A Look Back at Break-Thru #2 (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 go back to the mid-1990s which was a really wild time for comic collectors. To be more specific, this newest retro comic book review revisits the conclusion of the epic Ultraverse storyline Break-Thru which was illustrated by the late George Perez (1954-2022). I encourage you readers – especially long-time fans of the iconic illustrator – to check out my commemorative article about George Perez by clicking here.

For the newcomers reading this, Break-Thru was a 2-part storyline that creatively involved almost all the main characters of the Ultraverse (The Strangers, Mantra, Prime, Prototype, Freex, The Solution, Hardcase, Sludge, Solitaire and others) who got impacted in varied ways by Amber (of the Exiles) who floated high in the air causing chaos on societies below. Specifically, that was the concept of Break-Thru #1 (1993) and issue #2 has the story continuing with a setting in outer space with the moon as the key destination.

With those details laid down, here is a look back Break-Thru #2, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story scripted by Gerard Jones (plotted by Mike W. Barr, Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, James Hudnall, Tom Mason, George Perez, James Robinson and Len Strazewski) and illustrated by the late George Perez.

An epic cover by the late George Perez.

Early story

The story begins at the surface of the moon with Hardcase, Choice and the members of The Solution who just survived the explosion (connected with Hardcase #7 and The Solution #4) of the flying saucer they used on their journey. Nearby, the people responsible for the destruction are riding their own flying saucer, scanning the surface of the moon searching for an entity.

Behind the scenes, the very hidden yet powerful Rex Mundi watches and tells Gate that other ultras are seeking the entity. As the saucer floats to a cave detecting the presence of the entity, the occupants get shaken as Prime hits them hard. Prime tells himself that the entity in the cave feels danger from the searchers and he has to protect it as he has been connected with it (refer to Prime #7). After getting blasted in retaliation by the saucer, Prime finds himself hit even more as Rex Mundi’s enforcers suddenly come out of a portal very near him.  

From a distance, Mantra (refer to Mantra #6) sees the fight happening and needs a life force to survive. Elsewhere, Hardcase, Choice and The Solution witness the arrival of a space shuttle. The Strangers and Prototype (refer to The Strangers #7 and Prototype #5) come out together…

Quality

This is classic George Perez presentation of action and characters using multiple panels in a single page.

Starting with the writing, I should mention that all the writers who were involved in plotting this comic book as well as the previous issue should be commended for their combined efforts on making the Break-Thru storyline happen complete with in-universe ramifications, developments and connections to almost all the monthly comic books via the Break-Thru tie-in issue (also check out Sludge #3, Freex #6, Solitaire #2 and Night Man #3). Clearly Break-Thru was planned to be a major turning point of the Ultraverse by involving and mixing most of the major characters together and have them struggle with tremendous obstacles they simply cannot ignore as the stakes were indeed too high.

More on this comic book, the major conflict was set on the moon which proved to be a very unique setting not just for dynamic battles to happen but also to serve as the place where a mysterious and powerful entity is hidden. When it comes to the story, the entity (more science fictional in concept) is mysterious and cleverly not blatantly evil. It is its mysteriousness that makes the entity a worthy force to have the UV’s heroes come after.

The writers added depth to the plot by showing Yrial of The Strangers and Prototype each having their own vested interests to get to the entity and acquire whatever it has that is valuable. At the same time, Mantra and Prime each discovered valuable knowledge about the entity that impacted their perceptions about their purpose as beings with super powers.

Mantra, Prime, The Solution, Hardcase and Choice.

While the story here still has so many characters expressing themselves and releasing expository information, the narrative is a little bit easier to understand and follow compared to issue #1 (which had a lot more information to release via exposition). That being said, the scenes of spectacle became more enjoyable to read and along the way there were some notable character moments to look at.

Visually, this is unsurprisingly a great looking comic book as it was illustrated by the late George Perez. What I love most about Perez’s art style and visual presentation are all here: high details on each character drawn as well as their surroundings, the dynamic approach on setting up the panels on each page, fantastic looking superhero action, and much more! As with Break-Thru #1 and other Ultraverse comic books drawn by Perez, this one is absolutely great to look at and it easily lifts up the visual/artistic quality of the UV and its heroes. As George Perez was involved in the plot of this comic book, the narrative was never overwhelmed by his great art and the artist really exerted a lot of effort on visualizing each and every one of the established UV characters (including the supporting characters).

