A Look Back at Mantra #4 (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 Ultraverse fans, geeks and fellow comic book collectors! If you want to discover more of the fantasy elements within the Ultraverse through Mantra – the pretty sorceress whose body is occupied by the soul of a male warrior named Lukasz – then you are in for something rather different.

To put things in perspective, the fantasy-swords-magic concept was made clear in Mantra #1 and that Lukasz and his band of warriors (led by an elder sorcerer) as well as their enemies (led by Boneyard) were definitely from another world. That other world will be explored at last in this look back at Mantra #4, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Roy Phipps.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the world of Boneyard, at his castle specifically. Down on her knees, Mantra is just in front of the villain Boneyard who says, “So this is Archimage’s last, best hope. Just a woman!!”

Boneyard tells Mantra not to rise nor move. As he does not yet know that Lukasz is inside Mantra’s body, Boneyard welcomes her and states that it is his right to choose any woman in his kingdom as his bride. In reaction to being selected as Boneyard’s newest mate with a purpose to potentially give birth to his children, Mantra strikes him with an energy blast symbolically rejecting him.

Boneyard then says, “Enough. I tolerate this dissent because your body carries much potential for magic, woman. It is only your body that saves you from death. Your bewildering loyalty to my defeated brother, Archimage, would ordinarily be enough to condemn you. Your genes, combined with mine will yield children to whom magic comes as easily as taking breath.”

As the villain talks, Mantra notices the sword pointed at her was the same one used to kill her when she was man (as Lukasz). She then makes moves to get Boneyard off-balanced and try to leave the castle…

Quality

Mantra visits the tavern in the kingdom controlled by Boneyard.

I’ll start with the writing. What Mike W. Barr did here successfully was raising the stakes for Mantra which involves the drastic change of location and setting from the modern society of Earth into the fantasy realm where Boneyard and his army are based in. The mentioned change literally opened new opportunities to develop Mantra’s personality while at the same time offered readers a lot of new things and places for their exploration.

With the all-new setting, lots of fantasy genre tropes are present. There is the ever-present tavern filled with lots of people that include humans and non-human beings that go beyond dwarves and elves. There is also the slave auction of both men and women standing almost nakedly in front of the bidders. There also were people wearing capes, hoods, swords, spears and armor which Mantra smoothly blends in with.

Along the way, there is a lot spectacle here mainly acts of magic alternated with hard action moves. The way the spectacle is presented fits in excellently with the fantasy setting and I should state that Roy Phipps did a very solid job visualizing such elements while succeeding in making Mantra, Boneyard, Archimage and Warstrike look recognizable.

Back to the writing, Mike W. Barr prepared a lot of details in the story that explained Boneyard’s nature and even his status as the husband of multiple wives. This comic book also reveals that Boneyard is likely bisexual since, apart from being married to multiple women, he kissed Mantra and lusts for her even AFTER he learned that Lukasz is occupying the woman’s body. His intention to marry Mantra symbolizes homosexuality as well. To put things in perspective, this makes Boneyard very guilty of sexual immorality on top of his wickedness. Refer to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (sexual immorality and homosexuality), Galatians 5:19-21 (sorcery and sexual immorality) and Deuteronomy 17:17 (polygamy) in the Holy Bible.

Conclusion

Boneyard’s intention to marry Mantra (whose body is occupied by the soul of the male eternal warrior Lukasz) and impregnate her to produce his children is disgusting, even more so when the villain knows Lukasz is in Mantra.

To say the least, Mantra #4 (1993) is entertaining enough mainly due to its fantasy setting and exposing key elements about the rivalry between Archimage and Boneyard. This was a daring and refreshing change of pace for Mantra series since the first three issues already emphasized Lukasz’s struggles on living in the body of Eden Blake (note: reincarnation is false and goes against the Holy Bible, read Hebrews 9:27 and Psalm 78:39 for insight) and living with her family as Eden’s soul was pushed into limbo. More notably, this issue shows more of how evil and wicked Boneyard is not simply because of his leading his army of evildoers but also because of his evil-filled nature. By comparison, Lukasz/Mantra is the lesser evil to Boneyard under the pretense of good-versus-evil in the story (which itself concluded in a predictable and underwhelming fashion).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #4 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of comic book costs $8.

