A Look Back at Solitaire #2

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.

It’s been quite some time since I reviewed Solitaire #1. What I like about the Ultraverse crime-buster is that he was designed to be a very agile combat expert with the ability to regenerate. Apart from being a very capable fighter, Solitaire is also very skilled detective and has lots of connections (with informers). Some comic geeks compared him to Batman and Wolverine but within the Ultraverse, Solitaire is unique.

Now we can take a look back at Solitaire #2, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story by Gerard Jones and art by Jeff Johnson (inked by Barb Kaalberg). This particular comic book is connected with the Ultraverse crossover event Break-Thru.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Small Town, U.S.A., a place described to be happy with the air full of laughter, the chatter of children and music played by a band. Solitaire arrives and quickly an arrow was launched at him and missed. The place’s defenders are already aware of him.

The place turns out to be an amusement park filled with tourists who paid for rides, sights and fun. In the middle of it, Solitaire is on a mission. Another arrow was fired at him but thanks to his reflexes, he grabbed it, allowed himself to fall into the water. A lady with a bow and arrows arrives to check on him but Solitaire quickly got back at her, restraining her.

After he asked where the bomb is located, she points to the moon. Suddenly another arrow is fired and hits Solitaire on his left thigh…

Quality

9
Fierce opposition towards Solitaire!

Now that the establishment of Solitaire’s origin and superhero nature has been done, this comic book’s story is pretty adventurous to read. The good news is that it is a well-made adventure that not only delivered the fun but also established Solitaire’s place in the Ultraverse (thanks to the link with the Break-Thru crossover). When it comes to developing Solitaire not only as a crime fighter but as a person, I like the use of flashbacks from his past recalling his time as a much younger visitor to the amusement park complete with his mother remaining a hole in his memory.

More on the story, it is not only adventurous but also packed with action. This time, Solitaire does not fight the stereotypical thugs but rather lady defenders of the Moon Man who are so willing to do their jobs, they attack Solitaire even if it means harming the tourists. The build-up leading to the encounter with the villain was nicely paced and was a worthy pay-off.

When it comes to the art, this is one very nice-looking comic book thanks to Jeff Johnson. The illustrator knew how to pace the story visually and when to add punch to the action scenes and stunts.

Conclusion

4
Imagine yourself touring a theme park and actually witnessing a real attack towards a trespasser.

Solitaire #2 is a fun-filled Ultraverse comic book that is worth reading again and again. What it lacked in character development, it bounced back big time with action and adventure elements.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Solitaire #2, 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 $8.

Overall, Solitaire #2 is recommended!


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

A Look Back at Hardcase #7

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 Ultraverse fans! Are you ready for another bout of new discoveries in the Ultraverse through Hardcase, the superhero of Hollywood trying to do good.

Let’s all take a look back at Hardcase #7, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by James Hudnall and drawn by Scott Benefiel. The comic book was part of the Break-Thru crossover.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins on a city street when two guys tried to force two people out of the car they were riding. Suddenly Hardcase and Choice arrive surprising them and making short work out of the bad guys. The two victims who got saved could only be impressed by Hardcase and Choice as they watch them fly away.

At his office, Hardcase formally introduces Choice to his secretary Celia Brady, his agent Sol Gernstein and his lawyer John Riley. Together they meet to discuss how to free Choice from the clutches of the Choice Corporation.

Elsewhere, a mechanized menace slowly makes its move and kills a racoon in cold blood. It pulls the dead animal to itself and assimilates with it…

Quality

5
Choice meets Hardcase’s trusted people.

Hardcase #7 is another compelling story about Hardcase’s search for answers and the connection with the Break-Thru crossover is a factor that works nicely. With in-depth writing by James Hudnall, this comic book not only expands the realm of the Ultraverse but also links nicely with the events of The Strangers #1 and Hardcase’s past. As the story builds up for Break-Thru, it also introduces readers to a key sinister figure of the Ultraverse. Lastly, I should say that James Hudnall pulled off a lot intriguing moments and how the story ended surprised me pleasantly.

