A Look Back at UltraForce #5 (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.

One of the things I enjoyed best about the UltraForce done by the solid creative team of Gerard Jones and George Perez is the fact that the team’s lesser known characters such as Pixx (the lone minor), Contrary, Ghoul and Topaz are richly layered, highly interesting and engaging members who really stand on their own and don’t get overshadowed by their major teammates (the Ultraverse’s premier lead heroes Hardcase, Prime and Prototype). Of course, the presentation of Pixx, Contrary, Ghoul and Topaz would not have been great had Gerard Jones failed to deliver the solid writing and managing required.

That being said, it’s time to find out more on how balanced the presentation of UltraForce members will be as the conflict with Atalon escalates further in this look back at UltraForce #5, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Jones and Perez.

The spoileriffic cover.

Early story

The story begins with Ghoul (still in the presence of Atalon and far away from his teammates) having a nightmarish vision of death, chaos, rioting and disasters. He recognizes a certain teammate included in the vision. His personal concern for his teammate grows, and king Atalon notices his distress. Atalon states he has cleared the final obstacles and what he has planned will push through. He intends to use many nuclear missiles on the world.

“When my warheads strike the raw nerve centers of your world, the surface will blossom with the fires of chaos and war,” Atalon tells Ghoul. “And the launching begins now. You see, Ghoul? Your world is dead. There’s nothing you can do. There’s no point in worry at all.”

Over at Miami, Florida, Pixx talks to her mother via the telephone and assures her that she is in good hands with UltraForce with a role to give her teammates the youth point-of-view. After the phone talk, Pixx personally struggles with the stress of being with the team which itself has gotten involved not only with the global conflict with Atalon but also with the concerned world leaders and the ever demanding public.

Prime approaches her and, because she noticed her looking troubled, he asked her if she could handle the situation they are in. Pixx answers back and does some posturing that she is strong and capable. Prime, who is really teenager Kevin inside, feels he screwed-up and knows well that Pixx is older than him.

The UltraForce then meet on the top of the building…

Quality

Dynamic action drawn by the legendary George Perez supported by inkers and colorists!

Strong writing – check. Great visuals with high detail – check. The high quality and strong creative energy of the Jones-Perez team continued to shine brightly in this comic book. Definitely a very well-made comic book that also continued to deliver the great stuff like strong character engagement and development, dynamic action (hey, this is George Perez’s art!) and the like.

While issue #4 featured Atalon’s background story and some references about the history of his people, this comic book has its spotlight on the teenage member Pixx. Her dialogue and character development are very well crafted and as the story goes on, you will start to care about her.

The conflict with Atalon here shows the stakes raised high once more as the said leader of the creatures from deep below the surface acquired mankind’s nuclear weapons and really starts to control them. I should also state that this comic book is another spectator-filled pay-off story that succeeded issue #4 which was mainly a build-up type of story.

If there is anything wrong with the comic book, it is the cover as it truly is a major spoiler. Too bad that the art showed Pixx in the presence of a nuclear warhead because the imagery alone took out some of the power behind her story in the big conflict of the comic book.  

Conclusion

This art by Perez looks great and worthy of the cover!

UltraForce #5 is another solid read thanks again to its creators. I should also state that even though the cover art was a spoiler, at least the ending was intriguing and powerful to see.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #5 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy costs $16.

Overall, UltraForce #5 (1995) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at UltraForce #3 (1994)

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

After going through the engaging build-up of UltraForce #2, it is only natural to expect a pay-off filled with spectacle and some intrigue to happen in the following issue. Specifically, within the Ultraverse, Prime, Hardcase, Prototype and the other members of UltraForce made their case already with US President Bill Clinton and other top officials in relation to the growing threat from Atalon and his army from deep underground. Also at stake was the global perception towards the world’s people with superpowers publicly referred to as the Ultras.

So what exactly will happen next with UltraForce? Will they be able to get over individual differences and be able to organize themselves to help protect the world from disaster? Will we see Hardcase, Prototype and rest finally face off with Atalon? We will all find out in this look back at UltraForce #3, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by the legendary George Perez!

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Atalon breaking out from the sea with the intention to transform the whole world and starts by raising an island! He recalls his people’s history of building cities to the light and mentions the time when people living on the surfaces of the Earth drove him and his people into the Earth.

Not only does he have his loyal, armed soldiers with him, Atalon levitates several man-made weapons of mass destruction in the form of missiles. As a result of what he did, disaster strikes with tremendous forces of sea water overwhelming a boatload of Haitian refugees, the release of magma from the seabed, and boats and passenger ships getting overwhelmed.

