What could happen with regards to rumored event related to Xbox-Bethesda deal

Things have been quiet for the past months following the megaton announcement that Microsoft is acquiring Bethesda (through parent company ZeniMax Media) for a staggering $7.5 billion. Since then, Team Xbox has gotten stronger as the deal means pushing their number of 1st party game studios to almost 25.

In recent times, Microsoft created a brand new subsidiary called Vault (a nod to the Fallout franchise) which will serve as a new and temporary home for ZeniMax. The acquisition of ZeniMax and all of Bethesda is up for review by the regulators of the European Union (EU).

In relation to this, Jeff Grub of GamesBeat said in a podcast that an event will be held in which Microsoft will share details about their plans for the future regarding Bethesda. It was stated that such an event might happen in the middle of March 2021. By that time, the EU’s decision on the Xbox-Bethesda deal should be known.

Here’s an excerpt from GamingBolt’s report…

Grubb says it might not be a dedicated Direct-style event, but fans should expect to hear about plenty of new information either way.

“Once the deal closes, they will talk about it in a big way,” Grubb said. “I don’t know if it will be a full Direct-style event, but they will make note of it, and they will talk about it extensively, and they will explain what it means to everybody… kind of talk about the immediate future for both companies becoming one in the future.”

Personally, I can imagine an Xbox-Bethesda event that will done in video format and shown online to many fans and gamers around the world. However, I imagine it to be totally different from the Xbox Games Showcase of July 2020. I don’t expect it to be a lengthy video but still it will be long enough and serve as a makeshift celebration of Microsoft acquiring a major game publisher in Bethesda which itself is a rare event in the business world of video games and computer gaming.

The way I see it, the Xbox-Bethesda event could happen with the following possibilities:

  1. Xbox head Phil Spencer will welcome viewers and confirm that the acquisition of Bethesda has finally been done and the planned projects will push through and ensure lots of fun stuff for Xbox fans, fans of Bethesda’s many game franchises and people who love to play games via Xbox consoles, Windows 10 PCs and laptops, and mobile devices.
  2. Microsoft and Bethesda’s extensive business relationship will be mentioned, if not highlighted.
  3. Starfield will be announced yet again but will be presented by Todd Howard and a video showing the first-ever gameplay footage. Howard or the video itself could announce Starfield as an Xbox-exclusive game with late 2021 release window.
  4. Bethesda games released on previous generations consoles (Xbox 360 and Xbox One most likely) will be confirmed enhanced with FPS Boost when played on Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X.
  5. More Bethesda games of the past and the future will be made available via Xbox Game Pass (XGP).
  6. Ghostwire: Tokyo Deathloop, the temporary exclusives on Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) console, will come to Xbox Series consoles and Windows 10 PC with exclusive enhancements and features some time in late 2022 or early 2023. Xbox Game Pass listing will be confirmed.
  7. Other Xbox game studios such as Obsidian Entertainment, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, The Coalition and others could make an appearance and some of their upcoming games for Xbox Series consoles and PC may be previewed. If this happens, it will symbolize the unity of the teams under Xbox Game Studios.
  8. Most, if not all, new games of Bethesda will be announced as exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem which includes Xbox Series consoles (note: Xbox One could still be supported), Windows 10 PC, mobile devices and Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Meanwhile, old Bethesda games that were released on multiple platforms will still be made available.

I believe that it is inevitable that the new Bethesda games, including those that were in development before Microsoft even started negotiating with ZeniMax, will be made Xbox-exclusive for it is very clear that Team Xbox wants to make Xbox Game Pass attract many more millions of subscribers from around the world much like how the streaming services Netflix and Disney+ attracted so many millions of subscribers globally. XGP alone added a lot to Microsoft’s revenue as its base of subscribers reached 18 million. Making Bethesda’s new games exclusive will add tremendous value to XGP and Xbox LIVE as a whole. That being said, think about the exclusive content that helped Netflix and Disney+ attract so many millions of subscribers.

Making Bethesda Xbox-exclusive also means making the Xbox brand (and its game studios) even stronger than those on PlayStation and Nintendo. Microsoft knows that millions of gamers love playing single-player role-playing games (RPGs) and having Bethesda’s blockbuster RPG franchises like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls ensures big game sales through Xbox consoles and Windows 10 computers. Don’t forget that Team Xbox also has Obsidian Entertainment (which made the popular Fallout New Vegas for Bethesda) to provide such RPGs. Speaking of exclusives, whatever Japanese RPGs Sony could snatch as PS5 exclusives from Square Enix (Final Fantasy XVI for one), Team Xbox can literally fight back with exclusive Bethesda RPGs which are more than enough to make Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S more attractive consoles for anyone who loves role-playing the console way. I should state that Bethesda RPGs have a huge collective following among PC gamers.