Speaking of the established characters, I should state that Perez made Mantra’s face (with mask) look a bit more realistic and feminine while Kevin Green has a more convincing teenage boy look, Sludge looks a bit more creepier and Yrial looks visually identical to the way Rick Hoberg draws her. When it comes to the varied physiques of each established UV hero, Perez captured them all perfectly. Clearly the late artist did his research on every character.

Conclusion

The first physical encounter between Prime and Hardcase. Remember this before reading the UltraForce comics.

Break-Thru #2 (1994) is truly an epic Ultraverse story that also worked as a major turning point of the UV as a whole. Compared to other epic superhero stories that Marvel and DC Comics published, Break-Thru is not the usual large gathering of superheroes who have to work together to defeat an evil force that threatens everyone’s existence. It is more about the UV heroes getting together to solve major obstacles before reaching the main destination. By the time I reached the end of this comic book (and its storyline), I experienced great satisfaction not just from Break-Thru itself but also in relation to how the Ultraverse heroes realized what they are living for and what their respective purposes really are about. What also happened in this comic book explains why jumpstart events happened on Earth. Very clearly, this was an epic story that was planned early and even though this was published just months after the Ultraverse first debuted, the characters were developed enough to make Break-Thru’s concepts sensible and acceptable. There is a lot of fun and engagement in this comic book drawn by the late George Perez (who also worked on DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and Marvel’s The Infinity Gauntlet).

Overall, Break-Thru #2 (1994) is highly recommended!

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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/

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 Len Wein 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 WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11 (1994)

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

Welcome back superhero fans, 1990s arts and 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!

Last time around, I reviewed the 10th issue of the WildC.A.T.S series which saw the reunited work of Chris Claremont and Jim Lee who previously worked together on making many memorable X-Men comic books during their time with Marvel Comics (note: check out three retro reviews of Claremont-Lee X-Men comics by clicking here, here and here).

Being free from the constraints and hurdles of Marvel, WildC.A.T.S #10 showed what Claremont added to Lee’s superhero team while also unveiling the Huntsman (Claremont’s own creation). Even as the story – which had Zealot as the lead character followed by Voodoo and Huntsman – had lots of build-up and the rest of the WildC.A.T.S only had a minor share of the spotlight, Lee still managed to make the story filled with a good amount of spectacle for readers to enjoy. I really liked WildC.A.T.S #10 a lot and in my view, it has aged well.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Chris Claremont and Drawn by Jim Lee. Scott Williams is in-charge with the ink work. This comic book has a variant cover edition with the cover art done by While Portacio.

The cover.
The variant cover edition with art by While Portacio.

Early story

The story begins moments after Jacob Marlowe secretly met with Alabaster Wu. The WildC.A.T.S – composed of Spartan, Warblade, Void, Maul and the possessed Voodoo – find themselves facing with the Troika – composed of Attica, Slag, H.A.R.M. and Providence – who came in by surprise with the intention to overwhelm them. Providence states that Jacob Marlowe’s destiny is sealed with doom.  

Just after Marlowe expressed defiance, the Raksha-controlled Voodoo knocks him out with a hard kick from behind. This surprises Spartan who immediately jumps into action and orders his teammates to form on void for an immediate dust-off. The battle between the Troika and the WildC.A.T.S starts, Attica hits Warblade. Void then discovers that some force is preventing her from teleporting. It turns out, Providence manipulated the quantum field. Using tremendous power, Providence overwhelms Void which puts the WildC.A.T.S into serious trouble.

Meanwhile on the streets of Brooklyn, Zealot, Huntsman and the teenager Miranda are riding fast together. Zealot says that the communication with her team has gone off-line and she only has their current position…

Quality

Even the fearless and disciplined Zealot is scared of the new super villain Tapestry.

I’ll start first with the presentation of characters and related developments. While the WildC.A.T.S themselves appeared a lot more here than in the previous issue, they did not end up as the dominating characters in the narrative. Even Zealot and Huntsman had reduced shares of the spotlight. This is because Claremont’s script introduced a few yet clearly significant characters while remaining focused on building up tension in relation to the growing presence of a new force of evil (note: the ugly and scary looking monsters called Raksha are connected with them) on Earth with two distinct figures as evil leaders – Soma and Tapestry. As the WildC.A.T.S fell short of achieving any heroics, their new statuses as targets and tools of Tapestry ultimately made sense in the plot. This is a rather daring way Claremont used to tell a WildC.A.T.S tale that has the titular team in their most vulnerable state yet.

