AsiaPOP Comicon Manila 2019 event officially postponed!

Today here in the Philippines, the organizers of the annual AsiaPOP Comicon Manila pop culture convention announced officially that this year’s edition of their event at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City has been postponed! Everyone anticipating the next APCC event will have to wait for next year.

For transparency, I’m posting below the text of their entire announcement made through their Facebook page.

Dear APCC Partners and Fans,

It is with deep regret that we would like to inform you about the postponement of AsiaPOP Comicon Manila 2019 to next year.

APCC Manila has always prided itself in bringing exclusive international content to the region that no other convention brings, but, unfortunately, our various content and strategic partners have not been able to commit completely due to their organizational restructuring and multiple conflicting events happening during the couple weeks before and at the same time as the original APCC Manila 2019 dates. The delay in this communication was purely in our intent to try our best to be able to secure the best of content for this year’s event, but the schedules of various partners did not match our dates.

We did not want to organize the event by diluting the quality of the show, as we are aware the benchmark has been set and APCC fans expect the best from us that we promise to deliver in our next year’s event.

We regret any inconvenience this has caused you and all exhibitors, including creative circle artists. All booth payments received will be refunded as a separate communication will be sent across to them.

We hope to continue to get the support from APCC fans for our future events, while we ensure to bring the best of pop-culture activations to Philippines.

Thank you for your kind understanding and unwavering support!

 

The APCC revealed that the postponement was not an easy decision to make. Firstly, their partners did not fully commit to their planned convention. Secondly, there are multiple events to be held before and on the same weekend as the APCC. Clearly each event’s organizers reached out to varied business and content/service providers to be part of their respective events. That trend complicated matters for the APCC organizers.

So instead of compromising on quality, they decided to postpone their 2019 event. That, incidentally, makes the 2019 Toycon the must-attend pop culture convention here in the Philippines and, like the APCC, the venue is at the SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia zone in Pasay City.

I am long-time geek and I love comic books, movies, video games, superhero and photographing cosplayers. I attended the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) in California, the United States in 2011 and it was a tremendously wonderful event for geeks like me. Fortunately for geeks here in the Philippines, the Toycon and the AsiaPOP Comicon Manila were held annually and just a few months apart from each other. For the past few years, both conventions heavily used the main exhibition hall of the SMX Convention Center. I proudly say that I attended both conventions since 2016.

Toycon and AsiaPOP Comicon Manila have their own styles of being fun to attendees but they share lots of similarities: cosplay contests, boxes of old comic books for sale, cosplayers expressing themselves and letting people photograph them, musical or dance performances by varied artists, local and international celebrities meeting the fans, gadgets being displayed, souvenirs displayed for sale, action figures and expensive models on display, comic book illustrators signing comic books or drawing art on the spot for the fans, etc.

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Actress and model Ameera Johara posed for me in her Wonder Woman costume during the AsiaPOP Comicon Manila of 2016.

I also had my memorable moments with the AsiaPOP Comicon Manila. I am a long-time Macross fan and I can proudly say that because of the APCC in 2017, I got to meet with the anime legend Shoji Kawamori in person and had him sign the Macross Plus print-outs I brought to him. I managed to tell him personally I admired his work in the 1982 anime TV series of Macross.

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There is nothing like witnessing the legendary Shoji Kawamori sign the Macross Plus print outs I brought to him during the 2017 edition of the AsiaPOP Comicon Manila!

From this point on, we can’t do anything but wait for the 2020 edition of the AsiaPOP Comicon Manila to happen. I am confident that the organizers will strive hard to do better in getting their partners to commit to their event.

Along the way, there is the 2019 Toycon set to begin on June 28 until June 30 and I already have a ticket! See you fans and geeks there. 🙂


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

 

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Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Shazam!

I’ll just say it out loud – I had a lot of fun watching Shazam! at the local cinema today. I’m not even a fan of the character Shazam/Captain Marvel (as he was called prior to Marvel’s legal takeover of the name) and still I enjoyed watching the movie. I rarely watch comedies in the cinema but I still had a lot of fun with Shazam!

