A Look Back at Spider-Man 2099 #5 (1993)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the future of 2099 through the Spider-Man 2099 comic book series of the 1990s.

Last time around, Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man found himself in a very tricky situation as he found himself in confrontation with the Specialist while making sure that Kasey Nash (the lady who is involved with Miguel’s brother Gabriel) is safe. It should be noted that at this particular point of time, Spider-Man is still adjusting to his special abilities and he also has deal with matters over his work at Alchemax in his civilian form.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man 2099 #5, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a weakened Spider-Man who mask is being held by the sword-wielding Specialist. As soon as the Specialist realized that the mask can’t be pulled off easily, Spider-Man scratches his body with talons and gained some distance away from him enabling him to wear his mask properly.

Meanwhile inside the facility of Alchemax, Tyler Stone watches the conflict between Spider-Man the Specialist recorded live by cameras. He orders his assistant to interrupt the scheduled programming of Private Eye and direct the live feed of the fight to the entire city. Stone orders him to alert Private Eye’s personnel.

Stone specifically wants Private Eye’s armed members to converge at the fight of Spider-Man and the Specialist, but states that no apprehension will be done. Stone has something in mind for Spider-Man…

Quality

The battle between Spider-Man 2099 and the Specialist was viewed by Alchemax.

What started in issue #4, this comic book expanded greatly without letting the narrative turning dull. The fight between Spider-Man and the Specialist pretty much dominates the majority of the story, and yet Peter David successfully told stories about Kasey Nash and Gabriel O’Hara while giving readers an inside look at Alchemax and its control on society. In addition, the futuristic Stark-Fujikawa corporation was given its own spotlight in the story complete with their own connection with the Specialist.

As the universe of 2099 was further emphasized, Spider-Man got developed further as an action performer. The more Miguel used his special abilities, the more he becomes proficient not only with fighting but also with defensive moves aided by enhanced reflexes. It was also here where Spider-Man gets to use his organic web a lot more which really challenged his opponent from Stark-Fujikawa.

More the narrative, I like the way Peter David raised the stakes and intrigue all throughout. Not only will you get to see Kasey Nash, Alchemax and Stark-Fujikawa perceive the battle, there is also a short and yet intriguing scene of Gabriel O’Hara with a certain lady who would later become a crucial part of the Venom 2099 storyline (read my reviews of issues #35, #36 and #37). I should state that the battle between Spider-Man and the Specialist built up the tension for the impactful moment very near the end of the story, and that is something you must see.

Conclusion

Spider-Man reacts with his reflex and talons.

Spider-Man 2099 #5 (1993) another compelling and enjoyable read from the team of Peter David and Rick Leonardi. The stakes were really raised high in the story complete with giving the reader a greater view of the 2099 New York society under the control of Alchemax and Spider-Man himself is just a small part of it who happens to stand out among all the people because of his special abilities. Clearly, the series at this point moved swiftly from the superhero origin stage into the dangerous society of the far future.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #5 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $60 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $180.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #5 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

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

Sony is clearly behind as technology giants move on with their respective ecosystems

As I am writing this post, the shockwaves caused by the Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal are still being felt. As many Xbox-haters and PlayStation fanboys online could not help but become uneasy and restless because of the deal’s effects on them, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer had officially talked with Sony’s top executives and described what happened via his Twitter account.

From Phil Spencer himself.

Take note of Spencer’s words “existing agreements” and “our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.” Existing agreements most likely refer to what Activision Blizzard made with Sony which I believe are years-long deals on games with regards to platform releases, marketing, post-release downloadable content, etc. Of course, such agreements can last long but NOT FOREVER. The business benefit for PlayStation from Activision Blizzard will someday come to an end. 

As for Microsoft’s desire for keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation, that clearly means that the corporation of Xbox is technically in-charge of not just the COD franchise but on the decision making, marketing and releasing its games on specific platforms. Sony and its PlayStation team are not in the driver’s seat here anymore. Whatever deals Activision signed with PlayStation before the acquisition will expire and they certainly will not be renewed once Microsoft and its Xbox team takes over. In due time, future COD games as well as other upcoming games and new intellectual properties of Activision Blizzard will become Xbox-exclusive in accordance to what Spencer declared before

We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re going to support those games on the platforms they’re on. There are communities of players. We love those communities and will continue to invest in them. And even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms, that we’ll go do. But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists, and that’s our goal, that’s why we are doing this,

This brings me to my next point – Sony as a global business entity is way behind Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon when it comes to establishing ecosystems that result tremendous business growth and reaching billions of customers worldwide respectively. The decades-old console-focused approach by Sony with PlayStation was indeed successful but not great enough to help it grow big time. Not even their Hollywood business nor Spider-Man could lift them up greatly. The weird thing was that Sony in previous decades had established an old ecosystem before PlayStation began.