While Soma does have an intimidating presence, it is obvious that Tapestry (who has an eroticized design and is the self-declared weaver of souls and shaper of fate) is the most visceral supervillain here and I had the impression that she was planned to be a major enemy towards the WildC.A.T.S comparable with Helspont. Even the fearless warrior Zealot fears Tapestry.

In a clear move to expand the lore of the WildC.A.T.S series within the WildStorm universe, this comic book saw the entry of Savant (an important associate of Zealot’s) and Soldier (the WildStorm’s own parallel to DC Comics’ Sgt. Rock) plus the mention of Mr. Majestic. Savant and Soldier are not just mere additional characters thrown into the mix but they each have established places within the WildStorm universe that just have not been seen by readers at the time of publishing. Claremont wrote Savant and Soldier as individuals who both knew Zealot from some time before and, more importantly, he made them believable to read even though this comic book only showed little of them.

When it comes to character portrayals, Claremont’s creativity showed Attica clearly having much more personality just as the Troika returned (late in issue #10). The head of the Troika in this comic book was presented as a business-dealing killer who does not hesitate to tell his client to beware of Zealot and Grifter (note: he was last seen in issue #8) as those two are the most dangerous WildC.A.T.S members. Attica’s companion Slag is more expressive here and while H.A.R.M.’s mechanical perspective is emphasized more which reminds me somewhat of the cinematic Terminator reading commands internally. Indeed, there was inspiration behind Claremont’s writing.

With regards to the plot, this comic book has a simple story structure that just so happens to have lots of exposition, explanations and the introduction of new characters destined to become more important later. Combined with the art of Jim Lee, the story still works on engaging and entertaining me. Re-reading this story is still a lot fun after all these decades.

Conclusion

WildC.A.T.S in bombastic action with the Troika.

Given the way it was crafted and structured by Claremont, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11 (1994) is easily the most unconventional tale of the series at the time of its publication. Unsurprisingly, Jim Lee’s art here is of top-notch quality and he continued to excel in providing readers the adulterated superhero spectacle while also making the more character-focused scenes look interesting (note: there are flashbacks to WildC.A.T.S #1 during Tapestry’s examination of Jacob Marlowe’s memories). As the WildC.A.T.S – without Grifter and Zealot specifically – were at their most vulnerable, this could alienate the die-hard fans who are expecting the usual stuff they love (note: bombastic action against bad guys with character moments in between) to pour in. What I want readers and the die-hard fans to understand is that they should pay close attention to the growing force of evil under Tapestry (who even scares the very brave Zealot) and think about it as a suitable addition into the WildC.A.T.S lore within the WildStorm universe of the time. This comic book also shows that there is more to be explored beyond the conflict of the Kherubim and the Daemonites. That being said, Chris Claremont and Jim Lee’s combined works here are still very solid, a lot of fun and even intriguing to read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11 (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 copies of newsstand edition and the signed edition cost $90 and $60 respectively. The near mint-copies of variant cover edition (Whilce Portacio art) and the signed variant covered edition cost $30 and $90 respectively.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11 (1994) is highly recommended!

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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/

Better than Streaming: My first time in two whole years to watch a movie inside the local cinema

I finally did it! After two years of living with the COVID-19 crisis, I finally returned to the local cinema at Commercenter in Alabang recently where I saw The Batman on the big screen. The day was March 5 (Saturday) and it was a very notable experience for me personally and I can say that the theatrical experience is still better than watching movies via streaming.

To be very clear, it has been months since the cinemas all over Metro Manila reopened and as the months passed by, moviegoers have gradually returned in relation to what films were screened, what the local Alert Levels were and what health protocols were implemented. The reopening of cinemas went a long way since the 1st quarter of 2021 (for references click here, here, here and here) and the Philippine cinema industry as a whole is trying to recover what was lost over the past two years. At one point, the movie theaters employed over 300,000 employees nationwide.

On my way to watching The Batman at the cinema with my ticket!

Going back to my return to the local cinema, I want to make clear that currently the cinemas will only accept people who have been fully vaccinated (meaning two doses of most COVID-19 vaccine brands were injected) which is why vaccination cards/passes are required for verification BEFORE any ticket will be sold. As such, I showed to the theater ticket seller my vaccination card and eventually I was allowed to purchase a ticket for The Batman which was P320 (more than US$6). I should state that it was also there at the Commercenter cinema where I last saw a movie in 2020…just before the first lockdown happened.

