A Look Back at Ravage 2099 #4 (1993)

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

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comic book writing with Ravage 2099 #1 turned out to be a big disappointment and his writing style just ended up being outdated by 1992’s standards.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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #4 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $24.

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

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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

My Observations: Wonder Woman 1984 is coming to BOTH movie theaters and HBO Max streaming service on Christmas Day

The news has spread like wildfire in such a short time and unsurprisingly hashtags like #WonderWoman and #WW84 got really active again on social media. It has officially been announced that the much-delayed Wonder Woman 1984 (starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig) will indeed open in movie theaters in America on Christmas Day PLUS debut also via Warner Bros. own streaming service HBO Max.

Watch the confirming video below…

Already cinema chain AMC is supportive of the movie’s scheduled theatrical release.

“We hope movie lovers enjoy ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ during the holidays this year at AMC,” AMC Entertainment CEO and President Adam Aron stated.

Personally, I am surprised that Warner Bros. decided to do the simultaneous theater-and-streaming approach because the move is pretty risky in terms of doing business as well as reaching out to the many millions of fans willing to pay to watch the movie. It is a fact that a lot of movie theaters in America remain closed and families are forced to stay at home especially in states where the state governments strictly implemented lockdowns due to the COVID-19 crisis.

It is also a fact that HBO Max is not exactly massively large with its subscribers. According to a Variety report, HBO Max users grew to 8.6 million at the end of the 3rd quarter of 2020. Also reported was 28.7 million customers described to be eligible to avail of the mentioned streaming service. Combined subscribers of standalone HBO and HBO Max in the United States reached 38 million as of the end of September. When it comes to the global scale, 57 million subscribers of both HBO and the streaming service were reported. The numbers look big but there is no guarantee that 100% of standalone HBO subscribers will actually avail of HBO Max for WW84. There is also the issue of generating a lot of funds to help Warner Bros. recover their investment in making and marketing Wonder Woman 1984.

As I stated before, the best way to watch Wonder Woman 1984 is still in the movie theater for it is a fact that it is such a very big production as a whole and it has certain sequences filmed with IMAX cameras (the highest quality visuals of which will not be captured perfectly via streaming). While it is a fact that way below 100% of movie theaters worldwide are open for business, it is now high time for Wonder Woman fans, superhero movie enthusiasts and geeks to contact their local cinema operators and find out once and for all if they will screen Wonder Woman 1984. Don’t just sit down waiting for something to come to you, take action by reaching out to the movie theaters online or by the phone if you really want to watch the movie!

If there is an AMC theater near you operating (or planning to open for the Christmas holiday), you are fortunate because WW84 will be screened. If there is an IMAX cinema near you that will really play the movie, go for the movie there for the best visual experience!

While I noticed online that there are a lot of self-described Wonder Woman fans who arrogantly disregard movie theater operators only because they selfishly want WW84 to be streamed directly to them, I myself will not avail of the movie via streaming because there is a better option for home viewing that has yet to be announced…Wonder Woman 1984 on Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray. Personally, I don’t have anything against VOD streaming services but when it comes to enjoying movies at home with the HDTV, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime! Blu-ray has undeniable advantages over streaming!

What I intend to do on watching Wonder Woman 1984 is quite simple: movie theater first followed by Blu-ray months later. Really, I’m not rushing to avail HBO Max this Christmas.

Going back to movie theaters, Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins announced via social media a program is in development to allow moviegoers, fans and other people to be able to rent their own theaters out to screen the movie with group safety in mind.

“We will try to help to bring it to as many of you as we can and thank you all for your support,” Jenkins stated via Twitter.

For its part, AMC Entertainment made moves to not only screen Wonder Woman 1984 but also ensure safety and reducing health risks. Check out the full statement of AMC CEO and President Aron below:

Movie fans across the United States, Europe and the Middle East will be excited to learn that the release of Wonder Woman 1984 this holiday season is right around the corner, and that AMC will show this eagerly awaited movie on our big screens all across our global network.

