A Look Back at What If #4 (1989)

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

Welcome back superhero fans, 20th century arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1989 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series (Volume 2).

For the newcomers reading this, I previously reviewed a variety What If comic books which you can find by clicking here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. The joy of reading a What If comic book was the exploration of alternate outcomes in relation to the stories that have been counted by Marvel Comics as canon or official fictional history within their shared comic book universe. In this retro review, we will explore a key event from Spider-Man’s time with the alien costume (symbiote) which is related with the events of Secret Wars and the eventual establishment of his deadliest nemesis Venom.

With those details laid down, here is a look back What If #4, published in 1989 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by Mark Bagley.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher examining Spider-Man’s involvement with the Secret Wars that took place on a faraway planet created by the Beyonder. There, his costume got damaged beyond  repair and he acquired a new one made of what he perceived to be an advanced form of material. After successfully returning home, Spider-Man goes through some mysterious developments and he could not understand why he remains fatigued even as he spent more time sleeping.

With the help of Mr. Fantastic at the Fantastic Four headquarters, Spider-Man learns that his new costume is a living entity that has attached itself to him mentally and physically. As Mr. Fantastic uses a sonic blaster, Spider-Man and the alien costume got separated at last. Some time later, the alien costume re-attached itself to Spider-Man who eventually used church bells loud sounds to separate it. The alien costume would go on to the find Eddie Brock to form Venom.

The alternate reality begins with Spider-Man having a joyful reunion with Black Cat shortly after coming back from Secret Wars. Learning from her advise to have himself checked properly, he visits Dr. Connors (the Lizard) for examination and testing…

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The possessed Spider-Man takes on Dr. Strange and the Hulk without hesitation.

To say that Danny Fingeroth’s script is very deep is an understatement. Specifically, this story is a great exploration of alternative events that not only affects the iconic Spider-Man/Peter Parker but also other elements of the Marvel Comics universe of the time. The concept of the alien costume fully bonding with Peter Parker with Mr. Fantastic and even Dr. Strange failing to help is indeed suspenseful and intriguing to read thanks to Fingeroth’s very solid writing. In fact, the story even shows Spider-Man as being possessed by the symbiote (complete with dialogue) and when you witness Peter Parker struggling to control himself consciously (while wrestling with the alien costume), you will really feel his pain. I should also state that there is a lot more about Spider-Man told here that goes beyond the possession which really turned out to be very compelling to read in my experience. This is easily the most engaging alternate portrayal of Spider-Man as we know him and it should be read by as many people as possible.

Along the way, this comic book portrays the alien costume as an insatiable being and the implementation of dialogue for it (structured in a way as using the vocal ability of the powered being it bonded with) gave it a very unique personality of its own. This is something that was not portrayed in the early appearances of Venom in which Eddie Brock does the talking and reacting to unseen messages from the symbiote. That being said, the alien costume here symbolizes possession within the Marvel Comics shared universe and its unknown state really challenges not only the intelligence of the superheroes but also their ability to decide on what final action to take with regards to sentient life.

As staged by the writer, the story’s narrative occasionally shifts away from Spider-Man to follow other characters such as Black Cat (Peter Parker’s love at the time), Mr. Fantastic (in a great portrayal of his proficiency in science and as a responsible superhero), Thor and others which made the reading experience really immersive in relation to emphasizing how this alternate reality affects others. You will get to see the Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, the Wasp, Captain Marvel, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers here.

Those who are fond of superhero spectacle will have a lot to enjoy here. Mark Bagley carefully paces the action scenes and he uses visual dynamism during the right moments.  

Conclusion

Through dialogue, the alien costume is portrayed as a sinister force.

I can say it out loud…What If #4 (1989) is one of the best Marvel Comics alternate reality stories I have ever read and the creative team of Fingeroth-Bagley crafted an epic tale that goes beyond the featured question of “What if the alien costumer had possessed Spider-Man?”. The comic book works excellently as both a Spider-Man story as well as a Marvel superheroes struggle. The story touches on relevant topics such as possession, killing and scientific exploitation. This is a must-have comic book!

Overall, What If #4 (1989) 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at What If #17 (1990)

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 arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series.

Several years ago, I bought myself a trade paperback collection of the 1987 Spider-Man storyline Kraven’s Last Hunt written by J. M. DeMatteis and drawn by Mike Zeck. That particular storyline was very notable not just for its dark approach to storytelling and visualization, but it also explores what would happen had Spider-Man been defeated and someone very obsessed took his place and go on a rampage disguised as Spider-Man. The storyline also explored how Kraven perceived Spider-Man without ever knowing the defining traits of the man behind the mask – Peter Parker. Eventually, Marvel Comic went on to revisit Kraven’s Last Hunt and explored what would happen had Kraven actually killed Spider-Man through their What If? monthly comic book series.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #17, published in 1990 by Marvel Comics with a story written and drawn by Richard Howell.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher revisiting key moments from the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline. History then takes a turn towards the unexplored when Kraven, armed with a gun, shoots and kills Spider-Man. As the dead webslinger lies in a coffin, Kraven celebrates his victory with a lot of passion believing that he struck back at what he perceives to be the meaninglessness of the world. Kraven is quite mad as he equates spiders with Spider-Man as well as the decline of civilization.

After fearlessly and grotesquely eating spiders, Kraven wears a black body tight costume that looks almost the same as that of Spider-Man’s. While he is victorious, Kraven is not satisfied and he becomes obsessed by becoming Spider-Man and prove himself superior to him. He then moves into the city whose people are familiar with Spider-Man and also are unprepared with who is coming to them.

In an apartment, Spider-Man’s wife Mary Jane Parker is alone and worried. As she does not know that her beloved Peter Parker has been killed, she cannot help but agonize over the strain of his double-life as a civilian and as a superhero. Determined to find Peter, she walks out during the rainy night and is spotted by two men focused on her.

Suddenly the new Spider-Man (Kraven) appears and in an apparent effort to help Mary Jane, he grabs one of the men and brutally pushes the man’s head on to a nearby wall. As Kraven does not recognize Mary Jane, the wife realizes that the Spider-Man she just saw is definitely not her husband. This only makes her wonder again where he is and what happened to him. She then starts calling others for help…

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In addition to being ruthless, Kraven disguised as Spider-Man resembles Venom.

I’ll start with the visuals. This comic book took a serious effort to come close to capturing the look and visual tone of the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline which I enjoyed. Richard Howell visualized the characters, the situations and details properly and there was not a single moment when the visuals overwhelmed the narrative. Howell’s artistic take on the characters is simplistic but they remain recognizable which is a plus. The superhero spectacle was presented with a clear and clean approach, and there were a few key moments of action that got highlighted with some dynamism.

As for the story itself, what I found surprising and also pleasant here was the presentation of Mary Jane Parker as the main character instead of Kraven. This makes sense as Kraven himself was the major attraction of the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline while Spider-Man was out of commission. In the context of this What If story, it only made sense to have Mary Jane as the central figure. Going back to Kraven, Howell captured the essence of the character well when compared to his version in Kraven’s Last Hunt.

In terms of plotting, telling the story through the viewpoint and actions of the superhero’s concerned wife really works well. Without spoiling the plot, you will see Mary Jane get involved with three notable superheroes – including the iconic Captain America – and even with other notable Spider-Man supporting characters such as Flash Thompson and the irresponsible print media figure J. Jonah Jameson. Interactions aside, the plot works sufficiently as a couple of series of events take place before the big confrontation with Kraven (as the new Spider-Man). By the end of it all, I can say that the story is entertaining, engaging and intriguing to read.

Conclusion

Mary Jane Parker goes out in pursuit of her husband Peter Parker/Spider-Man who happens to be dead already at this particular point of the story.

I can say that What If #17 (1990) is pretty captivating read and it is a worthy literary companion to Kraven’s Last Hunt. Of course, to really enjoy this alternative tale cleverly told by Howell, you must read Kraven’s Last Hunt first. Otherwise, you would not feel the impact of this comic book very much. I also liked how the death of Spider-Man (note: Spider-Man got killed in another What If tale that itself is worth reading) impacts Mary Jane, how it impacts the superheroes who know him, and most notably how it impacts the fragile relationship between society and superheroes. Lastly, this comic book has one of the more significant portrayals of Spider-Man’s most beloved woman. This is indeed a great story.

Overall, What If #17 (1990) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at What If #47 (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 arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series.

Back in 2021, I reviewed What If #46 (1993) which told a compelling story about division between the mutants, the clash of beliefs between Professor X and Cable, and how terrorism affects everyone. The comic book was also a mesmerizing portrayal of how the X-Men would have organized themselves without Charles Xavier, Jean Grey and Cyclops.

Considering all the chaos that happened in What If #46 (1993), the time was just right for Magneto – the X-Men’s most dangerous enemy of all time – to come in and make an impact not only on mutants but on the world.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #47, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Magneto leading a huge legion of mutants to take overwhelm the remaining resistance – including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, the Avengers and the dedicated American soldiers – in Washington, D.C.

A fierce battle then took place with both sides hitting each other hard. After noticing Magneto’s lack of presence during the battle, Captain America then realizes that the long-time enemy of the X-Men took advantage of the fighting to penetrate the U.S. Capitol’s bomb shelters and got the nation’s leaders hostage. After easing some of his fellow heroes, Captain America decides not to escalate the fight against Magneto in consideration of the lives of America’s top officials…

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A recap of the events in issue #46.

To begin with, I can say that this story is a well-planned follow-up to the events of issue #46. While Magneto’s presence has been magnified a lot here, there are still strong story connections to the previous issue.

With regards to what was emphasized on the front cover of the comic book, this story explores what would happen if Magneto took power to control the entire United States while leading a group of mutants with a platform focused on crushing anti-mutant racism even though it includes pushing the non-mutant people (which is the great majority of America’s people) as well as the dissenting mutants out of the way.

For one thing, this superhero fantasy concept is actually socially relevant with today’s geopolitics and the way America has turned out under the fake leadership of Joe Biden (who is NOT leading as US President but only following the modern-day American Communists and reckless SJWs dictating him to do their evil bidding. Biden also arrogantly denies reality when it goes against the desires of his administration and his Satanic Democrats) It should be noted that the US President visualized in this comic book eerily looks like Joe Biden complete with that absent-minded facial expression.

Next, a clear theme in this What If story is absolute power and why groups who crave for it would sacrifice so much and hurt others just to acquire it. Magneto, who carries deep hatred towards people he perceives to be obstacles or opposition for his quest of uplifting mutants, takes advantage of mutants who have lost hope and are depending on someone to lead them. Indeed, the long-time X-Men nemesis gains power to control America but finds himself facing a new force of opposition which leads the nation into a drastic series of change that clearly do not alight with his vision of a better future for mutants.

Still on the theme of absolute power, the US government in this story was portrayed to have developed technologies designed to overwhelm its citizens, as well as the means to establish infrastructure and protocols to transform America into an automated dictatorial state that enslaves its citizens and violate their rights without restraint. Once again, this aspect of the story makes it socially relevant.  

Considering the epic concept and the dark turn of events the creative team prepared, this comic book does not have a clear good-versus-evil approach but rather it emphasizes chaos that comes with the pursuit and abuse of absolute power over the nation. You will see key elements from the classic X-Men storyline Days of Future Past here in relation to America’s deformation.

Conclusion

Wow! The US President in this comic book eerily looks so much like Joe Biden whose leadership led America into a lot of problems and hardship. Sky high inflation is just one of the problems that happened under Biden.

What If #47 (1993) is truly a very captivating read mainly because of its core concept which goes way beyond the scenario of Magneto taking control of America. Considering its portrayal of America and the exploration of dark themes about people getting overwhelmed by power abusers, the story is a warning about the fall of America told in superhero fantasy form. Considering the intense social degradation that rocked America the past few years (note: riots by the Black Lives Matter terrorists, SJWs disturbing the peace, Democrats allowing more illegal immigrants into the country, socialists in colleges continuing to brainwash students and more), this story is very socially relevant. It will keep you thinking and reflecting deeply, even if you strongly desire whatever superhero entertainment you seek in this comic book.

Overall, What If #47 (1993) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Dazzler #21 (1982)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1982 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

While my most recent retro review of Dazzler was the 4th issue of its monthly series, I have decided to jump straight to issue #21 for this new retro review. By the time Dazzler #21 got published, the unusual superhero went through a lot and illustrator Frank Springer became fully established as the monthly series’ definitive artist.

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #21, published by Marvel Comics in 1982 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by the late Frank Springer.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Alison Blaire/Dazzler being carried above the buildings of New York City by Angel (Warren Worthington) of the X-Men. At this point in time, Alison’s father judge Carter Blaire snapped under the weight of turmoil related to the death of his wife and his daughter’s rebelliousness. As Dazzler, Alison had gone through intense encounters with the likes of the Incredible Hulk, She-Hulk, a top-secret syndicate that made her a test subject and even Galactus.

Recently, Bella – Alison’s grandmother – could not cope with her son’s breakdown and reached out to Warren Worthington to help her reach Alison. Since after being found, Alison had been traveling with Angel by air.

Along the way, Spider-Man sees them and recognizes Alison as Dazzler. He swings to try to get their attention but was ignored as they were so focused on their objective. A short time later, Angel and Alison arrive at judge Blaire’s home. Her grandmother greets them and tells her she hopes that she can get through to judge Blaire.

The doctor, however, advised against that tactic and states that Alison’s intervention may worsen her father’s condition as much of it was centered on her…

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Alison Blaire and her friend Vanessa try out new clothes.

I’ll go straight to the point about what the story of this double-sized comic book is about without spoiling it. It is a pretty dramatic look at the protagonist in her civilian form as Alison Blaire. You will get to see her as Dazzler in this comic book but if you are looking for a lot of superhero moments of her or if you are looking for Dazzler in a conflict with evil elements, you won’t find it here.

More on the plot, this comic book explores deeply the emotional and personal dimensions of Alison and along the way, stories about her own past as well as the respect past events of both her father and mother got dramatized. The story tackles themes like independence, maturity, marriage, personal development, family ties and personal conflicts of interest. The good thing here is that the script by Danny Fingeroth is very well-written and it seems he did his research on constructing a personal story about Alison Blaire that is very grounded in reality. That being said, the superhero elements have been pushed aside most of the time and the ironic thing is the fact that the other Marvel superheroes – Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers and more – appeared here as if to remind readers this is still a superhero tale.

Very clearly, this story was written for the very dedicated or even the die-hard Dazzler fans in mind. When it comes to the fun factor, the results could be mixed depending on what readers want to see in this comic book. For me personally, it is a pretty engaging story to read and at the same time it is fun enough as well.

Conclusion

Alison tries to help her troubled father.

Dazzler #21 (1982) could be barely received or strongly received or even rejected even though it has a very rich and dramatic script. The clear lack of the superhero presentation of Dazzler in favor of heavy drama and in-depth characterization may not win the approval of readers/collectors who love superhero stuff but it will resonate with the readers who really love the character and had immersed themselves into her life. As far as characterization goes, this comic book marks a significant turning point of Dazzler herself and in its story, she really developed a lot since making her first-ever appearance in Uncanny X-Men #130. If you are a Dazzler purist who does not mind the lack of superhero spectacle, this one could engage you.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #21 (1982), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #21 (1982) 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 Dazzler #4 (1981)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1981 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

Last time around, Alison Blaire was preparing herself for a big event as Dazzler. The event was something needed to help her boost her career as an entertainer and the stakes were high as there were many important guests. The weird thing was that she instead got involved with one of the most fearsome super villains of Marvel – Dr. Doom!

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #4, published by Marvel Comics in 1981 with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by the late Frank Springer. This was Springer’s Dazzler debut.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a secret facility. Dr. Doom tells Dazzler that the Merlin Stone he just acquired mirrors her reflections as well as his own. The said stone has unique, mystical properties that Doom believes will help him achieve his dream of domination over mankind.

Dazzler, who is trapped inside a tube and is guarded by two of Dr. Doom’s guards, tries to recover after losing consciousness a short time back. Dr. Doom expresses his observation of her special ability to convert sound into light.

Dr. Doom turns his computer on energizing the tube that contains Dazzler. She suddenly turns into energy and disappears…

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Dazzler in a new dimension.

The best way to describe this comic’s story…it is one wild ride that emphasizes a different kind of fantasy for readers. This is, of course, related to Dr. Doom’s immediate quest of finding another Merlin Stone within a different dimension which directly involved Dazzler against her will.

Dazzler here was in a very wild misadventure that goes way beyond the limits of New York City. Being in a completely new dimension, she finds herself literally lost in the sea of space and encounters creatures here and there. This misadventure, however, was not written to be mindless at all. In fact, as the tale in the new dimension goes on, Dazzler was presented to be more tactical, more analytical and do things to solve problems she encountered. She also gets to use her superpower in more creative ways.

The misadventure also has key moments that test Dazzler’s resolve on a personal level. As such, these moments added to her development which also raises the stakes as to what she could potentially do once she returns back to her life. Clearly, this is a story that carefully mixes spectacle and character development without losing track of the story.

On the art of the comic book, Frank Springer’s Dazzler debut is pretty solid. Not only does he capture the look of Dazzler herself, his creative visuals really brought the dimension into life filled with images of out space, fantasy monsters and more. Apart from drawing Dazzler and Dr. Doom, Springer’s art of the Fantastic Four is pretty good to look at.

Conclusion

A helpless Dazzler in the presence of Dr. Doom.

Dazzler #4 (1981) is a fun comic book to read and as a Dazzler story, it is a worthy continuation of the events that took place in issue #3. The concept about having Dazzler under the power of Dr. Doom was nicely executed which is a very hard feat to achieve since the said super villain was known to be a major force of opposition not only against the Fantastic Four but also against Spider-Man, the X-Men and more. Dazzler’s misadventure into the other dimension was wild and yet nicely structured which led to some nice character development of hers. This comic book had a strong series start for Frank Springer who went on to draw a great majority of the issues of the Dazzler monthly series.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #4 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #4 (1981) 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 Dazzler #3 (1981)

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, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! After a very fine start, things really went downhill with the story and presentation in Dazzler #2. That comic book had Dazzler (then a hot new property for Marvel Comics) completely overshadowed by the big mix of established Marvel superheroes fighting opposition elements. To say the least, Dazzler #2 was a major letdown, a very big disappointment and anyone who loves Dazzler should avoided it.

Will we see Dazzler presented much better in the next issue? We can find out in this look back at Dazzler #3, released in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr., and A. Kupperberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler (not wearing her face paint) participating scientific test conducted by Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic at his team’s headquarters in New York. Dazzler has been converting every nearby sound into radiance and she’s beginning to sense her limitations. The test was done to determine Alison Blaire’s mutant capabilities. Also present were Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm and Sue Richards. Johnny reads a newspaper report about the United Nations’ plan to display the crown jewels that once belonged to their deadliest enemy Dr. Doom.

Afterwards, Dazzler meets her boss at his office and learns that she will be one of the openers at the benefit concert of UNICEF which is supposed to help her with her music career. The next morning, she decides to visit her old home where her father lives in. Over at the Bavarian Alps, Dr. Doom gets informed that among the jewels set to be displayed at the Unite Nations is the Merline stone. This compels him to make a move…

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Dazzler versus Dr. Doom!

When compared to the disaster of issue #2, this comic book’s story is indeed an improvement as it has the expected superhero storytelling formula intact. The good news here is that the character development on Dazzler has returned and there is once again the strong emphasis on her relevance with the people of New York with regards to her being both a superhero and a musician.

The story moved at a moderate pace and it is clear that the creative team took the necessary steps to gradually build up the plot leading to the inevitable encounter between Dazzler and the Fantastic Four’s most definitive enemy (and Marvel Comics’ iconic villain). Take note, however, that the Dazzler-Dr. Doom conflict here is only the beginning.

As this story is more focused on Dazzler, you will get to see an early look at her tainted relationship with her father who desired her to become a lawyer like him, plus there is some focus on the behind-the-scenes development in one of the big events involving her. When it comes to spectacle, there is a right amount of it here which makes this comic book more fun to read than the previous issue.

Conclusion

A look at the business side of the music industry that Alison Blaire/Dazzler is involved with.

Dazzler #3 (1981) is indeed fun to read and the creators succeeded in developing Alison Blaire more while delivering the good stuff. While the match-up between her and Dr. Doom looks awkward from the surface, the strong writing justified it and all along Dazzler never looked like she was out of place being with Marvel’s iconic supervillain.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #3 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #3 (1981) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at Dazzler #2 (1981)

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, comic collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Way back in 1981, Marvel Comics had a successful comic book series launch with Dazzler #1 (read my retro review by clicking here) which sold over 400,000 copies and further sealed Dazzler as an advantageous addition for the company’s superhero comics franchise. Dazzler, a creation of a deal between Marvel and a certain record company, debuted in Uncanny X-Men #130 and got involved with the X-Men until Uncanny X-Men #131. Dazzler appeared with Marvel’s famous webslinger in Amazing Spider-Man #203.

Dazzler #1 ended with a brewing rivalry between the title character and Enchantress. With those laid down, here is a look back at Dazzler #2, published in 1981 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by John Romita, Jr.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dazzler preparing for her big show at Numero Uno, a prestigious disco in the city of New York. Just before the show starts, a huge crowd of people are in attendance and among them are Wolverine, Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Captain America, Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm and Tony Stark (Iron Man) to name some.

Just as Dazzler appears on-stage and draws a frenzied applause from the audience, the revenger-hungry Enchantress slowly makes her moves to ruin the lady who outclassed her to be the main attraction of the club. Even with her desire for revenge, the Enchantress decides to use her magic sparingly on Dazzler. In the audience, Peter Parker/Spider-Man begins to sense something is about to happen…

Quality

This shows what this comic book is really about.

The way the story was told is disappointing. This is because the spotlight on Dazzler and her anticipated conflict with the Enchantress got overwhelmed by the amount of superhero filler on the narrative. To be clear, it is fun and interesting to see a mix of the varied superheroes of Marvel together but this comic book ended up being an all-star showcase (X-Men, Avengers and Fantastic Four members included) than a real, standalone Dazzler story. In fairness, Tom DeFalco showed how skilled he is with plot structuring and capturing the personalities and tropes of the different superheroes (note: unsurprisingly, DeFalco accurately captured Spider-Man’s personality and he went on to be a major force behind Spider-Man comic books) but that does not change the fact that this comic book should have been more about Dazzler.

When it comes to the conflict between Dazzler and the Enchantress, it was executed with no depth at all. Literally speaking, there is not enough meat to consume here and it the conflict really ended up looking very rushed. As if that was not bad enough, there is not enough justification to show Dazzler defeating a monster summoned by the Enchantress.  Considering how shallow the Dazzler-Enchantress match-up turned out, it’s no wonder why there is so much Marvel all-star filler in the script.

As for the late-stage attempt to shift the narrative back to Dazzler, it is rather over-the-top and unsatisfying.

Conclusion

You recognize someone in the audience?

Dazzler #2 (1981) is an example about a creative team’s lack of confidence on crafting a decent story to develop a new superhero and ultimately resorting to fill it with a mix of other superheroes involved which itself symbolizes desperation. This comic book is not really a Dazzler story but an all-star showcase with Dazzler becoming a minor character in her own monthly series.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #2 (1981), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, Dazzler #2 (1981) is unsatisfactory. Anyone who loves Dazzler or who wishes to discover more of her will be disappointed with this comic book.

+++++

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 What If #46 (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, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! It’s time to revisit the What If monthly series of comic books of Marvel Comics that lasted from 1989 until 1998. The old comic book I’m about to review involves the X-Men, Cable and more.

Before starting with this newest retro comic book review, I should state that I was never a fan of Cable even though I read lots of X-Men-related comic books that included him. When I think of Cable, I immediately think of the New Mutants and X-Force comic book series.

You must be wondering what has Cable and the X-Men have to do with the old What If issue I’m focusing on. We can all find out in this look back at What If #46, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a tavern in New York’s famous Central Park. Inside, Charles Xavier, Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey have a discussion about mutant matters until a small saucer-shaped device flies inside and disrupts everything with its sonic frequency. Suddenly a second flying saucer comes in, touches Scott’s shoe and explodes powerfully killing him, Jean and Xavier. Others got injured by the explosion and the tavern ends up burning.

Outside the tavern, Cable is seen running away and someone points at him as someone who must be responsible for the bombing. As it turns out, the deliberate killing of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey was the result of a division between Cable’s New Mutants and the X-Men in connection to the recent return of Xavier from deep space.

Quality

A brawl between the mutants.

I’ll start with the story Kurt Busiek came up with. This one explores an alternate time in which Charles Xavier returned to Earth (after escaping from the Skrulls in deep space) only to find the X-Men in disarray which compelled him to restore things the way they were. This is not to be confused with his return in the canon storyline of the Muir Island Saga.  

That being said, Busiek explored what would it be like had Xavier tried to resolve mutant matters not only with the team of mutants he founded but also with other teams such as the New Mutants (already led by Cable), X-Factor (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast and Archangel) plus several other mutants. I really liked the way the mutants reacted to Xavier given his long absence from Earth, how his dream matters and turned out irrelevant to them as individual mutants, and if he still has what it takes to lead them. In some ways, Xavier looked like a politician trying to convince his constituents that his vision is still the best for them and their interests.

What really made the story running was the start of the division between the mutants when Cable rejects Xavier and points out that the X-Men founder’s devotion to appeasement is dooming mutants. All of these led to the shock opening scene and in terms of writing quality, it was all justified.

The scenes that happened AFTER the burial of Xavier, Cyclops and Jean Grey literally raised the stakes for the rest of the comic book. I don’t want to spoil further plot details but I can assure you all that Kurt Busiek’s script is very sold and there is so much to enjoy here especially if you are knowledgeable enough about the X-Men and the other parts of the Marvel Comics universe (note: the Avengers, Stryfe, Freedom Force and Fantastic Four also appeared).

Visually, the work of Tod Smith looks a bit rushed. His art here is not bad but I felt it could have been better had there been more time to polish his work. In fairness to Smith, his drawings on most of the characters still made them recognizable and he showed pacing with regards to the panels and angles used. I should say he does a decent job showing multiple characters fighting each other simultaneously.

Conclusion

If you were a mutant, would you follow Charles Xavier or Cable?

If you ask me, What If #46 (1993) is pretty entertaining and engaging to read thanks to the strong writing as well as the daring exploration of how the comic’s main story impacts others within the Marvel Comics universe. It has drama, action, intrigue and most notably it explores a new concept about how the X-Men would turn out after the death of their founder. It also raises questions on whether or not the X-Men are doomed without Charles Xavier’s presence.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #46 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $40 while the near-mint newsstand edition costs $120.

Overall, What If #46 (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 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 #6 (1993)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, pop culture geeks and fans of Marvel Comics! Today, we will revisit the 2099 universe that Marvel established in the 1990s through another issue of Ravage 2099 which featured the writing and imagination of the late Stan Lee. Lee wrote the first eight issues of the said series.

For the newcomers reading this, Ravage is a co-creation of Lee and illustrator Paul Ryan. Compared to the other major characters of the 2099 universe of Marvel, Ravage is an all-original character who went from being a corporate executive to a hard-hitting rebel. Last time around, Ravage struggled with his new found power (energy within his fists) while still being hunted by Dethstryk’s thugs.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Ravage 2099 #6, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Stan Lee and drawn by Paul Ryan.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at a far-away island. Dethstryk’s thugs just attacked Ravage and his native companion in a cave, destroying the interior and causing a cave-in. Believing that Ravage is dead, the last of the thugs left the rubble behind. As it turned out, Ravage is still alive and uses his newfound power to free himself, pushing all the rocks off as if they were like pebbles. He realizes that the more he uses his power, the weaker he gets. Due to his being exposed to the island’s toxic environment, his condition continues to deteriorate. He uses one of the gadgets to aid him in seeing.

After looking around further in the ruined cave, he discovers a relic from the past – the Fantastic Four’s Fantasticar…

Quality

Ravage uses the old vehicle made by the Fantastic Four.

If you are looking for something adventurous or fun while following Ravage, you won’t find much here. Without spoiling the plot, this one has Ravage preparing himself for survival and moving back to civilization. There is not much heroic acts from the title character here and I noticed that Stan Lee’s script is filled with lots of filler-type dialogue designed to prolong scenes (that were meant to be short but had to be stretched) and fill the page. Really, there is not much stuff to engage you with here.

The build-up in issue #5 regarding the sub-plots for Tiana, Dack and the invaders from the sea had too little pay-off here but, in fairness, it does set up something for the next issue. I should also state that Stan Lee did not really do much with the villains – Dethstryk and Anderthorp Henton – and ended up recycling ways to show how cruel, cold-blooded and evil they are WITHOUT ever raising the stakes in their conflict with Ravage.

Conclusion

Just another scene to show how evil and ruthless Anderthorp Henton is towards his own employee. This should make you wonder what Stan Lee really thought about corporations, the labor union and the Leftist forces.

Once again, the Ravage 2099 series at this point only showed the lack of consistency in terms of quality and reader engagement. Ravage 2099 #6 has a story that is actually hollow and the creators resorted to stretching sequences to create the illusion that there is depth throughout. Clearly this is a step down from the previous issue.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #6 (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 $26.

Overall, Ravage 2099 #6 (1993) is not recommended but if you really want to acquire a copy of it, better wait until the price reaches fifty cents.

+++++

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 What If #13 (1990)

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, comic book collectors and X-Men fans. I’m about to review an issue of Marvel Comics’ What If monthly series which was published 1990 and was related to the X-Men as the central figure of the comic book is Charles Xavier (AKA Professor X).

To put things in perspective, Charles Xavier is forever known as the founder and leader of the X-Men. Within the Marvel Comics universe, he is one of the most powerful telepaths as well as a genius in science and genetics. He is a paraplegic who can do quite a lot and make an impact on the delicate relationship between his fellow mutants and the humans. In the movies, Xavier was portrayed by Patrick Stewart (first performance as Xavier in X-Men) and James McAvoy (first performance as Xavier in X-Men: First Class). Given his legacy of helping mutants gain rights through peaceful means, Charles Xavier has been compared with Martin Luther King, Jr. Going back to the comics, Xavier has a step brother named Cain Marko who became the X-Men villain Juggernaut.

With the background lesson done, we can now take a look back at What If #13, published by Marvel Comics in 1990 with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Vince Mielcarek.

The cover drawn by Jim Lee.

Early story

The story begins in New York in the so-called near future. Graffiti artists attempt to run away from a team of mutants riding a floating vehicle. As Thunderbird is about to hit one of the humans, Cyclops stops him. Suddenly the mutants receive a telepathic message from their big boss who turns out to be Charles Xavier the Juggernaut.

Xavier is leading the effort against a group of humans who have been conspiring against them. Xavier declares, “They must be stopped—for the good of mutantkind!”

The X-Men in this particular story are fascist storm troopers policing a wretched, helpless humanity…

Quality

Xavier-Juggernaut with the X-Men and the invading Fantastic Four.

I can start by say that this comic book written by Kurt Busiek has one of the most compelling what-if scenarios that reflect not only its concept (of Charles Xavier becoming Juggernaut) but also the Marvel Comics universe as we know it. As dedicated X-Men fans know, Cain Marko was the one who touched the ruby in the cave which made him the mainstream Juggernaut. In here, the scenario was altered to make Charles Xavier become Juggernaut and the radical changes did not end there. Without spoiling the great stuff, I can say that this is one great exploration of an alternate version of events that affect not only the X-Men and their villains but also the many other superheroes of the Marvel universe as Xavier-Juggernaut went all-out with his dedication to mutantkind. I can say that in this story, symbolically speaking, Xavier easily outclasses the extreme Magneto on prioritizing mutants over humans.

Comic book concept aside, Kurt Busiek’s writing here is really excellent. Not only did he capture the traits of Xavier as he turned him into the alternate Juggernaut, Busiek also emphasized the many twisted events in the Marvel shared universe with sufficient details. The details implemented made the scenarios really believable. His script for this comic book was brought to life by Vince Mielcarek who did a good job making the characters recognizable (note: there were a lot of superheroes and villains here), showcasing the wide scope of changes made on people and places (in relation to Xavier-Juggernaut’s actions) and there was good pacing with the visuals.

Conclusion

Charles Xavier as you’ve never seen him before.

What If #13 (1990) is great to read and it is a must-have with its story alone. Apart from showing the concept’s deep impact on the Marvel Comics universe, I also enjoyed the way Kurt Busiek blurred the boundaries that separated good and evil. If you are an X-Men and you want to see something different with the mutants – especially Professor X – then you you will find a lot to enjoy here. This is a great alternate superhero story and definitely more people should be aware of this.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #13 (1990), 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 $60.

Overall, What If #13 (1990) 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