More on rules, it has been declared already that food and drinks are prohibited in Commercenter’s cinemas and that moviegoers are to wear their masks on as they watch a movie. Again, the prohibition on food and drinks at the said cinema were in effect when I viewed The Batman on March 5. According to a March 9, 2022 report by the Manila Bulletin, some theaters allowed their moviegoers to have food while watching.

For transparency, these are the rules for you to see.

While having no food and drink was a bummer for me as a paying moviegoer, I decided to just let things be and focus strongly on the narrative of The Batman which has a running time of almost three hours! That being said, as the movie went on, I was compelled to really focus on the story, the details and the dialogue (note: I turned my smartphone off as soon as I sat down). I also realized something that movie theaters can instantly provide that streaming apps and the home-based theater cannot – complete privacy and immersion.

In other words, there no distractions from external forces (examples: smartphone updates through the Internet, in-home telephone ringing, a noisy neighbor, someone knocking on the door, the house doorbell ringing, a motorist driving a car with an overly loud sound outside the house, etc.) and as such I experienced this strong engagement in watching the Matt Reeves-directed Batman movie. I also noticed that not only does Colin Farrell looks truly unrecognizable as the new cinematic Penguin, there were two moments I noticed he sounded and spoke like Robert de Niro!

I should also state that there were several other moviegoers who occupied seats on rows behind and in front of me. Clearly the attendance of that very screening was below 50% which only reminds me that the pandemic is still ongoing here in the Philippines. Fortunately, everyone was well behaved and in-theater noise and distractions were non-existent.

After waiting until the very end to see the very short and cryptic end-credits scene, I finally left the cinema satisfied and entertained. I found The Batman a worthy movie to watch on the big screen but to judge its quality and emphasized my observations about it, I would do that in a possible movie review.

Nothing like looking at what films are being shown before you reach the ticket counter.

My return to watching a movie in the local cinema was a really interesting experience. It was also my first time in many years to watch a movie on the big screen without consuming any drink or food. Still, I got my money’s worth overall and I really hope that what I paid will keep helping not just Commercenter cinema but the entire movie theater industry to achieve economic recovery with the pandemic still ongoing. The more people who get fully vaccinated, and the more fully vaccinated people who get boosted, the better it will be for movie theaters in terms of qualified moviegoers.

When it comes to spending time inside Commercenter, be aware that the mall has really nice places to enjoy delicious meals before or after you watch a movie at their cinema. You love ramen and Japanese meals, go to Sigekiya Ramen. You want to try Greek cuisine? Visit Akrotiri. You like good food and wine? Visit The Black Pig.

To those of you reading this, if you have the means and if your local cinemas are allowed to operate, I encourage you to buy tickets and watch your desired movie on the big screen inside the cinema. I suggest you stop streaming temporarily and help the movie theaters achieve economic recovery from this pandemic. For The Batman, I say screw HBO Max and HBO Go!

Remember this: Streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming. What you pay for movie tickets will help not only the cinema operators and their respective employees, you will also help the local authorities by means of tax collection and keeping the local area in order.

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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.

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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/

Gameplay footage of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League looks promising

When Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was first unveiled with a cinematic trailer during the DC FanDome of 2020, I was just interested with its concept but wanted more in terms of gameplay. After more than one year of waiting, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment revealed at last the first gameplay footage of the Rocksteady Studios-developed game and I find it looking fun and promising. For your viewing pleasure, watch the official gameplay trailer below…

As seen in the above trailer, the developer behind the acclaimed Batman Arkham games really worked hard to not only make a wide variety of action and movements (in relation to the different members of the Suicide Squad), but also have them animate very smoothly and artistically resulting a cinematic look while still maintaining the DC Comics aesthetic.

A quick look at Metropolis serving as the open world environment in the game.
3rd person view shooting sequence with Deadshoot doing the shooting.

The gameplay trailer showed 3rd person view shooting sequences with not only Deadshot but also with King Shark. As for Harley Quinn, there were sequences of her swinging above ground and doing close combat. The in-game Metropolis (the fictional city often identified with Superman) was clearly designed to provide gamers a large, open world-inspired environment which opens up opportunities for action, exploration and storytelling. Metropolis in this game looks detailed and there are visual references to Superman and Wonder Woman shown.

