A Look Back at What If #47 (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 reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series.

Back in 2021, I reviewed What If #46 (1993) which told a compelling story about division between the mutants, the clash of beliefs between Professor X and Cable, and how terrorism affects everyone. The comic book was also a mesmerizing portrayal of how the X-Men would have organized themselves without Charles Xavier, Jean Grey and Cyclops.

Considering all the chaos that happened in What If #46 (1993), the time was just right for Magneto – the X-Men’s most dangerous enemy of all time – to come in and make an impact not only on mutants but on the world.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #47, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Magneto leading a huge legion of mutants to take overwhelm the remaining resistance – including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, the Avengers and the dedicated American soldiers – in Washington, D.C.

A fierce battle then took place with both sides hitting each other hard. After noticing Magneto’s lack of presence during the battle, Captain America then realizes that the long-time enemy of the X-Men took advantage of the fighting to penetrate the U.S. Capitol’s bomb shelters and got the nation’s leaders hostage. After easing some of his fellow heroes, Captain America decides not to escalate the fight against Magneto in consideration of the lives of America’s top officials…

Quality

A recap of the events in issue #46.

To begin with, I can say that this story is a well-planned follow-up to the events of issue #46. While Magneto’s presence has been magnified a lot here, there are still strong story connections to the previous issue.

With regards to what was emphasized on the front cover of the comic book, this story explores what would happen if Magneto took power to control the entire United States while leading a group of mutants with a platform focused on crushing anti-mutant racism even though it includes pushing the non-mutant people (which is the great majority of America’s people) as well as the dissenting mutants out of the way.

For one thing, this superhero fantasy concept is actually socially relevant with today’s geopolitics and the way America has turned out under the fake leadership of Joe Biden (who is NOT leading as US President but only following the modern-day American Communists and reckless SJWs dictating him to do their evil bidding. Biden also arrogantly denies reality when it goes against the desires of his administration and his Satanic Democrats) It should be noted that the US President visualized in this comic book eerily looks like Joe Biden complete with that absent-minded facial expression.

Next, a clear theme in this What If story is absolute power and why groups who crave for it would sacrifice so much and hurt others just to acquire it. Magneto, who carries deep hatred towards people he perceives to be obstacles or opposition for his quest of uplifting mutants, takes advantage of mutants who have lost hope and are depending on someone to lead them. Indeed, the long-time X-Men nemesis gains power to control America but finds himself facing a new force of opposition which leads the nation into a drastic series of change that clearly do not alight with his vision of a better future for mutants.

Still on the theme of absolute power, the US government in this story was portrayed to have developed technologies designed to overwhelm its citizens, as well as the means to establish infrastructure and protocols to transform America into an automated dictatorial state that enslaves its citizens and violate their rights without restraint. Once again, this aspect of the story makes it socially relevant.  

Considering the epic concept and the dark turn of events the creative team prepared, this comic book does not have a clear good-versus-evil approach but rather it emphasizes chaos that comes with the pursuit and abuse of absolute power over the nation. You will see key elements from the classic X-Men storyline Days of Future Past here in relation to America’s deformation.

Conclusion

Wow! The US President in this comic book eerily looks so much like Joe Biden whose leadership led America into a lot of problems and hardship. Sky high inflation is just one of the problems that happened under Biden.

What If #47 (1993) is truly a very captivating read mainly because of its core concept which goes way beyond the scenario of Magneto taking control of America. Considering its portrayal of America and the exploration of dark themes about people getting overwhelmed by power abusers, the story is a warning about the fall of America told in superhero fantasy form. Considering the intense social degradation that rocked America the past few years (note: riots by the Black Lives Matter terrorists, SJWs disturbing the peace, Democrats allowing more illegal immigrants into the country, socialists in colleges continuing to brainwash students and more), this story is very socially relevant. It will keep you thinking and reflecting deeply, even if you strongly desire whatever superhero entertainment you seek in this comic book.

Overall, What If #47 (1993) 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

George Perez (1954-2022)

George Perez, the incredible comic book artist who made major contributions to illustrated literature (especially the superhero comic book genre), sadly passed away due to complications related to pancreatic cancer. He was 67-years-old and I can say that superhero comic book art and dynamic expressions will not be the same without him.