For many months, AMC has been in active and deep dialogue with Warner Brothers to figure out how best this cinematic blockbuster could be seen at AMC Theatres in these unprecedented times. Given that atypical circumstances call for atypical economic relationships between studios and theatres, and atypical windows and releasing strategies, AMC is fully onboard for Warner Brothers’ announcement today.

AMC continues to believe that exclusive theatrical releases benefit consumers, filmmakers, studios and exhibitors. Even so, we also have clearly demonstrated this year that we are flexible and remain open to evolving long-standing business models, provided that we do so in ways that improve the industry ecosystem for all players. We have instituted novel approaches with other movie studios this year. We are doing so again, this time with Warner Brothers to facilitate the specific release of this important movie.  We hope movie lovers enjoy Wonder Woman 1984 during the holidays this year at AMC.

In showcasing Wonder Woman 1984, we especially note AMC’s commitment to the safety and health of our moviegoing guests and associates at our theatres. Our comprehensive and extensive AMC Safe & Clean protocols were unveiled this summer, having been designed in consultation with current and former faculty of Harvard University’s prestigious School of Public Health and in partnership with Clorox. Our commitment to AMC Safe & Clean already has allowed us to responsibly and safely welcome literally millions of moviegoers to enjoy seeing movies at AMC Theatres.

To put things in perspective, AMC has around one thousand movie theaters and over 10,000 screens worldwide. That being said, their support to screen Wonder Woman 1984 is crucial not only for Warner Bros. and the fans but for the movie industry as a whole. Also I am confident that other cinema operators (who are already struggling financially and have been trying to retain their employees) are observing and may decide soon to follow AMC’s move. The more movie screens for Wonder Woman 1984, the better!

In ending this piece, here are some Wonder Woman-related videos for your enjoyment. Also check out my retro reviews of the George Perez-drawn Wonder Woman comic books such as issue #1 and issue #9 (required reading as it includes Cheetah). Check out also my review of the 2017 movie as well as my feature of the No Man’s Land scene.

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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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Ravage 2099 #3 (1993)

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

Welcome back, Marvel 2099 fans and superhero comic book geeks! Are you ready for another trip into the high-tech future of Marvel’s comic book universe through the storytelling of the late Stan Lee? This is about the 3rd issue of the Ravage 2099 monthly series.

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

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

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

Conclusion

Ravage in action inside Dak’s medi-cell.

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

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #3 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $24.

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

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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

A Look Back at X-Men #2 (1991)

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

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

Conclusion

The face-off!

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

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #2 (1991), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4 while the near-mint copies of the Chris Claremont-signed regular edition, the Chris Claremont-signed newsstand edition and the newsstand edition cost $9, $19 and $13 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #2 (1991) is highly recommended!

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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

Xbox Series consoles launch details revealed

Very recently, Xbox head Phil Spencer announced through Twitter that the twin-launch of the premium Xbox Series X and budget-friendly Xbox Series S that took place on November 10 became the largest launch in the entire history of Xbox. While Spencer did not post any hardware sales numbers, he did confirm that the scope of the launch was wider in terms of having more countries than ever before.

Just days ago on Xbox.com, Gaming Experiences & Platforms CVP Liz Hamren revealed additional details related to the declared largest Xbox launch. Firstly, Hamren stated that the global launch happened across forty countries.

With regards to statistics covering the first 24 hours of the global launch of the Xbox Series consoles, Hamren confirmed the following:

A. More new consoles sold than any prior generation, with Xbox Series S adding the highest percentage of new players for any Xbox console at launch.

B. More games played, 3,594 in total, spanning four generations, setting a record for the most games ever played during an Xbox console launch.

C. Next gen means more ways to discover and play, 70 percent of Series X/S consoles are attached to new and existing Xbox Game Pass members.

Let’s start with item A above. Team Xbox’s declaration of selling more new consoles than any prior generation would translate into exceeding the 1,000,000+ Xbox One consoles sold on its launch day in 2013. How many units exactly of the new consoles got sold in the first 24 hours has yet to be revealed. Regardless, I am not surprised at all that the budget friendly Xbox Series S added the highest percentage of new players. At $299, with a very compact console size and with more gamers preferring to buy games and content digitally, Xbox Series S is really an irresistible next-generation console. It lacks the immense power of the Xbox Series X, but the Xbox Series S it still a beast in terms of performance especially with frame rates of 60FPS and 120FPS. The cheaper console can process graphics in 1080p and 1440p, and it is a fact that there are still many households around the world that don’t have 4K TVs. Remember, Xbox Series S and its premium counterpart are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities.