Overall, Mantra #4 (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 The Strangers #17 (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, Ultraverse fans and superhero comic book collectors! We are about to return to the Ultraverse through The Strangers. Before doing so, I’d like to discuss one of their members named Elena La Brava AKA Lady Killer. Before the big incident that changed her life and those of her eventual teammates riding the cable car in San Francisco, Elena worked professionally as a fashion designer. She is quite resourceful, brave and organized. Apart from proving to be a very valuable member of the team, she has the special ability to track and this results helping her hit what she aims for. As seen in previous issues leading to issue #16, she has been romantically linked with Atom Bob and has struggled also on leading the team.

With those details mentioned, it’s now time to look back at The Strangers #17, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Rick Hoberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at the headquarters of The Strangers. Spectral arrives late and apologizes to his teammates who are already feeling disturbed by the Pilgrim. Lady Killer makes an issue about Spectral’s tardiness and reminds him he has not seen the Pilgrim as he was absent. Spectral replied emotionally stressing that he had to attend to his private life.

When asked about the Pilgrim, Grenade replies that nobody knows who their antagonist is. In recent times, the team faced off with various costumed individuals in two encounters and the Pilgrim appeared each time and took them with him. Each time, the Pilgrim swore he would continue to get back at The Strangers until he builds up a team large enough to oppose them.

Knowing that the Pilgrim will keep coming back at her team, Lady Killer states she has a plan…

Quality

The start of a pretty solid battle between the Pilgrim and Atom Bob.

The writing for this comic book is, as expected, very strong and undoubtedly it is a great follow-up to what happened in issue #16. Instead of just another encounter between The Strangers and another antagonist which turns into an opportunity for the Pilgrim to come out and do his thing, this one has a lot more compelling stuff backed with surprise and intrigue.

Before the big conflict happened, this comic book showed more of Lady Killer’s intelligence and her ability to organize something that is believable to read. Atom Bob, who missed out on the battle of issue #16, is more involved in this comic book and his battle with the Pilgrim was not only heavy on the spectacle but also showed more of his capabilities and his willingness to achieve something.

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of what I would call the usual visual goodness from artist Rick Hoberg here. He continued to show a consistent high level of quality when drawing the characters, their expressions and making the superhero action scenes look spectacular.

Conclusion

The Strangers meeting early.

The Strangers #17 (1994) is a very good read and what I love about it is that it further added to the build-up of the growing opposition against The Strangers while at the same time developing the core characters more. You will see more of Lady Killer’s leadership values here and eventually, you’ll admire her more. I should state that Rafferty, a serial killer in the Ultraverse, had a notable presence in this comic book and added some impact to the plot.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #17 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.

Overall, The Strangers #17 (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

A Look Back at X-Men #2 (1991)

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.

There is so much said about X-Men #1 of 1991 which was launched to major success by Marvel Comics selling at least eight million copies worldwide. That launch issue, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee, had multiple covers and a version with gatefold covers and high-quality paper which made it an instant hit with collectors chasing profit. In 2011, Marvel even released the so-called 20th anniversary edition of X-Men #1 which was digitally recolored.

In terms of substance, X-Men #1 marked the new era of the X-Men. Charles Xavier returned to his mansion to lead the X-Men which was so large as a group, it had to be divided into two team with Cyclops leading the Blue Team and Storm heading the Gold Team. In terms of publishing, Marvel published tales of the Gold Team in the Uncanny X-Men monthly series while the Blue Team’s stories were published in the adjective-less X-Men monthly series.

With all the attention paid to X-Men #1, I noticed that not too many people cared to talk about what happened after the end of that comic book. Without spoiling plot details, the massive seller of 1991 had its story end in a cliffhanger. To find out what followed and determine the quality of the creative team’s work, here is a look back at X-Men #2 published in 1991 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the fictional island nation of Genosha which has a legacy of mutant slavery. Having fought with the Acolytes (led by Fabian Cortez), the X-Men now face Magneto who arrived and tells them that he will not abandon the Acolytes.

“They acted in an excess of zeal. If so…I..and I alone..shall determine their appropriate punishment,” Magneto tells the team of Cyclops, Gambit, Beast, Wolverine, Psylocke and Rogue. Near them are other Acolytes members down on the ground.