George Perez with the two Wonder Woman plastic models. (photo source – DC Comics Facebook page)

Already there were comic book industry figures who reacted to the death of the legendary Perez. DC Comics co-publisher and legendary creator Jim Lee paid tribute stating, “We creators may all have access to the same tools of the trade: pen, paper and imagination, but what George could do with his prodigious talents was off the charts.”

For his part, Rob Liefeld stated, “I’ll remember George for his innovative and prolific storytelling. Thank you for all the great memories. Rest In Peace, George Perez.”

For the newcomers reading this as well as those who are simply unaware of Perez’s legacy, he was responsible for visualizing DC Comics’ 1985 epic maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths (note: he drew countless characters complete with varied settings or environments in high detail) and redefining Wonder Woman (note: he also wrote the stories) which made her a more essential pop culture icon. George Perez also worked for Marvel Comics over many projects and was chosen to illustrate the memorable 2003 JLA/Avengers crossover series of Marvel and DC. Perez also worked with other publishers such as Malibu Comics for several Ultraverse comic books and Image Comics for Crimson Plague and Witchblade. In recent years, he was responsible for Sirens published by BOOM! Studios.

For me, Wonder Woman was best defined during the post-Crisis era of DC Comics which involved George Perez and Len Wein who wrote the early issues of the Wonder Woman monthly series in the late 1980s.

In his decades-long career in comics, Perez unsurprisingly earned varied awards and honors (references here, here, here and here to name a few).

I should say that George Perez is a long-time favorite comic book illustrator of mine. I enjoyed reading the superhero comic books he illustrated and I love his art style on the characters, the environments and crowds. If there is anything I love about Perez’s art, it is his distinct style along with his implementation of high levels of details on the characters, objects, creatures and surroundings. Perez is also known to capture the distinct visual elements of superhero characters such as Spider-Man’s costume and his spaghetti-like web, Superman’s physique and distinct letter S, Prime’s overly muscular body and more. Every time Perez is involved as artist, the result is almost always a visual feast that often adds punch to the script prepared.

When I was still actively collecting comic books back in the 1990s, I often get excited whenever I learned that George Perez illustrated upcoming comic books. In 1992, he drew Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect (2 books) which was mind-blowing and intriguing for me! In 1993, I became a fan of the newly launched Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and I got very excited to learn that Perez was hired for their major UV crossover Break-Thru (2 issues). Perez also drew one issue of Prime and most of the early issues of the UV team UltraForce (issues #0, #1, #3, #4, #5 and #6). If you want to see Perez draw ALL the characters of the Ultraverse, you should read the 2-issue Break-Thru storyline.

A page from Break-Thru #2 showing just some of the many Ultraverse characters Perez illustrated. This was published before the release of UltraForce.

Speaking of UltraForce, check out this video by Crypto Comics (with observations on Perez’s art works)…

Going back to George Perez’s amazing run on Wonder Woman, I urge you to watch the video below…

For me, the most defining stories of Wonder Woman ever told in any art form are still the comics that Perez wrote (note: he co-wrote stories with Greg Potter and Len Wein respectively on the early issues) and illustrated during the post-Crisis era of DC Comics. Check out my retro reviews of Wonder Woman 1980s comics on this website.

Truly, George Perez will be missed by a lot of people and his countless pieces of works will be revisited in the foreseeable future. In closing this piece, posted below are varied works (comic book covers and interior art) done by the late creator through the decades for your viewing pleasure and learning. This is a tribute to Perez and may he rest in peace!

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Note: All images shown are properties of their respective companies.

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/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Dazzler #21 (1982)

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, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1982 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

While my most recent retro review of Dazzler was the 4th issue of its monthly series, I have decided to jump straight to issue #21 for this new retro review. By the time Dazzler #21 got published, the unusual superhero went through a lot and illustrator Frank Springer became fully established as the monthly series’ definitive artist.