As I noticed on social media over the past few months, a lot of PlayStation fanboys, haters of Xbox and some Nintendo fanboys are still feeling uneasy over the possibility of Bethesda games becoming Xbox-exclusive. They are afraid of getting locked out…meaning that none of the new Bethesda games will be released on their PS4, PS5 and Switch consoles.

More on exclusivity, Xbox chief Phil Spencer made things clear in an interview with Kotaku and below is an excerpt for you all…

“Is it possible to recoup a $7.5 billion investment if you don’t sell Elder Scrolls VI on the PlayStation?” I asked.

“Yes,” Spencer quickly replied.

Then he paused.

“I don’t want to be flip about that,” he added. “This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games. But I’ll also say in the model—I’m just answering directly the question that you had—when I think about where people are going to be playing and the number of devices that we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base, I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us. Whatever that means.”

No matter how the haters and opposing fanboys see it – including the Nintendo and PlayStation fanboys working as journalists – what Microsoft owns, Nintendo and Sony cannot touch nor steal. If they really want the new Bethesda games, they will need an Xbox Series console or a capable Windows 10 computer to buy those games and/or sign up for Xbox Game Pass (if they want to save money on new games).

As for those who insist that all new Bethesda games should be released on multiple platforms, they should slow down and look at PS5’s camp. Why is Final Fantasy XVI a PS5-exclusive? Is Square Enix better off releasing their new games only on Sony’s platform while you oppose Bethesda releasing games as Xbox-exclusive? Also, why would a Microsoft-owned Bethesda be obligated or be forced to release games on competing game consoles from Sony and Nintendo after all the $7.5 billion spent on the acquisition?

As for Minecraft remaining a multi-platform franchise, the case of Microsoft’s acquisition of its developer (Mojang) simply cannot be applied to the Xbox-Bethesda deal. Bethesda is a major publisher with almost ten game studios and a wide bunch of games from established game franchises.

The existing market of Xbox console owners combined with Windows 10 users is large enough to sell Bethesda games to. To say that Xbox-exclusivity of new games such as Starfield and sequels or spin-offs to Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Doom, Dishonored and other franchises won’t benefit paying consumers is nonsense.  

From this point on, we can only wait and see what happens next. Will the EU approve the acquisition of ZeniMax/Bethesda? Will the rumored Xbox-Bethesda event actually push through weeks from now? Tell me what you think.

In closing these, here are some relevant videos for your enjoyment and learning…

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

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

A Look Back at Wonder Woman #18 (1988)

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, fellow geeks and fans of Wonder Woman! Last time, I found George Perez’s standalone writing of the story about Wonder Woman discovering Greece and its connections to her people’s heritage a really good story. For much of the post-crisis Wonder Woman monthly series’ early stage, the stories were done by Perez and the late Len Wein. In issue #17, Perez not only succeeded in developing Diana/Wonder Woman further, he also captured nicely the wonder of discovery of new places and astonishing aspects of life while traveling overseas.

Of course, issue #17 was not purely a tourism story through the eyes of the Queen of Superheroes. There was an obvious build-up of a new villain who is aware of Wonder Woman’s presence in Greece.

What will happen next? Who could the new force of evil be? We can find out in this look back at Wonder Woman #18, published by DC Comics in 1988 with a story written and drawn by George Perez with ink work done by Dick Giordano.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins deep in the darkness of limbo. Light sparks suddenly as Zeus, Hades and Poseidon arrive in the search of their father called Cronus. Zeus retrieves the Olympian pact. After further talking, they join forces in lighting a flame to burn the pact to make way for something new.

Meanwhile in a hospital in the Greek isle of Cephalonia, Diana wakes up surrounded by Julia Kapatelis, Vanessa, a doctor and other Greeks. Diana states that some kind of aura seemed to clutch her in a chilling grip which Julia dismisses and believes that her Amazon friend was simply tired from all the months-long pushing herself since returning from Themyscira.

Julia introduces Diana to Theophilus Ventouras and his nephew Demetrios. The older Ventouras is the owner of the wealthiest estate on the islands. He tells Diana that the governor asked him to meet her at the dock and reveals to her that a local boy was killed by a wolf which some car calling it as a “magia”.

As they continue talking, a nurse listens to them carefully just outside the door of the room they are in. She learns about Ventouras’ offer of assistance to Diana and quietly leaves. Some time later just outside the hospital, the nurse (named Angela) reveals to a man named Mikos that Diana and her group will be going to Ventourata the next day…

Quality

Without hesitation, Wonder Woman moves to save lives.

