A Look Back at Harbinger #11 (1992)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the early 1990s and explore a part of the Valiant Comics shared universe through the Harbinger monthly series.

In my previous retro review, Sting, Faith, Kris and Flamingo finally arrived home after spending many months away during the events of Unity. While so much time had passed for them, very little time on Earth actually moved forward. At this stage, getting back to normal living was inevitable even though they still have a conflict with the Harbinger foundation.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #11, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written and drawn by David Lapham. This comic book marks takes place after the end of Unity.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Faith telling Kris and Sting that she’s about to go to a big job interview. While the two conversed, Faith notices a blimp floating in the sky. To her, it seems that it has floated up there really long.

After being reminded of their planned meeting with Shatiqua, Faith flies off into the city for the job interview at a local business called Comics Jungle. Kris then approaches Flamingo whom she notices to be sounding down. Flamingo states that she has been thinking about the late Torque (father of the baby Kris had) and expresses her concern about the possibility of Shatique joining their team. Flamingo adds that she does not think they will ever get safe…

Quality

Faith and Shatiqua interact.

To begin with, this story marked artist David Lapham’s first time to write a Harbinger tale. Building up on what happened in the late stage of the previous issue, Lapham utilized H.A.R.D. Corps (already one of the established regular titles of Valiant Comics) for the Valiant universe crossover element. The good news here is that Lapham made good use of portraying H.A.R.D. Corps as the focused covert operations team that just so happens to be tracking Sting whom they perceive to be very powerful and too dangerous to be left free in society. This aspect of the story brings up parallels between H.A.R.D. Corps and the sinister Harbinger foundation which instantly blurred the line that separates good and evil.

As I don’t want to spoil the plot, I can confirm that as I read the comic book until the end, I literally felt the vibrations of change happening in the sense that a new direction for the Habinger series was materializing.

When it comes to the characters, Lapham did a good job developing the main characters while also shedding a good amount of the narrative on H.A.R.D. Corps’ members. There is a lot of characters to see but the good thing is that the narrative was not overwhelmed by the exposition and multiple speaking parts.

Conclusion

While Faith goes to the city comic book store for her job interview, Kris, Sting and Flamingo discuss internal matters not knowing they are being targeted.

Harbinger #11 (1992) delivers a fine mix of crossover, spectacle (note: lots to enjoy here) and characterization that also succeeds in telling its own concept while giving readers a hint of what changes could come soon to Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris. With Lapham as the new writer, the story is surprisingly very good and engaging to read. You will see a lot of entertaining elements from the previous issues within this comic book with some new intrigue added that made this particular Harbinger tale fresh to read. Lastly, I should say that the addition of H.A.R.D. Corps really added some depth into the story and the spectacle.

Overall, Harbinger #11 (1992) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Harbinger #8 (1992)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the early 1990s and explore a part of the Valiant Comics shared universe through the Harbinger monthly series.

In my previous retro review, Sting, Faith, Kris and Flamingo struggled with the completely unexpected new reality that their teammate Torque had died. As they mourned, Toyo Harada and his foundation just kept on operating and preparing themselves for a future conflict with the protagonists. Harada specifically perceives Sting as the most dangerous object for his organization to deal with.  

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #8, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by David Lapham.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on April 4, 1992 inside the nice home of Dr. Heyward. There, Heyward, his wife and their two kids are enjoying the company of Faith, Sting and Flamingo. Upstairs, Kris could not fit jeans as she has gained weight. Heyward’s wife Moni arrives, offers her new clothes to wear and shares with her some insight about being in a relationship.

After dinner, Sting and Dr. Heyward have a nice chat with drinks. At the kitchen, Kris and Moni begin to talk about pregnancy with Flamingo present. As soon as Kris says that she is thinking about asking Dr. Heyward about getting an abortion, Flamingo tells her not to do it as the baby inside her all that is left of their dead teammate Torque.

Just as Kris begins to play dumb and divert attention away, a weirdly dressed teenager suddenly appears inside the home. He identifies himself as Geoff McHenry the geomancer…

Quality

Faith collects and then flies high for a grand view.

To get straight to the point, this issue of Harbinger is easily the wildest story I’ve read in this series and for a very obvious reason – it is part of the Unity crossover storyline that established the Valiant Comics universe’s overall concept. For the newcomers reading this, Unity was published in 1992 composed of eighteen chapters – beginning with Unity #0 – which saw story parts told in issues of other Valiant titles like Eternal Warrior, Archer & Armstrong, Magnus Robot Fighter, X-O Manowar, Rai and Solar Man of the Atom.