After words spoken by Gambit, Rogue and Cyclops, Magneto referred to the devastation of the city hospital as fitting for punishing a state (Genosha) whose prosperity was built on the backs of mutant slaves. Beast answered back saying that the Genoshans have accepted responsibility for what they have done and resolved to make amends.

While Magneto replies to Beast, a military Genoshan helicopter gunship fires missiles at them from above which the X-Men’s archvillain intercepts. Using his magnetic power, Magneto lifts steal beams and destroys the helicopter with them. He then turns against the X-Men restarting the chaos in the city…

Quality

Magneto, Psylocke and Rogue in the middle of the chaos.

Being the middle of a 3-part story, this comic book pushes the entire X-Men group to the edge thanks to strong writing by Chris Claremont. I’m not simply referring to the traditional good-versus-evil formula of superhero storytelling as the story here emphasized themes about sanity, loyalty, legacy, idolatry and even diplomacy. It just so happens that there is a lot of superhero spectacle to enjoy here and there.

The stakes have been raised significantly in this story as Magneto is shown leading the Acolytes who in turn went ahead with their first mission which explains the chaos in Genosha. Magneto’s condition also deteriorates and gets himself healed by Fabian Cortez who is more sinister than what he seems. For his part, Charles Xavier of the X-Men gets to interact with his long-time friend Dr. Moira MacTaggert who is struggling with guilt from something she committed in the past. Through Magneto, Xavier and MacTaggert, there is this solid build-up of tension that led to a very powerful revelation in the 2nd half of the story which, ironically, put the X-Men on the sideline temporarily. There is high drama, deep tension and high intensity involving Magneto and MacTaggert, and their scene together is the highlight of the story.  

Conclusion

The face-off!

To put it straight, as much as I loved X-Men #1 (1991), I find X-Men #2 (1991) more compelling to read. For one thing, it rewards X-Men fans who dedicatedly followed the events of not only the X-Men but also of that of the life of Magneto. It’s really great that Chris Claremont literally dug up the past for details that proved to be useful in this comic book. It also nicely sets up anticipation of the next issue by involving the X-Men’s Gold Team. Unsurprisingly, with the combined talents of Claremont and Jim Lee, this is an excellent read that really looks great.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #2 (1991), 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 copies of the Chris Claremont-signed regular edition, the Chris Claremont-signed newsstand edition and the newsstand edition cost $9, $19 and $13 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #2 (1991) 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 Solution #4 (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 Ultraverse fans and superhero comic book collectors! This is my continuing look back at spin-off tales connected to Break-Thru, the year-ending big crossover event of the Ultraverse which not only mixed the many UV characters together but also impact them.

This time, we examine events connected to Break-Thru in a story written by the late James Hudnall and told through the exploits and struggles of a superhero team (plus one major UV superhero) he handled – The Solution! Here now is a look back at The Solution #4, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Hudnall and drawn by Darick Robertson.

The cover.

Early story

Set a short time after the end of the Break-Thru-related Hardcase #7, the story begins in outer space. Inside a space craft heading towards the moon, Lela Cho/Tech records a new entry into her diary reflecting of how crazy things turned out for her and her teammates. On her end, she pursued getting her corporation back and then took a job that landed her on board a UFO. As it turns out, her team has been hired to find a mysterious object which might provide explanations as to why ultras suddenly appeared all over the world.

Considering the very high stakes of the mission, The Solution had to partner with Hardcase and his companion Choice. This is because they are trying to catch up with another team of ultras (composed of Trouble, Death Dance, Gate, Needler, Gun Nut, Book and Meathook) who were sponsored by Rex Mundi, the rival of The Solution’s client Regina…  

Quality

A nice shot of The Solution with Hardcase and Choice in space.

As this was a build-up type of story meant to connect and add depth to the Break-Thru crossover, the plot was pretty simple and yet it was loaded with a lot of engaging stuff. Given the fact that James Hudnall led the writing for both Hardcase and The Solution, I just love the way he had these ultra heroes interact with each and the way they learned to get to know each other and adjust with one another was done in believable fashion. To say that Hudnall knew the characters deeply and treated them like real people is pretty true.