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #21, published by Marvel Comics in 1982 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by the late Frank Springer.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Alison Blaire/Dazzler being carried above the buildings of New York City by Angel (Warren Worthington) of the X-Men. At this point in time, Alison’s father judge Carter Blaire snapped under the weight of turmoil related to the death of his wife and his daughter’s rebelliousness. As Dazzler, Alison had gone through intense encounters with the likes of the Incredible Hulk, She-Hulk, a top-secret syndicate that made her a test subject and even Galactus.

Recently, Bella – Alison’s grandmother – could not cope with her son’s breakdown and reached out to Warren Worthington to help her reach Alison. Since after being found, Alison had been traveling with Angel by air.

Along the way, Spider-Man sees them and recognizes Alison as Dazzler. He swings to try to get their attention but was ignored as they were so focused on their objective. A short time later, Angel and Alison arrive at judge Blaire’s home. Her grandmother greets them and tells her she hopes that she can get through to judge Blaire.

The doctor, however, advised against that tactic and states that Alison’s intervention may worsen her father’s condition as much of it was centered on her…

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Alison Blaire and her friend Vanessa try out new clothes.

I’ll go straight to the point about what the story of this double-sized comic book is about without spoiling it. It is a pretty dramatic look at the protagonist in her civilian form as Alison Blaire. You will get to see her as Dazzler in this comic book but if you are looking for a lot of superhero moments of her or if you are looking for Dazzler in a conflict with evil elements, you won’t find it here.

More on the plot, this comic book explores deeply the emotional and personal dimensions of Alison and along the way, stories about her own past as well as the respect past events of both her father and mother got dramatized. The story tackles themes like independence, maturity, marriage, personal development, family ties and personal conflicts of interest. The good thing here is that the script by Danny Fingeroth is very well-written and it seems he did his research on constructing a personal story about Alison Blaire that is very grounded in reality. That being said, the superhero elements have been pushed aside most of the time and the ironic thing is the fact that the other Marvel superheroes – Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers and more – appeared here as if to remind readers this is still a superhero tale.

Very clearly, this story was written for the very dedicated or even the die-hard Dazzler fans in mind. When it comes to the fun factor, the results could be mixed depending on what readers want to see in this comic book. For me personally, it is a pretty engaging story to read and at the same time it is fun enough as well.

Conclusion

Alison tries to help her troubled father.

Dazzler #21 (1982) could be barely received or strongly received or even rejected even though it has a very rich and dramatic script. The clear lack of the superhero presentation of Dazzler in favor of heavy drama and in-depth characterization may not win the approval of readers/collectors who love superhero stuff but it will resonate with the readers who really love the character and had immersed themselves into her life. As far as characterization goes, this comic book marks a significant turning point of Dazzler herself and in its story, she really developed a lot since making her first-ever appearance in Uncanny X-Men #130. If you are a Dazzler purist who does not mind the lack of superhero spectacle, this one could engage you.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #21 (1982), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #21 (1982) 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 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…

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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.

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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…

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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/

COVID-19 Crisis: Safety and sanitation at local cinemas emphasized

It has been days since Alert Level 3 was officially implemented all over Metro Manila which allowed for the reopening of several businesses and allowing them to accommodate more customers as the limitations on capacity were modified. Among the businesses authorized by the to reopen were the cinemas or movie theaters although the actual reopening has yet to happen. In fact, I passed by the cinemas at a local mall I visited this past Sunday and I saw they were still closed. Take note that there were attempts to push for reopening Metro Manila cinemas (click here, here and here).

As the reopening is still pending, there is this Manila Bulletin article about local cinemas will strictly implement health protocols. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt plus a few relevant videos about safety and reopening. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses in the Philippines will strictly implement health protocols when these establishments reopen soon.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) put Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 and allowed the reopening of cinemas with restrictions. Only fully vaccinated people will be admitted and seating capacity will be limited to 30 percent.

The actual date of reopening of cinemas is still subject to confirmation and the public is advised to wait for further announcement, according to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

Cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed for 19 months due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That is the main goal right now,” said CEAP Charmaine Bauzon. “We have devoted the past 19 months of cinema closure identifying solutions and precautions based on science. We will implement these measures to confidently welcome back movie fans to cinemas and send them home safe.