I can start by saying that this is another well-written tale by George Perez. Apart from the continuing focus on Wonder Woman’s discovery of Greece, the elements of fantasy, intrigue, suspense and even horror have been used more in this comic book compared to the previous issue.

When it comes to characterization, Diana’s close relationship with the Kapatelises is deepened further as the story explored the already established Greek background of Julia. I also found engaging Wonder Woman’s unflinching moves to search for Vanessa and get her out of trouble any way she could.

For those of you who are aware about the lack of superhero spectacle in issue #17, I can share to you that there definitely is more action in this comic book and it is all nicely presented by George Perez.

Continuing what began in the previous issue, Perez ramped up further the build-up of the new force evil awaiting Wonder Woman. I won’t reveal who it is but rest assured, this comic book’s ending is pretty strong and easily justifies the build-up.

Conclusion

Diana and Julia treat each other like family.

Wonder Woman #18 (1988) successfully continued the redefining of the Queen of Superheroes in the post-Crisis era and George Perez really delivered great stuff as well as a very solid story here. From start to finish, there is a lot to enjoy and examine in the story.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #18 (1988), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $41 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $84.

Overall, Wonder Woman #18 (1988) is highly recommended!

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

For Wonder Woman fans, be aware that the movie Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in a 4K Blu-ray disc combo on March 30, 2021. Read my article for the details and, if you have decided to order, do it now at Amazon.

Frame-rate boost for backward compatible games on Xbox Series consoles has begun with five initial games!

Playing previous generation video games on your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console is becoming a smoother experience as Team Xbox officially rolled out the FPS Boost enhancement for backward compatible games which gamers playing any of the five initial games – Far Cry 4, New Super Lucky’s Tale, Sniper Elite 4, UFC 4, and Watch Dogs 2 – can benefit from.

On Xbox.com, Senior Program Manager Paul Eng made the official announcement dated February 17, 2021. Below is an excerpt from the said article…

As we detailed in October, with the increased CPU, GPU and memory from our new consoles, all of your existing games look and play better. With certain titles, we can make the experience even better, all with no work required by the developer, and no update needed by the gamer. To that end, the backward compatibility team has developed FPS Boost, which employs a variety of new methods for nearly doubling (and in a few instances, quadrupling) the original framerate on select titles. Higher, steadier framerates make games visually smoother, resulting in more immersive gameplay. We partnered closely with developers to enhance the experience while maintaining the game’s original intent. And while not applicable to all games, these new techniques can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware at the time.

We’re excited to announce the first assortment of backward compatible titles that will support FPS Boost – available beginning today –  are Far Cry 4, New Super Lucky’s Tale, Sniper Elite 4, UFC 4, and Watch Dogs 2. We chose this initial collection of titles not only because they are popular among fans, but to highlight several different ways that FPS Boost can improve your experience. For example, New Super Lucky’s Tale can now run up to 120 frames per second (fps) and UFC 4 delivers improved framerate performance specifically on Xbox Series S and can now run at 60fps.

This is just the beginning. We will announce and release more titles featuring FPS Boost soon, as well roll out new menu icons and system settings in an upcoming system update. Starting this Spring, you can go into the “Manage Game” section for any title, where you’ll be presented with a new “Compatibility Options” button that will allow you to toggle FPS Boost (as well as Auto HDR) on or off. There will also be a new indicator informing you when a game is running with FPS Boost whenever you hit the Xbox Button on your controller. You decide how you want to play your favorite games, whether in its original form or with FPS Boost.

And FPS Boost doesn’t only benefit gamers who own these titles – you’ll be happy to hear that many of these upcoming FPS Boost games will be available in Xbox Game Pass.

As you can see in the above content, Team Xbox and its backward compatibility team are continuing to not only make as many past generation games playable on the Xbox Series consoles, but make the gameplay experience even better by means of improving the frame rates. With FPS Boost, the wholesome platform game New Super Lucky’s Tale can be played on Xbox Series S at more than three times higher than the frame rate of its Xbox One version. More than three times meaning up to 120 frames-per-second (120FPS) on the newer console!

And then there is another game from the initial five…Watch Dogs 2 from Ubisoft. I played and finished Watch Dogs 2 on my Xbox One back in early 2017 and while it was not great, it proved to be fun and satisfying enough. For the newcomers reading this, Watch Dogs 2 is an open-world game with San Francisco as its environment. To have that game upgraded to 60FPS is pretty impressive even though its resolution was not upgraded. Regardless of resolution, to have an open-world game run at sixty frames-per-second is a big achievement in itself. By today’s standards, 30FPS is no longer satisfying for me especially when it comes to open-world games.