When it comes to the art quality, Scott Benefiel’s work is solid. I also like his visual take on a certain superhero team that suddenly appeared in this comic book. Which team is that? You’ll have to find out.

Conclusion

3
Superhero action nicely drawn.

This is yet another very engaging story of Hardcase. Thanks to the works of the creative team, Hardcase #7 literally did not pull back its punches when it comes to surprising me as I followed Hardcase on his efforts to solve mysteries. This is definitely not your typical superhero-saves-the-day story.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Hardcase #7, 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 $11.

Overall, Hardcase #7 is highly recommended!


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

A Look Back at The Strangers #7 (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.

In a previous review, Prototype #5 served mainly as a build-up leading to the crossover between the armored superhero and The Strangers. While that comic book had a cover that looked suggestive, Prototype and the group did not appear together until the final page.

The payoff for the crossover happens to be in The Strangers #7.

Will the crossover be worth it? Find in this look back at The Strangers #7, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart (shared plot credit with Tom Mason and Len Strazewski) and drawn by Rick Hoberg. This comic book is part of the Break-Thru crossover.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

Picking up where Prototype #5 ended, the story begins inside the space station wherein The Strangers encounter large, ugly monsters just as Prototype and his two companions – Empire 7 from Vietnam and Supra from the Baltic States – arrive. Equipped with high technology, Prototype proceeds to help the Strangers surprising them as a result.

After some struggle, Prototype, the Strangers plus Empire 7 and Supra start talking about what has been going on. As far as the Strangers are concerned, they need to know why they got their powers which explains why the needed J.D. Hunt’s rocket to reach space. Supra explains that she, Empire 7 and Prototype were sent to reclaim Hunt’s rocket.

After Prototype insists on reclaiming the rocket, Grenade strikes him which leads to Yrial to using her magic on him. The armored hero reacts by bodily attacking Yrial and damaging the wall behind her leading to outer space…

Quality

22
A nice scene between Prototype and two of the Strangers.

As this comic book was wonderfully written, I do confirm that the payoff for the build-up leading to the crossover between Prototype and The Strangers was undeniably worth it! There is a lot of richness in the script and I really enjoyed the interactions between the Strangers and the armored ultra.

I should state that the plot was structured to have the heroes together for initial interaction, have a few of them separated temporarily, bring them back together for unity and separate them into small groups as they search for answers.

In between, there is a lot of character interaction and development. These are the elements that defined this comic book and by the time I reached the end, I managed to grasp how the connection (as well as the level of trust) between Prototype and the Strangers turned out. Along the way, there were a few sub-plots and even some exposition on the in-universe history of ultras (emphasized by Empire 7). There were also some action scenes to balance things out with the characterization.

With no surprise, the art by Rick Hoberg here is great. I should state that his art on Prototype made the character look recognizable. More importantly, Hoberg drew the characters, the monsters and the environments with a good amount of detail. This is hard work that nicely paid off!

Conclusion

2
The first interaction between Prototype and the Strangers.

I really enjoyed The Strangers #7 and it definitely paid off nicely after the build-up to the crossover established in Prototype #5. If I were to make comparisons, the crossover here is just as good as the Hardcase-Strangers crossover. I should also state there is a good amount of fun here.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #7 (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 is priced at $8.

Overall, The Strangers #7 (1993) 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 Prototype #5 (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.

Previously, I took a look back at the two-part Ultraverse crossover story between Hardcase and the Strangers. It was, indeed, an enjoyable reading experience as a whole to see Hardcase and Choice have an adventure together with the Ultras who previously gained powers while riding a cable car in San Francisco that got hit by energy from the sky. The way the crossover was done resulted an entertaining story and even added to the continued development of some of the characters involved.

This time we examine another crossover of heroes within the Ultraverse by taking a look back at Prototype #5, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Tom Mason and Len Strazewski (with Steve Englehart on the plot) and drawn by Roger Robinson.

Cover
Now this is a smashing cover!