Cinemas are safe spaces

Bauzon assured “the public that cinema is a safe place. In fact, LGUs [local government units] have converted some theaters into vaccination centers, and no super-spreading were ever reported, even though people waited inside for hours.

CEAP cited a recent study in Germany which concluded that cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment as long as safety guidelines are followed like wearing face masks, physical distancing and proper air ventilation.

The German study considered the following factors in its conclusion: People spend an average of only two hours at a cinema; people inside the cinema simply sit down and face the same direction which is known to reduce transmission risks; and people are not talking to each other during a movie, which minimizes possibility of infection.

Cinemas to strictly impose all safety protocols

According to CEAP, besides adhering to the IATF-mandated health standards, it also developed the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” protocols patterned after the “CinemaSafe” measures set by America’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and endorsed by epidemiologists.

I personally support the reopening of cinemas not just because I love watching movies in them but also because cinemas and their employees can contribute a lot to the economic recovery from this COVID-19 crisis we are all living with. When it comes to viewing movies in the comfort of home, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime. Still the very best way to enjoy movies in their full glory is still inside the cinema! I can never forget the day I first saw Wonder Woman (2017) in the IMAX cinema at SM Southmall which was really an immersive experience. I even replayed that same movie in another cinema which had lazy boy seats. I also saw Logan, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Avengers: Endgame, Aquaman and X-Men: Dark Phoenix on IMAX screens in different cinemas. When it comes to regular cinemas, I viewed Write About Love, Shazam!, and Joker to name some. Eventually I got to watch these movies in the comfort of home mainly on Blu-ray (which is always better than streaming) but I can confirm to you all that in my experience, the best place to view movies is still the cinema!

This iconic scene was at its grandest only in the cinema and I was fortunate to watch it on IMAX format!
The immersion of Aquaman on the big screen inside the IMAX cinema was indeed top-notch.

The good news here, as revealed in the excerpt above, is that local cinemas will exert efforts to make their venues clean and safe as their inevitable customers will be those who have been fully vaccinated. Cinema viewing will be far from normal but the latest developments related to Alert Level 3 are very welcome as it is the first step to returning to normalcy as the nation deals with community management and vaccinations for COVID-19. Above all, I urge all of you fully vaccinated people of Metro Manila and around the nation reading this – support the local cinemas! Put a stop to streaming and take the opportunities to watch movies in the movie theater because that streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming!

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you eager to watch a movie inside the cinema here in Metro Manila as soon as it reopens? Have you been fully vaccinated already? What upcoming movies do you hope to watch in the local movie theater? Have you been following the CEAP on social media lately? Do you think that the top officials of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) really care about the plight of the cinema operators and their employees?

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. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more 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

Crystal Dynamics partners with The Initiative on developing Xbox-exclusive Perfect Dark reboot

There sure was a lot of buzz that rocked the Xbox gamers community. This was about the breaking and very surprising news that the Square Enix-owned game developer Crystal Dynamics (best known for the Tomb Raider trilogy of 2013-2018) has joined Xbox game studio The Initiative as a partner on the development of the Perfect Dark reboot being made exclusively for Xbox platforms.

The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics are co-producing Perfect Dark.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from PureXbox.com’s article. Some parts in boldface…

Here’s some breaking news – The Initiative has announced it will be partnering with Crystal Dynamics to help it bring the new Perfect Dark game to the next generation.

Crystal Dynamics is best known for series such as Tomb Raider and was also behind the Square Enix project Marvel’s Avengers. In a follow-up tweet, The Initiative noted how the game was still “early in development”.

Although Crystal Dynamics has a lot of history with third-person action titles, it’s worth noting how this new entry in the Perfect Dark series is still being referred to as a “first-person” spy thriller.

Eurogamer has also pointed out how The Initiative was originally founded by the former Crystal Dynamics boss Darrel Gallagher, and how Tomb Raider reboot director Daniel Neuburger is also part of the Perfect Dark team.

Posted below are the tweets from The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics…

Read closely.

Furthermore, Xbox chief Phil Spencer stated on Twitter: Great to see continued momentum and progress on PD. Thrilled to have Crystal Dynamics partnering with The Initiative.