As mentioned in the Xbox.com article, FPS Boost is just beginning and Team Xbox will reveal and release more games that will run with FPS Boost in the near future. I personally hope to see a variety of previous generation games run on Xbox Series consoles at 60FPS such as Lost Odyssey (the Final Fantasy game without the name), Saints Row 2 and Saints Row The Third to name a few.

It is great to see that Team Xbox continues to work hard to not only make backward compatible gaming even more accessible, but also justify all the investments gamers made with their collection of video games released on all Xbox console generations. That reminds me, this year 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of Xbox itself.

In ending this, here are some selected YouTube videos related to FPS Boost for your learning and enjoyment. Colteastwood’s interview with Jason Ronald is a must-watch! Meanwhile, Zalker 87’s video is about a different yet highly relevant topic of discussion.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me 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 Action Comics #500 (1979)

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.

To publish a five hundredth issue of an extensive monthly comic book series is clearly a major milestone for any publisher. To do the math, it takes a whole year to publish 12 issues on a monthly schedule. To reach five hundred issues on a monthly pace will require forty-one years and eight months’ time to publish.

Way back in the late 1970s, DC Comics achieved the said milestone with their extensive monthly series titled Action Comics which is often identified with the world’s most famous superhero – Superman! Take note that DC Comics started in 1935 while Action Comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman) was published a few years later.

Going back to the 500th issue of Action Comics, it is easy to wonder what DC Comics’ talent came up with to celebrate the milestone. That being said, we can all find out more in this look back at Action Comics #500, published by DC Comics in 1979 with a story written by Martin Pasko and visualized by Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Superman arriving at a pavilion named after him at the Metropolis World’s Fair. Countless people welcomed with lots of cheering as he lands near the mayor in the presence of the famous entrepreneur J. Robert Arngrim. Also present were Superman’s closest friends Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White.

After the formal opening, Superman leads a large group of people as their tour guide. Together they arrived a wide hall containing the Krypton exhibit showcasing alien technology, architecture and life on Superman’s home planet. In response to a request by Arngrim, Superman reluctantly agrees to do a demonstration of the mind-prober ray, a machine Superman himself invented as a boy mainly to retrieve memories from his subconscious.

As the Man of Steel takes his seat on the machine in front of the tourists and Arngrim, an unidentified person located in a secret facility prepares to invade Superman’s mind…

Quality

Teenage Clark Kent gradually becoming Superboy.

To make it clear, this 500th issue of the Action Comics monthly series is an extensive, no advertisements tribute to Superman and I can say that the comic book creators really went all out to present lots of stuff to please Superman fans.

As such, the story was written to help the newer fans of the time to be more familiar of the legacy of Superman (note: this was years before Crisis on Infinite Earths happened) by revisiting and dramatizing established events of the Man of Steel’s legacy such as Jor-El (Superman’s father) failing to convince the Kryptonian science council members that their world was doomed, Superman sent to Earth as a child in a rocket before Krypton’s destruction, getting raised by an American couple after arriving on Earth, becoming Superboy (note: another pre-Crisis element), getting a job at the Daily Planet, welcoming Supergirl on Earth, and so on.

Superman leading the tour.

Of course, Superman does not reveal key details of his personal life to the people during the tour and such recollections were presented to delight us readers. Still, there is richness in the writing and the art. Even though I am already familiar with DC’s icon and the Superman-related mythos, I still had a lot of fun reading the events of Superman’s past, particularly his early years as the adopted son of the Kent couple who in turn did their best to adjust to his super abilities while raising him with good values and discipline.

While the recollections from Superman’s past are engaging, the present-day tour at the Superman pavilion is itself quite fascinating. There were displays of supervillains such as Lex Luthor, Braniac and Parasite. There was even a collection of the different types of Kryptonite. What really nailed the present-day story was a nice twist that allowed for some new superhero spectacle and intrigue to take place.

Conclusion

The first stop of the tour – Krypton exhibit!

While this portrayal of Superman is already outdated given the time of its release, Action Comics #500 (1979) is still a lot of fun to read and it is indeed a great tribute to DC’s most famous superhero. If you are a Superman fan who has gotten sick and tired of the way DC Comics reshaped and modernized Superman since after the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, this comic book could be refreshing for you. It is also a lively piece of DC Comics’ history.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Action Comics #500 (1979), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $210.