Item B meanwhile emphasizes that within the first 24 hours of the launch of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the users of the mentioned consoles played 3,594 games collectively thanks to backward compatibility which is a feature that Team Xbox prioritizes while Sony and its PlayStation team don’t care much about even though most PS4 games are playable on PlayStation 5. The launch games are not spectacular and based on my observations, it is Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion that have been standing out among them for playing on the new Xbox Series consoles. It is no surprise that Xbox Series console owners took time to play many of the multi-generation Xbox legacy games on the new machines and enjoy them with the benefits of much shorter loading times, improved frame rates and the like. The old criticism that Xbox has no games or has not many games is not only meaningless but also pathetic.

Item C’s emphasis that 70% of Xbox Series consoles are attached to new and existing Xbox Game Pass members could mean that the paid subscription service have been used a lot more during the first 24 hours of launch. While there are no numbers revealed, I would not be surprised that more new subscribers signed up to take advantage of XGP’s benefits which are more evident on the new consoles.

With those available details, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are riding high on a wave of positivity and high activity. How fast Microsoft can replenish supplies of the new consoles around the world to meet the very high demand remains to be seen but it is safe to say that this new console generation is off to a strong start with what Team Xbox prepared. When it comes to the near future, 2021 will be the year when blockbuster games and Xbox-exclusive games will get released and eventually impact the gaming world.

In closing this article, here are some gaming-related videos for your enjoyment.

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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 Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

A Look Back at The Strangers #16 (1994)

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

Meet the opposition.

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The Strangers and the guests at the party.

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

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

Overall, The Strangers #16 (1994) is highly recommended!

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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

Largest launch in Xbox history declared

Welcome back fellow Xbox fans, geeks and gamers! The new generation of console gaming has begun with the twin-launch of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S done around the world. Even though there were not too many images of gamers and long-time Xbox fans lining up at retailers or at special launch-related events to buy the new consoles (due to the pandemic which changed life and business the way we know it), the launch has been declared the largest in Xbox history.

On Twitter, Xbox chief Phil Spencer posted: Thank you for supporting the largest launch in Xbox history. In 24 hrs more new consoles sold, in more countries, than ever before. We’re working with retail to resupply as quickly as possible. You continue to show us the connective power of play is more important than ever.

As you can see above, Spencer declared the launch as being the largest just as he thanked those who supported it. While no sales figures were provided, he stressed that more new consoles were launched in more countries this time which means that they already exceeded the respective launch of Xbox One in 2013. In retrospect, Microsoft sold over a million units of Xbox One at launch.

The new generation of console gaming has officially started with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S now making their way through retailers worldwide.

With regards to supply, Spencer stated that they will resupply their retailers so that those who failed to secure a unit at launch won’t be left behind. It should be stated that retail giant Amazon told a certain number of their customers that Xbox Series X units ordered through them won’t be available until the end of the year. It should be noted that Amazon itself is a rival a Microsoft’s when it comes to cloud-related business and making gaming available to billions of people around the world. Delays regarding the two Xbox Series consoles also hit Canada and the United Kingdom. When it comes to launching games overseas, Yakuza: Like a Dragon reportedly (note: local publication Game Watch the source) has been delayed. Team Xbox needs to work on these issues.

In relation to the launch, EA Play has been made available to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) ultimate subscribers. This means that the said subscribers who own Xbox consoles – including the brand new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S – will be provided EA Play membership for free and this will enable them to are able to play many games. Think about the many sports games, first-person shooters, role-playing games (RPGs), racing games and many other games from EA being offered apart from the many games already listed under Xbox Game Pass own lineup. Definitely there is no shortage of games to play at launch and backward compatibility is also a factor. With regards to the Xbox ecosystem, XGP Ultimate subscribers will be able download and play games from EA Play’s library on their Windows 10 personal computers starting this December.