That being said, the story here is not only wilder than ever but also really went higher with its flight of fantasy which really impacted the protagonists. In her, Sting, Faith, Flamingo and even the pregnant Kris get recruited to join what turned out to be a major battle waged by a group of adult heroes (Solar, Eternal Warrior, Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Rai and others) against Erica Pierce (the Mothergod) who is obsessed with destroying the universe as she wield immense power.

More on the plot, the transition of Sting and his teammates going into battle on an unknown realm progressed very smoothly which surprised me. As there are lots of battle scenes and other forms of superhero spectacle to see, the creative team managed to maintain a compelling narrative that moved at a medium pace which makes following the exploits of the powered teenagers easy to do. Sure, you get to see the other Valiant Comics heroes share the spotlight in this comic book but Sting and his teammates are the clear protagonists.

Even though there are lots of battle scenes, Jim Shooter still succeeded in setting up a good amount of character development scenes which resulted in clear development of Sting and Kris. Not only that, Shooter convincingly captured the impulse of youth and the false sense of maturity on the part of Sting who at this point has to take special care of Kris, think about the future of becoming a father while dealing with pressure from the other Valiant superheroes who need him to really advance against Erica Pierce. This comic book’s script is very strong and richly layered!

Conclusion

Sting and his teammates stand along with the other heroes of the Valiant Comics universe.

Being the eight chapter of the Unity crossover storyline, Harbinger #8 (1992) has this almost perfect mix of the epic superhero conflict, spectacle and characterization while maintaining sufficient focus on the exploits Sting, Faith, Kris and Flamingo. At this point of the monthly series, Sting (note: whose immense power was portrayed here) and Kris are preparing themselves for the future while failing to realize they are not really mature enough to deal with both the anticipated parenthood and the Unity conflict at hand. This comic book is a must-read as it works excellently both as a standalone story as well as a chapter of Unity. That being said, I’m looking forward to the next issue already.

Overall, Harbinger #8 (1992) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

George Perez (1954-2022)

George Perez, the incredible comic book artist who made major contributions to illustrated literature (especially the superhero comic book genre), sadly passed away due to complications related to pancreatic cancer. He was 67-years-old and I can say that superhero comic book art and dynamic expressions will not be the same without him.

George Perez with the two Wonder Woman plastic models. (photo source – DC Comics Facebook page)

Already there were comic book industry figures who reacted to the death of the legendary Perez. DC Comics co-publisher and legendary creator Jim Lee paid tribute stating, “We creators may all have access to the same tools of the trade: pen, paper and imagination, but what George could do with his prodigious talents was off the charts.”

For his part, Rob Liefeld stated, “I’ll remember George for his innovative and prolific storytelling. Thank you for all the great memories. Rest In Peace, George Perez.”

For the newcomers reading this as well as those who are simply unaware of Perez’s legacy, he was responsible for visualizing DC Comics’ 1985 epic maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths (note: he drew countless characters complete with varied settings or environments in high detail) and redefining Wonder Woman (note: he also wrote the stories) which made her a more essential pop culture icon. George Perez also worked for Marvel Comics over many projects and was chosen to illustrate the memorable 2003 JLA/Avengers crossover series of Marvel and DC. Perez also worked with other publishers such as Malibu Comics for several Ultraverse comic books and Image Comics for Crimson Plague and Witchblade. In recent years, he was responsible for Sirens published by BOOM! Studios.

For me, Wonder Woman was best defined during the post-Crisis era of DC Comics which involved George Perez and Len Wein who wrote the early issues of the Wonder Woman monthly series in the late 1980s.

In his decades-long career in comics, Perez unsurprisingly earned varied awards and honors (references here, here, here and here to name a few).

I should say that George Perez is a long-time favorite comic book illustrator of mine. I enjoyed reading the superhero comic books he illustrated and I love his art style on the characters, the environments and crowds. If there is anything I love about Perez’s art, it is his distinct style along with his implementation of high levels of details on the characters, objects, creatures and surroundings. Perez is also known to capture the distinct visual elements of superhero characters such as Spider-Man’s costume and his spaghetti-like web, Superman’s physique and distinct letter S, Prime’s overly muscular body and more. Every time Perez is involved as artist, the result is almost always a visual feast that often adds punch to the script prepared.

When I was still actively collecting comic books back in the 1990s, I often get excited whenever I learned that George Perez illustrated upcoming comic books. In 1992, he drew Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect (2 books) which was mind-blowing and intriguing for me! In 1993, I became a fan of the newly launched Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and I got very excited to learn that Perez was hired for their major UV crossover Break-Thru (2 issues). Perez also drew one issue of Prime and most of the early issues of the UV team UltraForce (issues #0, #1, #3, #4, #5 and #6). If you want to see Perez draw ALL the characters of the Ultraverse, you should read the 2-issue Break-Thru storyline.