Whatever challenges the filmmakers led by director David F. Sandberg faced, they succeeded in making their movie fun, action-packed and more importantly telling a story with a lot of heart with the main characters. It also proved crucial that Warner Bros. marketing team did not spoil the pleasant surprise the movie had all along and that surprise alone is already worth the price of admission.

Shazam! introduces moviegoers to Billy Batson who has moved away from multiple homes as he searches for his mother whom he got separated from as a child. At the new family he moved into, he meets Freddy Freeman who lives with a disability. Things change when Billy meets an aging wizard named Shazam and gains his power. By simply saying the wizard’s name, lightning strikes Billy to become the muscular, adult caped superhero. Along the way an obsessed Dr. Sivana rises with a lust for power which only means trouble for the Billy Batson/Shazam and his friends.

Why is storytelling a success in this movie? Answer – it was done with a lot of heart and director Sandberg succeeded in getting very strong performances from the cast. You will really sympathize with Asher Angel as Billy Batson who lives with a missing link in his personal life and often finds himself lonely. This is a movie about a teenager who does not aspire to become a superhero at all but rather find his mother anyway he could. The superhero aspect of the film is an extension (but a very significant one) of that core concept.

In terms of storytelling tone, Shazam! looks so much like a comedy based on the way it was marketed but rest assured the movie is not a dominant comedy at all. In fact it has a lot of dramatic scenes and even some horror elements spread around. Darkness? There is some of that by means of horror elements. Grit? Very little of it too. Cynicism? Non-existent. Clearly the DC Cinematic Universe under the leadership of Warner Bros. executive Walter Hamada continues to move away from the darkness, the grit and cynicism of Zack Snyder’s influence and for me that is a good thing.

In terms of performances, this film has a lot of good acts. While Asher Angel excelled as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi truly brought Shazam/Captain Marvel to life on the big screen. Not only does he really look like the superhero (as if he was ripped straight from the comic books), Levi was successful in playing his character with the act and mindset of a teenage boy. Jack Dylan Grazer was pretty engaging as Freddy Freeman (who is the in-movie geek and superhero culture researcher) and so was Mark Strong as Dr. Sivana. The other cast members like Grace Fulton, Ian Chen and Faithe Herman were good players as well. To sum it up, the quality of performances from the cast is varied and at the same time of good quality and nice artistry. From drama to humor, these cast members really pulled it off.

Shazam! was made to tell a compelling story that can be taken seriously while at the same time it delivered the humor and spectacle to satisfy moviegoers who want their superhero cinema experience to be enjoyable. When it comes to weaknesses, I say that the first twenty minutes was kinda slow. While the film is indeed very wholesome, the horrific imagery of the monsters can scare little kids and compel their parents to cover their eyes.

As a superhero comedy, it definitely is a more fun to watch than any of the Deadpool movies. As a superhero spectacle, Shazam! is quite comparable not only with DC Cinematic Universe movies but also with other humor-laced superhero movies from Marvel Studios. As a DC Cinematic Universe movie, Shazam! is 3rd best to Wonder Woman.

Given its high amount of fun, engaging storytelling, good comedy and solid performances, Shazam! is highly recommended! I urge you to watch it as soon as you can and for the best visual experience, I recommended watching it on an IMAX screen if you can afford it. Shazam! is a lot of fun and you will love it! Very clearly the DC Cinematic Universe continues to improve and its future under Warner Bros. and Walter Hamada looks very bright!

For your enjoyment, posted below are some videos related to Shazam.


Thank you for reading. If you find 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

My Daily Collagen Triathlon 2019 pics and insight

Hey everyone! The My Daily Collagen Triathlon organized by Bike King Philippines at Subic Bay Freeport Zone took place today and it was a fun and successful event.

A lot of the participants and the spectators enjoy the lung-busting swim-bike-run event in more ways than one.

For your viewing pleasure, posted below are varied pictures I took with my smartphone.

Watch out for race results to be posted at http://www.bikekingphilippines.com

Crackdown 3’s Critical Reception Should Concern Gamers Who Want The Best Value For Their Money

I am a gamer who owns an Xbox One console and I always want the best value possible in return for the amount of money I spend on buying new video games.