As expected, there is a good amount of spectacle in the form of action scenes and the fun thing about it is that the battle took place in space. There were match-ups between The Solution’s members and the Rex Mundi-sponsored team which were short and yet filled with interesting banter and satisfying action.

Conclusion

A really nice interaction.

I can declare that The Solution #4 (1993) is more than just a build-up comic book leading to a much bigger event. The characterization as well as the interactions between Hardcase and The Solution members alone make this comic book a must-read. This comic book also works well to prepare you for the subsequent events that took place in Break-Thru #2.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #4 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, The Solution #4 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at Mantra #5 (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, Ultraverse fans and comic book collectors! Would you happen to be a fan of illustrator Terry Dodson? I first saw his professional work when I read Mantra #1 way back in 1993 just as my fellow comic book collectors were discovering the newly launched Ultraverse. After the Ultraverse ended, Dodson went on to work for Marvel Comics with projects such as the Storm mini-series and X-Men related comic books. In 2000, Dodson went to DC Comics and his project with them was illustrating issues of the Harley Quinn series. He even got to work on Wonder Woman comic books six years later.

You must be wondering – how did Terry Dodson first broke into the comic book industry and what was his first project? Check out this excerpt from a published interview.

How did you break into comic books?

By doing portfolio samples and taking them to conventions and showing them around. At first it was difficult to hear the critiques, but later on that’s what I wanted to know. What I was doing wrong. Fortunately, when I broke in 1993, they were handing out jobs to anybody with a pulse. I got my first job on Mantra, for the new Malibu Ultraverse.

See? It turns out Mantra of the Ultraverse was his comic book debut.

Now that the history lesson is done, we can see more of Dodson’s work on Mantra in the look back at Mantra #5, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins when a man named Strauss faces Mantra and Warstryke. The armed guy presses Strauss for details about some defective merchandise while Mantra mentions to him about their deal. Strauss shows defiance by defending himself with a green field to protect him. Mantra blocks the flow of air into the field, forcing Strauss to give up and lose his protective field.

After a short talk with Strauss, Mantra and Warstrike chat on top of the building. In reaction to Mantra’s handshake as a sign of thanks for helping, the armed guy tries to get sexually involved with the mystical warrior even though he knows Mantra has a male soul occupying a woman’s body. Mantra defies him and flies away.

Along the way, a demon spots Mantra flying through the air. It turns out he has been looking for her and decides to make a move in pursuit of her…

Quality

What do I think about the story by Mike W. Barr? I find it brilliantly written. As the cliffhanger ending of issue #4 got resolved early, the narrative smoothly shifts into Mantra’s other struggle – being a mother to Eden Blake’s children whom she lost quality time with due to superhero pursuits. There was also this really compelling drama between Eden and her mother (who in turn believes her daughter is failing her responsibility as a parent).

Lukasz – the male soul in Eden/Mantra’s beautiful body – is still obsessed with pursuing his search for answers but even so, he cannot simply abandon the family and household of the woman whose soul he displaced. In this particular comic book, Lukasz continued to adjust in his unexpected life as Eden.

I really like the way Mike W. Barr dramatized Lukasz dealing with family matters as well as career matters. All that led to what I would call the most unexpected superhero misadventures I’ve ever read that has something to do with the dimension of hand-drawn animation. That is something you, my readers, should read to find out. It is something very enjoyable!

In terms of visuals, this comic book showed more of the creativity of Terry Dodson. If you already enjoyed his art in the early Mantra issues, you will see something new and fresh here.

Conclusion

Mantra returns home to the family.

Undoubtedly Mantra #5 is a great comic book to read as it has an excellent mix of drama, intrigue, characterization and many bouts of great spectacle (which nicely paid-off on all the build-up). By this stage in the Mantra monthly series, Lukasz/Eden/Mantra got developed more and the stakes have been raised in relation to Eden’s meeting with her boss.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #5 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, Mantra #5 (1993) 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 X-Men Adventures #3 (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.

Who is the most definitive X-Men villain ever? That is none other than Magneto! Co-created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Magneto made his literary debut alongside Marvel’s heroic mutants in The X-Men #1 way back in 1963. Magneto is capable of generating and controlling magnetic fields which make him dangerous since he has the power to manipulate metal and even use them as weapons against others, plus he can even cause destruction to buildings by moving the metal in them to bring them down.