By the way, do you own a copy of the acclaimed Xbox One-exclusive Gears 5? The said game has been relaunched along with the Xbox Series consoles with technical optimization for the said machines. The main campaign of the game has been updated and includes Dave Bautista (presented as WWE’s Batista) as Xbox icon Marcus Fenix. This is the closest thing Xbox and Gears of War fans will have to a live-action movie adaptation. For the newcomers reading this, Bautista appeared in two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and the James Bond movie Spectre.

More on Gears 5, the game takes advantage of the new technology of the Xbox Series consoles and this means heavily reduced load times, utilization of Quick Resume (now one of the most notable new features only on the new consoles), reduced input latency (meaning improved responsiveness), variable rate shading (a key feature of AMD’s RDNA 2) and the super smooth 120 frames-per-second frame rate in Versus mode. With regards to Xbox Series X, the game is presented in 4K resolution thanks to the Ultra-HD pack and Ultra-Spec graphics that were previously only made available to PC gamer. As if that was not enough, developer The Coalition prepared new features for the Gears 5 campaign, new achievements (worth almost 100 Gamerscore points), etc.

Gamers of Gears 5 transitioning from Xbox One consoles into Xbox Series consoles will be delighted to know that it will take only a push of a button to download the update and download the next-generation version of the game via Smart Delivery for free!

In relation to the availability of Xbox Series consoles, over forty new games (including 30 games optimized for the new generation) have been made available and Team Xbox made the effort to ensure that Xbox Series consoles owners will play the best versions of the games they owned (for consoles) across the generations. While a lot has been showcased about the acclaimed Forza Horizon 4 optimized for the new consoles, it should be noted that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has also been optimized and ALL Halo games have been improved to run at higher resolutions and higher frame rates as well. Being a long-time Halo gamer myself, being able to replay past Halo games way above the 30FPS limits alone is very enticing.

When it comes to the near future, be aware that starting November 18, 2020, cloud gaming will debut in Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico via the Project xCloud Preview program.

Project xCloud General Manager and Head of Product Catherine Gluckstein wrote: In each of these four markets we’ll begin with this Preview to test, iterate, and gather your feedback. And next year, we’ll move to the next step and bring cloud gaming to these markets as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate; this is an important step in our journey as we look to reach more gamers around the world. 

2020 has brought challenges to all of us, but we hope that cloud gaming simply opens up new ways for you to play when and how you choose. Enjoy Master Chief anywhere and everywhere when you play on your phone, get some laps in on Forza while someone else occupies the TV, or to try out a new-to-you Xbox game. Cloud gaming makes it possible to play those top titles on your Android phone or tablet. 

Come join us in Preview as we test and learn in Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico. During this Preview you’ll have access to a curated library of great games for free, including favorites from Xbox Game Studios such as “Minecraft Dungeons,” “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” and “Forza Horizon 4” in addition to some fantastic content from our partners such as “Black Desert,” “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” and “Yakuza 0.” 

Our Project xCloud Preview is currently supported on Android phones and tablets through the Xbox Game Streaming (Preview) app in the Google Play Store, available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

Anyone who wants to join can register online.  

Finally, GameSpot published a feature article highlighting their recent talk with Phil Spencer about Xbox and several related topics.

I find notable how the head of Xbox reacted towards GameSpot’s mentioning of a Bloomberg report which said that several developers in Japan have been approached by Microsoft about acquisition.

Let’s see how receptive gamers in Japan are towards the new Xbox consoles.

When asked if there was any truth to the report, Spencer responded: I don’t think so. I say, I don’t think so… I mean, I’m not in every meeting that every team has, but I’ll say not from me. Most of the opportunities that we’ve had to date have been a long-lasting relationship, and so, I don’t think we’re out there with our business card, throwing them out on the corner, trying to find people. I’ve talked about my affinity for Japanese studios and thinking back in the day when we had more games that were created in Japan as part of our first party, I’m excited when the deal closes to get to spend more time with Tango [Gameworks] and the work that they’re doing. So it’s an area that I’m interested in, but no, I don’t think it’s… I think that’s not accurate.

