up to the sky (the Break-Thru effect), they did not bother to follow him at all.

Deep down the water, Sludge finds himself alone and getting relieved of the pain he experienced above. Feeling hopeless, he waits for the river to wash him away…

Quality

Sludge in trouble!

Being a standalone story set during the events of Break-Thru, this comic book focuses more on the protagonist while simultaneously raising the stakes with regards to the evil forces as the elements of crime gang combined with the supernatural took effect. To be clear, fantasy elements were added to this series which had darkness and grit dominating the plot of the first two issues.

This comic book has an early appearance of “lord” Pumpkin (AKA The Pump) who is the element of sorcery and, more notably, serves as the Ultraverse’s very own Satanic figure. Not only does the Pump have vast powers to take life away from others and has evil pawns to wield, he also leads and guides an apprentice (the kid gangster called Pistol) with pure wickedness, crafted plans of evil, is cunning in his ways of manipulating others to do evil, and he makes promises or deals with others who will receive some rewards but ultimately will be disregarded and lose a lot. This Ultraverse super-villain, as recorded in Malibu Comics’ publishing history, went on to become a walking symbol of pure evil, corruption, sins and danger in other UV comic books.

While there is indeed more focus on Sludge in this issue, it is the Pump who overshadows him. As for Bloodstorm, his presence has been drastically reduced here which is kind of jarring to read as he was the dominant and heavily emphasized in issue #2. Speaking of characters, the gang boss Marcello (who is Bloodstorm’s client) makes a short appearance but his connections not only with criminals but also with para-military forces emphasized his influence in the city.

More on the plot itself, this comic book is pretty loaded and the stakes were really raised high. In key scenes, Sludge finds himself in the middle of gangsters, the people driven mad by the Break-Thru effect, the para-military forces and the Pump’s ugly and evil pawns. Steve Gerber crafted a story that expectedly built up a lot and paid of strongly since the stakes were raised. I should state that Aaron Lopresti’s art here showed signs of improved creativity

Conclusion

The gang boss Marcello and Bloodstorm talk during the events of Break-Thru.

Sludge #3 (1993) is a more engaging and more intense comic book on its own complete with the literary debut of the Pump who is clearly the Ultraverse’s most evil villain. If issue #2 was twisting with the way it presented its characters, this comic book has more of its protagonist who went on to face new elements of evil while the story of Break-Thru transpired. I also noticed the Pump’s offer to Sludge symbolizes Satan offering a troubled soul a place in his force of evil. How did Sludge react to the offer from the evil one? You will have to read this comic book.

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

Overall, Sludge #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 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/

A Look Back at Sludge #2 (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 culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories through the Sludge comic book series.

For the newcomers reading this, I published my retro review of Sludge #1 back in December of 2020. I really enjoyed that Ultraverse comic book and now is a good time to revisit that series and find out what will happen next to Sludge, the UV’s most notable monster protagonist. I should state that Steve Gerber (Man-Thing) and Aaron Lopresti made a solid creative duo in Sludge #1.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #2, published by Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a quick flashback of a young blonde boy who got bullied by other kids due to his unusual appearance and the way he expresses himself. Fast forward to the present day, an armed man (the same kid in the flashback) fires his guns on a man who was on his bed inside his residence.

After finishing the killing, the armed man enters his unusual looking car and leaves in high speed. After passing through the city streets, he drives his vehicle into his secret hideout filled with several weapons. Shortly after cleaning himself, he takes his seat in his private study and starts communicating with Mr. Barnett who tells him that bad news that something happened to his father. The killer then states, “Payment is due.”

Somewhere in lower Manhattan, a man is being beaten by two men who are enforcers of a man wearing a trench coat in their presence. The beaten man named Mikey swears he will get the money to pay off his debt but the coated man tells him that he is a week late and will be penalized.

Suddenly out of nowhere, Sludge comes out and grabs the two enforcers which frees Mike whose ear just got cut off by the coated man. Sludge then calls the coated man by his nickname…

Quality

The situation only gets more intense whenever Sludge comes in.

I’ll go straight to the point on the storytelling by Steve Gerber. The biggest surprise is here is that the focus was shifted from the titular protagonist Sludge in favor of the first appearance of Bloodstorm who is more than just a typical villain. Gerber heavily emphasized Bloodstorm’s personality as one who enjoys inflicting violence or death to others (and get paid for it) as a result of his painful childhood and his eventual acceptance of the beliefs that violence itself is always part of life. Even so, this comic book shows that Bloodstorm does not believe in inflicting misery for money and he calls it a cowardly way of earning money. Even as he finds his client’s business appalling, he still proceeds to do the dirty work to make money. This, of course, puts Bloodstorm in the dark work organized, target-focused mobbing which also puts him on the same course as Sludge. 