A page from Break-Thru #2 showing just some of the many Ultraverse characters Perez illustrated. This was published before the release of UltraForce.

Speaking of UltraForce, check out this video by Crypto Comics (with observations on Perez’s art works)…

Going back to George Perez’s amazing run on Wonder Woman, I urge you to watch the video below…

For me, the most defining stories of Wonder Woman ever told in any art form are still the comics that Perez wrote (note: he co-wrote stories with Greg Potter and Len Wein respectively on the early issues) and illustrated during the post-Crisis era of DC Comics. Check out my retro reviews of Wonder Woman 1980s comics on this website.

Truly, George Perez will be missed by a lot of people and his countless pieces of works will be revisited in the foreseeable future. In closing this piece, posted below are varied works (comic book covers and interior art) done by the late creator through the decades for your viewing pleasure and learning. This is a tribute to Perez and may he rest in peace!

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Note: All images shown are properties of their respective companies.

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

A Look Back at Dazzler #24 (1983)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1983 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

As seen in the cover of the next Dazzler comic book I reviewed, the lady has Power Man and Iron Fist with her. In short, there is a crossover within Marvel Comics’ universe just waiting to be unveiled. Who exactly will Dazzler, Power Man and Iron Fist be facing? What kind of situation are they entering into?

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #24, published by Marvel Comics in 1983 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by the late Frank Springer.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Rogue (of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) breaking through the front door of the apartment of Alison Blaire who remains her target. She realizes that Dazzler is absent which is inconvenient as she believes that the singer is key in her quest to find Angel and the rest of the X-Men. Rogue makes a mess of Alison’s things in the apartment and decides to wait for her to return.

A short time later, Alison is approached by her friend Frank on her way home. He tells her that someone broke into her apartment and made a mess inside. Realizing that the trespasser is none other than Rogue (note: they encountered each other in Dazzler #22) and that she alone does not have much of a chance in fighting her, she calls Power Man and Iron Fist for their professional help…

Quality

Alison Blaire desperately getting away from Rogue.

To begin with, this is one action-packed tale of Dazzler that still manages to emphasize the development of the protagonist and her newly formed bond with her half-sister Lois (who appeared a short time before this comic book was released). As a crossover set within the Marvel Comics universe, Danny Fingeroth’s story makes mention of the X-Men as Rogue continues her quest on getting Dazzler to get to Angel in order to find Charles Xavier’s team which is all part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutant’s lust for revenge. Along the way, readers will get to see Rogue take on Power Man and Iron Fist (note: these two met with Dazzler in Dazzler #23) which was fun to see.

More on Dazzler herself, the stakes are raised again as she not only has to survive encountering Rogue but also of the fact that the powerful Brotherhood of Evil Mutants member becomes aware of Lois. I should state that there are two encounters between Dazzler and Rogue here, and each one was entertaining to read.

Conclusion

Alison Blaire plus Power Man and Iron Fist.

Dazzler #24 (1983) is a Marvel crossover tale which the creators made to add some action-packed variety while telling the story of Dazzler. That being said, the dramatic character development that this comic book series was notable for was lightened a bit to make way for the superhero spectacle. Not only does this comic book provide readers additional insight into the duo of Power Man and Iron Fist, it also showed some development about the conflict between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Ultimately, this is one old and fun comic book to have.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #24 (1983), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $57 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $113.

Overall, Dazzler #24 (1983) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (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 enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under the Image Comics label – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!

While the 3rd and 4th issues of the WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams mini-series had Lee’s superhero team crossing over with Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood, a bigger crossover was agreed upon with Image Comics co-founder Marc Silvestri – Killer Instict! This marked a creative collaboration between Lee and Silvestri resulting a multiple issue crossover between WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force. For clarification, I already mentioned in my retro review of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993) that its story was the first chapter of the 4-part Killer Instinct crossover. For your reference, Killer Instinct’s 2nd and 4 chapters were published as Cyber Force issues #2 and #3 of its regular series under Marc Silverstri. This WildC.A.T.S retro review is about the 3rd chapter of Killer Instinct.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins somewhere in the skies above Gamorra, off the coast of the Philippines! Stryker, the Cyber Force member with three cybernetic right arms, communicates with his teammates and tells them that if half of what Misery said is true about the new Cyberdata S.H.O.C.S., they’re in for a nasty fight and they have to hit the ground.