What even makes Magneto more dangerous is his very strong belief that his fellow mutants are genetically superior over humans and he does not believe in the concept of mutants and humans co-existing. Character-wise, Magneto is the complete opposite of Charles Xavier/Professor X of the X-Men.

When it comes to pop culture influence, GamesRadar+ declared Magneto as the #1 best X-Men villain of all time. Even more intriguing was the super villain topping IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Villains List. Beyond comic books, Magneto also appeared in the X-Men arcade game of 1992 made by Konami. On November 27, 1992, Magneto made his debut in the Enter Magneto episode of the popular X-Men animated series on TV. The said episode was, unsurprisingly, adapted into comic book form in issue #3 of the X-Men Adventures monthly comic book series.

How was Magneto’s debut in the said monthly series? We can find out in this look back at X-Men Adventures #3, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Andrew Wildman.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in outer space where Asteroid M is orbiting above planet Earth completely undetected. As a meteor is on-course to collide with Asteroid M, the operator of the asteroid activates its guns and hits it. While Asteroid M got spared, a smaller meteor found itself falling into Earth’s atmosphere. As it burns through the atmosphere, Charles Xavier spots it from inside his mansion.

Xavier turns his attention to Jean Grey. As they travel together, the doors open and Sabretooth enters landing on the floor. The two have yet to know him.

Over at a prison, the captured Hank McCoy/Beast thinks deeply inside his prison cell only to suddenly witness one of the walls get smashed by some powerful force. Magneto arrives and tells him he came for him…

Quality

The power of Magneto.

The writing, with credit to the screenwriters behind the animated episode, is pretty solid and the essence of the said episode was very well adapted into this comic book. As this is Magneto’s debut in the X-Men Adventure series reflecting his debut in animated series, his character is portrayed very accurately and it only made perfect sense for him to approach Beast first to try to convince him join his pro-mutant movement. More on the writing, Beast’s restraint brought out more of Magneto’s hardcore beliefs and his complete opposition towards humans.

Of course, the creators did not let down their efforts to portray the struggle mutants have under the laws of human society which is strongly reflected in Beast’s court hearing with Wolverine and Cyclops (in civilian forms) observing powerlessly. The court room drama and arguments were intense.

I should also state that there really was a nice build-up leading to the first battle (first half, actually) between the X-Men and Magneto. Unlike the battles in issues #1 and #2, the conflict here showed the X-Men more in danger which is only fitting considering how great the villain is.

Conclusion

Magneto and Beast.

X-Men Adventures #3 is a strong adaptation of the Enter Magneto episode. There is no doubt about that and most notably, the comic book creators did another good job making the TV animated episode’s concept engaging and fun to read. This comic book should be part of the collection of anyone who is passionate about Magneto.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Adventures #3 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $17.

Overall, X-Men Adventures #3 (1993) 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 Batman versus Predator II #3 (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 am currently enjoying the Batman versus Predator II mini-series of the mid-1990s which was a joint effort between DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics. The first issue was great and nicely built up the energy for the first encounter between Batman and the Predator in issue #2. Along the way, I do enjoy the adulterated tone that came with the presentation. This made each issue look and feel like an R-rated cinematic segment.

Will the strong quality of this crossover continue in the third issue? Find out with me in this look back at Batman versus Predator II #3, published in 1995 by DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics with a story written by Doug Moench and drawn by Paul Gulacy.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Batman emerging from the sewer. He finds himself alone in the middle of a city street and senses danger is around him. Suddenly someone from one of the nearby buildings fires at Batman who dodges and takes cover by a car. He grabs a tool and throws it at the window which hits the rifle. And then, on the street, a man throws a grenade at the caped crusader who deflects it. The grenade enters a nearby establishment and explodes. Batman kicks the antagonist and then encounters a speeding vehicle heading towards him.

The detective fires his weapon which causes the car’s windshield to get smashed. He dodges the car and sees it crash. Suddenly the floor beneath him opens which compels him to use his grapnel to avoid falling down to spikes below.

Meanwhile at another location, the Predator dissolves the decapitated head of a man (killed in issue #2) with hot liquid and keeps the skull for his collection of trophies.