An action sequence with Harley Quinn.
Harley swinging into action!
Players will get to do some shooting as King Shark.

Having seen the gameplay footage, I can say my interest in playing Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League on my Xbox Series X in the near future has gotten stronger. I should state that it is a spectacle to see Rocksteady’s developers push their creativity hard, possibly more so than what they achieved in the Batman Arkham games. By the way, Rocksteady is being assisted by Unbroken Studios on the game.

As of this writing, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League does not have a final release date but it will be released for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC sometime in 2022.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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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 The Night Man #5 (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 revisit the Ultraverse and focus on the Night Man who is one of the most intriguing heroes of the UV ever created. Having read the first four issues, it is clear that the storytelling with Night Man was done with darkness and grit in mind plus the villains introduced were unconventional. The good news is that each of the first four issues were actually enjoyable to read.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Night Man #5, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by the Steve Englehart and drawn by Kyle Hotz.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a private investigation being done by a detective and a police officer over a dead man whose chest was ripped open. While the two discuss who could be responsible for the victim’s death, Night Man appears and showed no fear when guns were pointed at him.

He tells the police officer and the detective that he is searching for a murderer responsible for the kidnap of two ladies and the extraction of their respective glands. Night Man explains that he rescued the two said ladies and victim right in front of them must be the first substitute victim…

Quality

Getting answers is tough for the Night Man.

To cut through the chase, I can say that this comic book has a very strong detective story element in it told through Night Man. In fact, seeing Night Man doing detective work made him look and feel like DC Comics’ own Batman but with the Ultraverse touch still maintained.

While telling a detective story, Steve Englehart also took time to humanize Night Man and the scene in which the protagonist questions what being the Night Man has gotten him into was a really nice touch.

Serving as the highlight of this comic book was the rematch between Night Man and antagonist from issue #4. The rematch was not much about spectacle or hard-hitting action but rather more about intrigue and shock value expressed through dialogue (which the Night Man and the villainess engaged a lot with). The villainess is absolutely not the typical comic book antagonist but someone who has a legacy of not just taking people’s lives away but also living through the decades without aging nor anyone from local society opposing her. The villainess is pretty much an ideological opposite of the Night Man.  

Conclusion

The Night Man doing detective work and research.

With its continued approach on darkness, grit and shock value on its storytelling, The Night Man #5 (1994) is another engaging read and it is best enjoyed when you focus on the dialogue and the details in text. As for the Night Man himself, he got developed as a person even more here even though key storytelling elements were used that made the comic book feel like a Batman comic book. Lastly, I should say that Night Man really has his own unique place within the Ultraverse.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Night Man #5 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16.

Overall, The Night Man #5 (1994) is recommended.

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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/

COVID-19 Crisis: Safety and sanitation at local cinemas emphasized

It has been days since Alert Level 3 was officially implemented all over Metro Manila which allowed for the reopening of several businesses and allowing them to accommodate more customers as the limitations on capacity were modified. Among the businesses authorized by the to reopen were the cinemas or movie theaters although the actual reopening has yet to happen. In fact, I passed by the cinemas at a local mall I visited this past Sunday and I saw they were still closed. Take note that there were attempts to push for reopening Metro Manila cinemas (click here, here and here).

As the reopening is still pending, there is this Manila Bulletin article about local cinemas will strictly implement health protocols. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt plus a few relevant videos about safety and reopening. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses in the Philippines will strictly implement health protocols when these establishments reopen soon.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) put Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 and allowed the reopening of cinemas with restrictions. Only fully vaccinated people will be admitted and seating capacity will be limited to 30 percent.

The actual date of reopening of cinemas is still subject to confirmation and the public is advised to wait for further announcement, according to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

Cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed for 19 months due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That is the main goal right now,” said CEAP Charmaine Bauzon. “We have devoted the past 19 months of cinema closure identifying solutions and precautions based on science. We will implement these measures to confidently welcome back movie fans to cinemas and send them home safe.

Cinemas are safe spaces

Bauzon assured “the public that cinema is a safe place. In fact, LGUs [local government units] have converted some theaters into vaccination centers, and no super-spreading were ever reported, even though people waited inside for hours.

CEAP cited a recent study in Germany which concluded that cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment as long as safety guidelines are followed like wearing face masks, physical distancing and proper air ventilation.