As with issue #1, the violence here is pretty intense and adulterated which goes along almost perfectly with the story’s dark and gritty tone. There is a fine mix of suspense, shock moments and the revealing of key details. I assure you all reading that that even though Sludge himself was not so dominant as the centerpiece of the story, the payoff for all the build-up was still worth reading.

Conclusion

Get to know Bloodstorm through this comic book.

Sludge #2 (1993) is a pretty surprising comic book. One might think that it would become the natural progression of what was established in issue #1 (which itself was the first appearance and origin of Sludge) but ultimately it took a completely different approach. I should also state that the duo of Steve Gerber and Aaron Lopresti continued to deliver compelling stuff in this comic book. While the fact that Sludge is not the dominating force in the story might turn off some readers, I can say to you that Sludge #2 (1993) is still a very worthy read and it builds up on something waiting to be revealed in succeeding issues.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Sludge #2 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48

Overall, Sludge #2 (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 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/

A Look Back at Spider-Man 2099 #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, 1990s culture enthusiasts, and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the world of 2099 within the universe of Marvel Comics back in the 1990s, specifically through the Spider-Man 2099 monthly series.

Today we will look back at the early development of futuristic Spider-Man as published way back in 1993. The first three issues (read also my reviews of issue #2 and #3) formed a solid foundation on establishing Miguel O’Hara as his era’s Spider-Man thanks mainly to the high-quality writing done by Peter David. What issue #4 will deliver, we will find out here.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man 2099 #4, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Ricky Leonardi.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Gabriel O’Hara (Miguel’s brother) and Kasey Nash trying to have a good time together inside a vehicle until a man armed with a sword interrupts them and tries to take the lady with him. As Gabriel makes his move to help Kasey, the swordman throws two sharp projectiles at him and moves away with the lady.

Over at the Babylon Towers residence, Miguel O’Hara gets visited by his boss Tyler Stone accompanied by armed personnel. Not realizing that Spider-Man 2099 and Miguel are one and the same person, Tyler tells him that the sudden appearance of the crawler put Alchemax on edge.

Tyler proposes peace between him and Miguel, offering him more of the hyper addictive substance Rapture. He tells him that Aaron Delgato was identified as the mysterious Spider-Man…   

Quality

Miguel O’Hara and his brother Gabriel ride and talk.

The plot really thickened in this comic book resulting a few very interesting sub-plot branches as well as more depth on the development of Miguel O’Hara. I really like the way Peter David explored the corporate side of Miguel’s life here creating suspense about Tyler’s limited knowledge of the Alchemax incidents that happened in issues #1 and #2 which actually involved the protagonist witnessing the fall of his corporate rival Aaron (the same guy responsible for the genetic manipulation of Miguel into Spider-Man). This comic book also focuses on the strained relationship Miguel has with his brother Gabriel who clearly lacks the will to be personally responsible.

I also enjoyed the way Miguel reacts to the classic Spider-Man expression of “with great power comes great responsibility” as he struggles to set things right even as being a civilian and a superhero in his society has major hassles.

The anticipated battle between Spider-Man and the sword-wielding Specialist was structured nicely. Instead of being the typical good-versus-evil conflict, what was presented started with nice moments as Spider-Man still struggles to make the best out of his capabilities. Be aware that the fight does not conclude in this issue.

Conclusion

Miguel getting ready for work while having his Spider-Man costume worn.

Spider-Man 2099 #4 (1993) is a solid comic book to read. It had a nice balance of character development, plot with twists here and there, as well as a good amount of action and thrills. Its best feature, as expected, was the further development of the protagonist and you will see more of Miguel than Spider-Man. By the end of this comic book, I really felt I got to know Miguel more as a person, and not a mere character.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #4 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #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 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/

Better than Streaming: Alligator 4K Blu-ray coming out on February 22, 2022

Welcome back, fellow geeks, Blu-ray collectors and movie buffs! If you are fond of old-school creature features, suspense and horror for your home viewing, then you might be interested to know that the 1980 film Alligator will be released in 4K Blu-ray format on February 22, 2022 according to a Blu-ray.com update. Alligator 4K Blu-ray is an upcoming release prepared by Scream Factory and interested costumers can order it right now online.

To put things in perspective, posted below are key details from the Blu-ray.com article about Alligator 4K Blu-ray combo. Some parts in boldface…

The 4K Blu-ray cover.