Back at the Bat Cave, Batman and Alfred analyze what happened recently. Alfred states that the Predator killed two of the seven assassins hired by Terraro to kill Batman. The great detective wonders why…

Quality

The Huntress and Batman.

Let me start with the storytelling. The writing by Doug Moench is solid and, more importantly, there is a nice payoff here in relation what was gradually built up in the first two issues – Terraro’s assassins and operations getting more lively within the plot. This alone adds some nice variety into the ongoing Batman-Predator rivalry, and symbolically the Huntress (who is after Terraro) is involved with the mafia plot and the said rivalry between Gotham’s detective and the hunter from space.

More on Batman and the Huntress, I like the way Moench wrote these two heroes as being divided even though they both face threats from the crime gang and from the Predator. Both characters are vigilantes but Batman has justice in mind while the Huntress is focused on hunting the powerful crime boss. Adding more depth to the story is the subplot about Commissioner Gordon being helpless and recovering in the hospital which complicates matters for the Gotham City police department.

Another thing that makes this issue more unique is the in-depth presentation of Batman doing detective work in the Bat Cave with Alfred providing insight. This alone makes this issue an improvement over issue #2.

When it comes to the visuals, artist Paul Gulacy continues to provide really nice artwork backed with strong support by the colorists. Gulacy took his time pacing the story by following the script closely and made key action scenes look dynamic visually when needed.

Conclusion

Remember the armor Batman wore in the previous crossover story against the Predator?

Considering all the good stuff I enjoyed in it, Batman versus Predator II #3 is a great read. It has a better balance on plotting, detective work, spectacle and intrigue. In fact, this comic book has a much more powerful ending than issues #1 and #2, and the ironic thing is that this only leads to the 4th and final issue which I’ll review soon.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Batman versus Predator II #3 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $40.

Overall, Batman versus Predator II #3 (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 Spider-Man #26 (1992)

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.

In 1992, Marvel Comics organized a big celebration of what was back then the 30th anniversary celebration of Spider-Man. Behind the scenes, the Spider-Man editorial team organized their creators to make something special worthy of the anniversary. Back then there were four monthly series of Spider-Man – Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man and Spider-Man – and in keeping with the 30th anniversary bonanza, each of the monthly series would see one special issue with a hologram on the cover.

What I read recently was one of those 30th anniversary celebration special comic books – Spider-Man #26. This comic book had a green cover and a hologram of Spider-Man upside-down. Its cover price is $3.50.

Was this old comic book’s content really worth the high cover price and the hologram? Did the creative team at Marvel do their job on making something special in line with the 30th anniversary celebration? We can find out in this look back at Spider-Man #26, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with the main story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Mark Bagley and Ron Frenz.

The cover with a hologram.

Early story

The story begins on the street of New York when a man wearing a device runs down the sidewalk distracting and unintentionally pushing a few people out of the way. He is glowing as he moves. Someone from behind him calls him Stewart.

Soon enough, Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane cross paths with him. Peter immediately leaves Mary Jane behind and starts pursuing the glowing Stewart. In the middle of the street, Stewart sees a speeding motorcycle heading towards him. He dives for cover which incidentally shapes his glowing field into a makeshift ramp causing the motorcyclist go over him. Spider-Man sees the flying motorcycle and its driver, and struggles to decide which one to save…

Quality

From the 2nd story.

Let me start with the main story. It sure is heavily worded almost all throughout but that is understandable because Tom DeFalco really pushed hard to emphasize the theme of responsibility as Spider-Man struggles to tackle criminals while trying to find quality time for his wife. There was even a scene in which Peter Parker recalls key events from his past (his becoming Spider-Man, letting a certain criminal get away, the death of his Uncle Ben, etc.) which, in terms of presentation, was a clear attempt by the creative team to bring readers back to the recorded history of Marvel’s icon. The main story is a genuine, heart-filled attempt to go beyond showing Spider-Man beating the bad guys to do local society good. There was also effort exerted to show that there are a few guys who do bad things not because they are inherently evil but rather they are desperate and/or misguided. The problem with the main story is that the other characters – Stewart, Bill, the gang leader Maxwell and others – are not so interesting at all. Of course, we cannot expect to see Spider-Man go head-to-head with another one of his major villains but this story was part of the 30th anniversary celebration.