Stryker, Impact, Heatwave, Velocity and Ripclaw jump off their high-tech jet (which has Cyblade and Misery inside) and land safely. Using his enhanced ability of smell, Ripclaw begins detecting tracks of what they are look for.

Meanwhile at the back of the Isle of the Dead, a high-tech craft arrives with three passengers who are prepared to do a drug deal. Slowly, someone bleeding and with blades on his hands climbs into the craft surprising the passengers. He takes control of the craft, throws the passengers off and leaves.

As Cyber Force starts its ground search with Misery advising them while carefully using her telepathy on them. As Stryker enters a ravaged high-tech place, his sensors detect nothing and yet his instincts tell him something is present nearby. Standing near him is Spartan of WildC.A.T.S…

Quality

In this encounter between Grifter and Heatwave, do you notice something lacking visually?

I’ll start with the very obvious purpose of this comic book. After the build-up done in the first two chapters of the Killer Instinct storyline, this story serves as the start of what turned out to be the big pay-off as WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force members finally got together with an action-packed battle to kick things off. From a storytelling view point, this one is mainly a WildC.A.T.S versus Cyber Force tale with really nice match-ups between their members such as Spartan-Stryker, Cyblade-Zealot and Maul-Impact to name a few. These match-ups and fights are excellently drawn by Jim Lee and I really enjoyed his own artistic visuals of Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force.

More on the plot, it is pretty simple in concept and structure. The members of the two teams get to fight each other which gets the attention of Skywatch which itself has vested interest with the operations of Stormwatch (note: this is within the WildStorm lore) and the secret facility on that blew up (as seen in WildC.A.T.S #5). Misery remains the key factor in the story and in this tale, she gets to guide and manipulate Cyber Force to find something valuable while Warblade remains mostly absent. Apart from the battles, the absent Voodoo, Void and Jacob Marlowe have their respective spotlights mainly for the character developments as well as reminding readers about the continuing Kherubim-Daemonite conflict.

The quality of the writing is serviceable and the way I look at this comic book, it is mainly driven by spectacle and match-ups. The amount of crossover action is of top-notch quality (note: Jim Lee apparently missed out on key details while drawing Heatwave in a scene with Grifter) and clearly Jim Lee planned the visuals carefully. While there is little character development here, the ironic thing is that Misery (note: visually she is a wicked version of Jean Grey of the X-Men) is the one who gets a good chunk of the said development. Not only does she become a force in the minds of Cyber Force members, she also has her intimate moments with Ripclaw which is a reminder to readers that they have a shared past together (note: this will resonate more with those who read Cyber Force #2 of the regular series).

Conclusion

This is how Cyber Force looks like as drawn by Jim Lee.

To make things clear, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994) will strongly appeal to the respective fans of WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force, to the readers who love high-quality superhero action, and to those who simply enjoy superhero crossover stories. While it is not a surprise that this comic book has great visuals, the writing this time clearly lacks depth and I really felt that the dialogue and text descriptions were done mainly to fit the obvious spectacle-led concept. If you are the kind of reader who wants storytelling and characterization prioritized in an action-packed crossover comic book, this one might not satisfy you. Ultimately, this one is a fun read even though the quality of the writing does not even come close to the quality of the visuals.  

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90. The near-mint copy of the silver cover edition costs $300.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under Image Comics – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!

For the newcomers reading this, I recently completed reviewing the 4-issue mini-series (read my retro reviews here, here, here and here), the first issue of which was one of the launch titles published under Image Comics’ banner through Malibu Comics. Back in 2020, I reviewed issue #5 which itself was highly unusual as it marked the beginning of what was back then the regular series of WildC.A.T.S (note: starting a brand new comic book series is often done with a new issue #1). WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #5 was conveniently part of the build-up for the Killer Instinct storyline that had featured Jim Lee’s creations crossing over with Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6, published by Image Comics in 1993 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the WildC.A.T.S flying in their high-tech aircraft and observing the large explosion which marked the destruction of a top-secret research facility. Their teammate Warblade was left behind which concerns Grifter and Voodoo. Spartan says it is too risky for them to move close to the site of destruction for Warblade as their electronic counter measure and identification systems have been lost due to the explosion. Spartan also told them team that they need to fly away before the Gamorran security forces arrive.

They are too late, however, as three high-tech aircrafts of Gamorra have arrived to take them down. One of them launched several missiles at the WildC.A.T.S aircraft causing Spartan to tell Grifter to redirect all power to their shields.

As hard as he tried, Spartan could only fly their shielded jet to dodge the first four missiles and absorbing the impact of two missiles before getting hit by the other missiles launched by the other two enemy aircrafts.