From his secret place, Rex Mundi watches the disaster as well as images of Atalon. Mundi never expected to be troubled again by his past with the people of Atalon. Mundi, who personally hates Ultras, hopes that the said superbeing will deal with the disaster for him. Meanwhile, the impact of Atalon’s rise from the sea is felt around the world from Cuba and behind the walls of their special headquarters, Hardcase issues the command for their team to take action. They start their trip towards the zone of Cuba…

Quality

UltraForce in action against Atalon!

I can confirm to all of you reading this that this comic book indeed comes with a lot of spectacle in the forms of action and dynamic looking visuals which really provided the anticipated payoff to the tension building and exposition that dominated UltraForce #2. What is also very notable is that the spectacle all look great thanks to the return of the legendary George Perez as the penciller here. It comes to no surprise that all the action scenes, all the crazy moments and hard-hitting stunts here all look great! This is a visual treat and George Perez’s take on the characters are easily among the best in the Ultraverse!

Of course, the spectacle and the payoff would have been hollow had the writing not been strong. The good news here is the script provided for this comic book is very solid and maintains the high quality that started with issue #1. The story progression from issue #2 is very strongly felt through the plotting, dialogue and the narrative. For each page in this comic book, there really is a strong presence of high tension. You can really feel the stakes have been raised high since the previous issue.

Even though there is a lot of stuff, there was still some creative space left to develop the personalities of Contrary (Mantra’s rival) and Pixx. I found the cultural background and history flashback of Contrary’s people really efficiently told and yet compelling in presentation. As for Contrary, her dialogue is greatly written and you can feel how uneasy she is being on Earth while obsessing with getting Mantra. Apart from the expected interactions (and bickering) between UltraForce members, the narrative includes the respective views of the United States, Cuba and England related to the superhero team and the crisis caused by Atalon. This was efficiently done.

As for the presentation of the team, you will really see how compelling the interactions between the members are especially when they are struggling during the missions…outside the safety of their floating ship that is. Hardcase being the field leader is memorable and his reliance on his teammates is quite something to follow.

Conclusion

Atalon proved he is a clear and present danger!

No doubt about it. UltraForce #3 is a great comic book to read and it sure is worth repeating for superhero enjoyment! Unlike the previous three issues (including issue #0), this issue really marks the confrontation between UltraForce and Atalon. Considering the wide scope and impact of the Atalon’s invasion of the surface, I often wondered how the plot fits in within the respective monthly series of Hardcase (I reviewed the 14 issues already), Hardcase (the first 12 issues reviewed already) and Prime.  

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #3 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.

Overall, UltraForce #3 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at UltraForce #2 (1994)

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

Some time ago, I wrote and explored what would happen had superheroes been real and got involved with government leaders and the corporate media. Considering what has been going on for some time now, I hope that more readers would read the article and realize the conspiracy between political parties and corporate media is real and even dangerous. Did you even notice that in America, the Left-leaning media outlets have been distorting the facts about the riots involving the Marxist movement Black Lives Matter and the violent Antifa group? Also, did you notice that the liberal media distorted the meaning of the words peaceful protesters? Being a former local community print media publication journalist myself, I know why media outlets (whose owners and managers willingly get involved with those who wield power) would distort the news and insult the public’s intelligence. Really, the truth is that objective, truthful, responsible and professional journalism is shrinking.

Enough with the sickening news wave of negativity magnified by corporate media. It’s time to examine the superhero-government-media conspiracy followed by a fantastic conflict within the Ultraverse in this look back at UltraForce #2, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and art by George Perez (breakdowns) and John Statema (finished pencils).  

The cover of the limited edition.

Early story

The story begins with UltraForce member Ghoul visiting a place within the woods. He stops at a huge grave site of the Exiles and tries to communicate with his former teammates but to no avail. He only got glimmers from them. After expressing himself to nobody, he walks away.

Shortly after, UltraForce composed of Hardcase, Prime, Prototype, Ghoul, Pixx, Contrary and Topaz meet with US President Bill Clinton, US Senator Bob Dole, UN’s secretary general Boutros-Ghali and Blackrock of the press in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC. As they discuss important matters together, Atalon makes his move against the civilized world…

Quality

The interactions between the members of UltraForce are richly written.

To start with, this comic book is a build-up type of story containing lots dialogue, exposition and explanatory pieces with not too much spectacle. That’s not to say this is a boring issue, in fact it still remained quite engaging to read. The very wordy script for this comic book was written with care and there were efforts made to keep the story cohesive even as it grapples with all the details for explaining. What the writer presented not only explained what is happening and why the world is being threatened by Atalon and his forces from underneath, the script also took its time in presenting the characters struggling with each other’s views while providing key moments that add some development to the personality of some of the characters (example: Prime’s interest in Chelsea Clinton reflected not only his teenage self but also his first encounter with her during the Prime monthly series). As far as storytelling goes, it succeeded in helping me understand the huge event transpiring and justified why UltraForce as a team is needed. When you think about it, Prime, Hardcase and Prototype already have major affairs of their own (especially when you read their respective monthly series) but Atalon is a major threat that requires the three to work together (along with Pixx, Ghoul, Topaz and the ever scheming Contrary).