DISC ONE: 4K BLU-RAY – THEATRICAL VERSION

  • EXCLUSIVE NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • Audio Commentary With Director Lewis Teague And Actor Robert Forster
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

DISC TWO: BLU-RAY – THEATRICAL VERSION

  • EXCLUSIVE NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • NEW Everybody In The Pool – An Interview With Actress Robin Riker
  • NEW Wild In The Streets – An Interview With Director Lewis Teague
  • NEW It Walks Among Us – An Interview With Screenwriter John Sayles
  • NEW Luck Of The Gator – An Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Robert Short
  • NEW Gator Guts, The Great River, And Bob – An Interview With Production Assistant, Now Famous Actor/Director/Producer, Bryan Cranston
  • NEW Newspaper Ad Still Gallery By Drive-In Asylum
  • Audio Commentary With Director Lewis Teague And Actor Robert Forster
  • Alligator Author – An Interview With Screenwriter John Sayles
  • Additional Scenes From The TV Version
  • Promotional Materials
    • NEW Teaser Trailer (New 2K Scan)
    • NEW Theatrical Trailer (NEW 2K Scan)
    • NEW TV Spots (NEW 2K Scan)
    • Trailers From Hell – Filmmaker Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) On ALLIGATOR
    • ALLIGATOR Game Television Commercial
  • Still Gallery (Movie Stills, Movie Posters, Lobby Cards, And Behind-The-Scenes Photos)
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

DISC THREE: BLU-RAY – EXTENDED TELEVISION VERSION

  • NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM THE OCN WITH ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE FROM AN INTERPOSITIVE
  • The extended television version is presented in high-definition for the first time ever.

Posted below are the other details from Alligator’s own page at Blu-ray.com…

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio – English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles – English SDH

Discs – 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, Three-disc set (1 BD-100, 2 BD-50)

Packaging – Slipbox, Reversible cover

Playback – 4K Blu-ray: Region free, 2K Blu-ray: Region A

The movie poster from 1980.

Personally, I saw Alligator on home video way back in the 1980s and sometimes on cable TV afterwards. In American pop culture, the Lewis Teague-directed movie was one of several creature feature movies that got released as part of a wave of imitators who were inspired by the massive success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Alligator had a mixed-to-positive reception from the movie critics in 1980 and its ticket sales were almost four times its production budget.

How this old movie will look like in 4K interests me, and the 4K visuals have been confirmed to be native 4K. As typical with other Scream Factory releases, Alligator will come with lots of extra stuff that fans and movie buffs will eventually enjoy. Watch out for this 4K Blu-ray release on February 22, 2022.

In closing this Better than Streaming piece, posted below are Alligator-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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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 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/

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One on March 18, 2022

As I mentioned previously, 2022 will be a bigger and more exciting year for enjoying video games on Xbox platforms as there will be more and varied new video games coming out as well as new fun stuff through the Xbox network and Xbox Game Pass (XGP). Adding more depth and excitement on Xbox gaming this year is the fast-approaching release of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin on March 18, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One consoles!

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action-packed, Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) being made by Koei Tecmo-owned developer Team Ninja (best known for Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) under publisher Square Enix. For key details about the upcoming game, read the Square Enix press release excerpt below. Some parts in boldface…

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN blends challenging and strategic action gameplay with the world and lore of the FINAL FANTASY series to create a unique action RPG experience. Join Jack and his allies as they throw open the gates to the Chaos Shrine and step into a world of dark fantasy and exhilarating battles to discover if they are truly the Warriors of Light the prophecy foretold.

Posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com article of the game. Some parts in boldface…

From a key cutscene in the game.

In this new tale you’ll play as Jack, a stranger to the Kingdom of Cornelia with a past shrouded in mystery. He must hazard numerous challenges to bring the light of the crystals back to a kingdom conquered by darkness in this hard-core action RPG. Will restoring the crystals’ light usher in peace or a new form of darkness? Or perhaps something else entirely? Keep reading to find out what makes this Final Fantasy story so unique.

Visceral Action Combat

Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin allows players to experience Final Fantasy action like never before. Real-time combat keeps the action at the forefront of gameplay. But you won’t find success by mashing buttons. You’ll need to turn your enemies’ powers against them to turn the tides of battle. Switch between jobs with a push of a button so you can be prepared for anything that comes your way. When the odds are overwhelming, use the powerful Lightbringer ability to push back the monstrous hordes. Once you’ve broken their spirit, finish them off with a crystal crushing finishing move.

One of the characters in the game.

Deep Character Customization

With each enemy you defeat and every chest you open, you’ll uncover powerful treasure to help you on your journey. Each piece of armor will not only augment your abilities but will also change the look of your character as well. The weapons you find will also unlock new jobs to fit your play style. You might start off as a swordsman, but you’ll quickly discover options to become a mage, dragoon, monk, and so much more. Find the right combination of abilities to fit the way you play and don’t forget to customize your team-mates gear for some added support.