The German study considered the following factors in its conclusion: People spend an average of only two hours at a cinema; people inside the cinema simply sit down and face the same direction which is known to reduce transmission risks; and people are not talking to each other during a movie, which minimizes possibility of infection.

Cinemas to strictly impose all safety protocols

According to CEAP, besides adhering to the IATF-mandated health standards, it also developed the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” protocols patterned after the “CinemaSafe” measures set by America’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and endorsed by epidemiologists.

I personally support the reopening of cinemas not just because I love watching movies in them but also because cinemas and their employees can contribute a lot to the economic recovery from this COVID-19 crisis we are all living with. When it comes to viewing movies in the comfort of home, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime. Still the very best way to enjoy movies in their full glory is still inside the cinema! I can never forget the day I first saw Wonder Woman (2017) in the IMAX cinema at SM Southmall which was really an immersive experience. I even replayed that same movie in another cinema which had lazy boy seats. I also saw Logan, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Avengers: Endgame, Aquaman and X-Men: Dark Phoenix on IMAX screens in different cinemas. When it comes to regular cinemas, I viewed Write About Love, Shazam!, and Joker to name some. Eventually I got to watch these movies in the comfort of home mainly on Blu-ray (which is always better than streaming) but I can confirm to you all that in my experience, the best place to view movies is still the cinema!

This iconic scene was at its grandest only in the cinema and I was fortunate to watch it on IMAX format!
The immersion of Aquaman on the big screen inside the IMAX cinema was indeed top-notch.

The good news here, as revealed in the excerpt above, is that local cinemas will exert efforts to make their venues clean and safe as their inevitable customers will be those who have been fully vaccinated. Cinema viewing will be far from normal but the latest developments related to Alert Level 3 are very welcome as it is the first step to returning to normalcy as the nation deals with community management and vaccinations for COVID-19. Above all, I urge all of you fully vaccinated people of Metro Manila and around the nation reading this – support the local cinemas! Put a stop to streaming and take the opportunities to watch movies in the movie theater because that streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming!

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you eager to watch a movie inside the cinema here in Metro Manila as soon as it reopens? Have you been fully vaccinated already? What upcoming movies do you hope to watch in the local movie theater? Have you been following the CEAP on social media lately? Do you think that the top officials of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) really care about the plight of the cinema operators and their employees?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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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

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Better than Streaming: Catwoman: Hunted 4K Blu-ray coming out on February 8, 2022

Welcome back, fellow geeks, movie buffs and fellow Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray collectors!

If you love Catwoman or if you simply fond of DC Comics stories and concepts portrayed in varied forms of media other than comic books, then you should watch out for the release of Catwoman: Hunted 4K Blu-ray combo on February 8, 2022!  Check out the cover and official trailer below…

Posted below are very early details of Catwoman: Hunted 4K Blu-ray from its Blu-ray.com page.

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Audio

TBA

Subtitles

None

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (2 BD)

Digital

Digital copy included

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

Now here are the details sourced from the Blu-ray.com news page for Catwoman: Hunted 4K Blu-ray

Studio description: In the all-new original Catwoman: Hunted, Catwoman’s attempt to steal a priceless jewel puts her squarely in the crosshairs of both a powerful consortium of villains and the ever-resourceful Interpol, not to mention Batwoman. It might just be enough to contain her. Or not.

Elizabeth Gillies (Dynasty, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Vacation) and Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, In The Heights) lead the cast of Catwoman: Hunted as the voices of Catwoman and Batwoman, respectively. Also featured is Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) as Black Mask, Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop, Star Wars Rebels) as Solomon Grundy, Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Julia Pennyworth, Keith David (They Live, The Thing, Gargoyles) as Tobias Whale, Zehra Fazal (Young Justice) as Talia al Ghul and Nosferata, Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: the Next Generation) as King Faraday and Boss Moxie, Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Good Place, Barry) as Barbara Minerva/Cheetah, Kelly Hu (Arrow, X2: X-Men United) as Cheshire, Andrew Kishino (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Mr. Yakuza and Domino 6, Eric Lopez (Madagascar: A Little Wild) as Domino 1, Jacqueline Obradors (Bosch, NYPD Blue) as La Dama, and Ron Yuan (Mortal Kombat 11) as Doctor Tzin.

Catwoman: Hunted is directed by Shinsuke Terasawa (Gintama, Yo-kai Watch) from a script penned by Greg Weisman (Young Justice, Gargoyles). Producer is Ethan Spaulding (Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms) and Executive Producer is Sam Register.