While their jet got destroyed into pieces, the WildC.A.T.S managed to survive the explosion only to see themselves falling helplessly in the air. As Spartan catches Voodoo, Grifter warns him abou the incoming Gamorran aircraft…

Quality

The team but without Jacob Marlowe, Warblade, Voodoo and Void at this point of the story.

To begin with, this comic book is very much like its predecessors – a very action-packed tale laced with the occasional character moments for fun while having little room left for character development. If there is any notable change in the way this comic book’s story was told, it is the detective work done collectively by key members of WildC.A.T.S followed by exposition dumps here and there. The detective work and exposition were done primarily to add to the build-up of the crossover with Cyber Force with the revelation of a love triangle from the past involving Misery (who gave Grifter a lot of trouble in issue #5), Warblade and Ripclaw (from the other team).

As with Jim Lee’s past works, the action here is highly charged and there is a lot of spectacle to enjoy most of the way. By the time this comic book got published, the respective capabilities of the WildC.A.T.S team members have already been established and the creators pushed the creative limits further on showing what else could the main characters do as envisioned by Jim Lee. There is even this 4-page sequence showing Grifter and Zealot infiltrating one of the Gamorran aircrafts and having lots of banter along the way which was fun to read. Considering the lack of space for character development, the creators made up for it somewhat with the dialogue.

As this is the first chapter of the Killer Instinct crossover storyline, the build-up for it is not really that engaging to me personally. While Ripclaw was already established as a major Cyber Force character and Warblade was a visible yet not so dominating as a member of WildC.A.T.S, the establishment of the personal connection between them through Misery (the woman right in the middle) is just not so strong. Not even a huge exposition dump about the past could have strengthened the background. It would have been more helpful had Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri agreed to publish a prequel comic book (or pages inserted into a few comic books of WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force) about Warblade-Misery-Ripclaw in the past as a prelude to Killer Instinct. More on Misery herself, I could not help but think of her as a distorted and more wicked version of the X-Men’s Jean Grey complete with long red hair.

Conclusion

Grifter and Zealot infiltrate a Gamorran aircraft.

WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993) is another fun comic book to read filled with a lot of stuff that Jim Lee fans love to see again and again. As the opening chapter of Killer Instinct, the creators did the best they could to establish Misery as an important antagonist who happens to have been personally involved with Warblade and Ripclaw some years back. Sadly, the Warblade-Misery-Ripclaw triangle establishment is not so engaging and looked more like an afterthought. Still, this comic book’s story is not brainless and expanded the lore of the WildStorm universe a bit more. There is more good stuff than bad ones which make this worth reading.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $20 while the near-mint copies of gold cover edition and newsstand edition cost $300 and $60 respectively.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #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 superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the early days of Image Comics through Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams comic book franchise which was one of the launch titles of the said company.

Last time around, I reviewed the 2nd issue of WildC.A.T.S. which literally had more meat in its storytelling as the required introductions of the core characters were over. Issue #2 had some really nice revelations as it helped expand the WildStorm universe a bit more and it was intriguing to see International Operations (I/O) emphasized more as the mini-series established the Kherubim-Daemonite conflict.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3, published by Image Comics through Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside the top-secret research facility of SDI with Maul holding a Daemonite disguised as US Vice President Dan Quayle off the ground with Spartan and Voodoo near him. The problem they have, however, is that the Youngblood team is facing them ready to fight. Shaft of Youngblood demands the release of the Vice President.

With his massive build, Maul lets go of the Vice President and hits Diehard sparking a battle between his team and Youngblood. Shaft tells his teammates that as they fight the three WildC.A.T.S, he wants them alive. The impostor Vice President Quayle tells Youngblood to kill them all.

After Diehard and Badrock knock off Maul, Chapel fires several blasts at Spartan to separate him from the impostor. Shaft then fires an arrow that generates disruptive sound which prevents Voodoo from executing her power.

Elsewhere within the facility, Grifter, Jacob Marlowe, Warblade, Void and Zealot quietly make their way to the control center where the Daemonite leader Helspont is overseeing secret operations…

Quality

You love Jim Lee-style action, you will find a lot to enjoy in this comic book.

Starting with the storytelling, this one is expectedly a natural progression from issue #2 but the key difference is that the pace moved much faster as there was more emphasis on action and visual splendor. Along the way another sub-plot was dramatized complete with the showing of additional characters Attica, Slag, HARM and their superior who are after a key object that happens to be a crucial part of Helspont’s operation. The way the script was written, the narrative was told in a disciplined manner even though the pace was faster and the creators had to integrate Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood which resulted one of the earliest Image Comics crossovers that unfortunately did not justify the fancy cover art. Given the addition of Youngblood, the mentioned sub-plot and the way the script was made, there was clearly no room left for character development. In my experience, re-reading this comic book’s story was fun and engaging enough.