To put things in perspective, posted below is a long excerpt from a recent Nikkei Asia article. Some parts in boldface…

The 10% drop in Sony’s stock price this week following Microsoft’s announcement that it will buy game content developer Activision Blizzard shows the market has belatedly awakened to an existential flaw in Sony’s kingdom. It lacks an ecosystem.

In terrifying contrast, Microsoft is a formidable ecosystem whose component elements, such as devices, operating system, browser, search engine, applications, content, cloud memory, work hand in glove to suck in captive users and never let them go. The ecosystem effect is all too familiar to owners of PCs that run on the Windows OS, which maddeningly redirects users to Microsoft’s Edge browser and Bing search engine against their will.

It is no accident that five of the world’s seven largest companies by market capitalization — Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet/Google, Amazon and Meta/Facebook — are ecosystems. Every consumer decision to buy a device, be it a PC, smartphone, Kindle reader, or game console, entails a surrender to an interconnected ecosystem. Promiscuity among ecosystems is possible but, by design, not easy. The ecosystems are at war and want to make you their captive.

Ironically, Sony was early to recognize the strategic significance of the ecosystem effect. Its decision to acquire CBS Records and Columbia Pictures in the late 1980s was inspired by the notion that controlling entertainment content could somehow push device sales, such as Betamax VCRs and Sony Walkman.

What Sony overlooked was that it would be self-defeating to make its controlled content exclusively available on Sony devices. Very few consumers would buy a Walkman just because it was the only way to listen to Michael Jackson. And Sony’s refusal to license Michael Jackson to non-Sony device users would perversely shut down third-party royalty revenue from the controlled content. Sony saw, but misunderstood and misapplied, the ecosystem effect between devices and content.

Sony’s next, more costly, wrong turn was its failure to anticipate and keep up with the morphing of portable audio devices like the Walkman launched in 1979 and iPod in 2001 into the iPhone debuted in 2007. The iPhone integrated, in a single handheld device, all of the functions formerly provided by the multiple discrete products in Sony’s consumer electronics lineup: phone, TV, camera, video and audio player and recorder, clock, calculator, and so on.

Sony’s stock price plunged from 30,000 yen ($260) per share in 2000 to 1,668 yen in 2009. Sony and the entire Japanese consumer electronics industry are still in disarray from the iPhone paradigm shift.

Unlike Sony, Apple founder Steve Jobs was a master at creating and orchestrating an ecosystem. In particular, he understood when to link content exclusively to a device and, just as important, when not to. Even now, Apple’s iOS is available only on Apple devices, unlike Microsoft’s device-agnostic Windows OS.
Initially, Apple’s iTunes music store platform was available only on Apple’s own devices. Then, in October 2003, “the day that hell froze over,” Jobs made the strategic decision to make iTunes compatible with and freely downloadable by non-Apple devices.

The result was not only to massively increase the audience and revenues of the iTunes platform. Non-Apple device users discovered how great iTunes was and that it worked even better on an iPod, leading to a surge in new iPod owners conveniently prepped for the coming transfiguration of the iPod into the iPhone.

The same interplay between devices and content is at the center of intense competition in the $180 billion global PC gaming industry. Dedicated gamers have a choice among three game-specific consoles — Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Switch.

The choice of device, in turn, entails a menu of device-specific exclusive content. Xbox and PlayStation each offer about 2,000 titles, but the bestselling 200-300 games for each tend to be exclusive to one or the other. A gamer’s choice of console implies a decision about preferred content.

But the relationship between game devices and content is evolving rapidly, tracking changes elsewhere in the internet universe. Games today can be played on any device, PCs and smartphones, not just a dedicated game console.

Gaming is now mobile. Game content is increasingly being streamed, just like Netflix and Amazon Prime. You can play games on YouTube. And an Xbox can be used as a PC to surf the Internet and do your homework.

The immediate threat to Sony posed by Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is that Microsoft will make the content it is acquiring — global blockbusters like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft — exclusive to Xbox users and invite defections from PlayStation users who want to keep playing their favorite games.

But this is just one element of the multifaceted ecosystem effects Microsoft can deploy to squeeze Sony. Sony should be nervous, for example, that it has no cloud or streaming capability of its own and relies on Microsoft’s own Azure platform to deliver streaming content to Sony users.

Sony’s game and network services segment now accounts for 30% of its revenues. It is hard to see how Sony can compete in the long-term in a narrow game-specific segment without credibly competing with the likes of Microsoft, Alphabet/Google and Amazon across the board in all segments of the device-content spectrum.

From a financial point of view, Sony is not only behind the tech giants with ecosystems. Sony simply does not have the major financial muscle needed to pull off massive acquisitions of game publishers (massive meaning more than $5 billion per each acquisition) that each have lots of game developers, intellectual properties and technologies. The Japanese giant does have a business ecosystem but it’s too small and too narrow compared to its Western competitors. This also means Sony reaches much less customers worldwide.