Overall, Action Comics #500 (1979) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me 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 #21 (1995)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and geeks! We go back yet again into the Ultraverse through the exploits of The Strangers which by this point are still adjusting over Atom Bob’s betrayal. The previous issue did not show much of the team as it told a mostly solo story of Zip-Zap.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Strangers #21, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Paul Abrams.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a different type of aircraft. The Strangers, now with new member Teknight and old teammate Yrial, discuss matters about the unconscious Atom Bob whose body has been laid on a platform. In response to Yrial’s question about what should they do about him, Lady Killer (Atom Bob’s ex-lover) states that if a cure for him exists, they will find it. If no such cure exists, she states that the traitorous member should never wake up again.

After being informed by Lady Killer that she knows a private clinic in Europe that may have the solution to their problem, the Strangers get off the plane knowing that they should keep confidential what they just learned.

Shortly after watching Lady Killer’s private plane take off, Candy/Electrocute tells her teammates that they should just get away for a while. She decides to drive Grenade’s car. Suddenly, the car explores leaving Candy heavily damaged…

Quality

Here’s a look at Teknight, the new member of The Strangers.

This is another intriguing yet original story of The Strangers penned by Steve Englehart. To begin with, this is the first issue of this monthly series that saw Teknight actively taking part with the team and his being a new addition opened up really interesting conversations and interactions with existing team members like Grenade.

As the cover already shows, this one has spotlight on a severely damaged Candy. Still, it does not mean that this is a solo story about her (like Zip-Zap’s tale in issue #20) rather it is still a team story with Candy’s tragedy serving as a major plot point. Along the way, there were some scenes focused on Teknight which opens up interesting background details about him. Zip-Zap, who had the spotlight for most of issue #20, proves his heroic value in this comic book.

There are other notable Ultraverse details here and there that would encourage you to check out other UV comic books. What exactly those details are is for you to read this comic book and find out for yourselves.

Conclusion

Zip-Zap doing something heroic.

The Strangers #21 (1995) is intriguingly enjoyable to read. Steve Englehart deserves a lot of credit for keeping the stories of this series fresh, fun and engaging. For his part, Paul Abrams did a fine job with the art and he successfully captured the overall style of presentation of the series and his take on the characters kept them recognizable to my eyes.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #21 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $27.

Overall, The Strangers #21 (1995) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me 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 Superman Annual #10 (1984)

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.

Before DC Comics ended their original superhero multiverse with Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986) to restart all over again, there were a whole lot of stories about Superman ranging from the dramatic stuff, the epic tales and right down to the most outlandish tales.

As a kid, I was fortunate enough to buy myself a copy of a 1984 Superman comic book, the cover of which really intrigued and caught my interest. It was a Superman annual comic book with a $1.25 cover price which was somewhat high at the time. Its cover showed the Man of Steel himself carrying a sword pointed up.

That image made me wonder: Why would Superman have to use a sword when he is so powerful and capable without weapons? Where did that sword come from? Who made it in the first place? Is the sword so special to Superman?

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Superman Annual #10, published by DC Comics in 1984 with a story written by Elliot Maggin and drawn by classic Superman artist Curt Swan.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in a space where a group of diverse people composed of aliens and humans are gathered together watching a live video feed Superman on a large monitor above their heads. As it turns out, the Man of Steel is in space working to prevent meteoroids from entering the planet below him. He then speeds off into space heading back to Earth.

Along time ago deep in the galaxy, a big bang effect took place creating several new fragments in the vacuum of space and among them is a long, rough object that resembles a sword. As an unknown amount of time passed, the long object gradually turns into a smooth looking sword complete with a sharp blade and a letter “S” on one end that is the same as the one Superman carries. It is referred to as the sword of Superman!

In Metropolis, Clark Kent is passed by his officemate Jimmy Olsen who mentioned that he is rushing to interview the billionaire industrialist Oswald Mandias. Two days have passed and Jimmy Olsen remained missing. As his boss Perry White heads on to the office, Clark remains and changes into Superman when the coast got clear.

As the Man of Steel flies off into the city, a Galaxy Broadcasting live report on TV shows Lana Lang reporting from the Kennedy Space Center where the new space shuttle Magellan is about to make its first-ever commercial flight to launch a mysterious new communications satellite owned by Mandias Industries…

Quality

Clark Kent/Superman being a complete stranger to others added a lot to the story.

Being an annual, I can say that the Sword of Superman story was well-written and nicely visualized by the creators which made it fun and engaging to read. It is a Superman story that further adds to his being an essential hero of the original DC Comics multiverse and a key factor here is the somewhat outlandish concept that the sword that he gained was an original material of the universe from the big bang and even had connections to the unseen omnipotent force.