A Dark World to Discover

If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game before you might recognize some familiar creatures and locations, but you’ve never seen them like this. What secrets does each location hold and what manner of monster await you in the darkness?

Anyone who loves real-time action in Japanese RPGs should check this out.

To order the game in advance for your Xbox console, you can go for the regular edition here or the digital deluxe version here. Being a highly stylized action RPG developed by the talented guys at Team Ninja, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will surely standout among all other RPGs (regardless of core design or gameplay styles) that are coming to Xbox consoles in this console generation. It is also interesting to see how this upcoming game will perform in terms of visual fidelity and frame rates when optimized for Xbox Series X. Mark your calendars for March 18, 2022 for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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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 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/

A Look Back at V: The Final Battle (1984)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching V: The Final Battle 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.

With a very engaging story, memorable characters, intriguing concepts and innovative marketing, the $13 million production V: The Original Miniseries (simply called V back then) became a major TV hit in America over two nights in May, 1983. I personally loved watching the said mini-series back in the 1980s and I still love replaying it in this age of high-definition and Blu-ray discs. For me, at least, it is a timeless classic and it carries several lessons about the fragility of society, the rise of fascism, the spread of evil in many forms and the human desire for freedom from oppression.

Given its success and the way creator Kenneth Johnson ended the 1983 sci-fi mini-series, a sequel was inevitable. In fact, two sequels to V: The Original Miniseries were approved in the form of another mini-series (note: I acquired the Blu-ray release in 2021) and a regular TV series. Beyond the small screen, the V franchise entered literature as DC Comics published a V comic book series (read my retro review of V #1 by clicking here) related to the TV series.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V: The Final Battle, starring Faye Grant, Marc Singer, Jane Badler and Michael Ironside under the direction of Richard T. Heffron. This 3-episode mini-series, which involved a lot of screenwriters, was broadcast on TV in America in May 1984.

The cover and the title that did not live up to its purpose.

Early story

The story begins with Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) having a nightmare of him and his son Sean (who was abducted during the events of V: The Original Miniseries) in a desperate escape attempt while inside one of the motherships of the Visitors. He wakes up in the presence of Julie Parrish (Faye Grant) and realizes they have a dangerous mission to execute at a local facility used by the red-uniformed Visitors. It turns out, the Resistance movement led by Julie has been losing ground to the alien humanoids and Mike has been helping them out while prioritizing the state of his son who has been in captivity in one of the mother ships.

During the night, a truck carrying many local civilians inside its trailer arrives at a local factory controlled by the Visitors with officer Steven (Andrew Pine) watching over. After the civilians got directed to enter the factory, it turns out they got processed and came out in the form of food cocoons. The sight shocks Julie watching from a distance with her armed teammates waiting on stand-by.

Easily the most engaging shot in this sequel. A clear reminder about the fascist takeover by the aliens from outer space.

After causing damage on the nearest fence, the Resistance begins their attempt to raid the facility and free their fellow cocooned people but the tide turned against them. It turns out, the Visitors’ troops are wearing stronger armor and bright lights were installed on the top of the facility to forcing Julie, Marc and the rest of their team to retreat. They lost some members along the way. During a closed-door meeting with the Resistance stakeholders, Mike Donovan says a key event is needed to make a significant gain against the Visitors.

Over at the mothership hovering over Los Angeles and in the presence of Diana (Jane Badler), the leader John (Richard Herd) tells Kristine Walsh (Jenny Sullivan) that a major medical announcement will be held in the form of an organized special event very soon and that she will be part of the presentation for the global TV audience…

Quality

Marc Singer as Mike Donovan with Michael Durrel and Michael Wright as Robert Maxwell and Elias Taylor near him.

I’ll star first with the presentation here. This sequel mini-series was composed of three episodes totaling over 270 minutes. In what looks like to be attempts to ensure more spectacles for the viewers’ enjoyment, each episode of V: The Final Battle has a battle near the end and the creative team succeeded in not only providing on-screen action but also scored well in making the spectacle more varied while still making sense within the main narrative. For the most part, this sequel is indeed a natural progression of what was established in V: The Original Miniseries and that is something to admire given the fact that V creator Kenneth Johnson left this production early.

On the storytelling, V: The Final Battle expands a bit on the Visitors’ dictatorship of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas while the Resistance led by Julie Parrish and supported by close companions Robert Maxwell (Michael Durrell), Elias Taylor (Michael Wright) and Caleb Taylor (Jason Bernard) are shown to be struggling on taking down the alien humanoids even though they secured noticeably more weapons and equipment. The storytelling and the dramatization about the Resistance changes dramatically with the addition of Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside) and partner Chris Farber (Mickey Jones) in the 2nd episode and from that point on, you get to see a human opposition that becomes more flexible with their operations.

