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 Mantra #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.

Welcome back superhero geeks, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse! Can’t get enough of Mantra? There is a lot to look forward to in my latest review of the Mantra monthly series of the 1990s under the creative leadership of Mike W. Barr.

In Mantra #8, the male soul in the lady’s body had an encounter with Boneyard’s soldiers in a fantasy-themed amusement park which was a very intriguing setting considering the mysticism the series often used. Will there be another intriguing event that awaits Mantra? Find out in this look back at Mantra #9, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Terry Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Mantra arriving home from battle during the evening. Using magical powers, she instantly changes her clothes to become Eden Blake. As she approaches the entrance, she thought to herself, “It’s hard to believe I’m really a man, wearing the body of Eden Blake. I hope I don’t have to live her life much longer.”

Suddenly a ball of light arrives and Mantra senses it to be an attack. After instantly changing into her armor, she strikes the ball with the sword of fangs, zaps it and watches it fly away. She instantly changes back to Eden Black and enters the home.

Upon entering, she gets a surprise hug by Eden Blake’s old roommate Lila and guy named Jim. Lila reveals that she and Jim are going to get married, and Eden will get to be their maid of honor.

Lukasz, who has been living in Eden’s body for some time now, finds the situation uncomfortable…

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The male warrior Lukasz (occupying Eden Blake’s body) taking part in preparation for Lila’s wedding.

This one has a truly intriguing story about Lukasz struggling not only with being a mother in the body of Eden Blake, but also with dealing with one of Eden’s closest friends in life. It is very cleverly written by Mike W. Barr and the core concept of the story really developed Lukasz/Mantra in a rather refreshing way. In many ways, Lukasz does not find himself trapped by Boneyard’s armed soldiers nor by monsters, rather he finds himself trapped by remnants of Eden’s past (imagine him pretending to remember Eden’s old friends) while dealing with all the pre-wedding preparations. If you expect the usual spectacle of action and sorcery, you will find them here. Who exactly will Mantra fight, that you should find out yourself and there is something here that will convince you to go back reading issue #1.

When it comes to the art, I find it baffling that this one was credited to Terry Dodson. The art here is cartoony in style and Dodson’s art in the first few issues of the Mantra series were more realistic in style, especially with the way people were drawn.  

Conclusion

Some pictures from Eden Blake’s past.

For its story concept alone, Mantra #9 (1994) is an engaging read. I also enjoyed the way this issue connects itself to key details in issues #1, #3 and #5 which encourages re-reading that ultimately will help readers understand the series concept even more. There is also a nice mix of action and drama, and the way the battle concluded is pretty satisfying. Furthermore, the continued development of Mantra is a must-read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #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, Mantra #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 The Strangers #18 (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.

Welcome back Ultraverse fans, superhero enthusiasts and comic book collectors. In this newest return to the Ultraverse originally launched by Malibu Comics and its many talented creators, we will witness what is supposed to be the rise of genuine opposition against The Strangers which was seen building up in issues #16 and #17.

To start with, the character called Pilgrim is quite intriguing being the apparent central figure that wants to smash The Strangers. Along the way, other ultras that opposed the said team end up getting involved with Pilgrim.

Will all these developments lead to the establishment of a powerful force against The Strangers? What can team leader Lady Killer do about it? We can all find out in this retro comic book review of The Strangers #18, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story by Steve Englehart and drawn by Rick Hoberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on sky island. The Pilgrim and his companion appear right next to Zara (one of the members of Yrial’s tribe) telling him, “I am the Pilgrim, Zara! I want you to help me destroy the Strangers!”

Even though the Pilgrim continued to elaborate more on offering him revenge on Yrial, Zara thinks that the foreigner is insane. Zara uses his magic powers while the Pilgrim activates his own special abilities.

Meanwhile on Pier 25, Grenade tries to regain Candy’s trust who recently started distancing herself from him. Grenade decides to let her be but remembered clearly that the division started since the Pilgrim showed up.

Over at Berkeley, the old ultra called Powerhouse looks for a job. Suddenly the Pilgrim appears to him and attempts to recruit him in his quest to destroy the Strangers. Like Zara of sky island, he doubts the Pilgrim, finds him insane and attempts to strike him.