As this story was action-packed, fans of Jim Lee will surely enjoy what he presented here. Even by today’s standards, the art and presentation of the spectacle is great to see! Personally, I like Jim Lee’s visual take on Youngblood (except that I still find Rob Liefeld’s drawing of Chapel more detailed) and the short-but-sweet battle between the two superhero teams is quite a spectacle. In terms of visual details, Lee drew the characters and environment with a lot of detail all throughout. There were no signs of rushed art here.

Conclusion

The battle between three WildC.A.T.S members and Youngblood begins!

As mentioned earlier, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3 (1993) is pretty entertaining and engaging. Compared to issue #2, this one has a lot more action and the narrative moved at a faster pace without becoming brainless. At the same time, there is a clear feeling that the stakes were raised as the WildC.A.T.S made their moves in what is clearly their final objective as a team. Also a factor here is the continued emphasis on the Kherubim-Daemonite war which was executed well. More on Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood being involved in the story, this results the illusion that Image Comics back then had a shared universe (note: read the legal stuff on the bottom of the credits). The crossover done here was more of an experiment done to emphasize the cooperation between Jim Lee and Liefeld as they were co-founders of Image.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the gimmick cover edition costs $20 while the near-mint copies of newsstand edition and the signed editions cost $60 each.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (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.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we will take a look back at a certain crossover comic book that involved both Marvel Comics and DC Comics published in the mid-1990s. On my part, it’s been some time since I last reviewed a Marvel-DC crossover comic book. That being said, you can read about my retro comic book reviews of Batman versus The Incredible Hulk and Superman and Spider-Man on this website.

For this new retro review, we will focus on the 1995 crossover that brought two of Marvel and DC’s icons together for the first time – Spider-Man and Batman! To put things in perspective, the 1990s still remembered as the decade when Bane broke Batman’s back while the publishing of Spider-Man comic books became highly controversial with the Spider-Clone Saga. In the 1995 crossover produced the two comic book giants, Spider-Man and Batman are presented in their classic identities as Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds published in 1995 by Marvel Comics and DC Comics with a story written by J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Mark Bagley.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a nightmare in which Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben got shot by an armed man in the presence of Aunt May inside their home. Immediately Spider-Man arrives and grabs the man by the neck. The armed man creepily laughs and his face suddenly turns into the Joker. Peter Parker wakes up in bed with Mary Jane on his side. After a short talk with his wife, Peter decides to leave their apartment and swing around the city as Spider-Man.

In another nightmare, a very young Bruce Wayne witnesses the death of his parents caused by a man with a gun. He suddenly turns into Batman and grabs the gunman by the neck. The gunman suddenly turns into the horrific Carnage. Bruce wakes up and decides to reflect. As soon as his butler Alfred opens the door to check on him, Bruce immediately leaves as Batman in the middle of the night.

Somewhere that same night inside a secret facility of the Ravencroft Institute, Cletus Kasady/Carnage is restrained in a secured chamber surrounded by armed security personnel with Spider-Man and psychotherapist Ashley Kafka watching him…

Quality

The two superhero icons together.

I’ll start first with the visual quality of this crossover comic book. Mark Bagley, who was the lead artist on Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man comic book series, delivered an unsurprisingly stylized look at the two superhero icons, super villains and characters, as well as on DC’s Gotham City (which was the most prominent location in the story).

While Bagley’s work on Spider-Man and the characters associated with him were typical of his Amazing Spider-Man of the decade, I can say that his take on Batman, Joker, Alfred, the Bat Cave and others on the DC Comics side resulted a unique look. Bagley drew Joker looking sinister, maniacal, clueless and even tamed as the plot progressed. Bagley’s Batman has a larger yet familiar style of muscular body compared to Spider-Man, and the visual presentation of his cape ranged from dynamic to looking authoritarian. There were however a few moments wherein Bagley went over the limit on emphasizing the length of Batman’s cape which resulted a few inaccuracies. Remember how there were times that Bagley drew Marvel characters’ thighs to look excessive with muscle? You will see that too on Batman here.

When it comes to artistic dynamism, it is clear that Bagley pushed himself hard creating some mixed results. Some scenes (action scenes and talk scenes included) had the appropriate amount of flash and style, while other scenes had an excessive amount. When it came to spectacle, Bagley succeeded in making the action, hard-hitting moments and explosions look very lively. To be clear, this comic book is entertaining to look at but ultimately it will resonate best with readers who are best familiar to the way Bagley draws.