This story is not a simple, straightforward tale about Superman gaining a weapon required to defeat the supervillain King Kosmos. In fact, the sword opens up events that made the Man of Steel reevaluate himself, his situation and the people around him. King Kosmos, who is a time-travelling villain from the future (first appearance in DC Comics Presents Annual #2), served not just merely as the opposition but also adds a good amount of complexity within the reality of the story. For one thing, it is very intriguing and also refreshing to see people of Metropolis (even Clark’s friend Jimmy Olsen) failing to recognize Superman. This is a one-of-a-kind story of Superman that must be read, even though it is not really an epic tale.

Conclusion

The return of King Kosmos!

I personally enjoyed reading Superman Annual #10 (1984) the first time back in 1984. The fact here is that after re-reading it recently, I do confirm that it is still an enjoyable comic book to read, and I am not even a Superman fan anymore. That is quite something! This is indeed a really good piece of Superman history from the pre-Crisis era. It also touches on themes about omnipotence and being whole with the entire universe.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Superman Annual #10 (1984), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $35 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $70.

Overall, Superman Annual #10 (1984) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me 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 #20 (1995)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse. We revisit the Ultraverse once again to follow the continuing stories of The Strangers. Last time around, the team found itself struggling with adjusting to life without Atom Bob. For Lady Killer, the loss is very painful not only for her leadership of the team but also on her heart as she had a relationship with him.

What will happen next? How will the team move forward without Atom Bob? We can all find out in this look back at The Strangers #20, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Sam Payne.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside the home of a mother and her son enjoying indoor basketball. Their happiness got disrupted when a large, muscular man with blonde hair crashes through their door. With him is another man named M.C. who tells the lady that he and his companion want to “borrow” her son. As the mother resisted, the slimmer man knocks her out while Beater (the large guy) grabs her son.

Elsewhere, The Strangers react to the official trading card featuring Candy/Electrocute. Leon/Zip-Zap is familiar with the value of trading cards and he shows them his card of a basketball player called Missile Monroe from his days as a rookie.

As he is eager to have the trading card signed by the basketball player, Zip-Zap heads on to the city. On his way, he notices people gathered outside Holt’s Gym which he heard is the place where Missile Monroe works out at. He then uses his super speed to go past a few more people, climb up the wall, step on the ledge and look through the window. Zip-Zap sees the basketball player shooting indoors in the presence of a friend.

Sensing opportunity, Zip-Zap decides to sneak in and make his grand entrance to meet Monroe..

Quality

Zip-Zap slams!

I can start by saying that this comic book’s story is much less of The Strangers and more about their youngest and fastest member Zip-Zap. Rather than presenting a story about Zip-Zap going back to his old neighborhood, the story is about him meeting someone very important while taking advantage of his own celebrity status as a member of The Strangers (now known by the public) to get to him.

Other his personal obsession with a sports celebrity, this comic book also explores Zip-Zap’s determination to do something heroic without the presence of his teammates. As he is still a teenager, this part of the story alone is intriguing.

Also intriguing is the introduction of two new villains in this series, MC and Beater. How they became powerful and what their connection with Missile Monroe is something you readers should discover. I personally enjoyed what was revealed.

Other than heroic happenings, the story here explores the consequences that come with big money and lucrative deals. There is also the theme about social elevation with regards to the progress a person can make coming from the local communities to the big league. Also the events in this comic book will remind readers to respect the boundaries between them and the celebrities or important people they encounter in person.

Conclusion

Zip-Zap meets Missile Monroe and friend.

Even though it had much less of the team itself, The Strangers #20 (1995) is a worthy and fun read. The story about Zip-Zap going solo temporarily for his pursuit was nicely crafted and the new characters introduced had personalities that were interesting, most notably with Missile Monroe. Apart from characterization, there is sufficient superhero spectacle to enjoy as well. Going back to Zip-Zap, anyone who loves the character will be pleased with the spotlight on him. I should also state that this story shows additional depth to Zip-Zap’s character.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #20 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $14.

Overall, The Strangers #20 (1995) 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 #8 (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 and fans of Marvel. Today we revisit the original 2099 universe that Marvel Comics launched in the 1990s. We go back to the said universe through the eyes of Ravage 2099, the original 2099 character co-created by the late Stan Lee and artist Paul Ryan.

Before proceeding with my next retro comic book review of Ravage 2099, I want to stress that there was a time when the late Steve Ditko nearly launched Ravage 2099 with Stan Lee. For the newcomers reading this, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee are recognized for co-creating the iconic Spider-Man and to even imagine the two creators almost getting involved with the 2099 universe’s original hero is intriguing.