For the newcomers reading this, Catwoman is one of the classic DC Comics characters co-created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger (the same creators of Batman). Catwoman made her debut as “the Cat” in Batman #1 (1940) and went on to not only become one of the most essential inclusions in Batman’s rogues gallery, but also as the best known love interest of Batman. Through the decades, Catwoman appeared in the live-action Batman TV series of the 1960s, in the movies (best known portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer in 1992, by Halle Berry in 2004 and Anne Hathaway in 2012), in the video games and also in the Gotham TV series.

Catwoman will also return to the big screen in next year’s The Batman, played by Zoë Kravitz under the direction of Matt Reeves. Watch the latest The Batman trailer below and try to find her…

Personally, I am not a fan of Catwoman and I was not interested in the complex relationships she had with Batman in comic books. In the 1990s, DC Comics published an entire monthly series focused on her and you can check out my retro comic book review of Catwoman #50 (1997).

Catwoman: Hunted is the first of several new DC Comics animated films set for release in 2022 under the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment label. Watch out for its expected listing in online stores to go live soon.

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-rayThe Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-rayMortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-raySpace Jam 4K Blu-rayV: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review), V: The Final Battle Blu-rayHighlander 4K Blu-rayThe Suicide Squad, Super Dimension Century Orguss Blu-ray, Unbreakable 4K Blu-ray, Injustice 4K Blu-ray, The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray, Terminator 2: Judgment Day 30th Anniversary 4K Blu-ray, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 4K Blu-ray,  Mad Max Anthology 4K Blu-ray, Night Shift Blu-ray and The Karate Kid Collection 4K Blu-ray.

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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

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

Better than Streaming: The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray coming out on October 26, 2021

Welcome back, fellow geeks, film enthusiasts and Blu-ray/4K Blu-ray collectors!

What I mentioned would happen has indeed happened! Warner Bros. officially announced that James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is coming out on 4K Blu-ray on October 26, 2021 and the good news is that its visuals are native 4K! As of this writing, pre-orders have yet to start but you can visit the DC Comics movie’s Amazon page to anticipate it.

This is what the 4K Blu-ray combo box looks like.

Posted below are key details of The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray combo from its Blu-ray.com page.

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10+

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Original aspect ratio: 1.90:1

Audio

English: Dolby Atmos

English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1

Subtitles

English SDH, French, Spanish

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (1 BD-100, 1 BD-50)

Digital

Digital 4K

Movies Anywhere

Packaging

Slipcover in original pressing

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

The back of The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray combo.

And here are details of the special features and technical specs…

  • DOLBY ATMOS AUDIO TRACK
  • Gag Reel
  • Gotta Love the Squad
  • The Way of The Gunn
  • It’s a Suicide Mission Scene Breakdown
  • My Guns Bigger Than Yours Scene Breakdown
  • Harley’s Great Escape Scene Breakdown
  • The Fall of Jotunheim Scene Breakdown
  • Starro: It’s a Freakin Kaiju!
  • Bringing King Shark To Life
  • War Movie Retro Trailer
  • Horror Movie Retro Trailer
  • Buddy-Cop Retro Trailer
  • Directors Commentary by Director/Writer James Gunn
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes
  • Optional English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Castilian Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Teleugu, Hungarian, Tamil, Hindi, Italian, Greek, Romanian, Polish, Finnish, Danish, and Canadian French subtitles for the main feature

I personally am excited about The Suicide Squad 4K Blu-ray combo’s release. Where I am located at, local cinemas have remained closed since March 2020 and as I want the best possible home viewing experience, I deliberately avoided streaming. Definitely my money will NOT go to HBO Max nor HBO Go to watch The Suicide Squad (which has lots of scenes filmed with IMAX cameras and the IMAX footage is better viewed on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray disc than streaming).

As of this writing, The Suicide Squad is the most exciting 4K Blu-ray release for the month of October. As far as DC Comics movies on disc format goes this year, I’m more excited for the James Gunn-directed movie than the recently released Zack Snyder’s Justice League 4K Blu-ray.

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-rayThe Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-rayMortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-raySpace Jam 4K Blu-rayV: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review), V: The Final Battle Blu-rayHighlander 4K Blu-rayThe Suicide Squad, Super Dimension Century Orguss Blu-ray, Unbreakable 4K Blu-ray and Injustice 4K Blu-ray.

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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

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576