For this current console generation, Xbox One’s lineup of exclusive games has not been very engaging compared to what was offered on Xbox 360 in the previous generation. To put things in perspective, the start of the current console generation was pretty bad for Xbox One and things slowly started to improve when Phil Spencer replaced Don Mattrick as the head of Xbox.

While the improvements continued to develop, it’s too late for Xbox One to match sales success of Xbox 360 and it only made sense for Microsoft to prepare themselves focusing on the next-generation.

Ironically, something from the embarrassing build-up of Xbox One finally got released commercially and that game is Crackdown 3.

To put things in perspective, Crackdown 3 was first announced at E3 of 2014 exclusively for Xbox One. It went through a very troublesome production and it was heavily delayed before finally getting released on February 15, 2019.

Now that the game is out, you must be wondering how did the video game critics react to it. Sad to say, Crackdown 3 was not the stellar hit and I’m not really surprised.

According to the game critics…..

Crackdown 3 shows very little in the way of learning from the past or learning from the other open-world games that have graced consoles over the last nine years. Instead it feels slight, mindless, and dull. It feels like a gussied-up first-generation Xbox One game. ~ Giant Bomb

Crackdown 3 is just more Crackdown. For some players, that will be enough. But compared to what Crackdown 3 initially promised, what we ended up with seems lacking in depth and destruction. ~ EGM

Crackdown 3 makes no sense on paper. Its story is nonsense, you spend way too much time searching for hidden orbs and leveling up, and the presentation isn’t anything spectacular. And yet, the over-the-top madness and hilarious, memorable moments it brought me made it impossible to put down. ~ GamingTrend

Crackdown 3 just doesn’t meet contemporary standards as a premium $60 title, with dated visuals, thin gameplay features, and an under-delivered story. There are too many open world superhero-style games that simply do it better. ~ Windows Central

Forget Crackdown 2 ever happened, Crackdown 3 is the sequel we deserve. ~ GameSpew

As a big fan of the first part, it’s not easy for me to say that, but Crackdown 3 is at least five years late…This is all the sadder, because the mechanics in Crackdown 3 are quite solid and I especially enjoy the search for the movement Orbs. But the bottom line is the sobering result of a developmental odyssey, which will probably be the last nail for the series. ~ GamePro Germany

It certainly delivers on letting you blow things up and jump around the city. However, a dozen years after the first Crackdown offered that same experience but failed to provide you with enough interesting content surrounding that, it’s truly disappointing to see this latest iteration suffer from the very same problems. ~ GameSpot

The game isn’t the visual masterpiece one would expect from a AAA production, but it isn’t without its charm. It’s with Wrecking Zone that Sumo Digital stretches their wings thanks to the chaos of destructible environments, but the glaring lack of content and missing features makes it more of a curiosity rather than a fully fleshed out mode. ~ Hardcore Gamer

Crackdown is back with a fun game that ends up being quite repetitive. Sumo Digital has done a great job finishing this title, but we expected a more evolved concept after so many years.  ~ Vandal

Crackdown 3 is a good Crackdown game, which, unfortunately, doesn’t mean much anymore. ~ Destructoid

There you have it. Some reviews and statements for your reference in case you are thinking about spending a lot of your hard-earned money on Crackdown 3.

Personally I have no intention of buying the game right now not because of the critical reception but it’s because I am still enjoying Resident Evil 2 “remake” and Tales of Vesperia on my Xbox One. Even if I get tired of those two games, there’s no guarantee I’ll buy Crackdown 3. As far as open-world games are concerned, I want a game that has very in-depth gameplay combined with sufficient cinematic storytelling, high production values and of course enduring, high level of enjoyment. Believe it or not, I still have not played Red Dead Redemption 2 and that game alone is the better choice over Crackdown 3 as far as open-world games of recent times are concerned.


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.

 

 

I’m not too interested with Crackdown 3

So Crackdown 3 will finally be released on Xbox One on February 15. That Xbox-exclusive has been delayed way too long due to a very troubled production.

The game at this stage is looking better than ever and it even has popular movie star Terry Crews in it and his character can be played by gamers.

Still, as an Xbox One owner and long-time Xbox fan, I am not too interested in Crackdown 3 at all.