For the storytelling, J.M. DeMatteis crafted a script that did not reach its full potential as there were obvious limits imposed to ensure equality on presenting the characters and the situations. This explains why in the beginning Spider-Man and Batman each had nightmares related to their respective past and end up seeing their respective super villains interchanged (Spider-Man sees Joker, Batman sees Carnage). The characters of Ashley Kafka and Cassandra Briar are not only looking too similar to each other (just imagine their characters having no colors), they both feel like cardboard cut-outs of a single character who specializes on analyzing people with dangerous minds and coming up with solutions to help them. The more known supporting characters from the respective sides of the two icons – Mary Jane and butler Alfred – made short appearances but did not really contribute much to the plot.

The limitations are also felt on the way Spider-Man and Batman – plus Carnage and Joker – were presented, right down to their interactions with each other. While it was expected that Batman and Spider-Man would be brought together by an unfortunate development, the complete absence of a fight between the two superhero icons was itself the biggest surprise here effectively defying crossover superhero tradition. Even without a fight, you will see Batman and Spider-Man do things separately in accordance to their respective traditions or character traits before getting back together leading to the big conflict with the super villains.

As for Joker and Carnage being together, the spotlight on them in this comic book is pretty limited. There simply is not enough space in this comic book to bring out the full potential of the two super villains who each are known to be murderers and psychologically dangerous. What is interesting in their limited time together is that the story emphasized the differences between them when it comes harming people. The Joker has his own sadistic style of leading people to their deaths in time-consuming ways which is opposite of the quick deaths Carnage enjoys. Considering their respective reputations, it is just a shame that this comic book not only failed to bring out the full potential of Carnage-Joker, it also failed to establish them as clear and present dangers to the public.

More on the plot itself in relation to the comic book sub-title “Disordered Minds”, the elements of mental instability, psycho-therapy, psychology and rehabilitation are present but they are all thrown out by the time the second half of the story begins, clearly making space for the crossover dynamics of Batman, Spider-Man, Joker and Carnage.

Conclusion

Joker and Carnage.

Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) is a flawed crossover event comic book that just so happens to have more positive stuff than negative ones. It is enjoyable but not great and certainly not memorable. The imposed limits on the presentation made this comic book’s story feel very staged and predictable. With what little creative space was left, it is quite an achievement for the creative team to tell a cohesive and stuffed story (note: there is a lot of filler and some psychology related stuff may not interest some readers) while featuring Batman and Spider-Man the best way they could. It has enough superhero spectacle to be enjoyed although the interactions between Batman and Spider-Man and between Joker and Carnage could have been better.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that a near-mint copy costs $120 while the near-mint copy of the signed-and-numbered edition is at $120.

Overall, Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995) 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Sludge #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, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories through the Sludge comic book series.

Previously I reviewed issue #2 of the series which was a surprising and fun comic book to read as the creative team took the risk of emphasizing the violent character Bloodstorm over Sludge himself. Ultimately, this move served as a way to not just build up tension but to expand the specific place of Sludge and the dark forces within the Ultraverse. For this retro review, issue #3 is set during the events of the memorable Ultraverse crossover story Break-Thru.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #3, published by Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Sludge still lying down at the dock after just being defeated by Bloodstorm. Suddenly a mob of chaotic people (driven mad by the effects of Break-Thru that just happened) lift him up and throw him into the water without any regrets whatsoever. In hiding, Bloodstorm witnesses their act and thought to himself that he should avoid the madness happening. Suddenly, other mad people ganged up on him forcing him to react by firing his gun and set himself free from their grip. He safely makes it to his car and speeds away, even bumping off a few people on the way.

As Bloodstorm speeds away, another man in hiding who knew him and the boss Marcello was found by the mad people. Out of desperation he runs away and jumps into the water. He realizes that the people are so obsessed with going up to the sky (the Break-Thru effect), they did not bother to follow him at all.

Deep down the water, Sludge finds himself alone and getting relieved of the pain he experienced above. Feeling hopeless, he waits for the river to wash him away…

Quality

Sludge in trouble!

Being a standalone story set during the events of Break-Thru, this comic book focuses more on the protagonist while simultaneously raising the stakes with regards to the evil forces as the elements of crime gang combined with the supernatural took effect. To be clear, fantasy elements were added to this series which had darkness and grit dominating the plot of the first two issues.

