A Look Back at Break-Thru #2 (1994)

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

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

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

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

An epic cover by the late George Perez.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

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

Mantra, Prime, The Solution, Hardcase and Choice.

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

+++++

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A Look Back at Warriors of Plasm #1

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.

It’s truly amazing to see how a grand vision imagined by a veteran comic book creator gets realized into published form with the help of a creative team whose members listened very closely to him. Such a thing happened with Warriors of Plasm #1, published in 1993 by Defiant Comics with a story written by former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter and drawn by David Lapham (with ink work by Michael Witherby).

Before starting this retro comic book review, let’s take a short look back at the history of Jim Shooter whose tenure as Marvel’s editor-in-chief include such epics like Secret Wars and Secret Wars II. After getting fired by Marvel in 1987, Shooter and his team of business associates tried and failed to acquire Marvel. Not settling for failure, they went on to establish Valiant Comics which made its presence felt in the superhero comic book market. After being ousted by Valiant, Shooter and some others established Defiant Comics.

That being said, here is my review of Warriors of Plasm #1.

Cover
The cover drawn by Lapham.

Early story

The story begins in the middle of a huge battle. Inside a living, organic ship (a flying creature precisely), acquisitor Lorca leads his force of invaders gradually defeating a resistance force. On the ground, a huge portion of the home city of the resistance has crumbled and Lorca’s fellow soldiers there have gained control of the war zone.

Lorca’s ship moves close to the ground to pick up high gore lord Sueraceen. As it turns out, Lorca and Sueraceen are lovers (the lady referred to him as her lust-mate) and their reunion is nothing less than sensual and expressive. As they talked, the biomass (referring to the inhabitants of the defeated city) will be incorporated genetically and organically into their world, and live again as part of their ecosystem.

After sending Sueraceen back on the ground to resume her duty of leading the troops, Lorca and his crew flew back to space to enter the Org of Plasm, an organic, fleshy space station complete with resources, inhabitants and an actual city inside.

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Admirers, followers and idolaters tried so hard to get Lorca’s attention.

Given his prominence, Lorca is highly respected, even idolized, by his fellow people.  One particular idolater even genetically reshaped his face to look like Lorca. Alone in a private chamber, Lorca is capable of cloning which is illegal. More intriguing, however, is that he has been developing a top-secret project with an intention to overwhelm the rulers of the org.

He begins his project with the holo-orb which is focused on planet Earth. As it turns out, organic beings from Lorca’s world are already present on Earth, spying on ten thousand people. Suddenly, the ten thousand got touched by the organic beings which instantly sent them back to the Org of Plasm.

Quality

Warriors of Plasm #1 is not just a high-quality comic book. It is also a great showcase of the talents of Jim Shooter, David Lapham and others molded together to form a true, sci-fi epic that remains very unique to read to this day.

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Very intriguing art and visual designs by Lapham.

When it comes to storytelling, structuring and character development, the former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief scored great points which is not surprising given his tremendous experience in comic books. With great art by Lapham, this comic book opened with literally strong arms that pulled me into an all-new, sci-fi universe that is like no other. Within the first few pages, I felt deeply immersed into discovering the universe and quickly realized Lorca’s role, what his side was doing and more. The script and arrangement of panels for the art were executed with high efficiency. Really, I never felt lost reading this comic book.

As I kept reading further, I discovered more about the culture of Lorca’s people, how they operate and traveled efficiently with organic materials and living beings that served their needs without the use of technology (no metals, no computers, no fossil fuel and no digital stuff). This comic book shows how deep and engaging Jim Shooter’s imagination really is and illustrator David Lapham lived up to the difficult task of realizing the visual concepts.

And then there is the dialogue which is really deep and engaging to read. Lorca, Sueraceen and the many other supporting characters involving the org and the surviving few from planet Earth each have unique personalities. Clearly Shooter planned each character with a purpose. What is even more intriguing in this comic book is that the line between good and evil was cleverly blurred.

The art by David Lapham, whose past credits include Magnus Robot Fighter, Harbinger and Shadowman for Valiant Comics, really outdid himself. The characters are really well defined visually but what really stood out was his work on the Plasm world and the functioning organic environment. Of the many works of the illustrator, Warriors of Plasm is his most memorable work.

Conclusion

While it is true that Defiant Comics no longer exists and Warriors of Plasm’s full potential as an entertainment franchise was never realized, this particular comic book is, in my honest opinion, still one of the best new comic books ever launched in 1993. Its epic science fiction concept opened very strongly and remained very engaging right until the very last page. I can assure you that by the time you reach the end of Warriors of Plasm #1, you will want to go out and search for the next issue.

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On the battle zone is gore lord Sueraceen leading the troops.

If you are thinking about acquiring an existing copy of Warriors of Plasm #1, please take note that as of this writing and based on the latest rates at MileHighComics.com, a near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4, $26 for the near-mint copy of the edition with five signatures, $7 for the Jim Shooter-signed edition, and $30 for the signed-and-numbered edition.

This comic book is a 1990s classic. As such, Warriors of Plasm #1 is highly recommended!


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