Michael Ironside as Ham Tyler is the most significant new addition to the cast.

As mentioned earlier, Kenneth Johnson’s involvement in this sequel was minimal and it is seen on the presentation. The symbolism Johnson implemented in the original mini-series that established parallels between 1980s America to the Nazi occupation of Europe did not continue here which results a more straightforward presentation of details, character moments and story progression. There was also a noticeable lack of suspense when it comes to executing big scenes with big reveals. The pacing, like in the 1983 mini-series, moves smoothly at a moderate pace throughout and there were no boring moments at all.

The quality of script is still good. For the most part, the writers managed to capture the essence of the established characters from the original mini-series as they told the further developments of this sequel. For example, Caleb and Elias’ father-and-son moments quickly remind me of what I saw in V: The Original Miniseries. Robert Maxwell’s struggle to help his troubled daughter Robin (Blair Tefkin) while assisting Julie and the Resistance is a very natural progression of what was shown in 1983. The friendship between good natured alien Willie (Robert Englund) and Harmony (Diane Cary) got developed a lot more than expected eventually adding to one particular side of the conflict. The local collaborators Daniel Bernstein (David Packer) and Eleanor Dupres (Neva Patterson) developed further with their treason towards their fellow humans as they enjoyed further the power they gained from the Visitors. These two characters will surely get on the nerves of viewers rooting for the Resistance.

Denise Galik as Maggie is a fine new addition to the cast.
David Packer returns as Daniel Bernstein.
Sarah Douglas as Pamela, a superior of Diana’s.

When it comes to new additions to the cast, Ham Tyler and Chris Farber are not the only new players to add depth to this sequel. There is also Maggie (Denise Galik) who is an attractive, brave and strategic Resistance member whose contribution makes an impact. On the downside, there is also Andrew Doyle (Thomas Hill) who is bad choice the creative team came up with as the on-screen representative of faith when he in fact represents religion, idolatry, rituals and distortion. On the side of the Visitors is Pamela (Sarah Douglas) who is a higher-ranking officer than Diana and even John. Pamela is the more militaristic type of leader who is more focused on achieving goals while keeping things in order.

If there is anything flawed about the characterization, it is the romantic relationship of Julie Parrish and Mike Donovan which starts in the first episode. Considering how dramatic the performances of Faye Grant and Marc Singer were in this sequel, Julie and Mike still don’t make a believable pair of lovers in my view. While this romantic relationship opens up new dimensions within Julie and Mike and offer viewers something new to focus, it brings down the former’s value as Resistance leader somewhat while also setting aside the hinted personal connection between her and Elias in the 2nd episode of the 1983 mini-series.

Faye Grant as Julie Parrish in the conversion process scene watched closely by Jane Badler’s Diana.

More on Faye Grant, her performance here is more varied. Not only does she play the brave and struggling leader who is talented in fighting, science and medical practice, she also portrayed Julie as an even more vulnerable character this time around. Her act as the traumatized Julie during the conversion process (read: mental and psychological torture using a more detailed form of virtual reality or nightmare generation) scenes under the watch of Diana is very dramatic and compelling to watch. Just seeing Julie in the conversion process will make grip you with despair and you will eventually feel sorry for her. I should state that the nightmare scenes of Julie were presented with a clear touch of horror.

Marc Singer as Mike Donovan is no longer the reluctant action hero but rather a driven man with a mission to get his missing son back while maintaining a secret connection with Martin (Frank Ashmore) of the Fifth Column (secret dissenters among the Visitors) hoping to achieve breakthroughs for the Resistance and their friends among the dissenting aliens. Singer did the best he could with the script provided to him and he remain likable all throughout. Other than the unbelievable romance with Julie, there is not much new to expect from the way Mike Donovan was written here.

Jane Badler’s performance as Diana deserves admiration here. Not only did she successfully recapture the charismatic and sinister nature of her character in the 1983 mini-series, Badler was very convincing in showing the more desperate side of Diana, especially when it comes to power struggle within the ranks of the Visitors. You can clearly see the desperation and struggle as soon as Pamela appeared. This sequel also showed a lot more of Diana when it comes to personally supervising her conversion process which is much more elaborate here (note: the conversion process in the 1983 mini-series was limited to the showing of a chair with torture devices). Being the very symbol of charisma and evil in the V franchise, Diana’s place in pop culture is solid and her real-world comparative counterparts would be none other than Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris.

Jane Badler as the ever charismatic yet very wicked Diana.

As mentioned earlier, Michael Ironside’s Ham Tyler is the most significant addition to the cast and the script. Ironside had that excellent mix of toughness, cruelty and sarcasm portrayed in here and at the same time Ham Tyler brought out very interesting and intriguing interactions with the more established Julie and Mike. As seen in entertainment history, Ironside went on to climb up the ranks in Hollywood with Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997) and in the Splinter Cell video game franchise. Ironside’s Ham is easily the fourth major character of the V franchise of the 1980s.