For one thing, I played Crackdown on Xbox 360 twelve years ago. I endured the game’s single-player campaign, explored a lot and played until I finished it.

But ultimately the whole experience was a disappointment for me.

Sure that old game had lots of action and thrills but the narrative is very shallow and there are no characters to follow other than your agent. There really was no story.

By comparison the open-world game Saints Row had a lot more depth, a serviceable story, had more varied gameplay and had memorable characters to follow. Crackdown was simply a very hollow game.

Years later I skipped out on Crackdown 2 which was released to a weaker reception.

I am not judging Crackdown 3 based on game previews alone but what I am saying is that very delayed game does not look like it can deliver the great stuff to justify the years-long wait.

I hope I am wrong about Crackdown 3. What I love to enjoy about open-world games are varied gameplay, deep exploration, characters worth following and a good story to endure that goes well with the gameplay.

Soon enough we will find out if Crackdown 3 will live up to expectations and spare Microsoft from potential embarrassment as they prepare for the next-generation Xbox.

A Look Back at Solitaire #1 of the Ultraverse

When you fight evil, you do it alone.

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Solitaire in action in Solitaire #1 published in 1993 by Malibu Comics under their Ultraverse line of comic books.

The concept of vigilante figures taking the fight against crime alone backed with resources (in the form of weapons) is a long running tradition in superhero comic books. DC Comics has its iconic Batman doing lots of detective work and fighting criminals many times on his own. Similar stories were seen with the Punisher and Daredevil over at Marvel.

When Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse line of superhero comics in 1993, they added variety into the big mix. They had their own parallel to Marvel’s Punisher and DC’s Batman in the form of Solitaire and they boldly launched a comic book series of the character.

Released in late 1993 with story by Gerard Jones and art by Jeff Johnson and Barb Kaalberg, Solitaire #1 introduced readers to Nicholas Lone who wears a purple-and-blue costume with mask and fights criminals as Solitaire. He’s not just a brave, tough guy who daringly goes against thugs. He’s is very talented with martial arts, acrobatics and weapon use.

The comic book begins when thugs working for a crime lord called the King are about to catch a helpless lady who gets saved by Solitaire. The hero easily outmaneuvers the bad guys and he proved to them that he really is hard to hurt.

At his headquarters, the King made it clear to readers that Solitaire has been a problem to him for some time already and feels bad when the hero disrupts his operation. Solitaire meanwhile prepares himself for the next move against the King by returning to his hideout (an old theater), doing some research by computer and coordinating with his contacts on the streets.

Regarding the quality of the comic book, I say the script is nicely paced as it does a good job introducing Solitaire to readers while still having spare spotlight for the King. Within twenty-five pages, the hero got clearly defined as a man of action as well as a person with a purpose. His fight against crime is defined by key parts of his past especially with the fact that his own father – Antone Lone – is a crime lord.

When it comes to super powers, Solitaire has very quick reflexes which makes him a hard target for armed thugs. He also has healing factor which works rapidly and gives him a major advantage over the bad guys. In fact, the presence of the healing factor (which works like that of Wolverine) makes Solitaire more daring and more willing to take risks engaging the bad guys with violence. He can get stabbed and his body can be shot with several bullets and still he will recover quickly to get the job done.

Solitaire is indeed super and yet there is something intriguing with his personality. Apart from being the son of a crime lord, Nicholas Lone’s acquisition of his powers is a painful mark on him personally. This was because his father gave him those powers as a result of his attempt to commit suicide. The powers are the result of the installation of nano-machines into his body.

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Overall, Solitaire #1 is a good and intriguing read. It really comes with a flavor that makes it distinct from other superhero-versus-criminals stories and the introduction of Solitaire alone is worth the cover the price. If you can find copies of Solitaire #1 on the back issue shelves of the comic book stores, I recommend buying it as well as the other issues.

It’s too bad that the Ultraverse ended after Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics back in the 1990s because like Prime, Hardcase and Prototype, Solitaire is very unique and intriguing at the same time. In my opinion, Solitaire is the most defining crime fighter of the entire Ultraverse and it’s too bad stories featuring him are not too many.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to your fellow comic book geeks and Ultraverse fans. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format for you to order.

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