In a possible response to Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal, Sony can try to acquire its fellow Japanese gaming entities like Capcom, SEGA or Square Enix and integrate the entity(s) into PlayStation, but that will require not just a whole bunch of money but also willingness to not just make big offers the other party cannot turn down, but also the willingness to overcome all the legal obstacles, solve all the complications, absorb all the employees, fund future projects already in development, etc. If the PlayStation team is willing on building up its very own exclusive properties, they could expand the work forces as well as the projects of their very own game studios.

The Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal is very hard to match not just because of the financial value and organizational weights involved, but also because the said deal covers consoles, Windows PC, mobile devices, cloud gaming, browser gaming and much more. The PlayStation ecosystem is still console-focused and so far team PlayStation released only a few of its games on PC. Is Sony even working to improve PlayStation Now? Are the PlayStation executives realizing that their 3rd party marketing deals won’t lift up their corporation and consumer base anymore? Has it occurred to the PlayStation executives that future games of the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon franchises (both of which are permanently identified with Sony’s gaming brand due to exclusive games released on the first PlayStation console) will be released only on Xbox platforms?

As mentioned in the Nikkei Asia article above, business ecosystems are not perfect and they have their flaws that affect customers in bad ways. As such, the ecosystem powers and organizers should do their work to be more user-friendly and be more consumer-oriented. Still, the ecosystem approach to business has proven to be very effective with regards to reaching the widest number of consumers worldwide as well as driving business growth to new heights, not to mention generating economic benefits for business partners involved (example: credit card companies whose users buy on Amazon, Xbox network, Google, etc.) No amount of sales of Final Fantasy games and Street Fighter games exclusive to PlayStation consoles will ever match that. 

As for the console fanboys who still hate Xbox, they should learn to stop living with fantasy and wake up to reality. Time to grow up.

In ending this piece, posted below are videos related to Xbox and the Activision Blizzard deal…

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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.

+++++

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

A Look Back at Sludge #3 (1993)

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

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

Sludge in trouble!

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Overall, Sludge #3 (1993) is recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Sludge #2 (1993)

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

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

For the newcomers reading this, I published my retro review of Sludge #1 back in December of 2020. I really enjoyed that Ultraverse comic book and now is a good time to revisit that series and find out what will happen next to Sludge, the UV’s most notable monster protagonist. I should state that Steve Gerber (Man-Thing) and Aaron Lopresti made a solid creative duo in Sludge #1.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #2, published by Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a quick flashback of a young blonde boy who got bullied by other kids due to his unusual appearance and the way he expresses himself. Fast forward to the present day, an armed man (the same kid in the flashback) fires his guns on a man who was on his bed inside his residence.

After finishing the killing, the armed man enters his unusual looking car and leaves in high speed. After passing through the city streets, he drives his vehicle into his secret hideout filled with several weapons. Shortly after cleaning himself, he takes his seat in his private study and starts communicating with Mr. Barnett who tells him that bad news that something happened to his father. The killer then states, “Payment is due.”

Somewhere in lower Manhattan, a man is being beaten by two men who are enforcers of a man wearing a trench coat in their presence. The beaten man named Mikey swears he will get the money to pay off his debt but the coated man tells him that he is a week late and will be penalized.

Suddenly out of nowhere, Sludge comes out and grabs the two enforcers which frees Mike whose ear just got cut off by the coated man. Sludge then calls the coated man by his nickname…

Quality

The situation only gets more intense whenever Sludge comes in.

I’ll go straight to the point on the storytelling by Steve Gerber. The biggest surprise is here is that the focus was shifted from the titular protagonist Sludge in favor of the first appearance of Bloodstorm who is more than just a typical villain. Gerber heavily emphasized Bloodstorm’s personality as one who enjoys inflicting violence or death to others (and get paid for it) as a result of his painful childhood and his eventual acceptance of the beliefs that violence itself is always part of life. Even so, this comic book shows that Bloodstorm does not believe in inflicting misery for money and he calls it a cowardly way of earning money. Even as he finds his client’s business appalling, he still proceeds to do the dirty work to make money. This, of course, puts Bloodstorm in the dark work organized, target-focused mobbing which also puts him on the same course as Sludge. 

As with issue #1, the violence here is pretty intense and adulterated which goes along almost perfectly with the story’s dark and gritty tone. There is a fine mix of suspense, shock moments and the revealing of key details. I assure you all reading that that even though Sludge himself was not so dominant as the centerpiece of the story, the payoff for all the build-up was still worth reading.

Conclusion

Get to know Bloodstorm through this comic book.

Sludge #2 (1993) is a pretty surprising comic book. One might think that it would become the natural progression of what was established in issue #1 (which itself was the first appearance and origin of Sludge) but ultimately it took a completely different approach. I should also state that the duo of Steve Gerber and Aaron Lopresti continued to deliver compelling stuff in this comic book. While the fact that Sludge is not the dominating force in the story might turn off some readers, I can say to you that Sludge #2 (1993) is still a very worthy read and it builds up on something waiting to be revealed in succeeding issues.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Sludge #2 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48

Overall, Sludge #2 (1993) is recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Spider-Man 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.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts, and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the world of 2099 within the universe of Marvel Comics back in the 1990s, specifically through the Spider-Man 2099 monthly series.