In another location, flying in the air, Yrial tells Spectral that she feels the power of the Pilgrim is closing in on them. Inside the Strangers’ hangout, Bob/Atom Bob and Elena/Lady Killer spend quality time together. Bob expresses worry about the one that wants to destroy them (note: he fought with the Pilgrim in issue #17) and, in response to the lady’s question, he states that his arm is pretty much back to normal thanks to Spectral’s healing green flame. After further talk, Bob asks her, “Will you marry me?”  

Quality

The battle begins!

As expected with the Englehart-Hoberg creative team, the story is fun and engaging to follow from start to finish. For one thing, apart from the rising opposition led by the Pilgrim, the character development for Bob and Elena as well as the rift between Electrocute and Grenade were executed nicely, even serving as a fine build-up before the story shifted into high gear with spectacle. Expect lots of action and banter between the characters fighting. This is one very wordy comic book to read and it sure is worth it!

Behind all the good stuff, there was even room for a nice surprise by the creative team and that is something you must read for yourselves. That alone made this one an intriguing read as well.

Conclusion

The rift between Grenade and Electrocute.

There is no doubt that The Strangers #18 (1994) is a very entertaining comic book to read. Apart from the solid character development and the big bonanza of action, this comic book highlights the effects of the Jumpstart not only the Strangers themselves but also on other people. At this stage, the Pilgrim has evolved into a more meaningful character and he simply cannot be dismissed as just another villain nor another anti-hero.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #18 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.

Overall, The Stranger #18 (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 Ravage 2099 #4 (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.

I’ve been reading more of the work of the late Stan Lee through his contributions for Marvel’s 2099 franchise of the early 1990s. Lee’s comeback into comic book writing with Ravage 2099 #1 turned out to be a big disappointment and his writing style just ended up being outdated by 1992’s standards. Ravage 2099 #2 was a marginal improvement over its predecessor buy was overall still a very weak comic book. Ravage 2099 #3 meanwhile was surprisingly a clear improvement over issue #2 and also happened to be more entertaining and interesting to read. Of the first three issues published, issue #3 proved to be satisfying.

Will there be another improvement on the artistic and entertainment values of the next Ravage 2099 issue in this review? Find out in this look back at Ravage 2099 #4, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Stan Lee and drawn by Paul Ryan.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the island of Hellrock where Ravage is on the run already suffering from the toxic air and only time will tell if ever-present radiation will kill him or turn into a mutroid. Dethstryk’s minions have been hunting him since he started running away from their main forces.

Even though he was able to avoid getting caught by the hunters, Ravage continues to suffer greatly with each passing moment. Despite the pain, he remains determined to fight back and keep moving but his chances of survival keep on fading…

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This is pretty much what you will see of Ravage in this comic book.

To put it short, the story was pretty much about Ravage struggling to survive in a very dangerous location while being hunted. The heroism he had in issue #3 is completely missing and the way Stan Lee wrote this story, the concept is pretty shallow. In fact, even the very weak story of issue #1 has more variety and depth than this one! More on Ravage, even as he struggled and got targeted, there is not much justification to make readers like you feel sympathetic to him especially if you followed Ravage’s so-called development starting in issue #1.

When it comes to plotting, this comic book would have worked better had it been released in the 1970s. It does not help that Stan Lee had to resort to adding fillers to the script by means of recapping lots of scenes from issue #3 (even though he tried to emphasize Dethstryk’s thoughts).

Character development? There is not much here except for Ravage. As for the supporting characters, don’t expect to see much of Tiana and Dack as they did not contribute anything to the shallow story. As for Ravage’s former boss Henton, Stan Lee went ahead to show just how obviously evil he is with nothing new to show (except his virtual reality escapade).

Conclusion

Stan Lee and his creative team lazily resorted to recapping key events that happened in issue #3.

Clearly, Ravage 2099 #4 (1993) falls short from becoming a satisfying read as it paled in comparison to issue #3. That’s too bad because the concept of showing Ravage as a fugitive in the middle of a very dangerous place could have turned into something more interesting and more intriguing. Instead, Ravage ended up being the target of hunters and it was clear that Stan Lee and Paul Ryan dragged the scenes of him struggling and fighting to survive.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #4 (1993), 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 $24.