The 2nd story, if you can all it that, is pretty much an exposition-filled exercise designed to give readers – both new and old – a review of Spider-Man’s powers and capabilities. To prevent it from becoming a total bore, some characters from the Marvel Comics universe were visually added.

When it comes to the quality of the artwork, Ron Frenz’s work here is serviceable at best. Mark Bagley’s art here improves the quality but that’s not saying much.

Conclusion

From the main story.

As a 30th anniversary celebration issue, Spider-Man #26 does not have much when it comes to being truly special. You love spectacle? You won’t find much in it. You wanted to see something groundbreaking in terms of character development? There’s none. Gripping storytelling? None! There was also no conflict with any prominent villain from the Marvel universe here. What you will get here is nostalgic stuff plus exposition about key elements that define Spider-Man. Truly the only thing special here is the hologram on the gimmick cover.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man #26 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $27 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, Spider-Man #26 (1992) is serviceable. If you really want to buy this old comic book, I recommend waiting for its price to fall below $5 and I’m referring to the near-mint copy.

+++++

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 X-Men Adventures #2 (1992)

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 lots of X-Men comic books, I should say that I always find the Sentinels (first appearance in The X-Men #14 in 1965) to be more memorable as enemies of Marvel’s mutants. On face value, they only look like oversized, human-like robots but I always find them to be formidable opponents of the X-Men. These machines are not only built with sophisticated technologies, they are able to push the X-Men to their limits during battle.

These anti-mutant robots, by the way, were ranked by IGN at #38 in their Greatest Comic Book Villains chart. Long before that, the Sentinels were the featured anti-heroes in the classic X-Men comic book storyline Days of Future Past and it was no surprise that they were also featured in the 2014 movie X-Men: Days of Future Past.

And then in the early 1990s, the Sentinels were shown in the first episode of the X-Men animated series on television. The said series was also adapted into an “as seen on TV” comic book series by Marvel called X-Men Adventures.

This brings me to this look back at X-Men Adventures #2, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Andrew Wildman.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Morph suffering from a nightmare. As he emerged from the vision, he finds himself with Storm, Beast and Wolverine. Together they work to infiltrate a federal government facility which houses the Mutant Affairs Department. Outside the walls of the facility, Rogue Gambit and Cyclops watch from a distance. Cyclops fires his optic blast at the vehicle that just dropped reinforcements that he believes were sent to stop their teammates.

Storm and her teammates break through a door instantly pushing off the security personnel followed by Beast knocking an additional guard. At the room containing the computer, Beast begins to access key information their team has been seeking…

Quality

The Sentinels and the X-Men!

Let me start with the storytelling. As an adaptation of one of the early episodes of the animated series, this comic book does a fine job of recapturing its essence complete with a nice balance between plot, exposition and spectacle. Considering the fact that the animated series was aimed for children, it’s quite intriguing to see the TV episode carrying really heavy themes – apart from the prejudice the mutants suffer from – like top federal government operations, expensive defense and weapons programs, government intrusion into people’s private lives, attempts to require minorities to get registered, etc. Those themes also made it in this comic book which made it feel like it was part of the mainstream X-Men comics of the time.

Compared to the first episode as well as its literary adaptation, this one emphasizes the Sentinels as tools of the government as part of their very expensive program to seek and monitor mutants among their citizens. Mutant Affairs director Peter Gyrich is clearly the villain who has no super powers but has the resources of the federal government and their authority to take action on mutants he perceived to be dangerous.

On the visuals, Andrew Wildman performed a solid job making each page look interesting and detailed enough. While his drawings made each character recognizable to me, it is in the spectacular scenes where he really shines. Wildman’s drawing of the Watcher on the final page of the comic book, however, looks laughable.

Conclusion

Andrew Wildman’s dynamic drawing of the X-Men in action.

While X-Men Adventures #2 is not exactly a literary classic, it is indeed a very solid adaptation of one of the earliest episodes of the animated series of the 1990s. It succeeded on telling a compelling and enjoyable story even though it emphasized the above-mentioned serious themes. As for the iconic Sentinels, this one succeeded in explaining what they are and their place in Marvel’s universe is.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Adventures #2 (1992), 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, X-Men Adventures #2 (1992) 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