While it is indeed surprising that another game developer, not owned by Team Xbox, would come in to assist in the production of the upcoming Perfect Dark, it still makes sense not just because The Initiative’s Gallagher and Neuberger used to work for Crystal Dynamics, but also because the ambitious Xbox game studio (formed in 2018) was meant to be small and agile (additional reference here) and be able to work with partners on the production side of things of projects. The Initiative clearly does not have the workforce of 100 to 200 people it needs to make Perfect Dark and that is exactly where the Square Enix-controlled game developer comes in.

Remember Lost Odyssey, the very memorable Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) exclusive on Xbox 360? A lot of gamers remember Mistwalker as the developer of that game in relation to Hironobu Sakaguchi’s (AKA Final Fantasy creator) involvement and studio leadership, and yet the other team involved – Feelplus – is often overlooked. The other Xbox 360-exclusive JRPG Blue Dragon had Mistwalker and Artoon as co-developers. Artoon did much of the software development work.

Going back to Perfect Dark, I speculate that The Initiative will be more focused on the game’s overall design, the planned gaming concept and supervision with Crystal Dynamics doing the software development and other technical aspects of production.  The most recent Crystal Dynamics-developed games I played were the first two games of the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy…the 2013 game on Xbox 360 and the first sequel on Xbox One. I also played Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One but that game was mainly developed by Eidos-Montréal. I should state that I had the most fun playing the Tomb Raider games made by Crystal Dynamics even though Shadow of the Tomb Raider had new gameplay features.

While Marvel’s Avengers clearly received a mixed reception from video game review writers and even cost Square Enix a bundle of money, there is still no reason to worry about Crystal Dynamics negatively affecting the development of Perfect Dark. On the contrary, Team Xbox granted its game studios a lot of creative freedom along with continuous funding which I believe will benefit both Crystal Dynamics and The Initiative on making the Xbox-exclusive reboot. The internal attitudes and atmosphere of producing Perfect Dark will be totally different from that of Marvel’s Avengers. I would not be surprised to see Crystal Dynamics learn from their shortcomings during the making of the superhero video game with Square Enix. It should be noted that Gallagher’s history of work and management with Crystal Dynamics will ensure a bond of trust between the Tomb Raider developer and The Initiative. Trust between the collaborators is essential to ensure production will progress and be completed on time. The speculation that Perfect Dark’s production is in trouble (leading to Crystal Dynamics’ involvement) is just nonsense!

With The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics now co-producing the return of Joanna Dark, we can only wait until the next big update of the game gets released. Perhaps at E3 of 2022?

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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Dazzler #2 (1981)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Way back in 1981, Marvel Comics had a successful comic book series launch with Dazzler #1 (read my retro review by clicking here) which sold over 400,000 copies and further sealed Dazzler as an advantageous addition for the company’s superhero comics franchise. Dazzler, a creation of a deal between Marvel and a certain record company, debuted in Uncanny X-Men #130 and got involved with the X-Men until Uncanny X-Men #131. Dazzler appeared with Marvel’s famous webslinger in Amazing Spider-Man #203.

Dazzler #1 ended with a brewing rivalry between the title character and Enchantress. With those laid down, here is a look back at Dazzler #2, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler preparing for her big show at Numero Uno, a prestigious disco in the city of New York. Just before the show starts, a huge crowd of people are in attendance and among them are Wolverine, Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Captain America, Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm and Tony Stark (Iron Man) to name some.

Just as Dazzler appears on-stage and draws a frenzied applause from the audience, the revenger-hungry Enchantress slowly makes her moves to ruin the lady who outclassed her to be the main attraction of the club. Even with her desire for revenge, the Enchantress decides to use her magic sparingly on Dazzler. In the audience, Peter Parker/Spider-Man begins to sense something is about to happen…

Quality

This shows what this comic book is really about.