Today we will look back at the early development of futuristic Spider-Man as published way back in 1993. The first three issues (read also my reviews of issue #2 and #3) formed a solid foundation on establishing Miguel O’Hara as his era’s Spider-Man thanks mainly to the high-quality writing done by Peter David. What issue #4 will deliver, we will find out here.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man 2099 #4, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Ricky Leonardi.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Gabriel O’Hara (Miguel’s brother) and Kasey Nash trying to have a good time together inside a vehicle until a man armed with a sword interrupts them and tries to take the lady with him. As Gabriel makes his move to help Kasey, the swordman throws two sharp projectiles at him and moves away with the lady.

Over at the Babylon Towers residence, Miguel O’Hara gets visited by his boss Tyler Stone accompanied by armed personnel. Not realizing that Spider-Man 2099 and Miguel are one and the same person, Tyler tells him that the sudden appearance of the crawler put Alchemax on edge.

Tyler proposes peace between him and Miguel, offering him more of the hyper addictive substance Rapture. He tells him that Aaron Delgato was identified as the mysterious Spider-Man…   

Quality

Miguel O’Hara and his brother Gabriel ride and talk.

The plot really thickened in this comic book resulting a few very interesting sub-plot branches as well as more depth on the development of Miguel O’Hara. I really like the way Peter David explored the corporate side of Miguel’s life here creating suspense about Tyler’s limited knowledge of the Alchemax incidents that happened in issues #1 and #2 which actually involved the protagonist witnessing the fall of his corporate rival Aaron (the same guy responsible for the genetic manipulation of Miguel into Spider-Man). This comic book also focuses on the strained relationship Miguel has with his brother Gabriel who clearly lacks the will to be personally responsible.

I also enjoyed the way Miguel reacts to the classic Spider-Man expression of “with great power comes great responsibility” as he struggles to set things right even as being a civilian and a superhero in his society has major hassles.

The anticipated battle between Spider-Man and the sword-wielding Specialist was structured nicely. Instead of being the typical good-versus-evil conflict, what was presented started with nice moments as Spider-Man still struggles to make the best out of his capabilities. Be aware that the fight does not conclude in this issue.

Conclusion

Miguel getting ready for work while having his Spider-Man costume worn.

Spider-Man 2099 #4 (1993) is a solid comic book to read. It had a nice balance of character development, plot with twists here and there, as well as a good amount of action and thrills. Its best feature, as expected, was the further development of the protagonist and you will see more of Miguel than Spider-Man. By the end of this comic book, I really felt I got to know Miguel more as a person, and not a mere character.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #4 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #4 (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 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/

Better than Streaming: Alligator 4K Blu-ray coming out on February 22, 2022

Welcome back, fellow geeks, Blu-ray collectors and movie buffs! If you are fond of old-school creature features, suspense and horror for your home viewing, then you might be interested to know that the 1980 film Alligator will be released in 4K Blu-ray format on February 22, 2022 according to a Blu-ray.com update. Alligator 4K Blu-ray is an upcoming release prepared by Scream Factory and interested costumers can order it right now online.

To put things in perspective, posted below are key details from the Blu-ray.com article about Alligator 4K Blu-ray combo. Some parts in boldface…

The 4K Blu-ray cover.

DISC ONE: 4K BLU-RAY – THEATRICAL VERSION

  • EXCLUSIVE NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • Audio Commentary With Director Lewis Teague And Actor Robert Forster
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

DISC TWO: BLU-RAY – THEATRICAL VERSION

  • EXCLUSIVE NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
  • NEW Everybody In The Pool – An Interview With Actress Robin Riker
  • NEW Wild In The Streets – An Interview With Director Lewis Teague
  • NEW It Walks Among Us – An Interview With Screenwriter John Sayles
  • NEW Luck Of The Gator – An Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Robert Short
  • NEW Gator Guts, The Great River, And Bob – An Interview With Production Assistant, Now Famous Actor/Director/Producer, Bryan Cranston
  • NEW Newspaper Ad Still Gallery By Drive-In Asylum
  • Audio Commentary With Director Lewis Teague And Actor Robert Forster
  • Alligator Author – An Interview With Screenwriter John Sayles
  • Additional Scenes From The TV Version
  • Promotional Materials
    • NEW Teaser Trailer (New 2K Scan)
    • NEW Theatrical Trailer (NEW 2K Scan)
    • NEW TV Spots (NEW 2K Scan)
    • Trailers From Hell – Filmmaker Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) On ALLIGATOR
    • ALLIGATOR Game Television Commercial
  • Still Gallery (Movie Stills, Movie Posters, Lobby Cards, And Behind-The-Scenes Photos)
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

DISC THREE: BLU-RAY – EXTENDED TELEVISION VERSION

  • NEW 4K RESTORATION FROM THE OCN WITH ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE FROM AN INTERPOSITIVE
  • The extended television version is presented in high-definition for the first time ever.