Marvel tried to get Ditko to work with Lee on Ravage 2099 early on. Then Marvel Comic editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco revealed that, on behalf of Lee, he called Steve Ditko who eventually attended a meeting which reunited them. After having a terrific discussion with Lee, Ditko cordially turned down the project. DeFalco stated that Ditko just did not agree with some of the philosophical underpinnings.

“Steve walked away, and I could tell he was really thrilled to have seen Stan,” DeFalco added.

With that short history over, here is a look back at Ravage 2099 #8, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics plotted by Stan Lee, scripted by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner and drawn by Gran Miehm. This was Stan Lee’s final work of writing a Marvel 2099 story.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a weakened Ravage, Tiana and Dack already in trouble as a Public Eye battle copter approaches them. The three just escaped from an underwater city using an old vehicle from the Fantastic Four. While Tiana expressed that there is no way they could outfight or outfly Public Eye, Dack reminds her that Ravage is their only hope and because of him, they got away from the aquatic beings and survived.

Dack then send their vehicle (which instantly blew ballast and raised a canopy) under water to escape from Public Eye. The effort was futile as the battle copter captures their vehicle and pulls it out of the water using a magnetic beam.

Knowing this development, Anderthorp Henton makes a confidential holo-call with Dethstryk and tells him that Ravage is in his possession. Henton also states that he intends to kill Ravage. Dethstryk demands Henton to deliver Ravage to him, insisting that it should be he who should kill him.

While captured in transit, Ravage struggles to write his instruction to his companions to take his gloves off…

Quality

Henton and his team with Ravage and his companions captured.

Finally, after going through the first seven issues that resulted unsatisfying plots, recycling of character elements and forcibly stretching the narrative, this particular issue has a story that combines doubtful heroism with a believable objective. Of course, it should be noted that Stan Lee provided the plot while leaving the scripting and pacing to two other writers who eventually took over the writing duties of Ravage 2099.

There were some improvements to the quality of the dialogue and narration (by Ravage). This comic book’s story was paced decently and there was not a single moment of stretching the narrative unrealistically. By this stage of the series, Ravage’s status as a heroic figure improved once again as he was given a purpose to fulfill. While we have seen him help Tiana or Dack escape from the bad guys, this story has him being more strategic and more determined to really solve a mystery while overcoming opposition.

Henton in this story, fortunately, is not a repeat of his cruel, cold-hearted self from the previous issues. This story reveals his link with Dethstryk and new insight as to who or what really controls Alchemax and its top officials. As such, there were some unexpected elements that transpired in the story.

Visually, Gran Miehm provided decent art and for the most part, Ravage and the other characters remained recognizable although I notice Dack looking more like a young adult than the teenager he really is.

Conclusion

Dack makes a move to help them get away.

Ravage 2099 #8 (1993) was Stan Lee’s last work with this particular series of the 2099 universe and thanks to the new writers who took scripting duties, this one has a satisfying story, higher quality dialogue and a more focused narrative. In retrospect, it was already too little and too late to salvage the Ravage 2099 series due to the inconsistent and overall weak storytelling that dominated the first seven issues.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #8 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $14 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $42.

Overall, Ravage 2099 #8 (1993) is satisfactory.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me 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 Prime #19 (1995)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse! Today, we will revisit the Ultraverse through the exploits of Prime who has already established himself in the city of New York (the result of Kevin Green and his mom’s move into the city).

Not only have we seen Prime fight a gigantic monster (that reminds me a lot of Japan’s Godzilla) to save New York and its many people, we have seen Turbo Charge getting involved with him with a superhero-related passion.

What will happen next to Prime? Will Turbo Charge get even more involved in helping the people of New York? We can all find out in this look back at Prime #19, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones, and illustrated by Dave Cockrum (X-Men) and Tim Hamilton.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Prime flying just above ground in the view of the many people attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Already he has been identified as the city’s newest Ultrahero.

Sometime later, within the city, Prime and Turbo Charge are watching television sets from outside a retailer’s window. As they talk about being in the spotlight, some fans approached Prime. The more Turbo Charge talks about taking advantage of the public trust and special abilities for financial gain, Prime rejects his suggestion as he remembers how he messed up previously.

Meanwhile at Canoga Park, California, Kelly (Kevin’s romantic interest) is approached by Courtney (her best friend) who asked her what is she nervous about and what’s wrong with her lately. After their short talk, Kelly separates from her (who has a negative view of Kevin) and enters home at last. Suddenly a monster appears just outside the front door…

Quality

Kelly getting desperate.

I can confirm that the writing is rich and this story is much-more character-driven than the previous issue. The good news here is that there is a lot of engaging stuff and characterization to enjoy.