The way the story was told is disappointing. This is because the spotlight on Dazzler and her anticipated conflict with the Enchantress got overwhelmed by the amount of superhero filler on the narrative. To be clear, it is fun and interesting to see a mix of the varied superheroes of Marvel together but this comic book ended up being an all-star showcase (X-Men, Avengers and Fantastic Four members included) than a real, standalone Dazzler story. In fairness, Tom DeFalco showed how skilled he is with plot structuring and capturing the personalities and tropes of the different superheroes (note: unsurprisingly, DeFalco accurately captured Spider-Man’s personality and he went on to be a major force behind Spider-Man comic books) but that does not change the fact that this comic book should have been more about Dazzler.

When it comes to the conflict between Dazzler and the Enchantress, it was executed with no depth at all. Literally speaking, there is not enough meat to consume here and it the conflict really ended up looking very rushed. As if that was not bad enough, there is not enough justification to show Dazzler defeating a monster summoned by the Enchantress.  Considering how shallow the Dazzler-Enchantress match-up turned out, it’s no wonder why there is so much Marvel all-star filler in the script.

As for the late-stage attempt to shift the narrative back to Dazzler, it is rather over-the-top and unsatisfying.

Conclusion

You recognize someone in the audience?

Dazzler #2 (1981) is an example about a creative team’s lack of confidence on crafting a decent story to develop a new superhero and ultimately resorting to fill it with a mix of other superheroes involved which itself symbolizes desperation. This comic book is not really a Dazzler story but an all-star showcase with Dazzler becoming a minor character in her own monthly series.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #2 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #2 (1981) is unsatisfactory. Anyone who loves Dazzler or who wishes to discover more of her will be disappointed with this comic book.

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

A Look Back at Dazzler #1 (1981)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Previously, I reviewed Uncanny X-Men #130 which was the first appearance of Dazzler who went on to become one of the most notable new characters of Marvel Comics in the 1980s. After appearing in Uncanny X-Men #131 and Amazing Spider-Man #203, Dazzler became more prominent among all of Marvel’s superheroes as the publisher launched an all-new monthly series featuring her. There is more to that than meets the eye, however.

In his article titled “Dazzler and Me”, Danny Fingeroth wrote: Marvel decided to tray an experiment with the relatively new “direct market” – comic book shops. It was decided that Dazzler #1 would only be available in comic book shops, not at traditional newsstands.

Dazzler #1 sold over 400,000 copies.

Even the top-selling comics of the era sold perhaps 250,000 copies. So, the first issue, anyway, was a major hit.

Apart from the confirmed commercial success of the comic book, it is a wonder if it is still good to read by today’s standards. To find out, here is a look back at Dazzler #1, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler running away from four armed men who had been following her since she left the disco. She finds herself corned at the dead end of an alley as the men approach her. While pretending to be reaching for her make-up in the bag, Dazzler grabs and activates her portable radio which plays music. With the music turned on, she uses her power to convert it all into a dazzling display of light and color which makes the men disoriented.

While swinging nearby, Spider-Man notices the display of light but before he begins his approach, Dazzler makes her move to knock two men out. Another man fires his gun and his bullet ricochets until it hits the portable radio stops the music and Dazzler’s lights altogether leaving her vulnerable once again…

Quality

This page alone establishes Dazzler as a person struggling to make ends meet.

As far as telling a Dazzler story goes, this comic book is the complete package and it’s got very solid writing! Apart from showing what happened to her after her appearances in the Uncanny X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man series, this comic book formally introduces Dazzler in her civilian identity as Alison Blaire and thanks to efficient writing, it also reveals threads of her past and how her mutant powers manifested. Not only that, readers will get to see the title character as a typical person who is struggling to make ends meet even though she does her best with entertainment as a career.

Strangely, the focus on Dazzler is relatively light in content and the result is several pages of Marvel universe-related filler which shows several other characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Storm, Wolverine and others present with little to no connection with the title character. The X-Men scene is a nice touch as it will remind readers about Dazzler’s first interaction with them.

As a teenager, Alison Blaire’s power begins to manifest during this particular event in her life.

To build-up the first challenge for Dazzler, this comic book has the Enchantress as the villainess and ironically it also had some room of character development for her. Clearly this was done not only to build up anticipation for the next issue but to make readers root for Dazzler some more. In retrospect, the Enchantress would later emerge as an important figure in 1984’s crossover storyline Secret Wars.