Posted below are the other details from Alligator’s own page at Blu-ray.com…

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio – English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles – English SDH

Discs – 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc, Three-disc set (1 BD-100, 2 BD-50)

Packaging – Slipbox, Reversible cover

Playback – 4K Blu-ray: Region free, 2K Blu-ray: Region A

The movie poster from 1980.

Personally, I saw Alligator on home video way back in the 1980s and sometimes on cable TV afterwards. In American pop culture, the Lewis Teague-directed movie was one of several creature feature movies that got released as part of a wave of imitators who were inspired by the massive success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Alligator had a mixed-to-positive reception from the movie critics in 1980 and its ticket sales were almost four times its production budget.

How this old movie will look like in 4K interests me, and the 4K visuals have been confirmed to be native 4K. As typical with other Scream Factory releases, Alligator will come with lots of extra stuff that fans and movie buffs will eventually enjoy. Watch out for this 4K Blu-ray release on February 22, 2022.

In closing this Better than Streaming piece, posted below are Alligator-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/

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

A Look Back at Spider-Man 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, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the world of 2099 within the universe of Marvel Comics back in the 1990s, specifically through the Spider-Man 2099 monthly series.

This time around, we take a look back at the early stage of the futuristic Spider-Man’s story and learn more about Miguel’s struggle in becoming something he was not ready for. On my part, the 3rd issue of Spider-Man 2099 was the first-ever hard copy of the monthly series I bought.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Spider-Man 2099 #3, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins immediately after the ending of issue #2 with Miguel O’Hara in disguise as Spider-Man facing off with Venture who has been working for Alchemax’s head to find precisely him. The presence of idolaters of Thor view Venture as an enemy and Spider-Man (who knows he is being hunted by the cybernetic guy) tells them to get back to stay out of danger.

Instead of listening to him, the idolaters did the foolish thing by physically attacking Venture who is just too proficient in combat and his high-tech weapon hurts them. With great risk, Spider-Man leaps to Venture to try to convince him to leave him alone. Unfortunately he loses his balance and gets touched by Venture’s weapon which leaves his right arm numb.

Venture tells Spider-Man that Alchemax wants him…

Quality

Even though he has a numb right arm, Spider-Man 2099 still got up-close and personal with Venture.

This comic book is one action-packed thrill ride laced with solid character development. While issues #1 and #2 showed how Miguel O’Hara became Spider-Man of 2099, this story shows him in his first-ever battle with someone who happens to be doing a mission for Alchemax (Miguel’s employer no less).

Peter David carefully structured the story and the result were lots of moments in which Spider-Man 2099 witnesses the unexpected happenings which readers can relate with. As Spider-Man learns more about the enhancements within him (better reflexes, ability to leap far, etc.), he gets to do the unbelievable which is a classic superhero trope done but within a futuristic, science fiction setting. What he does with his abilities, he does his best to adjust himself. I also like the fact that Spider-Man of 2099 does not have the Spider Sense of the classic Spider-Man (Peter Park) which in a creative way adds to the suspenseful moments in this comic book series.

As for Venture, he is not your typical villain nor is a one-dimension character designed to merely provide opposition to the protagonist. He is a cybernetic bounty hunter on a mission and does not harbor any personal grudge nor hatred against Spider-Man. On his own, Venture is deadly and is clearly one of the best villains to ever take on Spidey 2099.

Conclusion

The idolaters and worshipers of Thor take on Venture which Spider-Man witnesses.

Spider-Man 2099 #3 (1993) is a very solid read and it succeeded in further defining the futuristic Spider-Man’s personality as well as his origin. The first time I read this comic book, I got very immersed in learning about the protagonist and how he does his best to save himself and overcome the opposition while finding out ways to ensure that bystanders and witnesses will not get hurt. This comic book also has an immersive sci-fi setting and shows more of the society of 2099. I can clearly say that this is one enjoyable and compelling comic book which aged nicely to this day.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #3 (1993) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #3 (1993) 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/

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One on March 18, 2022

As I mentioned previously, 2022 will be a bigger and more exciting year for enjoying video games on Xbox platforms as there will be more and varied new video games coming out as well as new fun stuff through the Xbox network and Xbox Game Pass (XGP). Adding more depth and excitement on Xbox gaming this year is the fast-approaching release of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin on March 18, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One consoles!

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action-packed, Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) being made by Koei Tecmo-owned developer Team Ninja (best known for Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) under publisher Square Enix. For key details about the upcoming game, read the Square Enix press release excerpt below. Some parts in boldface…

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN blends challenging and strategic action gameplay with the world and lore of the FINAL FANTASY series to create a unique action RPG experience. Join Jack and his allies as they throw open the gates to the Chaos Shrine and step into a world of dark fantasy and exhilarating battles to discover if they are truly the Warriors of Light the prophecy foretold.

Posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com article of the game. Some parts in boldface…

From a key cutscene in the game.

In this new tale you’ll play as Jack, a stranger to the Kingdom of Cornelia with a past shrouded in mystery. He must hazard numerous challenges to bring the light of the crystals back to a kingdom conquered by darkness in this hard-core action RPG. Will restoring the crystals’ light usher in peace or a new form of darkness? Or perhaps something else entirely? Keep reading to find out what makes this Final Fantasy story so unique.

Visceral Action Combat

Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin allows players to experience Final Fantasy action like never before. Real-time combat keeps the action at the forefront of gameplay. But you won’t find success by mashing buttons. You’ll need to turn your enemies’ powers against them to turn the tides of battle. Switch between jobs with a push of a button so you can be prepared for anything that comes your way. When the odds are overwhelming, use the powerful Lightbringer ability to push back the monstrous hordes. Once you’ve broken their spirit, finish them off with a crystal crushing finishing move.

One of the characters in the game.

Deep Character Customization

With each enemy you defeat and every chest you open, you’ll uncover powerful treasure to help you on your journey. Each piece of armor will not only augment your abilities but will also change the look of your character as well. The weapons you find will also unlock new jobs to fit your play style. You might start off as a swordsman, but you’ll quickly discover options to become a mage, dragoon, monk, and so much more. Find the right combination of abilities to fit the way you play and don’t forget to customize your team-mates gear for some added support.

A Dark World to Discover

If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game before you might recognize some familiar creatures and locations, but you’ve never seen them like this. What secrets does each location hold and what manner of monster await you in the darkness?

Anyone who loves real-time action in Japanese RPGs should check this out.

To order the game in advance for your Xbox console, you can go for the regular edition here or the digital deluxe version here. Being a highly stylized action RPG developed by the talented guys at Team Ninja, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will surely standout among all other RPGs (regardless of core design or gameplay styles) that are coming to Xbox consoles in this console generation. It is also interesting to see how this upcoming game will perform in terms of visual fidelity and frame rates when optimized for Xbox Series X. Mark your calendars for March 18, 2022 for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

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 V: The Final Battle (1984)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching V: The Final Battle 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.

With a very engaging story, memorable characters, intriguing concepts and innovative marketing, the $13 million production V: The Original Miniseries (simply called V back then) became a major TV hit in America over two nights in May, 1983. I personally loved watching the said mini-series back in the 1980s and I still love replaying it in this age of high-definition and Blu-ray discs. For me, at least, it is a timeless classic and it carries several lessons about the fragility of society, the rise of fascism, the spread of evil in many forms and the human desire for freedom from oppression.

Given its success and the way creator Kenneth Johnson ended the 1983 sci-fi mini-series, a sequel was inevitable. In fact, two sequels to V: The Original Miniseries were approved in the form of another mini-series (note: I acquired the Blu-ray release in 2021) and a regular TV series. Beyond the small screen, the V franchise entered literature as DC Comics published a V comic book series (read my retro review of V #1 by clicking here) related to the TV series.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V: The Final Battle, starring Faye Grant, Marc Singer, Jane Badler and Michael Ironside under the direction of Richard T. Heffron. This 3-episode mini-series, which involved a lot of screenwriters, was broadcast on TV in America in May 1984.

The cover and the title that did not live up to its purpose.

Early story

The story begins with Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) having a nightmare of him and his son Sean (who was abducted during the events of V: The Original Miniseries) in a desperate escape attempt while inside one of the motherships of the Visitors. He wakes up in the presence of Julie Parrish (Faye Grant) and realizes they have a dangerous mission to execute at a local facility used by the red-uniformed Visitors. It turns out, the Resistance movement led by Julie has been losing ground to the alien humanoids and Mike has been helping them out while prioritizing the state of his son who has been in captivity in one of the mother ships.

During the night, a truck carrying many local civilians inside its trailer arrives at a local factory controlled by the Visitors with officer Steven (Andrew Pine) watching over. After the civilians got directed to enter the factory, it turns out they got processed and came out in the form of food cocoons. The sight shocks Julie watching from a distance with her armed teammates waiting on stand-by.

Easily the most engaging shot in this sequel. A clear reminder about the fascist takeover by the aliens from outer space.

After causing damage on the nearest fence, the Resistance begins their attempt to raid the facility and free their fellow cocooned people but the tide turned against them. It turns out, the Visitors’ troops are wearing stronger armor and bright lights were installed on the top of the facility to forcing Julie, Marc and the rest of their team to retreat. They lost some members along the way. During a closed-door meeting with the Resistance stakeholders, Mike Donovan says a key event is needed to make a significant gain against the Visitors.

Over at the mothership hovering over Los Angeles and in the presence of Diana (Jane Badler), the leader John (Richard Herd) tells Kristine Walsh (Jenny Sullivan) that a major medical announcement will be held in the form of an organized special event very soon and that she will be part of the presentation for the global TV audience…

Quality

Marc Singer as Mike Donovan with Michael Durrel and Michael Wright as Robert Maxwell and Elias Taylor near him.