More on the conspiracy between the superheroes, the government leaders and the corporate press, this comic book is more relevant than ever today even though superheroes do not even exist in real life. I like the moments when Contrary wanted access to government files which drew a strong reaction from Bill Clinton who in turn is being watched carefully by opposition leader Bob Dole. For his part, Hardcase expressed that his team does not want any power struggle between ultras and the government. And then Bob Dole stressed to Prototype that he works for Ultratech and said: I take it that you are a defender of the rights of the private sector?

Of course, the highlight of the writing is the dynamic interactions between the UltraForce members when they are on their own and struggle to work together due to their respective differences. The dialogue is very rich.

When it comes to visuals, this one is rather unique because it has breakdowns by the legendary George Perez with finished pencil work by John Statema. It’s not a pure Perez art work which is obvious but still I recognized the characters and there is still a high level of visual detail all throughout. Still a solid looking comic book!

Conclusion

This is a clever way of doing exposition…Bill Clinton learns more about Topaz and Ghoul but only the readers get a visual presentation.

Never mind the fact that it lacked spectacle, UltraForce #2 is still compelling to read mainly due to its strong writing, the memorable interactions between the characters and emphasis of the crisis that justifies the presence of the team complete with impact on the world. Not only that, this comic book event went the extra mile to emphasize crossing-over within the Ultraverse by including The Strangers (check out The Strangers #4 and Hardcase #4 for reference).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #2 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the limited edition costs $12.

Overall, UltraForce #2 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Prime #6 (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.

Hey everyone! Let me ask you…when you were a teenager, was there ever a time when you wished you could instantly transform yourself into a muscular man who can fly and use super strength to make a difference in local society? To be a standout with the public is one thing, but to deal with external forces who focus on you as a result of being super is another.

That being said, let’s take a look back at Prime #6, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story co-written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones with art done by the late Norm Breyfogle.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Prime in an encounter with a large, meat-eating dinosaur. It’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex which puzzles the caped, muscular hero. The dinosaur traps him in its jaws and tries to eat him, but Prime manages to resist and finds a way to make it lose its balance.

As it turns out, the whole encounter was nothing more than a virtual reality sequence with Prime literally a captive. Behind the scenes are several people managing the secret operation with a high-ranking military officer in charge. The VR sequence ends and Prime calms down.

As the personnel work to aid Prime, the officer states that he needs him functional as he has o rove that his unit does not need the paranoid conspirators at Aladdin. As Prime wakes up, he quickly gets back on his feet putting the personnel off-balance and grabbing the military officer by the neck….

Quality

As expected, the writing and visuals were done with the usual high level of quality. What is clearly the main selling point of this comic book is its story which greatly emphasizes Prime’s place in the Ultraverse. To be specific, this is a tale about Prime (who is really a teenager inside) realizing his involvement with the United States government and its secret operations unit that involves the military and scientists. At the same time, this comic book digs deeper into the Prime’s origin not as a superhero but rather as a person (in the identity of Kevin Green) who was born with certain forms of manipulation done to him by someone who is linked with the government. The good news here is that the story is pretty cohesive and intriguing to read. At the same time, Prime’s personality got developed further and you will see how getting involved with his nation’s government impacts him.

More on the events within the Ultraverse, this comic book showed an early sign of the Prime series getting connected with elements of the respective series of The Strangers and Mantra.  

Conclusion

The money shot!

On face value, Prime #6 looked like it was just filler-loaded comic book serving only as a build-up for the Break-Thru crossover event of 1993. In actuality, this one is another well-told story about Prime and even though there is no battle with any villain, it succeeded in telling a standalone story focused on the hero getting involved with his nation’s government. I should also state that this is a nice change of pace following two really big battles of Prime with Prototype and Maxi-Man.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prime #6 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs #10.

Overall, Prime #6 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

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

When Superheroes, Politicians and Corporate Media Conspire Together

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In this age of social media and smartphones, watching cable TV news feeds is quite toxic to the mind. It’s not about the ultra-heavy mix of information being dumped by corporate media giants that overwhelm the senses of millions of viewers worldwide. Rather it is about corporate media’s slant on political news and world events that add chaos to the already chaotic world we live in.

Look at MSNBC and Fox News on how they cater to the many millions of Americans divided in the political spectrum. For the most part, MSNBC favored the so-called liberals and the political left while Fox News consistently favored the so-called conservatives and political right. If there is such a thing as the military-industrial complex, then there is also the political parties-corporate media complex.

