A Look Back at What If #40 (1992)

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

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

A Look Back at X-Men Adventures Season II #4 (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.

Note: Since this retro review mentions both Russia and Ukraine, I encourage you all to help the people of Ukraine (whose lives have been disrupted by Russian forces) by donating to the Ukraine Appeal project of Hillsong Church. Donate now at https://hillsong.com/appeal/

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts, X-Men fans and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men Adventures monthly series which was a literary adaptation of the famous X-Men animated series of the 1990s.

To be more specific, we examine a tale of the major X-Men villain Omega Red within the monthly series adaptation of the 2nd season of the animated series. Take note that I previously reviewed X-Men #4 (1991), X-Men #5 (1992) and X-Men #6 (1992) which told the first tale of Omega Red who turned out to have a history of conflict with Wolverine decades prior.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men Adventures Season II #4, published by Marvel Comics in 1994 with a story by Ralph Macchio and drawn by John Herbert.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the Caucasus located between Ukraine and Georgia. Inside, a group of people work on a scientific operation resulting a power surge. The surge then causes a stasis chamber’s glass to crack. Moments later, Omega Red emerges and he has clear knowledge about who restrained him, who the government leaders and what happened to the Russian empire. He declares that the Russian empire shall live again. In Moscow, three high ranking military officers discuss their secret plan on restoring the Soviet Union. It turns out, the return of Omega Red is the first step for their ambitious plan.

In America, Jubilee encounters a group of activists who hate mutants inside a convenience store. Peter Rasputin/Colossus, the Russian mutant who encountered the X-Men sometime prior, comes into the store to help Jubilee. Afterwards, Jubilee and Colossus travel to Charles Xavier’s mansion – Xavier’s School for Gifted Children – and discuss important matters. He tells her that Omega Red has emerged in Russia and he need to speak to Professor X. It turns out, Xavier disappeared some weeks prior.

As the situation is so desperate for Colossus, he asks Jubilee if she would help him in his struggle to save his nation. Jubilee makes a hasty decision to do so and leaves a handwritten note telling her teammates that she is off to Russia…

Quality

Colossus and Jubilee in Russia.

While this comic book’s cover art easily reminds me of the Wolverine-Omega Red confrontation on the cover of X-Men #5 (1992), the story here is more varied than that mentioned comic book drawn by Jim Lee. As this is an adaptation of the X-Men animated series episode titled “Red Dawn”, it is not surprising to see the spotlight being divided by many characters.

Omega Red, who has been declared as one of the greatest X-Men villains ever, has a somewhat strong presence serving as the main figure of opposition against Charles Xavier’s team as well as the surviving elite remnant of the Soviet Union. Quite amusingly, Omega Red is totally loyal to the Russian empire similar to how James Bond is very loyal to England and the queen. In comparison to issues #4 to #6 of the X-Men monthly series, the history of conflict between Omega Red and Wolverine was very lightly portrayed.  

Wolverine and Omega Red in battle!

As mentioned earlier, the spotlight is shared a lot by many characters which results a lack of a true protagonist among the X-Men. This is not necessarily a problem as Omega Red’s presence had enough strength. The other Russian Colossus, who at the start of the story has not yet joined the X-Men, got a good share of the spotlight among the good guys and that results some quick and efficient exposition to get readers oriented with him, his family and how he became an outcast in his nation because of his mutation.

The plot itself is light on details which is not surprising due to the high amount of exposition which includes a geopolitical look at the remaining loyalists of the Soviet Union living in Russia which saw some of its regions transformed into republics. With regards to superhero spectacle, this one has a good amount of action and I can easily say the biggest attraction is the fight between Wolverine and Omega Red. Just don’t expect it to be as extensive nor as detailed as the ones Jim Lee drew in the adjective-less X-Men series.  

Conclusion

John Herbert’s take on Omega Red was carefully crafted.