Spencer also expressed his view about the Asian market from a gaming standpoint and noted how different the Japanese market is compared to those in Korea, China and Southeast Asia. He also stated that he has an affinity for all the amazing creators based in Japan and he spent a lot of time there and wants to make sure those creators see Xbox as a great place for their games. It should be stated, in relation to what was said, that a free downloadable demo of Dragon Quest XI S is now available via the Xbox Store. The blockbuster Japanese RPG will be released in full on December 4, 2020 for Xbox One, Windows 10 PC and – via backward compatibility and XGP – on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

Back to the interview, Spencer mentioned Mistwalker and their notable Xbox 360 JRPGs Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. Eventually, the interview focused on the upcoming RPG Elden Ring and when asked about it, the head of Xbox stated: I’ve seen actually quite a bit. I’ve played quite a bit.

In closing this article, here are some gaming-related videos for your enjoyment.

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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 Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 8

Welcome back fellow Xbox fans, geeks and gamers! The 9th console generation is about to begin with the twin-launch of the premium Xbox Series X and the budget-friendly Xbox Series S next-generation consoles! Team Xbox also announced that they will be organizing a launch-related celebration on November 10 which will be international in scope. At this stage, there have been no scandals, no controversies and no negative vibes towards Microsoft’s next-generation consoles and this is truly a major improvement over the debacle of 2013 that doomed Xbox One before it even launched.

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

So what is the latest? Things are look really good as several journalists, bloggers and YouTubers officially published their respective reviews of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, the units of which they already have and recently they were granted a week of time to test the machines, play games and observe it all for reviewing.

CNET.com’s Dan Ackerman described Xbox Series X as “a reductive evolution, fine-tuning and perfecting what worked so well in the Xbox One line.”

For his part, Geoff Keighley posted: “Xbox has nailed a fast, fluid, powerful console experience. it is a dream to use; the most player-friendly Xbox yet. Everything from the UI to the experience makes play more seamless.  I love the snap-in storage + quick resume.”

“Xbox has built a great foundation for developers to build on. The launch lineup is not great. I find myself mostly playing existing Xbox One titles that load faster and have some graphical tweaks,” Keighley added. “That said it’s incredible this console is launching in a pandemic.”

Over at The Verge, Tom Warren wrote: “Microsoft’s intention with this new generation is to bring a PC-like experience to a console. You can feel it throughout the Series X and even the smaller Series S. If you upgraded from a GTX 1060 gaming PC to an RTX 3080 PC right now, you’d get the same Windows 10 you know and access to the same games you’ve been playing for years. Everything would just feel faster and look better, and you’d be ready for the latest and greatest games.”

Now check out the Xbox Series console reviews in the form of videos below.

If you are having trouble understanding what the Xbox Series consoles feature and what makes them different from each other, check out the official FAQ.

As seen above, pre-launch hardware reviews of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are strongly positive and not even the lack of a launch killer-app (note: red hot video game). Super smooth gameplay, lesser latency, backward compatibility, much shorter load times, quick resume, 60FPS (60-frames-per-second) frame rate being the new normal for the next generation, and much more will define the next-generation experience with Xbox.

When it comes to exclusive video games, there is Gears Tactics to enjoy at launch although its appeal will most likely be limited to strategy game fans (note: those who enjoyed XCOM games of recent years) and Gears of War fans. For the foreseeable future, the exclusive games supporting the Xbox Series consoles (plus Windows 10 PCs and smartphones within the Xbox ecosystem) will come in due time. As there are almost twenty-five game studios working under the Xbox Game Studios group (which already includes the Bethesda studios), production of exclusive games is already underway and once they are ready, expect around five exclusive games released per year starting next year.

And then there is the 3rd party game support which is strong for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Launching along with the two mentioned consoles is the cross-generation game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla which should really shine running on next-generation technology.

In an article on Xbox.com, Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief Will Tuttle wrote: “the visually stunning Valhalla is the perfect way to kick off the next generation of gaming on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. I’ve been playing the game on Xbox Series X and have been blown away by just how good it looks and feels. On Xbox Series X, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla runs in glorious 4K at a buttery 60 frames per second and truly feels like a next-gen title. Upon completing a brief prologue, I found myself in the English countryside, surrounded by verdant fields and trees adorned with vibrant fall foliage. This was where the power of the Xbox Series X really became evident.”