Overall, Ravage 2099 #4 (1993) is not recommended. If you really want to buy this comic book at all, better not pay more than fifty cents for it.

+++++

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 Mantra #4 (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 Ultraverse fans, geeks and fellow comic book collectors! If you want to discover more of the fantasy elements within the Ultraverse through Mantra – the pretty sorceress whose body is occupied by the soul of a male warrior named Lukasz – then you are in for something rather different.

To put things in perspective, the fantasy-swords-magic concept was made clear in Mantra #1 and that Lukasz and his band of warriors (led by an elder sorcerer) as well as their enemies (led by Boneyard) were definitely from another world. That other world will be explored at last in this look back at Mantra #4, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Roy Phipps.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the world of Boneyard, at his castle specifically. Down on her knees, Mantra is just in front of the villain Boneyard who says, “So this is Archimage’s last, best hope. Just a woman!!”

Boneyard tells Mantra not to rise nor move. As he does not yet know that Lukasz is inside Mantra’s body, Boneyard welcomes her and states that it is his right to choose any woman in his kingdom as his bride. In reaction to being selected as Boneyard’s newest mate with a purpose to potentially give birth to his children, Mantra strikes him with an energy blast symbolically rejecting him.

Boneyard then says, “Enough. I tolerate this dissent because your body carries much potential for magic, woman. It is only your body that saves you from death. Your bewildering loyalty to my defeated brother, Archimage, would ordinarily be enough to condemn you. Your genes, combined with mine will yield children to whom magic comes as easily as taking breath.”

As the villain talks, Mantra notices the sword pointed at her was the same one used to kill her when she was man (as Lukasz). She then makes moves to get Boneyard off-balanced and try to leave the castle…

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Mantra visits the tavern in the kingdom controlled by Boneyard.

I’ll start with the writing. What Mike W. Barr did here successfully was raising the stakes for Mantra which involves the drastic change of location and setting from the modern society of Earth into the fantasy realm where Boneyard and his army are based in. The mentioned change literally opened new opportunities to develop Mantra’s personality while at the same time offered readers a lot of new things and places for their exploration.

With the all-new setting, lots of fantasy genre tropes are present. There is the ever-present tavern filled with lots of people that include humans and non-human beings that go beyond dwarves and elves. There is also the slave auction of both men and women standing almost nakedly in front of the bidders. There also were people wearing capes, hoods, swords, spears and armor which Mantra smoothly blends in with.

Along the way, there is a lot spectacle here mainly acts of magic alternated with hard action moves. The way the spectacle is presented fits in excellently with the fantasy setting and I should state that Roy Phipps did a very solid job visualizing such elements while succeeding in making Mantra, Boneyard, Archimage and Warstrike look recognizable.

Back to the writing, Mike W. Barr prepared a lot of details in the story that explained Boneyard’s nature and even his status as the husband of multiple wives. This comic book also reveals that Boneyard is likely bisexual since, apart from being married to multiple women, he kissed Mantra and lusts for her even AFTER he learned that Lukasz is occupying the woman’s body. His intention to marry Mantra symbolizes homosexuality as well. To put things in perspective, this makes Boneyard very guilty of sexual immorality on top of his wickedness. Refer to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (sexual immorality and homosexuality), Galatians 5:19-21 (sorcery and sexual immorality) and Deuteronomy 17:17 (polygamy) in the Holy Bible.

Conclusion

Boneyard’s intention to marry Mantra (whose body is occupied by the soul of the male eternal warrior Lukasz) and impregnate her to produce his children is disgusting, even more so when the villain knows Lukasz is in Mantra.

To say the least, Mantra #4 (1993) is entertaining enough mainly due to its fantasy setting and exposing key elements about the rivalry between Archimage and Boneyard. This was a daring and refreshing change of pace for Mantra series since the first three issues already emphasized Lukasz’s struggles on living in the body of Eden Blake (note: reincarnation is false and goes against the Holy Bible, read Hebrews 9:27 and Psalm 78:39 for insight) and living with her family as Eden’s soul was pushed into limbo. More notably, this issue shows more of how evil and wicked Boneyard is not simply because of his leading his army of evildoers but also because of his evil-filled nature. By comparison, Lukasz/Mantra is the lesser evil to Boneyard under the pretense of good-versus-evil in the story (which itself concluded in a predictable and underwhelming fashion).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #4 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of comic book costs $8.

