A Look Back at The Strangers #13 (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.

Crossovers between major individual characters and major superhero teams within the Ultraverse are often fun to read mainly due to the high talents involved who made such fantasy concepts good. Before, The Strangers had a crossover with Hardcase followed by another crossover with Prototype. This time, the superhero team will have their first crossover adventurer together with another major Ultraverse characters…Mantra!

You must be wondering who are what will Mantra and the Strangers be facing. We will find out in this look back at The Strangers #13, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Mike Gustovich.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a facility when the Strangers are surprised by the arrival of police cars outside. Upon meeting the police captain named Rome, the Strangers learn that the police need their help as an evil ultra is on its way to San Francisco.

As the Strangers scramble, Mantra’s foe Boneyard is inside a commercial airline and his presence easily disturbs the passengers. Boneyard punches a man for raising his voice and telling him to put down a child he carried. Boneyard is carrying a young boy using him to have leverage over the passengers and the flight crew.

Some time later, the airplane lands on the tarmac of the airport and Boneyard comes down as the Strangers and the police await him. It turns out, Mantra’s foe wanted a meeting which baffles the Strangers. Boneyard tells them that their actions let some demons free and have placed his life in grave dangers.

As Boneyard and the Strangers talk, Eden Blake watches intensely and changes into Mantra…

Quality

Mantra with Electrocute and Grenade.

This comic book’s story is very well written and it should not be surprising given Steve Englehart’s extensive experience as a writer. He really knows how to structure carefully a plot, get different superheroes get together and work for a common cause. That being said, Boneyard’s entry into the pages of The Strangers series was notably seamless (note: Mike W. Barr of the Mantra series was the one who developed Boneyard as the villain) and believable. When he met the Strangers, I sensed tension brewing which eventually turned into excitement once Mantra (who encountered The Strangers during the Break-Thru crossover) gets involved.

Character interactions, especially between Mantra and the Strangers members, is quite engaging to read. While the most sensible conversation Mantra had was with Electrocute, her talk with Spectral was the most awkward. There really is something worth reading.

When it comes to the artwork, Mike Gustovich’s work is serviceable at best. He worked on this comic book as a guest illustrator temporarily taking over the place of regular artist Rick Hoberg. His art is not bad, just satisfactory.

Conclusion

Mantra meets the Strangers again.

The Strangers #13 is entertaining on its own and the fact is it is only the first part of the Mantra-Strangers crossover. It is a solid start to say the least, and I should state that Steve Englehart captured nicely the respective personalities of Mantra and Boneyard, and he succeeded in mixing up the said ultra with the team. This comic book, by the way, is one of Malibu Comics’ flipside issues (a 2-in-1 comic book with each side being its own issue) and on the other side was Ultraverse Premiere #4. The Ultraverse Premiere side has a main story featuring Prime and a short story focused on Lady Killer of The Strangers.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #13 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy costs $8.

Overall, The Strangers #13 (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 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 Spider-Man #26 (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.

In 1992, Marvel Comics organized a big celebration of what was back then the 30th anniversary celebration of Spider-Man. Behind the scenes, the Spider-Man editorial team organized their creators to make something special worthy of the anniversary. Back then there were four monthly series of Spider-Man – Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man and Spider-Man – and in keeping with the 30th anniversary bonanza, each of the monthly series would see one special issue with a hologram on the cover.

What I read recently was one of those 30th anniversary celebration special comic books – Spider-Man #26. This comic book had a green cover and a hologram of Spider-Man upside-down. Its cover price is $3.50.

Was this old comic book’s content really worth the high cover price and the hologram? Did the creative team at Marvel do their job on making something special in line with the 30th anniversary celebration? We can find out in this look back at Spider-Man #26, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with the main story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Mark Bagley and Ron Frenz.

The cover with a hologram.

Early story

The story begins on the street of New York when a man wearing a device runs down the sidewalk distracting and unintentionally pushing a few people out of the way. He is glowing as he moves. Someone from behind him calls him Stewart.

Soon enough, Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane cross paths with him. Peter immediately leaves Mary Jane behind and starts pursuing the glowing Stewart. In the middle of the street, Stewart sees a speeding motorcycle heading towards him. He dives for cover which incidentally shapes his glowing field into a makeshift ramp causing the motorcyclist go over him. Spider-Man sees the flying motorcycle and its driver, and struggles to decide which one to save…

Quality

From the 2nd story.

Let me start with the main story. It sure is heavily worded almost all throughout but that is understandable because Tom DeFalco really pushed hard to emphasize the theme of responsibility as Spider-Man struggles to tackle criminals while trying to find quality time for his wife. There was even a scene in which Peter Parker recalls key events from his past (his becoming Spider-Man, letting a certain criminal get away, the death of his Uncle Ben, etc.) which, in terms of presentation, was a clear attempt by the creative team to bring readers back to the recorded history of Marvel’s icon. The main story is a genuine, heart-filled attempt to go beyond showing Spider-Man beating the bad guys to do local society good. There was also effort exerted to show that there are a few guys who do bad things not because they are inherently evil but rather they are desperate and/or misguided. The problem with the main story is that the other characters – Stewart, Bill, the gang leader Maxwell and others – are not so interesting at all. Of course, we cannot expect to see Spider-Man go head-to-head with another one of his major villains but this story was part of the 30th anniversary celebration.

The 2nd story, if you can all it that, is pretty much an exposition-filled exercise designed to give readers – both new and old – a review of Spider-Man’s powers and capabilities. To prevent it from becoming a total bore, some characters from the Marvel Comics universe were visually added.

When it comes to the quality of the artwork, Ron Frenz’s work here is serviceable at best. Mark Bagley’s art here improves the quality but that’s not saying much.

Conclusion

From the main story.

As a 30th anniversary celebration issue, Spider-Man #26 does not have much when it comes to being truly special. You love spectacle? You won’t find much in it. You wanted to see something groundbreaking in terms of character development? There’s none. Gripping storytelling? None! There was also no conflict with any prominent villain from the Marvel universe here. What you will get here is nostalgic stuff plus exposition about key elements that define Spider-Man. Truly the only thing special here is the hologram on the gimmick cover.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man #26 (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 $90.

Overall, Spider-Man #26 (1992) is serviceable. If you really want to buy this old comic book, I recommend waiting for its price to fall below $5 and I’m referring to the near-mint copy.

+++++

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 #6 (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.

After reading issues #0 to #5 of the UltraForce series of the mid-1990s, I should say that I clearly enjoyed them all as creators Gerard Jones and legendary illustrator George Perez (plus their supporting crew) really delivered great stories, dynamic visuals and very engaging interactions between the UltraForce members.

So far, each and every UltraForce issue I reviewed here is fun and compelling to read. The high levels of artistic and literary quality in each issue is evident right from the start and, more importantly, it emphasizes the overall concept of the Ultraverse itself even deeper than what I discovered in its early stage (launch year 1993). Very clearly, UltraForce as a comic book series raised the stakes of the Ultraverse (much like Break-Thru did) when it comes to how the public perceived ultras (superheroes), who are the secretive sinister forces and how they impact the whole world, why being an ultra has lots of advantages and disadvantages, why ultras are hard to unite in the face of danger, and so on. These creative concepts were really great and it was in the year 1994 – the same year UltraForce launched – when the Ultraverse was at a stage to go further to a bolder direction with its creative evolution. Unfortunately all of that got screwed up after Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics.

More on UltraForce, the saga of king Atalon’s fire people rising from the depths of the Earth and possessing nuclear missiles to attack people on the surface has lasted quite long and its narrative remained consistently engaging. In issue #5, something terrible happened to UltraForce member Pixx during a big battle. What transpired next, we can find out in this look back at UltraForce #6, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by George Perez and Steve Butler.

The cover! They even misspelled Ghoul!

Early story

The story begins as tensions rise between Atalon and UltraForce over their respective losses. For Atalon, his grand dream involving the use of humanity’s nuclear weapons has been destroyed. For Prime, Hardcase, Prototype, Ghoul and Topaz, the hanging lifeless body of Pixx shocked them deeply.

Suddenly, out of intense anger, UltraForce jointly attack the king of the fire people. Topaz states that Pixx will not die unavenged as Prototype blasts Atalon. Hardcase strikes the king followed by blows delivered by Prime and Topaz. Prime is about to strike Atalon but gets distracted when the downed king mentioned he wants to reform the whole world. Atalon strikes Prime’s head and gets back up to keep fighting the rest of UltraForce.  

Their battle is so intense, the entire island shakes and the ground crumbles bringing the nuclear weapons down along with Pixx’s body. Ghoul goes down after her…

Quality

Dynamic action delivered with high detail!

Like all the previous issues released, this comic book has high-level qualities on its writing and artistry. This is not a surprise since the Jones-Perez creative team really pushed hard to keep telling what is clearly the epic event of the Ultraverse (post-Break-Thru). The consistency of quality up to this issue is very evident.

When it comes to the quality of this comic book’s story, which happens to be the conclusion of the Atalon saga, I can say that I’m very satisfied. As the events went on, a few but very significant twists happened which really shook the foundation of this particular saga backed with great visuals (although there are some pages that were clearly not drawn by George Perez), strong dialogue and a great presentation of the impact on the world and its people. What happened with king Atalon in the 2nd half of the story is very memorable and it definitely is one of the biggest twists in the entire Ultraverse. This one alone makes the comic book worth reading.

Conclusion

This is a great way to start the comic book along with the opening credits!

UltraForce #6 is indeed a great comic book and it is a strong conclusion to the saga (which started really in issue #0) that brought Prime, Hardcase, Prototype and others together as a team. This comic book is, in my honest view, also one of the finest UV stories Malibu Comics published in 1994. If there is anything to be regretful about, it is the fact that the Ultraverse got screwed up and ended in an undesirable state as a result of Marvel’s acquisition of Malibu. This is why there was no follow-up to the Atalon saga and UltraForce as a series turned for the worse shortly after (again, as a result of Marvel’s acquisition). Considering the events of the first major UltraForce saga, Atalon could have turned out as a more significant character of the Ultraverse and another epic follow-up (to the Atalon saga) could have happened.

More on the team itself, Prime, Prototype, Hardcase and their lesser known teammates were truly presented with a strong amount of balance. Ghoul and Contrary really had their nice share of the spotlight and how they worked in tandem with the others, as well as the very events of the comic book, was really fluid and believable. By the end of this comic book, you will realize the true values and the different personalities of the entire UltraForce!

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #6 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $15.

Overall, UltraForce #6 (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 Freex #9 (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.

Having read comic books of UltraForce, one of the most notable team members is Contrary, the highly manipulative and resourceful lady who wears white and shows of a lot of her skin. She does not spend much time on the field and she does not have the powerful combat abilities of Prime, Hardcase and Prototype. Still she proves to be very intelligent, scheming and her true power is realized when she is inside her round ship which is full of high-tech equipment and links to varied sources of information for her use. As such, Contrary is indeed a very important part of UltraForce even though she gets into conflict with her more prominent teammates who each have their own monthly titles.

So you might be wondering…where in the entire Ultraverse did she come from? What makes her significant among all the characters of the Ultraverse? After doing some research, I learned that Contrary’s first appearance took place in the Freex monthly series. How her first appearance turned out, we can find out in this look back at Freex #9, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Martin Egeland.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the team with a guy wearing a hat and holding a gun who is on a tree branch above their heads. Angela/Sweetface instantly reacts by having one of her tendrils reach for the gun. The gunman reacts by going down and pulling Sweetface surprising her teammates. Tried as hard as they could, Freex members failed to get the gunman down and ended up with one of their teammates being held captive by him.

The tension slowly eases and the gunman tells them he has been doing things for other people with powers for a long time. Suddenly, they got spotted by a gang of armed men referred to as the night patrol. Freex and the gunman react to move away. Using her power, Val blasts a brush to make their way through…

Quality

Contrary’s first appearance. She went on to become a major part of UltraForce.

’ll start first with the storytelling. This one was an early attempt to add some variety and twists into Freex by having the team get involved with the gunman who would eventually spend more time with them beyond this issue. It was a sensible move for the creators to do this because seeing Freex just move like nomads was getting tiring. By this time, the team is feeling worn down and they still could not succeed in finding out who has been hunting them, and how they could cure themselves to become normal people.

This comic book pays additional attention to Sweetface and shows some flashbacks into her past. As a teenager, she wanted to fit in with her fellow youth at school until the first of her many tendrils started to come out. The dramatization of Sweetface here is very well done and if you pay close attention to the dialogue, you can feel her pain.

As for the first appearance of Contrary, it was very short and yet highly intriguing. She actually appeared in two different pages and each one was intriguing to see respectively.  

Conclusion

The team with someone.

Freex #9 is a carefully balanced comic book specifically when it comes to plotting, characterization and spectacle. The way it was presented, I could tell that a creative turning point for the team happened and Contrary’s first appearance turned out to be significant even though only two pages were made visualizing her.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Freex #9 (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 newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, Freex #9 (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 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 #11 (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.

“I’m Prime. The real Prime!”

Those were the words Prime said in conflict involving the American military and Firearm (another Ultraverse main hero) as told in the pages of Prime #10. It was also at that same moment Prime appeared in a totally new look, a look so radical a change! Instead of heaving a clean haircut, he has long hair with a spiked headband. Instead of a cape (the most traditional part of superhero costumes), he wore a V-shaped shirt and chains.

To put it short, this was Prime’s new look in the Ultraverse (note: he appeared already like this in the early issues of UltraForce in 1994) and we will find out how people will react to his appearance in this look back at Prime #11, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones, and drawn by the late Norm Breyfogle.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Prime flying over the Sunset Strip. There he visits a night club filled with a lot of people drinking, dancing and socializing while a live band performs for them. Prime easily catches people’s attention as he walks to the bar thinking how as his real self (teenager Kevin Green) could never go into a place like the club. As he is about to order an alcoholic drink, a pretty lady tells him to buy her a drink which compels him to say he left his wallet.

As they drink and socialize, Prime begins to enjoy the lady’s way of flirting with him. Suddenly a Hollywood celebrity (Justin Kuttner who appeared in Hardcase #1) interrupts them by confronting the lady. As the tension rises between the two, Prime intervenes a strikes Justin away from the lady. Justin gets up and prepares to fight Prime no matter the odds…

Quality

Prime in California.

There is a lot more in this comic book than simply showing Prime with his new look. To say the least, the story, dialogue and characterization are all very well-written. Even though there is a lack of a conflict between Prime and someone bad (note: Prime just got freed from the military’s grasp), the strong writing made this a character-driven piece that focuses more on Kevin and how his dual-life continues to impact himself and his family.

The biggest attraction in this comic book is the flashback showing the events that led to establishing the origin of Prime. This alone justifies acquiring this issue.

Conclusion

The money shot!

Prime #11 is a solid old comic book worthy of inclusion in anyone’s collection of Ultraverse and Malibu Comics-published issues. It does not have the expected good-versus-bad battle but it still managed to have some scenes of spectacle and its characterization makes it a must-read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prime #11 (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 newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, Prime #11 (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 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 #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 #4 (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.

I just love reading stories of UltraForce, the superhero team that involved three major Ultraverse characters – Prime, Hardcase and Prototype – supported by secondary characters from varied parts of the said universe such as Topaz (identified with Mantra), Ghoul (The Exiles), Contrary (Freex) and Pixx. Of course, UltraForce stories would not have been strong without the combined creative forces of Gerard Jones and George Perez who in turn crafted the said team, established a really strong villain in Atalon and making Atalon’s arrival a major international crisis that is epic in scale. The first three issues (plus issue #0) all showed the series’ greatness!

Will the great stuff of the UltraForce creative team continue? We will find out right now in this look back at UltraForce #4, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by George Perez.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with UltraForce member Ghoul being held helplessly by King Atalon. He tells Ghoul that he has no intention of destroying the people of Earth for at least one more day. Some time later, the two arrived at the remains of an old civilization very deep in the cavern. Atalon tells Ghoul: Invoke all the deities you wish, young man. Here we are beyond their reach. The temple city of Zenalla. Once it was the heart and soul of the fire people.

As it turns out, Atalon reveals that he tore through a hundred miles of fallen stone to reopen Zenalla and expressed that he will not event let his own people see it. After some more talk and travel, Atalon kneels and bows to specific monuments of his ancestors who are also the founder of cities and the fathers of the fire people. He tells Ghoul that he will bring them to speak to him.

Elsewhere, the mainstream media magnified the powerful blast that happened off Cuba which contributed to the panic and fear of the public. With people agitated, the UltraForce faces the media in an attempt to provide clarity and calm.

Hardcase (with Prototype, Prime, Topaz, Contrary and Pixx standing with him) tells the world: Activity continues on the island-we have to assume that Atalon planned that blast and survived it! And that was just one bomb-out of dozens he’s threatening to launch against mankind! As long as he has the gravity power to launch those nukes, we can’t afford a replay of our last assault!

Quality

I just love the interactions between the members of Ultraforce.

To make things clear, issue #2 was mainly a build-up story which was followed by a huge, spectacle-filled pay-off in issue #3. Backed with still very solid writing, this comic book is another build-up type of story and its most compelling feature is the origin of Atalon which was very well told by Jones and Perez. Atalon’s background story is definitely one of the finest origin stories of the Ultraverse ever told that focused more on an anti-hero instead of a hero. Through his past, you will realize that Atalon is not your typical big, muscular, raging antagonist but rather a leader who went through a lot of struggles when he was young (and had no power) and was compelled to lead his people as a result of key events that happened.

I really enjoyed discovering also the history of Atalon’s people who existed entirely deep underground and were told by the supposedly wise elders that the surface of the Earth was not an air-world and that they should only remain under it. As for how Atalon gained power, that one was strongly told and, more importantly, was believable in its presentation.

More on the build-up and character development, the members of UltraForce unsurprisingly got a good chunk of the spotlight in favor of characterization. The interaction between Hardcase and Topaz was not only very engaging but also symbolized the conflicts between their respective cultures (with Topaz coming from a society of women). And then there was Contrary with her very distinctive way of interacting with others with a sense of manipulation.

Conclusion

The lost city!

UltraForce #4 (1995) is another great comic book thanks to the Jones-Perez team. The interactions between the UltraForce is top-notch, the origin of Atalon is fantastic, and the theme about society reacting to an existing superhero team that supposed to help them in a time of crisis is very believable. As with the first four issues (including issue #0), the way this comic book’s story was written showed that the creators made preparations. This one is not only a whole lot of fun to read but also very engaging from start to finish.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #4 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $16.

Overall, UltraForce #4 (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 X-Men Adventures #2 (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.

Having read lots of X-Men comic books, I should say that I always find the Sentinels (first appearance in The X-Men #14 in 1965) to be more memorable as enemies of Marvel’s mutants. On face value, they only look like oversized, human-like robots but I always find them to be formidable opponents of the X-Men. These machines are not only built with sophisticated technologies, they are able to push the X-Men to their limits during battle.

These anti-mutant robots, by the way, were ranked by IGN at #38 in their Greatest Comic Book Villains chart. Long before that, the Sentinels were the featured anti-heroes in the classic X-Men comic book storyline Days of Future Past and it was no surprise that they were also featured in the 2014 movie X-Men: Days of Future Past.

And then in the early 1990s, the Sentinels were shown in the first episode of the X-Men animated series on television. The said series was also adapted into an “as seen on TV” comic book series by Marvel called X-Men Adventures.

This brings me to this look back at X-Men Adventures #2, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Andrew Wildman.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Morph suffering from a nightmare. As he emerged from the vision, he finds himself with Storm, Beast and Wolverine. Together they work to infiltrate a federal government facility which houses the Mutant Affairs Department. Outside the walls of the facility, Rogue Gambit and Cyclops watch from a distance. Cyclops fires his optic blast at the vehicle that just dropped reinforcements that he believes were sent to stop their teammates.

Storm and her teammates break through a door instantly pushing off the security personnel followed by Beast knocking an additional guard. At the room containing the computer, Beast begins to access key information their team has been seeking…

Quality

The Sentinels and the X-Men!

Let me start with the storytelling. As an adaptation of one of the early episodes of the animated series, this comic book does a fine job of recapturing its essence complete with a nice balance between plot, exposition and spectacle. Considering the fact that the animated series was aimed for children, it’s quite intriguing to see the TV episode carrying really heavy themes – apart from the prejudice the mutants suffer from – like top federal government operations, expensive defense and weapons programs, government intrusion into people’s private lives, attempts to require minorities to get registered, etc. Those themes also made it in this comic book which made it feel like it was part of the mainstream X-Men comics of the time.

Compared to the first episode as well as its literary adaptation, this one emphasizes the Sentinels as tools of the government as part of their very expensive program to seek and monitor mutants among their citizens. Mutant Affairs director Peter Gyrich is clearly the villain who has no super powers but has the resources of the federal government and their authority to take action on mutants he perceived to be dangerous.

On the visuals, Andrew Wildman performed a solid job making each page look interesting and detailed enough. While his drawings made each character recognizable to me, it is in the spectacular scenes where he really shines. Wildman’s drawing of the Watcher on the final page of the comic book, however, looks laughable.

Conclusion

Andrew Wildman’s dynamic drawing of the X-Men in action.

While X-Men Adventures #2 is not exactly a literary classic, it is indeed a very solid adaptation of one of the earliest episodes of the animated series of the 1990s. It succeeded on telling a compelling and enjoyable story even though it emphasized the above-mentioned serious themes. As for the iconic Sentinels, this one succeeded in explaining what they are and their place in Marvel’s universe is.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Adventures #2 (1992), 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 newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, X-Men Adventures #2 (1992) 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 Prototype #12 (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.

Apart from the in-depth storytelling, spectacle and solid characterization consistently delivered by writers Tom Mason and Len Strazewski for the Prototype monthly series of the Ultraverse, I also enjoyed their implementation of corporate intrigue. In fact, the storytelling in issues #7, #8, #9, #10 and #11 also showed corporate intrigue gradually building up leading to something. Without spoiling the story too much, what happened in issue #11 showed a clear change of direction involving Prototype pilots Jimmy Ruiz and Bob Campbell complete with something brewing at Ultratech.

Will the payoff of the corporate intrigue build-up be realized in the next Prototype issue? We can all find out together in this look back at Prototype #12, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Tom Mason and Len Strazewski, and drawn by Roger Robinson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at the Ultratech tower in New York City. At the lobby, Felicia Campbell gently knocks the guard out with an injection and takes control of the security desk to allow Bob Campbell/Ranger and Jimmy Ruiz/Prototype (wearing a “goofy” outfit) to come in and, together, they move to the basement for a certain need (of Jimmy) – the Prototype armor.

Suddenly Ultratech’s newest hire Prototype Mark III fires a blast at Ranger’s back pushing him down and surprising both Jimmy and Dr. Campbell. The dark-armored Prototype Mark III introduces himself to Jimmy as his replacement and states: Ultratech has somebody man enough to do what it takes!

With Bob Campbell beside him, Jimmy recalls that Prototype Mark III was one of the trainees that his boss Leland often flaunted in front of him. What Jimmy finds hard to believe is that one of the trainees was actually placed into an actual Prototype suit…

Quality

Once again, the creative team delivered the great stuff with storytelling, twists, spectacle and suspense all with a high level of quality. This comic book suggests that careful planning on plotting, characterization and intrigue were done by Tom Mason and Len Strazewski with a good amount of care and timing. As for what I mentioned earlier, I do confirm that the payoff for the corporate intrigue build-up has been realized big time and I should state that this comic book’s ending is very powerful (and also enticing for reading the next issue). This one is a smash hit!

This is only a few of the many action scenes that worked nicely with the in-depth story.

Conclusion

Prototype #12 is indeed great, worthy of serving as the anniversary issue (the two words stated on the cover) and as the climax of the first year of its series. For the most part, the series told events of not one but two Prototype pilots (the current one Jimmy Ruiz and the past one Bob Campbell) who eventually got together just as the series’ direction took a solid turn reflecting the changing interests of Ultratech. This one is definitely one of the best Ultraverse comics published in 1994 and it surely proved that the storytellers were not afraid to take risks or move against conventional storytelling (as far as armored superheroes go). Lastly, this comic book encouraged me to look back at issues #0 and #1.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #12 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.

Overall, Prototype #12 (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