Going into the spectacle part of this sequel, the action is more varied as mentioned earlier and the 3-episode structure was a factor. You will see lots of shooting with the use of guns and laser blasters here and there, and with the in-story locations and props as key factors, there are action sequences that are uniquely done. There is a lot to enjoy for any V fan and casual viewers watching this sequel.

As for the special effects part of the spectacle, this one is a mixed bag similar to what was presented in the 1983 mini-series. To put things in perspective, the use of in-camera effects, practical effects and optical effects for TV back in the 1980s was ambitious. That being said, certain effect shots here did not age well such as the miniature shots looking fake (because the camera used did not have a special lens to capture visuals that would have made the miniatures look believable). I should also state that there were certain effects shots that were recycled and reused in key sequences in this sequel which remains embarrassing to see. What is even more embarrassing to see here is the very poor-quality monster effects used during the nightmare scenes (conversion process) of Julie and, more notably, the presentation of Robin’s other child. The monster effects are so fake, they are laughable to watch.  

On the bright side of the special effects, the quality of the laser blasts remains good to watch right down to the precise timing with the explosions that were simulated on-set and in-camera.

Conclusion

The Visitors and Resistance key characters in the sequel.

While it has its strengths and weaknesses, V: The Final Battle is still engaging and enjoyable to watch, and at the same time it is a worthy addition for your Blu-ray collection when it comes to HD viewing (note: this is the sequel with the best visuals yet albeit with black borders on the sides). Even though creator Kenneth Johnson was not too involved on the production side, the creative team managed to deliver a long story that proved to be a natural progression of the original mini-series while providing more spectacle (especially action), developing the established characters and resolving key plot threads that started in 1983.

The lack of Kenneth Johnson’s personal touch on the presentation was noticeable and somewhat brought this sequel down a bit in terms of style. What brought V: The Final Battle’s quality down were the overall cheaper looking visual effects, the Julie-Mike love relationship and the climax of the final episode which seemed executed with desperation on the part of the creative team (note: giving a little new character instant purpose). In fairness, this sequel still succeeded in showing what fascism in America (or California specifically which is now dominated by Commies) would look like and it built up on its predecessor’s themes such as the deception of power and the collaboration with foreign enemies. This mini-series even added themes of teenage pregnancy and abortion to its narrative.

Does V: The Final Battle live up to its title? Absolutely not because a regular TV series that deteriorated in quality followed. In retrospect, it’s clear that this sequel marked the beginning of the decline of the V franchise in pop culture. What more, V: The Final Battle was never counted as canon in Kenneth Johnson’s 2008 novel (and sequel to the 1983 mini-series) V: The Second Generation. On its own, V: The Final Battle still has more positive stuff than negative ones and in my experience, it remains enjoyable and compelling to watch from start to finish. Compared to V: The Original Miniseries, I can say this sequel falls short. It is good, not great.

Overall, V: The Final Battle (1984) is recommended. That being said, let this 1984 mini-series remind you that there is so much evil in the real world in the forms of Iran, the terrorists of Palestine, the social justice warriors (SJWs), the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and liberal media to name some. Always keep in mind to avoid becoming evil no matter how tempting power in this divided world becomes to you. You also do not want to let the evil ones take over your government and have authority over you, your family members and your community. Push back against evil and stand up strong by faithfully taking sides with the one true Savior whose name is Jesus!

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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 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/

Even more fun and more compelling gaming experiences await gamers on Xbox in 2022

There is no denying that 2021 saw Team Xbox got its groove back as the current Xbox ecosystem (composed of Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Windows PC) got filled with not only excellent games but also with the continued rise of Xbox Game Pass (XGP) as the best subscription service in gaming! The most recent additions of backward compatible games also added depth into the Xbox network for users – especially long-time Xbox gamers – to enjoy.

2021 Xbox-exclusive games like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Flight Simulator were acclaimed games and they really showed what the Xbox Series consoles could do when it comes to giving gamers a true, fun-filled next-generation experience.

On the production side of Xbox gaming, the $7.5 billion acquisition and integration of Bethesda (through ZeniMax) into Xbox already showed nice results and there will be even better results in the form of brand new games in 2022.

For some insight on 2022 Xbox gaming, watch the following videos below…

Expect 2022 to be a much bigger and more exciting year of gaming on Xbox in terms of exclusive games, multiplatform games and XGP! Techland’s Dying Light 2 Stay Human will be released on February 4 which should please gamers who have long been waiting for it. Coming out on February 10 is CrossfireX which will have a story oriented single-player campaign as well as robust multi-player system. The high-profile FromSoftware RPG Elden Ring will be unleashed on February 25.

Tunic, a timed Xbox-exclusive game, will be released on March 16 and to this day it continues to get compared with The Legend of Zelda due to its design and art style. Die-hard players of Grand Theft Auto V who wish to replay the game and its multi-player features with the benefits of playing it on Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X will get something from Rockstar Games as the next-gen update for the game will be released sometime this March. For those who love crime-oriented open-world games that are not connected with the GTA franchise, there is the Saints Row reboot which has been delayed to August 2022.

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, which promises to give gamers a lot of action and cooperative play to enjoy, shall be released on Xbox Series consoles, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass sometime this year. Similarly, Square Enix’s sci-fi Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Star Ocean The Divine Force will be released sometime this year. If the game will be released in the 3rd quarter or 4th quarter this year, then it is likely Square Enix will announce the release date at this year’s E3 convention. Still on JRPGs, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from developer Rabbit & Bear Studios and publisher 505 Games should be come out sometime this year on Xbox consoles, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. A final release date might be announced soon. Another notable video game that should be released sometime this year is Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League which has the potential to be a big hit as it was made by the same developer behind the three most acclaimed Batman Arkham games.

When it comes to the more high-profile exclusive Xbox games set for release this year, Xbox fans as well as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise fans should know that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl will be released on December 8, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC. The game, which will also be released through Xbox Game Pass, promises to deliver a massive open-world for gamers to get lost in and experience lots of action mixed with horror elements. Redfall, another Xbox-exclusive made by Arkane Austin under Bethesda, should be released sometime in the 2nd quarter this year on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. Expect a pre-release showcase before or during the 2022 of E3.

What is widely considered to be the most anticipated Xbox-exclusive game of 2022 is Bethesda’s next big RPG Starfield which will be released on November 11 for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass. This game’s production is being led by Todd Howard and he and his team at Bethesda Softworks are really challenging themselves to immerse gamers into a brand new, science fiction universe that will emphasize space travel, colonized planets, discovering the unexplored and getting involved in the uneasy peace between the major factions. It is inevitable that a major showing of Starfield should happen at E3 2022 or in an upcoming digital event of Team Xbox.

The above mix of games are just some of the many new games coming to Xbox this year. In fact, there is a possibility that Team Xbox could release some more Xbox-exclusive games this year such as the yet-to-be-showcased Forza Motorsport (note: the latest entry of the FM franchise Forza Motorsport 7 was released way back in 2017) for example. They could also announce new and even timed exclusive games coming through Xbox Game Pass within the year. As for other upcoming undated Xbox-exclusives like Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II and Contraband, I wish those games will be released this year.

Whatever lies ahead, expect 2022 to be more exciting than 2021 when it comes to Xbox games and experiences. There is nothing that Xbox haters and jealous fanboys could do to derail the Xbox machine and its strong momentum.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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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 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/

A Look Back at What If #51 (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 culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit Marvel Comics’ What If monthly series through the 51st issue. Its subject matter was about the Punisher becoming Captain America.

For the newcomers reading this, the Punisher in comics started when Vietnam War veteran Frank Castle lost his family to a gang of criminals who attacked them. Being the only survivor, Castle became obsessed with punishing others by means of assassination and waging a personal war against criminals. Captain America, meanwhile, was serving his country along with his teammates in the Avengers. The story in this reviewed issue of What If diverges from the events told in Captain America #212.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #51, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Simon Furman and drawn by Paris Cullins.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a military hospital deep beneath the Pentagon. Steve Rogers/Captain America was still recovering from his previous mission (told in Captain America #212) when Nick Fury and Falcon arrive. Steve tells Fury that there must be a Captain America again with someone strong to wear the flag.

Shortly after, top secret discussions about replacing Steve Rogers commence with a select committee at work and some representatives present. Due to the lack of real access to the original super soldier serum that enhanced Steve Rogers into becoming Captain America, it was announced that decorated Vietnam War hero Frank Castle was their pick to replace Rogers. Nick Fury expresses his reservation.

At a military camp, Frank Castle refuses to become Captain America expressing that he has served his country already through military operations and he barely has any time left for his wife, son and daughter. As far as he is concerned, his war is over…

Quality

The Punisher as the new Captain America!

On face value, the concept about the Punisher becoming the new Captain America is intriguing and that alone could lead to different outcomes. The story written by Simon Furman clearly shows what kind of Captain America Frank Castle would be. While he does not have the super human abilities of Steve Rogers, Castle’s intense drive to punish others makes his Captain America an effective weapon against not only America’s enemies but also the opposition that the Avengers themselves face. Of course, Castle’s obsession on punishing the opposition is not limited to his role as America’s iconic instrument as he still has a personal desire on bringing down America’s criminals.

The story tackles some of the ethics behind the role and symbolism that comes with being Captain America, and it shows certain elements that Frank Castle lacks when it comes to living up to his higher role. This comic book also serves as a reminder about how valuable it is for Americans, whether fictional or factual, to serve their nation and love it. In today’s era of unrelenting socialism, Communism, Marxism, Critical Race Theory (CRT), unrestrained political correctness, widespread diversity delusions and Leftist activism damaging America which in turn has Joe Biden as a President prioritizing socialism and illegal immigrants over his fellow Americans, this comic book carries a lot of weight about what it means to be an American who is ready to serve and love America. Its meaning will easily offend the social justice warriors (SJWs) in America.

Without spoiling the plot, I can say that the final encounter and conclusion were powerful and sentimental in a good way.

Conclusion

Frank Castle the pick to replace Steve Rogers as Captain America.

What If #51 (1993) could have been another issue that ended disappointingly. It is actually an engaging read and provides readers deep insight about what a Frank Castle Captain America would be like within the Marvel Comics universe of the 1990s. It’s got a good amount of action, several moments of intrigue and it shows a different type of Punisher (note: check out my other retro reviews involving the Punisher by clicking here, here and here) while still retaining some of his classic character background elements. The visuals and art style in this comic book could have been better.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #51 (1993) 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 copy of the newsstand edition costs $180.

Overall, What If #51 (1993) 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 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/

A Look Back at Spider-Man 2099 #39 (1995)

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 culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the world of 2099 within the universe of Marvel Comics back in the 1990s, specifically through the Spider-Man 2099 monthly series.

In this retro review, the Venom 2099 storyline continues (for my previous reviews, click here, here, here and here). Since my previous review, the futuristic Venom has been captured by Spider-Man and is now in the custody of Alchemax where Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man of 2099) holds considerable power and authority. As seen in issue #38, Miguel’s rage was clearly affecting him and pushed him to the point of wanting revenge (by means of death, no less) over the death of Dana.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man 2099 #39, published in 1995 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Andrew Wildman.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Miguel O’Hara, still impacted by Dana’s death and what he personally discovered about Venom, walking through the offices of an Alchemax building where several employees greet him formally which he does not seem to enjoy. He walks into a laboratory where he sees the two that compose Venom – Kron Stone and the symbiote (living costume) – contained separately with hard glass containers.

Kron Stone, who is related to the powerful Kron Stone and was responsible for the death of the family of Jake Gallows/Punisher 2099, was declared dead which puzzles Miguel. As the two exchange words, it turns out Kron and Miguel knew each other from long ago. Upon the orders of Miguel, the scientists left the laboratory which gave their boss more privacy to exchange words with the trapped Kron who called him gutless.

Miguel then releases Kron from containment (but still separated from the symbiote), declares terms for their private fist fight (which Kron accepts), and begins to fight him…

Quality

Spider-Man, in his form as Migle O’Hara, spends time with Xina.

Not surprisingly, the high level of quality and engagement of the writing here is successfully maintained by Peter David and it is very clear to me that he had planned to dramatically shift the direction of the Spider-Man 2099 series and impact the key characters as the story of Venom 2099 went on.

That being said, Peter David went on to not only show Miguel literally burning with rage but also dramatized his move towards the extreme. Not only do we get to see Miguel really abusing his Alchemax authority, he also gets violent with Kron Stone who was powerless without the symbiote. These scenes clearly show that the border that separates good and evil got blurred which showed a very dark side of Miguel O’Hara struggling with his rage, emotions and whatever sanity he still has left.

To be clear, the story here was not purely about Miguel and Kron. There is also the scene in which a cooled down Miguel spends time with Xina who made clear to him her reaction over Dana’s death. Peter David also took the opportunity to not only show more of the return Vulture 2099 but also brought in the 2099 version of Green Goblin simply called Goblin who clearly has an agenda against Spider-Man which adds to the suspense and the overall narrative of the series. The appearance of Goblin also sheds light on the nature of vigilantism and elements of chaos within the 2099 universe.

Conclusion

Miguel and his half-brother Kron Stone begin their fight.

I can say that Spider-Man 2099 #39 (1995) is a very solid read. Not only did the Venom 2099 storyline reflect the serious changes on the characters, it is also led to a bold new direction for the monthly series. Carrying on the dramatic stuff from the previous issues, this comic book also serves as a character examination on Miguel O’Hara which will compel not only the fans but also comic book readers to reflect about what they knew about Spider-Man of the far future and speculate as to how he will turn out and how he would impact the people around him.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #39 (1995) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $80 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $240.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #39 (1995) is highly 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 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/