This comic book has an early appearance of “lord” Pumpkin (AKA The Pump) who is the element of sorcery and, more notably, serves as the Ultraverse’s very own Satanic figure. Not only does the Pump have vast powers to take life away from others and has evil pawns to wield, he also leads and guides an apprentice (the kid gangster called Pistol) with pure wickedness, crafted plans of evil, is cunning in his ways of manipulating others to do evil, and he makes promises or deals with others who will receive some rewards but ultimately will be disregarded and lose a lot. This Ultraverse super-villain, as recorded in Malibu Comics’ publishing history, went on to become a walking symbol of pure evil, corruption, sins and danger in other UV comic books.

While there is indeed more focus on Sludge in this issue, it is the Pump who overshadows him. As for Bloodstorm, his presence has been drastically reduced here which is kind of jarring to read as he was the dominant and heavily emphasized in issue #2. Speaking of characters, the gang boss Marcello (who is Bloodstorm’s client) makes a short appearance but his connections not only with criminals but also with para-military forces emphasized his influence in the city.

More on the plot itself, this comic book is pretty loaded and the stakes were really raised high. In key scenes, Sludge finds himself in the middle of gangsters, the people driven mad by the Break-Thru effect, the para-military forces and the Pump’s ugly and evil pawns. Steve Gerber crafted a story that expectedly built up a lot and paid of strongly since the stakes were raised. I should state that Aaron Lopresti’s art here showed signs of improved creativity

Conclusion

The gang boss Marcello and Bloodstorm talk during the events of Break-Thru.

Sludge #3 (1993) is a more engaging and more intense comic book on its own complete with the literary debut of the Pump who is clearly the Ultraverse’s most evil villain. If issue #2 was twisting with the way it presented its characters, this comic book has more of its protagonist who went on to face new elements of evil while the story of Break-Thru transpired. I also noticed the Pump’s offer to Sludge symbolizes Satan offering a troubled soul a place in his force of evil. How did Sludge react to the offer from the evil one? You will have to read this comic book.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Sludge #3 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16.

Overall, Sludge #3 (1993) is recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Amazing Spider-Man #203 (1980)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of Marvel Comics! Previously I reviewed Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980) which was the first appearance of Dazzler who eventually became a popular figure for Marvel Comics in the 1980s. Before the company published a monthly comic book series featuring her, Dazzler made another appearance in an issue of the Amazing Spider-Man which was released just a few months after her debut. This, of course, led to a crossover with the iconic webslinger himself.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Amazing Spider-Man #203, published in 1980 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Keith Pollard.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins during a night in the city where a swinging Spider-Man gets distracted by fast skating Dazzler who is being followed closely by a streak of light. After Spider-Man speculates about the possible return of Will-o-the-Wisp, he decides to intervene and pulls Dazzler off the road and to himself above. Dazzler faints suddenly.

A short while afterward, Dazzler wakes up and starts talking with the webslinger. In response to the mention of Will-o-the-Wisp’s name, she claims to not knowing what he was talking about. As their talk goes on, Dazzler hears music from the street which strengthens her. Using the small mirror globe she is wearing, Dazzler hits Spider-Man with a blast of light pushing him off the building…

Quality

The crossover between Dazzler and Spider-Man is the main feature of this comic book.

This is one fun crossover between the iconic Spider-Man and the brand-new Dazzler. Marv Wolfman wrote a story that not only followed the further adventures of the webslinger, it also gave readers more to see and learn about Dazzler who just had her unexpected adventure with the X-Men months earlier (in Uncanny X-Men #130 and #131). By connecting this story with those two X-Men comic books, it really looked like just got back home in the city only to get chased by streaking light. The interactions between Dazzler and Spider-Man were entertaining. While Dazzler is a known entertainer among New Yorkers, it was the webslinger who remains the big, popular local figure which is clearly reflected in the singer’s verbal exchange with him.

The villain in this comic book, Lightmaster, is pretty cartoonish visually but his super power and high intelligence do make him look threatening. I like the way the story was crafted with concepts that link Lightmaster with Dazzler. Both of them are connected with light and while Dazzler is able to absorb sound like a form of energy and create light beams, Lightmaster has the means to tap on her power and use it for his advantage. There is also another capability of Lightmaster’s which I will just leave unrevealed and you who read this should find out about it.

Conclusion

Lightmaster enters the scene.

Amazing Spider-Man #203 (1980) is a very old yet fun comic book that fans of Spider-Man and Dazzler will enjoy. Not only does it have a meaty encounter between the two, it also succeeds in chronicling Spider-Man’s life both in costume and as civilian Peter Parker. Going back to Dazzler, there is not much character development for her here but that is understandable as such emphasis was only waiting to happen in her own monthly comic book series.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Amazing Spider-Man #203 (1980), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $94 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $150.

Overall, Amazing Spider-Man #203 (1980) 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