Overall, Mantra #4 (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 Mantra #8 (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.

Welcome back, Ultraverse fans and superhero comic collectors! Today, we will revisit the Mantra monthly series again and it has been almost two weeks since my last Mantra review. For the newcomers reading this, Mantra’s mortal enemy is Boneyard who got involved in the Mantra-Strangers crossover (refer to The Strangers #13 and Mantra #12).

Before those mentioned stories took place, something else happened involving Boneyard. That is what we will find out in this look back at Mantra #8, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by John Statema (who was involved in UltraForce #2).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in an unknown location with Boneyard who commands Notch to speak as his patience dwindles. Notch states that he has devised a plane to capture the ever elusive Mantra (male warrior Lukasz occupying the body of Eden Blake) involving a betrayal by a friend. Notch requests for a few troops and the custody of the creature in cell 13. Boneyard reacts by saying that if Notch succeeds, he will have Mantra after she has borne an offspring for him )Boneyard). Failure would mean Notch will become occupant of cell 14.

Elsewhere Warstrike (riding with a lady) drives his car fast getting away from the car of armed men chasing him. The chase ends with a crash of two cars freeing Warstrike. Some time later, Warstrike arrives home and to his surprise, Mantra is already there. He gets kissed by Mantra (emphasizing a touch of homosexuality) and asked about a change of her attitude. As it turns out, the Mantra who made sexual advances to him transforms into a grotesque creature with lots of tentacles. Warstrike then realizes it was not really Mantra at all. Eventually, the creature wraps itself all over Warstrike. Notch suddenly appears and blows a substance to him.

The next morning, Eden Blake/Mantra arrives at the office catching everyone’s attention due to her beauty and sexy outfit. Eden suddenly notices that everyone around looks like Warstrike. Suspecting that what is happening is the manifestation of magic, she goes to her office to find answers…

Quality

Even though she has magic, Mantra still is physically weaker which Lukasz has trouble adjusting with.

Getting straight to the point with regards to the story, this one has a nice mix of action, intrigue, suspense and the search for answers. It also pays attention to the very awkward alliance between Mantra and Warstrike. Warstrike was the last person to have killed Lukasz in his male form which led to him getting reincarnated as Eden Blake (displacing Eden’s soul) and in this story, you will see he even has sexual interest with her even though he knows Lukasz is occupying that beautiful body. This comic book also shows how powerful a villain Boneyard is and how his soldiers are willing to do his commands. With regards to the locations, I should state that the use of a fantasy-themed amusement park in the story is an excellent concept to emphasize this comic book’s fantasy elements.

When it comes to the art, it is no surprise that John Statema did a pretty good job in capturing the looks of Mantra and the related characters, and his pacing of the visuals is similar to that of Terry Dodson. Statema worked on several other Ultraverse comic books including The Solution #6 which looked great and his art really brought the script to life. Mantra, Boneyard, Warstrike and other relevant characters look recognizable with Statema’s style. The artist also excelled in drawing fantasy visual elements like magic, swords, armor, monsters, etc.

Conclusion

Eden Blake is the center of attention at the office.

I can clearly say that Mantra #8 (1994) is an entertaining comic book to read. It has a self-contained story that is very well told and John Statema’s art made it a lively read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #8 (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, Mantra #8 (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 Ravage 2099 #3 (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, Marvel 2099 fans and superhero comic book geeks! Are you ready for another trip into the high-tech future of Marvel’s comic book universe through the storytelling of the late Stan Lee? This is about the 3rd issue of the Ravage 2099 monthly series.

For the newcomers reading this, Ravage is an original character co-created by Stan Lee and artist Paul Ryan for the 2099 universe of Marvel Comics. By comparison, 2099 started in the 1990s with its own versions of Spider-Man, Dr. Doom and the Punisher. As such, Ravage stood out simply because he was different from them and that includes being idiotic and chaotic as a lead character.