“Standing next to a stream, I marveled at the way light shimmered and reflected off of the surface. When I walked through a stand of trees, I looked up to see rays of light streaming through the leaves above me, while the tall grass at my feet swayed in the breeze. Riding my horse to the top of a nearby mountain, I was blown away by the sweeping vistas that greeted me, all bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun,” Wittle added. “Ubisoft has always created immersive worlds to explore in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Not only does Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Xbox Series X continue that tradition, it pushes it to the next level by creating a world that feels like it’s more alive than any I’ve ever seen before. Even as I played the game, I found myself pausing to soak in the atmosphere or just sit quietly in a forest, enjoying the sound of birds chirping and wind rustling through the leaves.”

As Watch Dogs: Legion (available already) has already been confirmed to run on the next-generation Xbox consoles with ray-tracing,  the other upcoming game that owners of the mentioned new consoles should look forward to is the much-delayed Cyberpunk 2077 which will be enhanced on new technology.  Sure the game looks great already on the aging Xbox One but it will look and flow even better on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series X. As for the delay, the video below has key details about Cyberpunk 2077 that will give you insight as to why it was delayed in the first place. The game is set for a December 10, 2020 release.

In ending this, here are more gaming-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Before proceeding, I want to thank all of you and the others who read my many previous Xbox-related articles leading up to the launch of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. I can confirm that many of you readers helped my website achieve big milestones with regards to online hits (page views). This past October, this website reached more than 29,000 hits worldwide and its lifetime hits (since January 4, 2019) is slowly reaching 250,000 hits worldwide. Once again, I thank you for your viewership and come back here soon for more Xbox-related updates and other geek stuff!

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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 Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

A Look Back at Mantra #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.

Hey Ultraverse fans and superhero comic book collectors! Are you interested in another look at the Break-Thru crossover through the eyes of Mantra? For the newcomers reading this, Break-Thru was a year-ending crossover that literally gathered many of the Ultraverse characters together in an event that affected their world. The said crossover impacted other characters of the Ultraverse through specific comic books such as Prototype #5, Hardcase #7, The Strangers #7 and Solitaire #2 to name some.

Now we have here is another view of Break-Thru in this look back at Mantra #6, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Terry Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Mantra flying during the night thinking about what happened as several Ultras made their way to the moon to fight an entity there that has been mentally contacting a girl named Amber. She thought about her new career at Aladdin as Eden Blake and intends to find ways to transfer her mind into a male body somehow.

Mantra arrives home and instantly changes appearance into Eden in civilian clothes. Upon entering the home, her little daughter (note: nobody in her family is aware that Eden’s soul has been displaced with that of Lukasz’s soul) arrives to greet her back in the presence of Eden’s mother. The daughter is every excited to start making Christmas cookies.

After spending some time alone in the bedroom, Mantra realizes something on the moon and decides to leave pretending she has to go back to work. This saddens Eden’s daughter…

Quality

Mantra in the middle of somewhere.

This comic book is not the good-versus-evil type of story. Rather it is more about personal struggle and threads from the past that challenge Mantra, and it is well written. At the same time, the story serves as a build-up leading to the big events that took place in Break-Thru #2 (the conclusion of the big crossover). Getting to know the entity through the experience and view of Mantra is alone a solid reason to read this comic book. In fact, what you will learn here will help you prepare yourself to understand the Break-Thru crossover comic books and the concepts they featured.

Conclusion

Another glimpse on the life of Eden Blake and her family.

Mantra #6 (1993) is an engaging and enjoyable read. It is not only a mere build-up for Break-Thru, it also reveals more about Lukasz (who occupies the body of Eden/Mantra) and why his past haunts him which alone adds a new layer of depth to his character. There are few scenes of spectacle here and there but the strong writing by Mike W. Barr saved it from becoming a complete bore.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #6 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of this comic book costs $8.