Early story

The story begins at North California facility where the Strangers – Atom Bob, Grenade, Electrocute, Zip Zap, Yrial, Spectral and Lady Killer – break in and bring down several uniformed personnel. Their purpose is to get into the rocket and make their way to the moon.

Quite conveniently, the Strangers wore space suits, get into the rocket (the JDH-3000) and launch successfully. This upsets the rich and powerful JD Hunt who rejects the idea of destroying the rocket. The next morning at the office, Hunt is very mad over the fact that his rocket has fallen into the hands of ultras. Knowing where exactly the JDH-3000 is heading, he tells one of his staffers to get him Gordon Bell as he plans to send someone up there to bring it back…

Quality

15
Visual build-up of the crossover between Prototype and the Strangers.

To put things in perspective, Prototype #5 is a well-written part of the big Break-Thru crossover of the Ultraverse that happened in late 1993. On its own, it forms the first part of the crossover between Prototype and The Strangers, and it sure is loaded with a lot of build-up (of key elements within the Ultraverse) and exposition.

In terms of writing, this comic book moved at a medium pace with strong emphasis on build-up. What I really found intriguing here is the politics of the fictional corporate world within the Ultraverse. There were these very powerful corporate executives communicating with each other, and there was JD Hunt who intensely joined a meeting blaming Gorden Bell for costing him billions of Dollars. The corporate politics here are actually connected with Prototype and the Strangers.

As this is a build-up comic book, you won’t get to see Prototype (Jimmy Ruiz the pilot to be precise) physically together with the Strangers until very, very late in the story. In fact, there is a lot development and a few character introductions to go through before Prototype (with two foreign companions developed by his corporate handlers) leaves for space.

Conclusion

10
The corporate forces behind the Ultraverse.

Being heavy on exposition and light on spectacle, Prototype #5 is a decent Ultraverse comic book to read. If you were expecting to see Prototype together with the Strangers for the majority of the comic book (note: the cover art is quite suggestive), you will get disappointed. However, this comic book builds up mainly on other elements of the Ultraverse, specifically the corporate forces behind the scenes. By the time you finish reading Prototype #5, you will gain a better view of what causes events to happen and how they affect the ultras. The ending of the story, I should say, is compelling enough to make you anticipate what would happen next in The Strangers #7.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #5 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4. The near-mint copy of the newsstand edition meanwhile costs $13.

Overall, Prototype #5 (1993) is satisfactory.


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

A Look Back At Break-Thru #1

When done right, a crossover storyline showcasing a big mix of superheroes getting involved in a huge event can be memorable and worth revisiting years after getting published.

Back in 1993, Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse which involved many talented creators. Right from the start, it was made clear that there was a shared universe occupied by The Strangers, Night Man, Prototype, Prime, Mantra, Hardcase and many others.

Before the end of 1993, Malibu launched Break-Thru #1 which started a new storyline that involved many of the above characters plus Firearm, The Solution, Sludge and Solitaire. Adding more punch to this comic book was Malibu’s hiring of legendary artist George Perez who worked on the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series of DC Comics.

2019-10-17_074138~2.jpg
A great cover! One of the best ever for any Ultraverse comic book!

Here is a close look at Break-Thru #1 mainly written by Gerard Jones, drawn by George Perez and inked by John Lowe with colors by Moose Baumann. Credited as contributing writers were Steve Englehart, Mike W. Barr, Steve Gerber, James D. Hudnall, Tom Mason, George Perez, James Robinson and Len Strazewski.

Early story

The story begins immediately after the end of Exiles #4. A man falls to his death from the top of a tower thinking he was reaching the moon at night. Elsewhere, an airplane sharply goes up with too much altitude as the pilot obsesses with going to the moon

As it turns out, the media reports about people trying to reach the moon and getting restless. A member of Exiles lies helplessly on a bed with his entire body covered with medical materials for his injuries. A doctor presses him for answers and he claims to know that Amber, one of the Exiles members, looks a lot like a young lady floating over Los Angeles. He thinks she is responsible for the madness that has been going around the world.

The injured confirmed that the lady, floating high above with reddish energy around her, is none other than Amber. He claims, however, that he has no idea what happened but shared that she was already prone to volatile energy blasts.

Behind the scenes, members of Aladdin discuss what has been happening. One of them believes that Amber may hold important clues to the nature and origin of Ultras. The Aladdin people get distracted with noise caused by Eden Blake (Mantra in civilian form) who secretly eavesdropped on them pretending to be lost (note: a reference is made to Mantra #5 to explain her new employment with Aladdin.)

2019-10-17_075309~2.jpg
The military and Prime.

Aladdin decides to activate their own Ultra named Wrath. Over at the Pentagon, military officers discuss the information about Wrath they got received from their moles at Aladdin. Their leader wondered about sending Prime (with a modified look) on a mission but he can’t have anyone see how he modified the Ultra.

Meanwhile in the bowels of the Earth, a man who is not really a man watches…

Quality

In terms of storytelling, Break-Thru #1 has a nice build-up. It took its time making references to the many, many characters of the Ultraverse. By the end of the comic book, you will realize there are different kinds of Ultras: the solo Ultras, the corporate Ultras, the freelancers, the work-for-hire Ultras, the accidental Ultras and the like. With regards to emphasizing the shared universe, this comic book shows that connections with the individual comic books are tight. References in what happened in Exiles #4, Prime #6, Mantra #5 and others all helped build-up the concept of Break-Thru. The story is 35-pages long which, in my opinion, was sufficient not only to emphasize the conflict Break-Thru but also give readers enough space to get to know what exactly is going on, who are these many characters, what the institutions involved are, etc.

2019-10-17_075441~2.jpg
Mantra with Prototype.
2019-10-17_075133~2.jpg
The Strangers discuss what has been happening.

More on Break-Thru’s concept, I like the way the comic book emphasized how the sudden presence of multiple Ultras affected local societies, members of the public, the government, the secret groups and others. It also sheds light on how people, regardless of social class or status, react to the presence of people who carry special powers or have unusual talents over them. This reminds me of a key scene in the 2012 Avengers movie in which Col. Fury mentioned how the sudden presence of super beings caused a disturbance.

Spectacle? Unsurprisingly there is a good amount of action as well as incidental moments that kept the narrative entertaining.

Visually, Break-Thru #1 is a great looking comic book thanks to George Perez who is famous for drawing multiple characters environments with his distinctive style complete with a high level of detail. There is not a single boring moment with his art and each panel has really nice visuals. The action scenes and incidental happenings (example: Valerie’s sudden burst of energy) come with a lot of punch.

2019-10-17_075541~2.jpg
Freex got affected.

Very notably, Perez’s take on each of the Ultraverse characters is very good to look at and in some ways, certain characters look a lot better than they did in their respective comic book series. A perfect example here is the team Freex whose characters look more human (in style) and more lively. Of course, I don’t mean to say that the illustrators of the Freex series did not do a good job.

Perez’s drawing of Mantra is very good. Similar results with The Strangers, Hardcase, Solitaire and Prototype. Very clearly George Perez carefully did his research on the characters and their respective designs.

Conclusion

2019-10-17_074728~2.jpg
Hardcase, Choice and The Solution on the move!

Overall, Break-Thru #1 is a great comic book to read and it reflects the high quality and deep engagement the Ultraverse had when it was still under the control of Malibu Comics (note: Marvel Comics acquired them and drastically changed the UV for the worse in the mid-1990s). It definitely still is one of the finest superhero crossover comic books of the 1990s and, personally, I found it to be more engaging than the launch issues of other crossover storylines like Zero Hour and The Infinity Gauntlet. If you are interested, Break-Thru continued in Firearm #4, Freex #6, Hardcase #7, Mantra #6, The Night Man #3, Prime #7, Prototype #5, Sludge #3, Solitaire #2, The Solution #4, The Strangers #7 and then in Break-Thru #2.

Break-Thru #1 is highly recommended and you can buy a near-mint copy of it for $4 at Mile High Comics’ website.


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