As before, Kevin’s struggle with balancing his personal life and his superhero ego together continues to be felt here. Not only has he been struggling with the media’s suspicion of Prime as a predator with teenagers, he also had difficulty talking with Turbo Charge (a teenager like Kevin) when it comes to sensitive bits of information that might expose his personal life. The way Strazewski and Jones wrote the script in dramatizing Kevin’s personal struggle came with really natural dialogue which made it all believable to read.

Within this story are three sub-plots about Kevin’s father, Kelly and Turbo Charge. Kevin’s father knows the whole truth about his son which makes him a valuable target by spies. Kelly’s struggle with monstrous visions are driving her nuts like never before. Turbo Charge meanwhile has a father who is well connected with the powerful in Washington, D.C. and the private sector. These sub-plots are well-written and add a good amount of depth and variety to the story.

As this issue was illustrated by Dave Cockrum and Tim Hamilton, there are noticeable changes in the aesthetics on Prime, Kevin and other related characters here and there. I just wish that the comic book pointed out which pages were drawn by whom. This is a fine-looking comic book.

Conclusion

Prime and Turbo Charge in New York.

Prime #19 (1995) is a very solid read mainly due to the strong characterization and the mentioned sub-plots (one of which finally got resolved in a satisfying manner). The more you follow Kevin’s story and his adjustment with life in New York, the more this comic book draws you in. There is also a short yet effective round of superhero spectacle that complete it. More importantly, this story keeps Prime’s story moving forward and even Kevin’s mother got a good amount of the spotlight.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prime #19 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $10.

Overall, Prime #19 (1995) 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 Freex #10 (1994)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse! Today we will revisit the Ultraverse following the team of misfits called Freex. In my past Freex review, we saw the first appearance of Contrary who went on to become one of the more intriguing members of the superhero team UltraForce. As seen in the UltraForce monthly series, Contrary proved to be very intelligent, very resourceful and has what it takes to manipulate the behaviors and direction of even the likes of Hardcase (the team leader), Prototype and Prime.  

Of course, before the events of UltraForce happened, many of Contrary’s traits and operations were first explored in the Freex monthly series. To learn more about her, here is a look back at Freex #10, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Ben Herrera.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a secret facility. Ray/Boom Boy of Freex has just been abducted and is restrained in the presence of Contrary who is just seating near him looking sexy and comfortable. Knowing that Boom Boy has no chance to escape and fight back, she releases him and mentions that she has other students who will fight for her.

Slowly, Contrary leads him into another place of the facility telling him that he’s not locked up (like a prisoner) but rather he is home (implying there is a place for him at the facility). She introduces him to her Academy for the New Elite with her students engaging in a training session against drones and obstacles. Her students are Feline, Waver, Flygirl and Cayman.

Meanwhile, members of the Freex are still homeless and are trying to figure out how to find Boom Boy… 

Quality

The Freex, without Boom Boy, struggling.

I want to start with the writing. This issue was clearly less about Freex and more of Boom Boy (note: his personal origin emphasized) and Contrary and her academy of people with powers and special abilities. Creatively, this story has strong X-Men vibes in it which I personally enjoyed. I do confirm that the writing is strong on storytelling, characterization and dialogue.

While the previous issue introduced her briefly, Contrary is heavily emphasized in this issue. Apart from being resourceful and highly intelligent, she is also erotic with her appearance (so much of her skin exposed always) and at the same time she is well portrayed as a mentor to her students complete with traits of motherly care to them. In comparison with what I’ve seen in X-Men comic books, Contrary is like a combination of Charles Xavier and Emma Frost with some traces of Moira MacTaggert. I should also state that Contrary has a keen perception on finding outstanding or special individuals that she can help develop in more ways than one.

Going back to Boom Boy, this comic book really redefined him not only as a questionable member of Freex but also as an Ultraverse character in general. By reading this story, you will not only relate with Boom Boy but also experience the challenge he is having on whether to decide to be with his old pals or join Contrary’s academy (which itself is inspired by Xavier’s School of Gifted Children in X-Men comics) to really leave his past behind and move forward personally.

While this comic book is heavy with characterization and exposition, there is still a good amount of superhero to enjoy here. The good news is that artist Ben Herrera showed a lot of creative stuff with the spectacle.   

Conclusion

This scene has very strong X-Men vibes.

Freex #10 (1994) is a great Ultraverse comic book! I really found this particular issue to be very engaging from start to finish. As a story about the Freex themselves, this one saw their story as desperate nomads move forward a lot. Still the standouts of the story are Boom Boy and Contrary. If you have not read any issues of UltraForce yet, I highly recommend reading this so you can get to know Contrary better as she is one of the core UF members.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Freex #10 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $11.

Overall, Freex #10 (1994) 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