Overall, Mantra #6 (1993) 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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 6

In less than two weeks’ time, the much-awaited next-generation machines Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will launch in many nations around the world. When compared to what happened in 2013 (the Xbox One launch), the excitement and optimism for the new generation is much stronger for Team Xbox. This is because Microsoft’s lineup of 1st party game studios – which includes Bethesda’s eight studios – is stronger than ever before and each studio is already working on multiple projects of its own. This ensures that there will be a steady supply of exclusive games for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows 10 PC and smartphones (supported by Project xCloud) users as well as for Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers. What Team Xbox owns, PlayStation and Nintendo cannot have.

If you intend to make the jump into the next-generation of console gaming on launch day – November 10, 2020 – make sure you have your credit card ready for Xbox Series X ($499) or Xbox Series S ($299) and the launch games. Have you ordered in advance yet?

When it comes to the upcoming consoles, Team Xbox published a new video designed to keep us consumers informed about how to operate them and what results we can expect in return. Watch the video below…

Next is the Xbox Series consoles unboxing done by Windows Central Gaming.

While launch day will sure be busy, Xbox-related commerce may turn busier in the days after. This was because Microsoft CFO Amy Hood told investors that their company expects demand for the two Xbox Series consoles to be very strong. The said demand should drive “supply constrained hardware revenue growth of approximately 40 percent” next quarter.

In its latest financial report, Xbox content and services revenue spiked by 30% and Microsoft as a whole saw its revenue jump 12% to $37.2 billion while its operating income went up by 25% to $15.9 billion. Net income meanwhile went up 30% resulting $13.9 billion. Microsoft surely has more than enough funds to support its Xbox-related interests, including acquiring more game studios to boost Xbox Game Pass! More importantly, the corporation is approaching the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S launches with not only a strong wave of optimism and commercial progress (including a 2nd sellout of pre-orders for the new consoles in Japan) but also with strong financial muscle!

When it comes to the games that you could play, it was just announced that the release of the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed to December 10, 2020. In a statement, CD Projekt Red’s Adam Badowski and Marcin Iwinski wrote: The biggest challenge for us right now is shipping the game on current-gen, next-gen, and PC at the same time, which requires us to prepare and test nine versions of it.

The statement mentioned that their team, like many others around the world, have been working on the game from home as a result of the pandemic. For those who plan to buy and play Cyberpunk 2077 on Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X, be assured that the game will be optimized for the new consoles right from the start and there will even be more enhancements coming sometime in 2021. To learn more about Cyberpunk 2077, watch the videos below.

Have you heard the latest from Xbox chief Phil Spencer? He was interviewed by GameReactor and gave out a lot of details not only about the upcoming consoles but also details about Xbox as a business and ecosystem.

In response to one of the questions, Spencer confirmed the lack of investment Microsoft made to Team Xbox’s own game studios which had a severe effect on them. Spencer’s full answer is as follows:

If I think back during the early Xbox One years and even late in the 360 years, at this time we as a company didn’t invest enough in our creative capabilities with our studios, and it showed. Now, the thing with game production is that it takes a lot of time, so if you underinvest it actually doesn’t show up next year or even in the next two years. It’s maybe three, four, or five years down the road.

I had this feeling or belief that we were underinvesting and I was head of first-party, so I felt it directly. I wanted to invest more, and we weren’t able to. So when I got into this job, I needed to put the business in a good space while getting the support of the company. And then we built a business model that prioritised investing in content knowing that we would have to invest early and wait a while for those investments to pay off.

But there wasn’t kind of a “one morning.” It was something that I felt, as I said through the late 360 and early Xbox One years, it just took us a little time to get into a position to find the right partners and get the support from the company. But I’m incredibly excited. Now with ZeniMax we’re coming up on 23 first-party studios and an amazing line-up. So I’m feeling very good with the support we have.

Below are videos about Spencer related to the GameReactor interview plus the Kotaku interview.

In ending this, here are more gaming-related videos for your enjoyment, including one video review of Ubisoft’s latest release Watch Dogs: Legion. Will you play the newest Watch Dogs on your Xbox One or would you play it on an Xbox Series console on or after November 10?

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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 Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH