A Look Back at Freex #9 (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.

Having read comic books of UltraForce, one of the most notable team members is Contrary, the highly manipulative and resourceful lady who wears white and shows of a lot of her skin. She does not spend much time on the field and she does not have the powerful combat abilities of Prime, Hardcase and Prototype. Still she proves to be very intelligent, scheming and her true power is realized when she is inside her round ship which is full of high-tech equipment and links to varied sources of information for her use. As such, Contrary is indeed a very important part of UltraForce even though she gets into conflict with her more prominent teammates who each have their own monthly titles.

So you might be wondering…where in the entire Ultraverse did she come from? What makes her significant among all the characters of the Ultraverse? After doing some research, I learned that Contrary’s first appearance took place in the Freex monthly series. How her first appearance turned out, we can find out in this look back at Freex #9, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Martin Egeland.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the team with a guy wearing a hat and holding a gun who is on a tree branch above their heads. Angela/Sweetface instantly reacts by having one of her tendrils reach for the gun. The gunman reacts by going down and pulling Sweetface surprising her teammates. Tried as hard as they could, Freex members failed to get the gunman down and ended up with one of their teammates being held captive by him.

The tension slowly eases and the gunman tells them he has been doing things for other people with powers for a long time. Suddenly, they got spotted by a gang of armed men referred to as the night patrol. Freex and the gunman react to move away. Using her power, Val blasts a brush to make their way through…

Quality

Contrary’s first appearance. She went on to become a major part of UltraForce.

’ll start first with the storytelling. This one was an early attempt to add some variety and twists into Freex by having the team get involved with the gunman who would eventually spend more time with them beyond this issue. It was a sensible move for the creators to do this because seeing Freex just move like nomads was getting tiring. By this time, the team is feeling worn down and they still could not succeed in finding out who has been hunting them, and how they could cure themselves to become normal people.

This comic book pays additional attention to Sweetface and shows some flashbacks into her past. As a teenager, she wanted to fit in with her fellow youth at school until the first of her many tendrils started to come out. The dramatization of Sweetface here is very well done and if you pay close attention to the dialogue, you can feel her pain.

As for the first appearance of Contrary, it was very short and yet highly intriguing. She actually appeared in two different pages and each one was intriguing to see respectively.  

Conclusion

The team with someone.

Freex #9 is a carefully balanced comic book specifically when it comes to plotting, characterization and spectacle. The way it was presented, I could tell that a creative turning point for the team happened and Contrary’s first appearance turned out to be significant even though only two pages were made visualizing her.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Freex #9 (1994), 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, Freex #9 (1994) 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 UltraForce #4 (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.

I just love reading stories of UltraForce, the superhero team that involved three major Ultraverse characters – Prime, Hardcase and Prototype – supported by secondary characters from varied parts of the said universe such as Topaz (identified with Mantra), Ghoul (The Exiles), Contrary (Freex) and Pixx. Of course, UltraForce stories would not have been strong without the combined creative forces of Gerard Jones and George Perez who in turn crafted the said team, established a really strong villain in Atalon and making Atalon’s arrival a major international crisis that is epic in scale. The first three issues (plus issue #0) all showed the series’ greatness!

Will the great stuff of the UltraForce creative team continue? We will find out right now in this look back at UltraForce #4, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by George Perez.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with UltraForce member Ghoul being held helplessly by King Atalon. He tells Ghoul that he has no intention of destroying the people of Earth for at least one more day. Some time later, the two arrived at the remains of an old civilization very deep in the cavern. Atalon tells Ghoul: Invoke all the deities you wish, young man. Here we are beyond their reach. The temple city of Zenalla. Once it was the heart and soul of the fire people.

As it turns out, Atalon reveals that he tore through a hundred miles of fallen stone to reopen Zenalla and expressed that he will not event let his own people see it. After some more talk and travel, Atalon kneels and bows to specific monuments of his ancestors who are also the founder of cities and the fathers of the fire people. He tells Ghoul that he will bring them to speak to him.

Elsewhere, the mainstream media magnified the powerful blast that happened off Cuba which contributed to the panic and fear of the public. With people agitated, the UltraForce faces the media in an attempt to provide clarity and calm.

Hardcase (with Prototype, Prime, Topaz, Contrary and Pixx standing with him) tells the world: Activity continues on the island-we have to assume that Atalon planned that blast and survived it! And that was just one bomb-out of dozens he’s threatening to launch against mankind! As long as he has the gravity power to launch those nukes, we can’t afford a replay of our last assault!

Quality

I just love the interactions between the members of Ultraforce.

To make things clear, issue #2 was mainly a build-up story which was followed by a huge, spectacle-filled pay-off in issue #3. Backed with still very solid writing, this comic book is another build-up type of story and its most compelling feature is the origin of Atalon which was very well told by Jones and Perez. Atalon’s background story is definitely one of the finest origin stories of the Ultraverse ever told that focused more on an anti-hero instead of a hero. Through his past, you will realize that Atalon is not your typical big, muscular, raging antagonist but rather a leader who went through a lot of struggles when he was young (and had no power) and was compelled to lead his people as a result of key events that happened.

I really enjoyed discovering also the history of Atalon’s people who existed entirely deep underground and were told by the supposedly wise elders that the surface of the Earth was not an air-world and that they should only remain under it. As for how Atalon gained power, that one was strongly told and, more importantly, was believable in its presentation.

More on the build-up and character development, the members of UltraForce unsurprisingly got a good chunk of the spotlight in favor of characterization. The interaction between Hardcase and Topaz was not only very engaging but also symbolized the conflicts between their respective cultures (with Topaz coming from a society of women). And then there was Contrary with her very distinctive way of interacting with others with a sense of manipulation.

Conclusion

The lost city!

UltraForce #4 (1995) is another great comic book thanks to the Jones-Perez team. The interactions between the UltraForce is top-notch, the origin of Atalon is fantastic, and the theme about society reacting to an existing superhero team that supposed to help them in a time of crisis is very believable. As with the first four issues (including issue #0), the way this comic book’s story was written showed that the creators made preparations. This one is not only a whole lot of fun to read but also very engaging from start to finish.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #4 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $16.

Overall, UltraForce #4 (1995) 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

A Look Back at The Strangers #3

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.

Right from the start, I got hooked with The Strangers and kept on anticipating the next stories. When it comes to superhero comic books, I am fond of superhero teams like the X-Men, the Teen Titans, Freex, Justice League and WildC.A.T.s

One of the things I enjoyed most from The Strangers #1, which was one of the launch titles of the Ultraverse, was the characterization. Each member of the Strangers was efficiently introduced and his/her uniqueness (apart from having a special ability) caught my attention. And then there was the plot structure that kept me reading for more.

When it comes to the very good quality of storytelling and characterization in The Strangers #1, it should not be much of a surprise since the author Steve Englehart worked on Marvel’s The Avengers, The Defenders and the West Coast Avengers. Englehart also wrote Justice League of America for DC Comics.

With that short history lesson done, we can now take a look back at The Strangers #3, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Rick Hoberg.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Stangers already in battle with a group called TNTNT composed of Tyrannosaur, Naiad, Torso, Neu-Ronnie and Tugun. The heroic ultras find themselves struggling with their opponents. Just as Tyrannosaur punches one of the Strangers, he states: We want our victims to know us! The work we do precludes us from receiving our proper recognition elsewhere! We are the kings of destruction and death!

The fight goes on…

Quality

14
Really in-depth characterization in this flashback.

Let me make it clear to you all that this comic book is mainly a huge battle between the Strangers and TNTNT. However, it is not exactly the overly long, battle royale at all nor is it a brainless story. In fact, at key segments of the comic book, the narrative switches between the battles and flashbacks that not only explain what happened since the end of issue #2 but also showed other events that happened during the Strangers’ free time.

The flashbacks showed the Strangers interacting with each other like normal people. There was this nice scene showing Atom Bob and his teammates visit his parents’ home and have a nice dinner together. It was also during the flashbacks where the character development really got deep and by the time the story ended, I got to know the Strangers even more.

Going back to the long battle, it is clearly a showcase of spectacle in the form of superhero action and the use of their special abilities. Unsurprisingly, Rick Hoberg’s visuals really brought the script to life here. Really good imagery here and there! Also I should say that Hoberg’s designs on the members of TNTNT were really good, even comparable with the Strangers’ designs.

Conclusion

7
This is just a taste of the action-heavy battle.

The Strangers #3 is fun and compelling to read. What makes this different from issues #1 and #2 is that following the narrative (which switches between the present day battle and the character-driven flashbacks) can be challenging at first. As such, this is a comic book that needs to be re-read in order to fully understand the story. It has a lot of action, super powers showcased and enough character development! Finally, I should say that Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg crafted a pretty powerful build-up leading to the last page.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #3, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $8.

Overall, The Strangers #3 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 The Strangers #2

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

I could never forget the sense of engagement and fun I had the first time I read the Ultraverse comic book The Strangers #1 decades ago. After completing that comic book, I was really eager to discover more of the team and what else they would encounter in the next issue. Entertainment and literary value aside, The Strangers #1 succeeded in making me craving for more about the Ultraverse (same with reading Hardcase #1, Mantra #1, Freex #1, Prime #1 and Prototype #1).

Take note that the year was 1993 when Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse and at that time I was already a fan of the X-Men and Marvel Comics organized the celebration of X-Men’s 30th anniversary that same year. As such, it became a challenge for me to collect X-Men-related comic books while keeping up with the Ultraverse releases. While the X-Men 30th anniversary was heavily marketed, The Strangers and Freex were superhero team titles under the Ultraverse that still caught my attention. I’m really glad that

Enough with the history lesson. Let’s now take a look back at The Strangers #2, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Rick Hoberg.

Early story

The story begins with the Strangers riding a private jet piloted by Lady Killer. Flying over the city of Fresno in California, the jet heads to a very strange cloud which seems to be the source of the powers they suddenly gained (as a result of what happened when they rode the cable car in San Francisco).

After some effort, they discover, to their surprise, an entire island with a forest and a small mountain completely floating hidden in the cloud. Upon landing, Atom Bob, Grenade, Electrocute, Lady Killer, Spectral and Zip-Zap move into the forest to explore. Eventually they got surrounded by members of a tribe (including the flying lady whom they encountered in issue #1) who use magic to take them down…

Quality

16
The Strangers move into action!

In terms of quality, this comic book worked strongly as a concluding piece to the previous issue. In issue #1, the story was about one main event that impacted the lives of strangers who happened to be riding the cable car, and those who gained powers got together. The Strangers #2 was more about the powered strangers searching for answers only to find themselves in a tremendous misadventure they did not anticipate. The result is a nice series of further incidents laced with spectacle, interactions between the characters and ultimately another bout of fun and discovery for readers to experience.

When it comes to the writing, the narrative from the 1st issue continued smoothly here. Apart from the big misadventure on the floating island, the further development of each member of The Strangers proved to be very strong. Lady Killer is firmly established to be strong-willed and capable of leading and organizing people. Spectral starts doing more as he gradually learns more about his untapped potential. By the time I reached the end of this comic book, I got to know the characters much more and also craved for more on their further adventures/misadventures. Visually, Rick Hoberg’s art really brought the story to life.

Conclusion

4
Get to know the Strangers more with this page.

The Strangers #2 is an excellent comic book worthy of being part of your collection. In my view, this comic book is an essential follow-up to the excellent 1st issue. Without this, your discovery of the Strangers would be incomplete. This comic book also explains how the team got its name.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #2, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition, the bagged edition and the newsstand edition cost $4, $4 and $8 respectively.

Overall, The Strangers #2 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

 

 

 

 

A Look Back At Break-Thru #1

When done right, a crossover storyline showcasing a big mix of superheroes getting involved in a huge event can be memorable and worth revisiting years after getting published.

Back in 1993, Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse which involved many talented creators. Right from the start, it was made clear that there was a shared universe occupied by The Strangers, Night Man, Prototype, Prime, Mantra, Hardcase and many others.

Before the end of 1993, Malibu launched Break-Thru #1 which started a new storyline that involved many of the above characters plus Firearm, The Solution, Sludge and Solitaire. Adding more punch to this comic book was Malibu’s hiring of legendary artist George Perez who worked on the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series of DC Comics.

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A great cover! One of the best ever for any Ultraverse comic book!

Here is a close look at Break-Thru #1 mainly written by Gerard Jones, drawn by George Perez and inked by John Lowe with colors by Moose Baumann. Credited as contributing writers were Steve Englehart, Mike W. Barr, Steve Gerber, James D. Hudnall, Tom Mason, George Perez, James Robinson and Len Strazewski.

Early story

The story begins immediately after the end of Exiles #4. A man falls to his death from the top of a tower thinking he was reaching the moon at night. Elsewhere, an airplane sharply goes up with too much altitude as the pilot obsesses with going to the moon

As it turns out, the media reports about people trying to reach the moon and getting restless. A member of Exiles lies helplessly on a bed with his entire body covered with medical materials for his injuries. A doctor presses him for answers and he claims to know that Amber, one of the Exiles members, looks a lot like a young lady floating over Los Angeles. He thinks she is responsible for the madness that has been going around the world.

The injured confirmed that the lady, floating high above with reddish energy around her, is none other than Amber. He claims, however, that he has no idea what happened but shared that she was already prone to volatile energy blasts.

Behind the scenes, members of Aladdin discuss what has been happening. One of them believes that Amber may hold important clues to the nature and origin of Ultras. The Aladdin people get distracted with noise caused by Eden Blake (Mantra in civilian form) who secretly eavesdropped on them pretending to be lost (note: a reference is made to Mantra #5 to explain her new employment with Aladdin.)

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The military and Prime.

Aladdin decides to activate their own Ultra named Wrath. Over at the Pentagon, military officers discuss the information about Wrath they got received from their moles at Aladdin. Their leader wondered about sending Prime (with a modified look) on a mission but he can’t have anyone see how he modified the Ultra.

Meanwhile in the bowels of the Earth, a man who is not really a man watches…

Quality

In terms of storytelling, Break-Thru #1 has a nice build-up. It took its time making references to the many, many characters of the Ultraverse. By the end of the comic book, you will realize there are different kinds of Ultras: the solo Ultras, the corporate Ultras, the freelancers, the work-for-hire Ultras, the accidental Ultras and the like. With regards to emphasizing the shared universe, this comic book shows that connections with the individual comic books are tight. References in what happened in Exiles #4, Prime #6, Mantra #5 and others all helped build-up the concept of Break-Thru. The story is 35-pages long which, in my opinion, was sufficient not only to emphasize the conflict Break-Thru but also give readers enough space to get to know what exactly is going on, who are these many characters, what the institutions involved are, etc.

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Mantra with Prototype.

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The Strangers discuss what has been happening.

More on Break-Thru’s concept, I like the way the comic book emphasized how the sudden presence of multiple Ultras affected local societies, members of the public, the government, the secret groups and others. It also sheds light on how people, regardless of social class or status, react to the presence of people who carry special powers or have unusual talents over them. This reminds me of a key scene in the 2012 Avengers movie in which Col. Fury mentioned how the sudden presence of super beings caused a disturbance.

Spectacle? Unsurprisingly there is a good amount of action as well as incidental moments that kept the narrative entertaining.

Visually, Break-Thru #1 is a great looking comic book thanks to George Perez who is famous for drawing multiple characters environments with his distinctive style complete with a high level of detail. There is not a single boring moment with his art and each panel has really nice visuals. The action scenes and incidental happenings (example: Valerie’s sudden burst of energy) come with a lot of punch.

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Freex got affected.

Very notably, Perez’s take on each of the Ultraverse characters is very good to look at and in some ways, certain characters look a lot better than they did in their respective comic book series. A perfect example here is the team Freex whose characters look more human (in style) and more lively. Of course, I don’t mean to say that the illustrators of the Freex series did not do a good job.

Perez’s drawing of Mantra is very good. Similar results with The Strangers, Hardcase, Solitaire and Prototype. Very clearly George Perez carefully did his research on the characters and their respective designs.

Conclusion

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Hardcase, Choice and The Solution on the move!

Overall, Break-Thru #1 is a great comic book to read and it reflects the high quality and deep engagement the Ultraverse had when it was still under the control of Malibu Comics (note: Marvel Comics acquired them and drastically changed the UV for the worse in the mid-1990s). It definitely still is one of the finest superhero crossover comic books of the 1990s and, personally, I found it to be more engaging than the launch issues of other crossover storylines like Zero Hour and The Infinity Gauntlet. If you are interested, Break-Thru continued in Firearm #4, Freex #6, Hardcase #7, Mantra #6, The Night Man #3, Prime #7, Prototype #5, Sludge #3, Solitaire #2, The Solution #4, The Strangers #7 and then in Break-Thru #2.

Break-Thru #1 is highly recommended and you can buy a near-mint copy of it for $4 at Mile High Comics’ website.


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

A Look Back At The Strangers #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.

When it comes to the Ultraverse, there is often something enjoyable to read. I enjoy reading about superhero teams, specifically X-Men from Marvel Comics and Justice League from DC Comics to name a few. I also enjoyed Freex and UltraForce from the Ultraverse. What I like about superhero teams is that I get to discover varied characters (the good, the evil and the ones in between), witness how they develop and act when something big or problematic happens.

With The Strangers #1, published by Malibu Comics in 1993 as one of the launch books of the Ultraverse, I experienced another bout of enjoyment and engagement but in a rather unique way.

FB_IMG_1564977426941.jpg
Cover of The Strangers #1 with art by Rick Hoberg.

Written by Steven Englehart with illustration done by Rick Hoberg (whose work was inked by Tom Burgard), the story begins with a shot of life going on in San Francisco. Several characters riding a jammed cable car get distracted when a man and a pretty lady (both seated) do the “wild thang”.

Because of the disturbance, three guys grab the arrogant guy (separating him from the lady) threw him out of the cable car. Immediately after that, the cable car suddenly gets hit by a bolt of energy (perceived as lightning) from the clear sky causing the vehicle to start slipping downwards until it hits a car and its passenger.

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Bob and Hugh start to notice something strange.

Then a series of things begin to happen. Candy (the lady earlier) acted strangely as the arrogant guy called her attention. Art students Bob and Hugh witnessed the sudden formation of a bag of apples. The kid Leon discovers his new ability to run fast and make sudden turns. Dave witnesses a momentary transformation of himself. Fashion designer Elena gets inspired to create something heroic.

RCO013_1469678179.jpg
Leon’s ultra speed realized while Candy walks pretty.

You must be wondering – how is the quality of this old comic book?

In terms of storytelling and characterization, this is pretty good work done by Steve Englehart. The way I see it, this is a story about strangers (truly living up to the title) who got changed as a result of a single incident that affected them. Each of the members of The Strangers were nicely and efficiently introduced. A creative approach was used to present their respective abilities which made sense as the events unfolded. By the end of the comic book, I really felt very engaged and excited to anticipate the next issue.

When it comes to dialogue, I like this exchange between Bob and Hugh.

“You know what I think?”

“No, what do you think?”

“I think it must have something to do with the lightning that hit us!”

“Nonsense! Lightning does not work like that!”

“You got a better idea?”

As for the visuals, Rick Hoberg’s art (inked by Burgard) combined with the color design by Paul Mounts is still very wonderful to look at. The facial expressions are convincing, the action has impact, the visualization of the super powers is pretty creative and there are lots of small details on the backgrounds (people, city environment, etc.) that are worth examining.

Overall, The Strangers #1 is a fun and engaging old comic book to read. Never mind the financial value it carries right now. Focus more on its story and art, as well as the other details that reflect the talents of its creators. More importantly, the experiences of discovering something fresh and getting to know brand new characters really defined this comic book.

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

A Look Back At Ultraverse Premiere #0

What is the one thing I love most about superhero comics of the 1990s? It’s easy – the Ultraverse! Launched in 1993 by Malibu Comics during the late stage of what is now called the Comic Book Speculator Boom in Amerca, the Ultraverse was a line of superhero comic books featuring all-new characters and concepts which were the result of intense brainstorming by the founders of the Ultraverse.

Back in mid-1993 here in the Philippines, I first got to discover the Ultraverse through print ads in comic books and take note that the Internet was not yet publicly accessible. By June that year, I visited a comic book store in BF Homes, Paranaque and was astonished to see the store’s wall with multiple Ultraverse comic books on display. With my limited funds at that time, I only managed to buy Freex #1 and Mantra #1. By the end of the evening, I greatly enjoyed what I read and became an Ultraverse fan ever since.

As the months passed by, I enjoyed reading more Ultraverse comic books. What was also fun to read were the special double-sized UV comic books, the Ultraverse Double Feature comic books (flip comic books) and then there was the Ultraverse Premiere #0 comic book which had a cover of Mantra drawn by the great Jim Lee! This is the one comic book I am taking a look back at.

UVprem1
The front cover drawn by Jim Lee!

So what Ultraverse Premiere #0 and what made it special other than having a cover drawn by Jim Lee? Released in late 1993, the comic book is a showcase of separate stories featuring Prime, The Strangers, Rune, Hardcase, Mantra and Freex. It is also a showcase of the respective talents of a big mix of writers and artists that include Len Strazewski, Tom Mason, Gerard Jones, Steve Englehart, Barry Windsor-Smith, Rick Hoberg, James Hudnall, Mike W. Barr, Norm Breyfogle and others.

Given its release date, the stories served as preludes leading to the stories told in the launch comic books. For example, the Hardcase story shows Tom Hawke/Hardcase with his team called The Squad performing what turned out to be their last mission leading directly to the events that started Hardcase #1.

UVprem3
Tom Hawke/Hardcase with his lovely teammate during his time with The Squad.

The story of Mantra in the comic book however was presented more like a side-story. Lukasz is already shown as Mantra with her mystical powers and revealing outfit in place. The short story adds a nice perspective on the personality of Mantra as well as her burden of having to take care of a daughter.

The Rune segment meanwhile was a look at the making of the character involving Barry Windsor-Smith and his art. In the text written by Chris Ulm, what caught my attention was the following segment.

After writing up the concept in the Ultraverse bible, I shortly added Rune to “Fusion”, the story of a conspiracy to develop the ultimate biological weapon by a covert group called Aladdin.

UVprem4
This opening of the Freex short story starts very strongly.

Of course, there is also the fine story of Prime by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones with great looking art by the late Norm Breyfogle. Remember in the early pages of Prime #1 when the overly muscular superhero claimed he saw the school coach touch the young girls? That got emphasized in the Prime short story in this comic book.

And then there is the one very memorable whole page art of Prime by Breyfogle.

UVprem2
I love this art of Prime by the late Norm Breyfogle.

The stories and art, in my view, were done with a lot of passion by the creators. They make Ultraverse Premiere #0 a worthy comic book to collect even though Marvel (which acquired Malibu Comics in the mid-1990s) screwed the Ultraverse and left the characters and concepts in limbo with no clear sign of any revival coming.

Last but not least, there is this great art of the Ultraverse characters done by Art Nichols at the rear of the comic book.

Ultraverse
The best back cover of any superhero comic book of the 1990s!

Art Nichols’ work on the back cover is fantastic and timeless in my view. It’s great multi-character art that truly captures the spirit of the Ultraverse!

If you are going out to buy old comic books, I strongly recommend Ultraverse Premiere #0.


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

 

 

A Look Back At Freex #1

I want to say that I am a fan of Marvel’s X-Men. Given the long publication history as well as how many creators – most notably Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio – defined and redefined them through the ages, the X-Men for me is the best superhero team comic franchise from Marvel.

Back in 1993, Malibu Comics launched a new line of superhero comic books called the Ultraverse and there I was inside a comic book store along Presidents Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque one time struggling to decide which of the many Ultraverse launch titles displayed to buy with my very limited budget. As I was very fond of the superhero team dynamics of the X-Men, I bought Freex #1.

Freex1
Cover of Freex #1.

Written by Gerard Jones with art by Ben Herrera (inked by Mike Christian), Freex #1 introduces Ray/Boomboy (a guy who lived hidden from the public due to his abnormal body), Valerie/Pressure (a very bitter lady who could produce steam or plasma out of sweat), Lewis/Anything (a guy who could reshape his body), Angela/Sweetface (who has several fleshy tentacles from her body) and Michael/Plug (a digital escapee).

The comic book emphasizes the five individuals’ respective struggles with not only their abilities but also with being social outcasts. This eerily parallels Marvel’s X-Men in more ways than one. The big difference is that the Freex do not have a mature adult to guide them nor do they have a large estate to hide and live in. Clearly the Freex are in a desperate situation to survive and realize their destiny.

In terms of storytelling, the pacing is fine and for the most part character development or spotlight was noticeably invested on three of the five Freex which is understandable since the comic book had only twenty-five pages of story and art. In terms of spectacle, there presentation is nice and the action scenes nicely reflect what the characters could do.

Freex2
Valerie Sharp’s flashback.

Going back to character development, I find Boomboy’s back story to be the most interesting. Due to his rock-like appearance, his family had no choice but to hide him in the basement for an unspecified number of years. Unsurprisingly he became very lonely and he dealt with loneliness by reading a book about a certain literature classic.

Due to his high consumption related to his abnormal condition, Boomboy’s family realized that feeding him was too costly and they found a place where he could be transferred to and receive special care. Thinking that he would end up like a slave at the new place, Boomboy naturally rebels and forcefully leaves the house causing damage.

For the first time, Boomboy explores the suburban exterior while causing people nearby to panic as he looks like some monster to them. The uncertainty for him ended when Lewis meets and welcomes him.

Freex3
It truly is very hard to be social outcasts.

Very notably, Boomboy claims that “Huck” (actually Anything) saved him and went on to really believe in him.

Being an X-Men fan, I noticed that Freex has some similar themes with Marvel’s superhero team in the sense that there is a group of individuals with special abilities (or abnormalities as some would call them) who are noticeably rejected by members of the local society they live in. Valerie said it correctly: So we are here, right? Living in some locked-up squat, stealing to eat with the cops all over us!

Valerie’s words captured the desperate situation of Freex. They don’t have a mature leader to look up to. They cannot go back to where they came from. They cannot reunite immediately with the people who care for them. They are already rejected by the local authorities.

Overall, I find Freex #1 as engaging as it was when I first read it way back in 1993. It has aged nicely with its fine mix of drama and spectacle composed with a more mature audience in mind. If you are a comic book collector looking for 1990s concepts or if you want something similar to the X-Men or even DC Comics’ Teen Titans, then I recommend this comic book.

It’s too bad that Marvel bought out Malibu Comics and shut them down. As of this writing, Freex and the rest of the Ultraverse characters and concepts are all in limbo and remain unused by Marvel for decades now.

Freex4
Freex with a stronger superhero look they adapted later in their short-lived comic book series.

Still I can imagine the unlikely scenario that Marvel Studios (under the orders of their parent company the Walt Disney Company) would revive someday the Ultraverse properties in a limited way without cannibalizing their very own superhero properties already in use in movies. I think Freex would make an interesting animated series or as a video game or as action figures. Truly there is still good entertainment potential with Freex similar to the other Ultraverse franchises.


Thank you for reading. If you found this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version