Conclusion

The scene involving the X-Men is a nice touch as it connects with Dazzler’s previous interaction with them.

While it is indeed a product of the early 1980s carrying influences from the 1970s New York club scene, Dazzler #1 (1981) is still fun and engaging to read. Clearly this comic book is a must-have for anyone who loves Dazzler and it should be entertaining enough for geeks who love the 1980s and the Marvel-related crossovers of the time. Very clearly, this comic book succeeded in introducing and developing Dazzler as a person (as opposed to being a super hero) and the background story established fits in nicely with the character’s first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #130. Very clearly, there is a lot more to Dazzler than her unique super power and her disco look.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #1 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $70.

Overall, Dazzler #1 (1981) 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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at What If #46 (1993)

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

Welcome back, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! It’s time to revisit the What If monthly series of comic books of Marvel Comics that lasted from 1989 until 1998. The old comic book I’m about to review involves the X-Men, Cable and more.

Before starting with this newest retro comic book review, I should state that I was never a fan of Cable even though I read lots of X-Men-related comic books that included him. When I think of Cable, I immediately think of the New Mutants and X-Force comic book series.

You must be wondering what has Cable and the X-Men have to do with the old What If issue I’m focusing on. We can all find out in this look back at What If #46, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a tavern in New York’s famous Central Park. Inside, Charles Xavier, Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey have a discussion about mutant matters until a small saucer-shaped device flies inside and disrupts everything with its sonic frequency. Suddenly a second flying saucer comes in, touches Scott’s shoe and explodes powerfully killing him, Jean and Xavier. Others got injured by the explosion and the tavern ends up burning.

Outside the tavern, Cable is seen running away and someone points at him as someone who must be responsible for the bombing. As it turns out, the deliberate killing of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey was the result of a division between Cable’s New Mutants and the X-Men in connection to the recent return of Xavier from deep space.

Quality

A brawl between the mutants.

I’ll start with the story Kurt Busiek came up with. This one explores an alternate time in which Charles Xavier returned to Earth (after escaping from the Skrulls in deep space) only to find the X-Men in disarray which compelled him to restore things the way they were. This is not to be confused with his return in the canon storyline of the Muir Island Saga.  

That being said, Busiek explored what would it be like had Xavier tried to resolve mutant matters not only with the team of mutants he founded but also with other teams such as the New Mutants (already led by Cable), X-Factor (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Archangel) plus several other mutants. I really liked the way the mutants reacted to Xavier given his long absence from Earth, how his dream matters and turned out irrelevant to them as individual mutants, and if he still has what it takes to lead them. In some ways, Xavier looked like a politician trying to convince his constituents that his vision is still the best for them and their interests.

What really made the story running was the start of the division between the mutants when Cable rejects Xavier and points out that the X-Men founder’s devotion to appeasement is dooming mutants. All of these led to the shock opening scene and in terms of writing quality, it was all justified.

The scenes that happened AFTER the burial of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey literally raised the stakes for the rest of the comic book. I don’t want to spoil further plot details but I can assure you all that Kurt Busiek’s script is very sold and there is so much to enjoy here especially if you are knowledgeable enough about the X-Men and the other parts of the Marvel Comics universe (note: the Avengers, Stryfe, Freedom Force and Fantastic Four also appeared).

Visually, the work of Tod Smith looks a bit rushed. His art here is not bad but I felt it could have been better had there been more time to polish his work. In fairness to Smith, his drawings on most of the characters still made them recognizable and he showed pacing with regards to the panels and angles used. I should say he does a decent job showing multiple characters fighting each other simultaneously.

Conclusion

If you were a mutant, would you follow Charles Xavier or Cable?

If you ask me, What If #46 (1993) is pretty entertaining and engaging to read thanks to the strong writing as well as the daring exploration of how the comic’s main story impacts others within the Marvel Comics universe. It has drama, action, intrigue and most notably it explores a new concept about how the X-Men would turn out after the death of their founder. It also raises questions on whether or not the X-Men are doomed without Charles Xavier’s presence.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #46 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $40 while the near-mint newsstand edition costs $120.

Overall, What If #46 (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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com