I’ll star first with the presentation here. This sequel mini-series was composed of three episodes totaling over 270 minutes. In what looks like to be attempts to ensure more spectacles for the viewers’ enjoyment, each episode of V: The Final Battle has a battle near the end and the creative team succeeded in not only providing on-screen action but also scored well in making the spectacle more varied while still making sense within the main narrative. For the most part, this sequel is indeed a natural progression of what was established in V: The Original Miniseries and that is something to admire given the fact that V creator Kenneth Johnson left this production early.

On the storytelling, V: The Final Battle expands a bit on the Visitors’ dictatorship of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas while the Resistance led by Julie Parrish and supported by close companions Robert Maxwell (Michael Durrell), Elias Taylor (Michael Wright) and Caleb Taylor (Jason Bernard) are shown to be struggling on taking down the alien humanoids even though they secured noticeably more weapons and equipment. The storytelling and the dramatization about the Resistance changes dramatically with the addition of Ham Tyler (Michael Ironside) and partner Chris Farber (Mickey Jones) in the 2nd episode and from that point on, you get to see a human opposition that becomes more flexible with their operations.

Michael Ironside as Ham Tyler is the most significant new addition to the cast.

As mentioned earlier, Kenneth Johnson’s involvement in this sequel was minimal and it is seen on the presentation. The symbolism Johnson implemented in the original mini-series that established parallels between 1980s America to the Nazi occupation of Europe did not continue here which results a more straightforward presentation of details, character moments and story progression. There was also a noticeable lack of suspense when it comes to executing big scenes with big reveals. The pacing, like in the 1983 mini-series, moves smoothly at a moderate pace throughout and there were no boring moments at all.

The quality of script is still good. For the most part, the writers managed to capture the essence of the established characters from the original mini-series as they told the further developments of this sequel. For example, Caleb and Elias’ father-and-son moments quickly remind me of what I saw in V: The Original Miniseries. Robert Maxwell’s struggle to help his troubled daughter Robin (Blair Tefkin) while assisting Julie and the Resistance is a very natural progression of what was shown in 1983. The friendship between good natured alien Willie (Robert Englund) and Harmony (Diane Cary) got developed a lot more than expected eventually adding to one particular side of the conflict. The local collaborators Daniel Bernstein (David Packer) and Eleanor Dupres (Neva Patterson) developed further with their treason towards their fellow humans as they enjoyed further the power they gained from the Visitors. These two characters will surely get on the nerves of viewers rooting for the Resistance.

Denise Galik as Maggie is a fine new addition to the cast.
David Packer returns as Daniel Bernstein.
Sarah Douglas as Pamela, a superior of Diana’s.

When it comes to new additions to the cast, Ham Tyler and Chris Farber are not the only new players to add depth to this sequel. There is also Maggie (Denise Galik) who is an attractive, brave and strategic Resistance member whose contribution makes an impact. On the downside, there is also Andrew Doyle (Thomas Hill) who is bad choice the creative team came up with as the on-screen representative of faith when he in fact represents religion, idolatry, rituals and distortion. On the side of the Visitors is Pamela (Sarah Douglas) who is a higher-ranking officer than Diana and even John. Pamela is the more militaristic type of leader who is more focused on achieving goals while keeping things in order.

If there is anything flawed about the characterization, it is the romantic relationship of Julie Parrish and Mike Donovan which starts in the first episode. Considering how dramatic the performances of Faye Grant and Marc Singer were in this sequel, Julie and Mike still don’t make a believable pair of lovers in my view. While this romantic relationship opens up new dimensions within Julie and Mike and offer viewers something new to focus, it brings down the former’s value as Resistance leader somewhat while also setting aside the hinted personal connection between her and Elias in the 2nd episode of the 1983 mini-series.

Faye Grant as Julie Parrish in the conversion process scene watched closely by Jane Badler’s Diana.

More on Faye Grant, her performance here is more varied. Not only does she play the brave and struggling leader who is talented in fighting, science and medical practice, she also portrayed Julie as an even more vulnerable character this time around. Her act as the traumatized Julie during the conversion process (read: mental and psychological torture using a more detailed form of virtual reality or nightmare generation) scenes under the watch of Diana is very dramatic and compelling to watch. Just seeing Julie in the conversion process will make grip you with despair and you will eventually feel sorry for her. I should state that the nightmare scenes of Julie were presented with a clear touch of horror.

Marc Singer as Mike Donovan is no longer the reluctant action hero but rather a driven man with a mission to get his missing son back while maintaining a secret connection with Martin (Frank Ashmore) of the Fifth Column (secret dissenters among the Visitors) hoping to achieve breakthroughs for the Resistance and their friends among the dissenting aliens. Singer did the best he could with the script provided to him and he remain likable all throughout. Other than the unbelievable romance with Julie as well as his past encounters with Ham Tyler, there is not much new to expect from the way Mike Donovan was written here. What I should point out, however, is that Mike Donovan’s support for the unholy act of abortion (along with the so-called right to abort) is very wrongful, highly immoral and makes the hero having a sinister presence within him even though he is a father searching for his son.