X-Men Adventures Season II #4 (1994) is a fun superhero story to read and I find its portrayal of the Wolverine-Omega Red conflict to be interesting knowing it was not part of comic book canon of the time. Apart from the mentioned conflict, there is something for X-Men fans to enjoy here such as Colossus’ return and his new interactions with the X-Men, how Omega Red’s presence causes danger in Russia, and the current whereabouts of Charles Xavier. Lastly, I should state that John Herbert’s art style is engaging to look at and he made Omega Red look intimidating.

Overall, X-Men Adventures Season II #4 (1994) is recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Uncanny X-Men #304 (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! Today we go back to the 30th anniversary celebration of the X-Men which took place in 1993. Back then, Marvel Comics went full blast with the anniversary celebration of their mutants by releasing related merchandise, posters and comic books with gimmick covers (note: read my retro review of 1993’s X-Men #25) that came with high prices.

To put things in perspective regarding 1993, Marvel’s X-Men line of comics had monthly series of Uncanny X-Men, X-Men (Volume 2), X-Force, X-Factor, Excalibur, Wolverine and Cable. X-Factor #92 marked the start of the Fatal Attractions storyline which was the basis for the X-Men 30th anniversary celebration. X-Force #25 was released and it not only brought Cable back but also Magneto.  

Then came the 3rd chapter of the Fatal Attractions storyline which was published in Uncanny X-Men #304. Not only did that particular comic book bring together many mutants and moved the storyline forward to a crucial stage (note: tension leading to it was built up in Uncanny X-Men #300, Uncanny X-Men #303 and also in X-Men Unlimited #1), it also served as the very celebration of the 30th anniversary of the X-Men (although it was not the storyline’s conclusion as the plot continued in X-Men #25, Wolverine #75 and Excalibur #71).

So did this particular, anniversary celebrating issue of the Uncanny X-Men succeed with its objectives? Has it aged well through the decades? We can all find out in this look back at Uncanny X-Men #304, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by John Romita, Jr., Jae Lee, Chris Sprouse, Brandon Peterson and Paul Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with division among the Acolytes who learned that their lord Magneto actually survived (note: refer to 1991’s X-Men #3). They ganged up against their leader Fabian Cortez for betraying Magneto. After pushing his now rebellious team members away, Cortez reminds them that for several months already, they have been continuing Magneto’s work on behalf of mutantkind. Suddenly Exodus appears to them and describes himself as the voice of Magneto and will guide mutants to rise and mentions paradise for the faithful mutants. After subduing Cortez and tempering the tension among the Acolytes, Exodus tells them to prepare themselves for ascension. This frustrates Cortez who realizes that he no longer holds leadership.

Over at the X-Men’s headquarters, Charlez Xavier is personally disturbed over the death of Illyana Rasputin, the sister of Colossus. He starts questioning himself as Illyana’s death under his watch makes his years-long mission (of convincing his fellow mutants to leave their old lives to take risks to fight for a world that fears and hates them) doubtful and tries to figure out how he could present himself in front of them. A holographic image of Lilandra appears to him.

In outer space, inside the space station called Avalon, Magneto stares at planet Earth. With nobody around him, he speaks apologizing to his followers for he cannot save them all. He also mentions that he was wrong in previously believing that he could rescue each and every one of them from humanity as he recently realized that Earth, for the moment, is doomed.

After walking an unspecified distance inside Avalon, Magneto picks up his old helmet and wears it…

Quality

This 2-page art by Brandon Peterson is easily the best looking part of the comic book.

I will start with the visual aspect of this comic book. The artistic quality ranges from fine to weird which should not be surprising since this one involved five artists. The 4 pages drawn by Brandon Peterson (who was once a regular artist on Uncanny X-Men) made the X-Men, Magneto and the Acolytes look not only good but also intense. The Peterson art here is artistically similar to the respective styles of Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee of that particular time. Jae Lee’s art on the flashback of Magneto’s life (during the time of the Nazi occupation in Europe) is undoubtedly very stylized. While his art brings out the intensity of Magneto’s painful past, certain images can be a little challenging to understand especially to readers who focus strongly only following the plot and details. John Romita, Jr.’s art, for me personally, often looks rough and there were times I hardly recognized the characters. The other artworks by Paul Smith and Chris Sprouse have cartoonish aesthetics.

This is Jae Lee’s artistic contribution to the comic book. I found it weird that Magneto’s hair was shown as white during his past with the Nazis.

As for the plot, I can clearly see that a hard effort was made to compose a story that would push the Fatal Attractions storyline forward, establish a turning point and still become worthy of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the X-Men franchise. I can say that the storytelling is somewhat bloated. Early in the story, it was made clear that the respective sections showing Exodus with the Acolytes, Charles Xavier and Magneto pointed to an eventual confrontation that happened during the funeral of Illyana Rasputin.

As the build-up continued with the flashback of Magneto’s life, the fan service short scene of Kitty Pryde and the unfeeling Colossus (note: their romance was highlighted in Uncanny X-Men many years prior), and the talk scene between Bishop and Banshee, the pace of the story slowed down dramatically. By the time the attempt to move the narrative back to the core plot was made with the funeral scene (composed of the X-Men, X-Force and X-Factor), the pace was still really way down. By the time the conflict with Magneto, Exodus and the Acolytes stated, the pace recovery was incomplete and as such, seeing the scene unfold was very jarring (and not even the pages of Colossus’ frustration towards Professor X could solve the narrative pacing problem).

Unsurprisingly, the conflict was written to be overly dramatic complete with lengthy pieces of dialogue here and there. That being said, references to past comic books were established as Magneto once again emphasizes his beliefs about the human-mutant conflict using violence (while also side-stepping Jean Grey’s psionic powers to allow the Acolytes to come in undetected).

Human-mutant conflict aside, themes about faith, religion, idolatry salvation are clearly used. Magneto, who has a tremendous record of villainy and his previous leadership of the X-Men proved useless, was portrayed to be a walking wicked idol whose followers cannot do anything except idolize him and cause violence out of dedication to him. They really could not realize that idolatry is foolish and unholy which further adds to chaos on the world. As Magneto deceived himself to be the savior and lord of mutants, he further causes more pain and destruction to others around him. In short, Magneto will always be stuck with his wicked nature and clearly does not deserve heavenly authority no matter how hard he believes himself to be a savior.

The classic rivalry between Xavier and Magneto here was portrayed dramatically and yet I cannot help but think that their conflict was nothing more than a repeat of past encounters with the state and future of mutants at stake. To be fair, what happened here served as a logical build-up for the shocking encounter between Professor X and Magneto in X-Men #25.

Conclusion

Nobody among the X-Men (except Charles Xavier), X-Force, Excalibur and X-Factor cared to dress properly for the funeral.

To be clear, even though I am an avid X-Men fan, I find Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993) hard to be engaged with and hard to enjoy. Efforts to make it a worthy celebration of the X-Men are very clear but it’s just not entertaining nor compelling to read. As for the X-Men traitor scene, the revelation was not that shocking as the foreshadowing made it too obvious. At best, this comic book served as a warm-up for X-Men #25 which itself paid-off nicely. Being more than sixty pages long (including the advertisement and bulletins), this comic book has too much creative baggage which ultimately hampered its storytelling. It’s not terrible. It’s really not that great to read. What I experienced way back in 1993 with this comic book is just the same as I re-read it. It has not aged well.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Uncanny X-Men #304 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $20, while the near-mint copies of the signed-and-numbered edition and the newsstand edition cost $120 and $60 respectively.

Overall, Uncanny X-Men #304 (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 X-Men #5 (1992)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s culture and fans of Marvel Comics! Today we revisit the adjective-less X-Men monthly series (Volume 2) that started in 1991 with the combined talents of Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. For those who are unaware, Chris Claremont had his conflict behind the scenes with then X-Men comics editor Bob Harras which led to him departing the X-Men series with issue #3.

Previously I reviewed X-Men #4 which by today’s standards is highly significant and very expensive to acquire as it marked the literary debut of Omega Red who made quite an impact with X-Men fans. It should be noted that Wolverine and Omega Red had encountered each other far back in time and issue #4 marked the renewal of their rivalry.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men #5, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Jim Lee (plot) and John Byrne (script), The art was done by Lee with ink work done by Scott Williams, Art Thibert, Bob Wiacek and Joe Rubinstein.

The cover.

Early story

This for me is the money shot of the comic book. Although Wolverine is absent, you get to see the entire Blue and Gold teams with Charles Xavier as drawn by Jim Lee.

The story begins with Cerebro detecting an unidentified mutant signature in the presence of X-Men members who were out of the mansion. Forge tells Cyclops about the disturbance happening less than five miles away from their mansion. Colossus and Psylocke join in and quickly they leave the mansion with Cyclops using the Blackbird.

Not too far away, Gambit, Rogue, Jubilee and Beast are held captive inside a vehicle with an armed man in their presence. Gambit starts the effort to free his teammates using one of his charged cards.

Elsewhere in a snowy place, Wolverine is seen struggling thinking he defeated his old rival Omega Red. Suddenly the Russian mutant jumped at him and the two resumed fighting. Their fight is being monitored from a distance…

Quality

The Wolverine-Omega Red rivalry is a must-see.

When it comes to storytelling, it is obvious that the writing duo of Jim Lee and John Byrne did their best to push the envelope and break new ground as far as telling an X-Men story goes. For one thing, there is the presence of paramilitary elements which are common with Jim Lee’s creations. There are even flashbacks into the past in which Wolverine (then called Logan) actually took part in a special forces operation with a few notable others. These flashbacks expands further the personal history of Wolverine in a really intriguing way. With the way the story was presented, it is clear that the new creative team pulled off serious moves in modernizing the way X-Men stories were told in comparison to the way Chris Claremont told all those many such stories during his long run.

When it comes to the visuals, Jim Lee did another great job as each page looks great and he proved to be clever with the way he visualized the script. As this comic book was inked by more than one inker, there were subtle differences with regards to contrast as well as ink intensity.

Conclusion

Cyclops and his teammates move out.

X-Men #5 (1992) is another great comic book that involved Jim Lee’s art. Apart from the modernizing of the storytelling, this comic book further expanded the past of Wolverine while successfully giving readers more of Omega Red who is now a major supervillain of Marvel’s.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #5 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $27 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $79.

Overall, X-Men #5 (1992) 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 X-Men Unlimited #1 (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.

As mentioned before (refer to my reviews of X-Men 2099 #1 and X-Men #25), 1993 was the year when the 30th anniversary of the X-Men was celebrated. Back then, Internet connection was not very accessible to the public, social media had not been invented and streaming movies and TV shows was not yet the norm. How did Marvel Comic organize the celebration for X-Men fans? By publishing a lot of comic books and selling merchandise.

In the first quarter of 1993, Marvel Comics went on to feed the perceived high demand of X-Men fans by launching X-Men Unlimited which was an all-new comic book series with a schedule of quarterly releases per new comic book (initially with 64 pages of content using glossy paper). They released X-Men Unlimited #1 in March 1993 and I bought a copy for a hefty $3.95.

So what exactly did the said comic book feature? Was it good? We can all find out in this look back at X-Men Unlimited #1 published by Marvel Comics with a story written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Chris Bachalo.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on the snowy surface of Antarctica where the Blackbird (the X-Men’s jet) has crashed. Cyclops is outside the crashed jet already suffering from internal bleeding and other injuries. As his ruby quartz visor has been lost, he desperately keeps his eyes shut to avoid firing any optic blast. Even with tremendous odds against him, Cyclops concentrates very hard to reach out to Charles Xavier and successfully makes contact. Xavier is surprised.

With telepathic assistance provided by Xavier, Cyclops successfully reaches him and carries him. After some searching, they spot Storm alone on the snow. Elsewhere, a lady gets up from the snow and walks towards a facility. Upon entering, there are scientists working with computers and they called her Ms. Blaze. She asked them if she succeeded in killing Cyclops, Storm and Xavier…

Quality

Artist Chris Bachalo failed to pace his art properly on this page.

To get to the point, I should state that the main lesson of this X-Men story written by Lobdell is about leadership mixed with responsibility and survival. Symbolically, the three leaders of the X-Men (Xavier the head with Blue Team leader Cyclops and Gold Team leader Storm) were placed in a situation of great odds and their respective powers cannot just help solve their problems nor help them get away easily. Here we get to see Cyclops, Storm and Xavier really struggling and having no choice but to use their wits as well as skills learned from the past in order to survive and progress. This is easily the comic book’s most unique feature and it is very rare to see Xavier and the two team leaders spend a lot of time together and work with each other. As far as emphasizing the leadership dynamics of the X-Men is concerned, Lobdell succeeded. I should also state that Lobdell really dramatized the respective personalities of the three.

Still there are some notable flaws. I should say the story had lots of dragging moments in between and the overall pace is between slow and medium. The dialogue is quite wordy and ultimately a lot of it felt like fillers than actual attempts to develop personalities and explain things. There were attempts to make the dialogue more philosophical but end up dragging the narrative. I should state that verbal descriptions or narrations in certain pages were quite excessive. If you are looking for superhero spectacle, there is actually little to enjoy here and by the time the final conflict is over, you will end up unsatisfied. Of course, there are also scenes of incidental moments (examples: explosions, the environment causing damage, etc.) that were emphasized as if to make up for the lack of superhero spectacle.  

The antagonist Sienna Blaze is not a compelling villainess. There is no justification as to why she tried to kill the X-Men. The way she is presented, Blaze is more like a reckless and impulsive teenager than a real opposing force against Xavier and his mutants.

Psylocke and Bishop were the other X-Men members who appeared.

Lastly, there is the art by Chris Bachalo which has always been sub-par and disappointing to look at. While Bachalo did a decent job drawing disaster-related moments, his art on drawing the X-Men really sucked. There were many times when Charles Xavier LOOKED LIKE A DUMMY (think mannequin) than a living person as drawn by Bachalo. The art of this comic book was disappointing in 1993, and it has aged badly by today’s standards.

Apart from the main story, this comic book has a gallery of artworks highlighting the X-Men (including members who did not appear in the said story) done by varied illustrators. The quality of the art, unsurprisingly, is a mixed bag. Ultimately the art gallery served as convenient filler made to satisfy the cravings of X-Men fans.

Conclusion

This is how Wolverine and Colossus look as drawn by Mark Bagley who was the Amazing Spider-Man artist of the time.

Apart from being made to sell a bunch of copies and take advantage of the comic book collector craze of the time, X-Men Unlimited #1 (1993) was an effort to keep defining the X-Men for fans and comic readers of the 1990s by adding depth to the bond between Xavier, Storm and Cyclops. The problem is with the execution as the story dragged a lot, and a whole lot of dialogue and text descriptions were made as if to ensure that enough content would fit the 64-pages of content of the comic book. As far as 1993 X-Men comic books go, this one has one of the worst looking artworks used in storytelling. When it comes to its connection with the 30th anniversary of the X-Men, what happened to Xavier in this comic book is connected to the events of Uncanny X-Men #304 and #310.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Unlimited #1 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $10 while the near-mint copies of the signed edition (without certificate), the newsstand edition and the signed edition (with certificate of authenticity) cost $105, $32 and $105 respectively.

Overall, X-Men Unlimited #1 (1993) is unsatisfying. If I were you, I would avoid spending any money above its cover price. Considering its quality, the near-mint copy of this comic book is really worth only $1.