Having already reviewed the first two issues (read my recent review), it became clear to me that Ravage started to deteriorate as a person even as he strived hard in doing what he thought was right. There are two established villains in the story and so far, Ravage does not look any different from them since he proved to be so chaotic, he became a danger not only to the thugs but also to law enforcers. As such, he is a danger to the public.

To find out if anything will improve creatively and artistically, here is a look back at Ravage 2099 #3, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Stan Lee and drawn by Paul Ryan.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins moments after Alchemax forces abducted Tiana from Ravage and Dack who find themselves busy with armed enemies on the street. The young Dack got hit by a gun blast. Somehow, Dack was brought to the nearest medical facility for treatment and placed in a medi-cell for questioning.

Already alone in the room, Dack is trapped and a bearded man delivering some candy arrives. It turns out it is Ravage in disguise and he wanted to make sure the youth was fine. Dack tells reveals that he was question for hours. Ravage updates Dack that Tiana was probably half-way to Hellrock, and he intends to get her back.

Meanwhile, armed personnel spot Ravage on surveillance video and rush to get him…

Quality

Most likely the portrayal of Tiana being helpless will turn off radical feminists and SJWs reading this.

To put things straight, this particular story has a retro vibe which reminds me of certain sci-fi and adventure comic books of the 1950s to the 1970s. This is not surprising given Stan Lee’s own style of plotting and writing. Like in issue #2, creative baggage was less of a hindrance and this allowed Lee and Paul Ryan to craft another action-hero tale that is straightforward and easier to follow. Unlike the previous issue, this one has stakes raised near the end of the story which is refreshing and it also involves a nice change of location. Compared to how he acted in issue #2, Ravage here begins to act more heroic and showed willingness to sacrifice something to help someone. He still is a chaotic person to be with, only this time he is in the company of a different kind of walking characters. To say the least, this story is an improvement over its predecessor.

Conclusion

Ravage in action inside Dak’s medi-cell.

I can say that Ravage 2099 #3 (1993) is surprisingly a satisfying read. It definitely is not great but the traditional elements of sci-fi, action adventure storytelling lifted its quality. It should be noted that the act of heroism on the part of Ravage begins here and the predicted rivalry between him and the villain Dethstryk (who looks generic as the leader of a band of baddies) finally starts.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #3 (1993), 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 $24.

Overall, Ravage 2099 #3 (1993) is satisfactory. That being said, I don’t recommend spending any more than $1 for it.

+++++

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

A Look Back at The Strangers #17 (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.

Welcome back, Ultraverse fans and superhero comic book collectors! We are about to return to the Ultraverse through The Strangers. Before doing so, I’d like to discuss one of their members named Elena La Brava AKA Lady Killer. Before the big incident that changed her life and those of her eventual teammates riding the cable car in San Francisco, Elena worked professionally as a fashion designer. She is quite resourceful, brave and organized. Apart from proving to be a very valuable member of the team, she has the special ability to track and this results helping her hit what she aims for. As seen in previous issues leading to issue #16, she has been romantically linked with Atom Bob and has struggled also on leading the team.

With those details mentioned, it’s now time to look back at The Strangers #17, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Rick Hoberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at the headquarters of The Strangers. Spectral arrives late and apologizes to his teammates who are already feeling disturbed by the Pilgrim. Lady Killer makes an issue about Spectral’s tardiness and reminds him he has not seen the Pilgrim as he was absent. Spectral replied emotionally stressing that he had to attend to his private life.

When asked about the Pilgrim, Grenade replies that nobody knows who their antagonist is. In recent times, the team faced off with various costumed individuals in two encounters and the Pilgrim appeared each time and took them with him. Each time, the Pilgrim swore he would continue to get back at The Strangers until he builds up a team large enough to oppose them.

Knowing that the Pilgrim will keep coming back at her team, Lady Killer states she has a plan…

Quality

The start of a pretty solid battle between the Pilgrim and Atom Bob.

The writing for this comic book is, as expected, very strong and undoubtedly it is a great follow-up to what happened in issue #16. Instead of just another encounter between The Strangers and another antagonist which turns into an opportunity for the Pilgrim to come out and do his thing, this one has a lot more compelling stuff backed with surprise and intrigue.