The funny thing about politically slanted corporate media is that they (the news makers) turn journalism into a commodity, select the facts to be presented to the viewers and eventually find ways to manipulate people’s perception. Meanwhile the viewers who have their respective political ideologies or interests tend to pick a favorite corporate media giant for their daily news. Also corporate media giants know fully well that there are many millions of political news junkies who cannot help but be obsessed and addicted to biased political coverage.

Also behind the scenes, it is very likely that top officials of the existing major political parties (Republicans and Democrats) have discreetly communicated with the top executives of the corporate media giants who in turn made deals with their clients (advertisers) to generate money together as they manipulate people into supporting corporate media’s business model.

I myself am a small press journalist who went around the many BF Homes communities and the cities of Muntinlupa, Las Pinas and Paranaque. I pay close attention to the behaviors of corporate media journalists. Learning from them, I certainly do not want to turn journalism into a commodity nor do I want to report news about useless causes like Catholic parish fiestas. I certainly don’t like ignorance to be the driving factor of news reporting. To be ignorant about what’s going on, who is who, where is where and how things happened is just wrong. Be warned that from the small press to the giant media, there are even news editors who are ignorant and work without really knowing what to do which makes published news reports less journalistic and even misleading for the public. Look at your local community newspaper, the regional paper, the national paper and tell me if you see any headline story that does not deserve the headline.

Don’t forget that there are still other publications other there that serve as propaganda machines whose organizers believe that people are too stupid or too ignorant to see through their manipulation and misinformation tactics.

Anyway since I already mentioned political news bias of corporate media giants, it’s time we take a close look at a particular scene in UltraForce #2 published in 1994 by Malibu Comics under the Ultraverse line.

UltraForce #2
The comic book opened with UltraForce (Hardcase, Prime, Prototype, Contrary, Pixx, Ghoul and Topaz) in the Oval Office meeting with fictional portrayals of United States President Bill Clinton, Senator Bob Dole, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the representative of the press.

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Hardcase negotiates with Clinton over a number of matters. UltraForce will help deal with the ongoing conflict overseas with the world “backing up” for them. Contrary says that their team wants to have access to the federal government’s gathered information on ultras (their term describing super humans in the Ultraverse) which irked Bob Dole to express his opposition and tells Clinton that he will “skin” him alive in the media if he agrees to UltraForce’s proposal.

As the difficult agreement came close to being finalized, Hardcase made clear that his team needs the media to reshape public perception of them (and ultras in general) from negative to positive. Unsurprisingly the media representative objected to Hardcase’s idea as it is tantamount to propaganda (or biased media coverage).

Hardcase answered back mentioning that he is an actor in Hollywood and he already knows what it takes to make people feel good or bad about something by means of being selective of the facts for public consumption. He insists that people should start feeling good about them.

The media representative stated that a bipartisan consensus was all it takes for journalists to accept it.

Then Bill Clinton and Bob Dole shake hands which is ironic because in real life history, both men were nominated by their respective political parties for the US Presidency in 1996. Clinton got re-elected then.

My analysis

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The scene, even though it is outlandish in concept, shows clearly that political forces and the giant media have what it takes to manipulate public perception by working together. Of course what reality shows us is that in America, Republicans have Fox News and Democrats have MSNBC to rely on to execute their information manipulation strategies to gain supporters for their own causes.

In the case of UltraForce, it’s about a team of superheroes who need a lot of support from governments and the media in order to be able to resolve the overseas conflict in the story. Their enemy was simply too powerful and too resourceful to defeat so UltraForce played hard-ball with the government and the media.

With regards to biased media coverage in support of UltraForce and ultras that exist in the world of the Ultraverse, it shows that superpowers alone cannot help those who wield it. Without the government and media support, UltraForce will only be perceived by the public as a group of troublemakers (or maybe even as terrorists) even though they fight an obviously evil force that’s been destabilizing the world.

As such, the biased media coverage for UltraForce is what I would call as a morally questionable form of support. On face value, it looks sensible because UltraForce is composed of supposed good guys while their enemies are so destructive and disruptive they are easily perceived as evil. But behind the scenes, supportive biased media coverage for UltraForce kills the spirit of balanced journalism and is pretty much a form of propaganda no matter how good the intentions are.

Could you imagine a special forces team fabricate a situation which would result a tragedy followed by intense coverage by the corporate media which in turn will outrage members of the public and give the administration of the national government the justification to launch a war with superheroes leading the way? Such a situation could lead to even more chaos in this world we live in.

Also Hardcase said it best: Look, I’m an actor in Hollywood. I know this game. I know how you can pick and choose facts to make people feel good or bad about something.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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