+++++

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 X-Men #3 (1991)

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 and comic book collectors! Today I’m about to review another Chris Claremont-Jim Lee comic book of the X-Men from 1991.

Before getting to the retro comic book review, let’s take a look back at history. Marvel Comics started publishing comic book of the X-Men in 1963 which involved the combined talents of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The original X-Men members were Cyclops, Beast, Marvel Girl, Angel and Iceman all under the mentorship of Charles Xavier (AKA Professor X). That monthly series was not a strong seller and was weak compared to the other monthly titles of Marvel. Although Roy Thomas and Neal Adams were brought in to reinvigorate the X-Men series with new characters, success in sales did not materialize and eventually the series was turned into a reprint series (from issues #67 to #93).

In 1975, Len Wein and Dave Cockrum made Giant-Size X-Men #1 which introduced a new team. Along the way, Wein (who was also the editor-in-chief of Marvel at the time) hired Chris Claremont to become the lead writer of the X-Men series starting issue #94 which was released that same year. Claremont redefined the X-Men by developing the characters deep inside and emphasized their respective personalities. As the years passed by, Claremont wrote notable X-Men storylines such as The Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, Mutant Massacre, and Fall of the Mutants to name some. Not only did Claremont write The New Mutants, he also co-created many other characters that became part of the X-Men franchise.

Then came the year 1991. The launch of the new X-Men monthly series (focused on the Blue Team led by Cyclops) saw sales tremendous success with issue #1 and by that time Jim Lee was established as one hot new creators under Marvel. Behind the scenes, however, Claremont clashed with then X-Men books editor Bob Harras. Eventually, issue #3 of the 2nd X-Men monthly series marked the end of the X-Men era of 1975-1991.

I should say that I enjoyed reading issue #2 in which Claremont wrote a story that not only raised the stakes but also pushed the entire group of mutants to the edge. We will find out soon enough if Claremont’s X-Men era of 1975-1991 will end strongly in this retro review of X-Men #3, published in 1991 by Marvel Comics with a story by Claremont and Jim Lee (who also illustrated).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in outer space. Members of X-Men’s Gold Team (composed of Archangel, Storm, Jean Grey, Forge, Iceman, Colossus and Banshee) fly stealthily towards Asteroid M where Magneto and his Acolytes are with Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert held captive. With the exception of a few, members of the X-Men Blue Team were brainwashed by MacTaggert to follow Magneto.

On Earth, the plasma cannon is being prepared to destroy Asteroid M. Nick Fury warns his colleagues about the possibility of tremendous damage if ever Asteroid M hits the surface of the planet. Valerie Cooper tells him that the firing trajectory has been calculated to blast the target away and into deep space. An exchange of words follows over diplomacy and following orders issued by the leaders.

Over at Asteroid M, Charles Xavier is alone in a room with a wide view of the Earth and space. Behind the scenes, Fabian Cortez points to Xavier as Magneto’s deadliest enemy. He asked his master why not use Moira MacTaggert’s procedure (to brainwash and turn) on Xavier. Magneto, already suffering physically, does not want Xavier turned but be broken…

Quality

X-Men Blue Team members relaxing at Asteroid M in the presence of the Acolytes.

Like in issue #2, the story here is very engaging and highly dramatic. While it paid close attention to Magneto’s ruthlessness as well as his rage towards Moira who committed something unethical to him in the past, the story managed to focus enough on the X-Men which involves both the Blue Team and Gold Team mixed up. While this comic book’s cover shows a battle royale between the Blue and Gold teams, there is a lot of substance beyond the action. I’m talking about moments spent on the mutants of Xavier which was done in a satisfying manner (never felt crammed nor forced) considering the page limits of this comic book. Not only were the X-Men moments executed smoothly, there were pulled off efficiently and orderly.