Jane Badler’s performance as Diana deserves admiration here. Not only did she successfully recapture the charismatic and sinister nature of her character in the 1983 mini-series, Badler was very convincing in showing the more desperate side of Diana, especially when it comes to power struggle within the ranks of the Visitors. You can clearly see the desperation and struggle as soon as Pamela appeared. This sequel also showed a lot more of Diana when it comes to personally supervising her conversion process which is much more elaborate here (note: the conversion process in the 1983 mini-series was limited to the showing of a chair with torture devices). Being the very symbol of charisma and evil in the V franchise, Diana’s place in pop culture is solid and her real-world comparative counterparts would be none other than Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris.

Jane Badler as the ever charismatic yet very wicked Diana.

As mentioned earlier, Michael Ironside’s Ham Tyler is the most significant addition to the cast and the script. Ironside had that excellent mix of toughness, cruelty and sarcasm portrayed in here and at the same time Ham Tyler brought out very interesting and intriguing interactions with the more established Julie and Mike. As seen in entertainment history, Ironside went on to climb up the ranks in Hollywood with Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997) and in the Splinter Cell video game franchise. Ironside’s Ham is easily the fourth major character of the V franchise of the 1980s.

Going into the spectacle part of this sequel, the action is more varied as mentioned earlier and the 3-episode structure was a factor. You will see lots of shooting with the use of guns and laser blasters here and there, and with the in-story locations and props as key factors, there are action sequences that are uniquely done. There is a lot to enjoy for any V fan and casual viewers watching this sequel.

As for the special effects part of the spectacle, this one is a mixed bag similar to what was presented in the 1983 mini-series. To put things in perspective, the use of in-camera effects, practical effects and optical effects for TV back in the 1980s was ambitious. That being said, certain effect shots here did not age well such as the miniature shots looking fake (because the camera used did not have a special lens to capture visuals that would have made the miniatures look believable). I should also state that there were certain effects shots that were recycled and reused in key sequences in this sequel which remains embarrassing to see. What is even more embarrassing to see here is the very poor-quality monster effects used during the nightmare scenes (conversion process) of Julie and, more notably, the presentation of Robin’s other child. The monster effects are so fake, they are laughable to watch.  

On the bright side of the special effects, the quality of the laser blasts remains good to watch right down to the precise timing with the explosions that were simulated on-set and in-camera.

Conclusion

The Visitors and Resistance key characters in the sequel.

While it has its strengths and weaknesses, V: The Final Battle is still engaging and enjoyable to watch, and at the same time it is a worthy addition for your Blu-ray collection when it comes to HD viewing (note: this is the sequel with the best visuals yet albeit with black borders on the sides). Even though creator Kenneth Johnson was not too involved on the production side, the creative team managed to deliver a long story that proved to be a natural progression of the original mini-series while providing more spectacle (especially action), developing the established characters and resolving key plot threads that started in 1983.

The lack of Kenneth Johnson’s personal touch on the presentation was noticeable and somewhat brought this sequel down a bit in terms of style. What brought V: The Final Battle’s quality down were the overall cheaper looking visual effects, the Julie-Mike love relationship and the climax of the final episode which seemed executed with desperation on the part of the creative team (note: giving a little new character instant purpose). In fairness, this sequel still succeeded in showing what fascism in America (or California specifically which is now dominated by Commies) would look like and it built up on its predecessor’s themes such as the deception of power and the collaboration with foreign enemies. This mini-series even added themes of teenage pregnancy and abortion (note: someone from the creative team wanted to promote the wrongful Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973) to its narrative.

Does V: The Final Battle live up to its title? Absolutely not because a regular TV series that deteriorated in quality followed. In retrospect, it’s clear that this sequel marked the beginning of the decline of the V franchise in pop culture. What more, V: The Final Battle was never counted as canon in Kenneth Johnson’s 2008 novel (and sequel to the 1983 mini-series) V: The Second Generation. On its own, V: The Final Battle still has more positive stuff than negative ones and in my experience, it remains enjoyable and compelling to watch from start to finish. Compared to V: The Original Miniseries, I can say this sequel falls short. It is good, not great.

Overall, V: The Final Battle (1984) is recommended. That being said, let this 1984 mini-series remind you that there is so much evil in the real world in the forms of Iran, the terrorists of Palestine, the social justice warriors (SJWs), the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and liberal media to name some. Always keep in mind to avoid becoming evil no matter how tempting power in this divided world becomes to you. You also do not want to let the evil ones take over your government and have authority over you, your family members and your community. Push back against evil and stand up strong by faithfully taking sides with the one true Savior whose name is Jesus!

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