Before the big conflict happened, this comic book showed more of Lady Killer’s intelligence and her ability to organize something that is believable to read. Atom Bob, who missed out on the battle of issue #16, is more involved in this comic book and his battle with the Pilgrim was not only heavy on the spectacle but also showed more of his capabilities and his willingness to achieve something.

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of what I would call the usual visual goodness from artist Rick Hoberg here. He continued to show a consistent high level of quality when drawing the characters, their expressions and making the superhero action scenes look spectacular.

Conclusion

The Strangers meeting early.

The Strangers #17 (1994) is a very good read and what I love about it is that it further added to the build-up of the growing opposition against The Strangers while at the same time developing the core characters more. You will see more of Lady Killer’s leadership values here and eventually, you’ll admire her more. I should state that Rafferty, a serial killer in the Ultraverse, had a notable presence in this comic book and added some impact to the plot.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #17 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.

Overall, The Strangers #17 (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 #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

A Look Back at The Strangers #16 (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.

Welcome back Ultraverse fans, geeks and comic book collectors! Here is another trip back into the Ultraverse, which for me is the most defining line of superhero comics that was realized in the 1990s. The UV lasted for only a few years and along the way publisher Malibu Comics got acquired by Marvel Comics.

History aside, we are about to explore The Strangers again in the sixteenth issue of the monthly series that was spearheaded mainly by the creative duo of Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg. Here is a look back at The Strangers #16, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Englehart and drawn by Hoberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in a local community in California wherein one of the houses is hosting a block party. Already a disturbance to the neighbors (note: police officers had to temporarily close down a short stretch of the public road and restricted others from getting near), the said party offers people a chance to meet in person Atom Bob who has his teammates with him.

During a private meeting, The Strangers discuss what they encountered lately (note: this refers to their encounters with Gangsta and Brazen. Also involved was someone called the Pilgrim. As they keep talking, Lady Killer stressed that they all need to be ready for further encounters.

Meanwhile in the downtown area of the city, three costumed characters (who previously road a cable car just like The Strangers) are plotting something…

Quality

Meet the opposition.

Let me start first with the art done by Rick Hoberg with ink work by Tim Eldred. I should state that since issue #1, Hoberg not only drew characters, places, creatures and backgrounds with his captivating style, he also maintained a high level of quality and proved he can bring any comic book script into life with images. His art is so good, this comic book is fun reading again and again. I should also state that the coloring for this story is very lively and more dream-like in style thanks to the color design by Moose Baumann and interior color by Prisms.

When it comes to the story, this comic book’s concept is pretty unique and Steve Englehart deserves credit for coming up with something fresh while still leaving room for spectacle and characterization. The idea of a block party held in the middle of a community of family homes celebrating the presence of superheroes is cool and it opened up new ways to define the characters not to mention emphasizing how their presence affects people not on the city level but on the local community! Having worked as a local community newspaper journalist myself, I know what’s it like when local communities have special activities or events that bring together (or captivate) the neighbors. Along the way, the dialogue is varied (note: lots of characters other than The Strangers had lines), the portrayal of The Strangers is consistent and the story’s pace flowed smoothly.

Speaking of characterization, there is notable focus on Atom Bob and Lady Killer who already have feelings for each other. As the home of Atom Bob’s family serves as the venue of the party, you will get to see the character interact with the local neighbors and others he personally knew for a long time which is a very refreshing way of developing him. Lady Killer meanwhile tries to maintain balance between being the team’s professional leader and having feelings for Atom Bob while trying to respect his parents.

And then there is a growing group of ultras who intend to destroy The Strangers. It was at this stage in The Strangers monthly series in which a genuine opposition against the title team really started to take shape. The good news is that the Pilgrim and the other opposing ultras were not portrayed as generic bad guys but people who are struggling and have a cause.

Conclusion

The Strangers and the guests at the party.

There is no doubt that The Strangers #16 (1994) is a whole lot of fun, very compelling and intriguing to read from start to finish. Anyone who loves the title team will find something to enjoy and follow, while those who keep on enjoying the conflict between good-and-evil will find something new and entertaining here. Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg not only continued to deliver high-quality superhero stories with The Strangers, they really were one of the best creative duos of the 1990s.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #16 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.

Overall, The Strangers #16 (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