More on the story, what adds intrigue is the group of Acolytes whose field leader Fabian Cortez has not only gotten very close with Magneto but also does something significant to him along the way. By this issue, the Acolytes led by the master of magnetism have gotten more established as a worthy opposition against Xavier’s mutants. This story also showed that the Acolytes were here to stay, and Fabian Cortez himself is very led by wickedness and ambition. Cortez is also an example about the distortion of righteousness

When it comes to defining the characters, Xavier and Magneto clashing together about their respective dreams about mutants is unsurprisingly epic to read. In this particular conflict, both Marvel icons were portrayed very dramatically and their respective expressions were indeed intense. Adding further intrigue to their clash is Moira’s long-past act of manipulating the very genetics of Magneto which itself raises serious questions about her perception, decision-making and ethics. In some ways, Moira looked more villain-like.

As expected, the art of Jim Lee is great to look at. There were some signs, however, that the very wordy script resulted an increased numbers of panels per page. Fortunately, the art did not look rushed and maintained a clear narrative. Also the action scenes are great to look at which is not surprising.

Conclusion

The Gold Team of the X-Men travel towards Asteroid M in a cloaked vehicle.

To put it straight, X-Men #3 (1991) is an epic read highlighting the very conflict between Magneto and Xavier over the course of mutants and their place in the world of humans. This comic book, which has a very powerful ending, was indeed a very satisfying way to conclude the Xavier-Magneto conflict as well as Chris Claremont’s long-term stint with the X-Men comic book franchise. Back in 1991, this one really looked like the end of an era both in-story and in real life. Of course, what this comic book achieved ultimately became temporary because Magneto was revived for the Fatal Attractions storyline in 1993 (celebrating X-Men’s 30th anniversary) and Chris Claremont himself returned to Marvel Comics some years later. Still, on its own, this comic book is worth reading and adding to your collection, even if you are not an X-Men fan. It is significant enough as a piece of X-Men history from the time when Jim Lee was with Marvel.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #3 (1991), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $9 while the near-mint copies of the Chris Claremont-signed edition, the signed newsstand edition, the newsstand edition and the Toy Biz edition cost $16, $26, $16 and $21 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #3 (1991) 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 X-Men #2 (1991)

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.

There is so much said about X-Men #1 of 1991 which was launched to major success by Marvel Comics selling at least eight million copies worldwide. That launch issue, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee, had multiple covers and a version with gatefold covers and high-quality paper which made it an instant hit with collectors chasing profit. In 2011, Marvel even released the so-called 20th anniversary edition of X-Men #1 which was digitally recolored.

In terms of substance, X-Men #1 marked the new era of the X-Men. Charles Xavier returned to his mansion to lead the X-Men which was so large as a group, it had to be divided into two team with Cyclops leading the Blue Team and Storm heading the Gold Team. In terms of publishing, Marvel published tales of the Gold Team in the Uncanny X-Men monthly series while the Blue Team’s stories were published in the adjective-less X-Men monthly series.

With all the attention paid to X-Men #1, I noticed that not too many people cared to talk about what happened after the end of that comic book. Without spoiling plot details, the massive seller of 1991 had its story end in a cliffhanger. To find out what followed and determine the quality of the creative team’s work, here is a look back at X-Men #2 published in 1991 by Marvel Comics with a story co-written by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee (who illustrated).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the fictional island nation of Genosha which has a legacy of mutant slavery. Having fought with the Acolytes (led by Fabian Cortez), the X-Men now face Magneto who arrived and tells them that he will not abandon the Acolytes.

“They acted in an excess of zeal. If so…I..and I alone..shall determine their appropriate punishment,” Magneto tells the team of Cyclops, Gambit, Beast, Wolverine, Psylocke and Rogue. Near them are other Acolytes members down on the ground.

After words spoken by Gambit, Rogue and Cyclops, Magneto referred to the devastation of the city hospital as fitting for punishing a state (Genosha) whose prosperity was built on the backs of mutant slaves. Beast answered back saying that the Genoshans have accepted responsibility for what they have done and resolved to make amends.

While Magneto replies to Beast, a military Genoshan helicopter gunship fires missiles at them from above which the X-Men’s archvillain intercepts. Using his magnetic power, Magneto lifts steal beams and destroys the helicopter with them. He then turns against the X-Men restarting the chaos in the city…

Quality

Magneto, Psylocke and Rogue in the middle of the chaos.

Being the middle of a 3-part story, this comic book pushes the entire X-Men group to the edge thanks to strong writing by Chris Claremont. I’m not simply referring to the traditional good-versus-evil formula of superhero storytelling as the story here emphasized themes about sanity, loyalty, legacy, idolatry and even diplomacy. It just so happens that there is a lot of superhero spectacle to enjoy here and there.

The stakes have been raised significantly in this story as Magneto is shown leading the Acolytes who in turn went ahead with their first mission which explains the chaos in Genosha. Magneto’s condition also deteriorates and gets himself healed by Fabian Cortez who is more sinister than what he seems. For his part, Charles Xavier of the X-Men gets to interact with his long-time friend Dr. Moira MacTaggert who is struggling with guilt from something she committed in the past. Through Magneto, Xavier and MacTaggert, there is this solid build-up of tension that led to a very powerful revelation in the 2nd half of the story which, ironically, put the X-Men on the sideline temporarily. There is high drama, deep tension and high intensity involving Magneto and MacTaggert, and their scene together is the highlight of the story.  

Conclusion

The face-off!

To put it straight, as much as I loved X-Men #1 (1991), I find X-Men #2 (1991) more compelling to read. For one thing, it rewards X-Men fans who dedicatedly followed the events of not only the X-Men but also of that of the life of Magneto. It’s really great that Chris Claremont literally dug up the past for details that proved to be useful in this comic book. It also nicely sets up anticipation of the next issue by involving the X-Men’s Gold Team. Unsurprisingly, with the combined talents of Claremont and Jim Lee, this is an excellent read that really looks great.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #2 (1991), 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 copies of the Chris Claremont-signed regular edition, the Chris Claremont-signed newsstand edition and the newsstand edition cost $9, $19 and $13 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #2 (1991) 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

X-Men at Toycon 2019

During my time at the Toycon 2019 at SMX Convention Center in Pasay City this past Saturday, I checked out the X-Men stuff. I am a long-time X-Men fan and that particular franchise is my favorite among all of Marvel’s superheroes.

As before, I looked for some back issues of X-Men at one of the few comic book sellers at the convention.

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Lots of old X-Men comic books displayed for sale.

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A copy of X-Men #1 (1991) drawn by Jim Lee featuring Magneto. I did not bother to buy this one.

After carefully searching what was available and calculating with my limited budget, I bought a few copies of Uncanny X-Men drawn in the early 1990s by Whilce Portacio. I intend to have these comic books signed by him in the near future.

As I went around the floor of the main exhibition hall of the convention center, I saw several X-Men statues and action figures. The one that caught my attention was the Dark Phoenix figure.

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Too bad the filmmakers could not find a way to replicate this classic Dark Phoenix form for the big screen. 

And then I went up to the 2nd level of the convention where there was one function hall that had several displays of toys and action figures for people to look at. Of course, the X-Men were there and here are some pictures I took for your viewing pleasure.

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I like this set up showing two opposing sides. I just wished Magneto had been placed closer fronting Charles Xavier.

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The 1990s X-Men look.

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Dazzler, X-Factor, Cable and some X-Men.

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Another 1990s X-Men set.

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I like the set up here with the X-Men and a fallen Sentinel.

For more X-Men insight, check out my Logan retro movie review, my X-Men #1 (1991) retro comic book review, my X-Men: Dark Phoenix movie review, my retro movie reviews of X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand.

Check out my first Toycon 2019 article here.


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