A Look Back at What If #20 (1990)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! Before starting this newest retro comic book review, I should state that I really like Marvel’s way of exploring the unexplored scenarios related to the stories they published. Back in the 1980s, Marvel made its decision to have their icon Spider-Man – in his civilian form as Peter Parker – get married with Mary Jane Watson. Unsurprisingly, such an event added a whole lot of new elements into the life of the literary Spider-Man with regards to his struggle on balancing his life between superhero acts, domestic living and being attentive to his wife. If you really want to read about the wedding, I suggest searching for a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987).

Imagine what would have happened had Spider-Man not married Mary Jane? That very scenario was explored in an issue of the What If monthly series (Volume 2) back in the early 1990s. We can find out more together in this look back at What If #20, published by Marvel Comics in 1990 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by Jim Valentino.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher narrating key events in the life of Spider-Man. It is recalled how much pain Spider-Man endured when his beloved Gwen Stacy died during his conflict with the Green Goblin. Subsequently Peter Parker resumed his relationship with Mary Jane. When Mary Jane became absent, he got involved with Felicia Hardy/Black Cat who turned out to be too wild and reckless for him. Eventually, Peter married Mary Jane.

By pointing out that there are other realities, the Watcher then begins to explore another scenario in which Spider-Man realizes is far from being all right with him. During the wedding ceremony, Peter turns down Mary Jane which shocks the guests who were present. He tells her privately that even though he loves her, she will be in danger all the time as a wife. She walks away from him, still wearing her wedding dress.

Some hours later, Spider-Man swings around New York and strikes the criminals really hard…

Quality

Spider-Man and Black Cat take on Venom!

To be clear, this comic book shows a Spider-Man who not only rejected marriage, but is also a tortured soul whose inner pain started even before the failed wedding ceremony. Silver Sable, who is often focused on missions, notices Spider-Man being too angry and careless with his performance with them taking on the bad guys. The old and frail Aunt May is deeply worried over Peter and hopes he would not harden his heart to the possibility of loving someone.

The thing about this story is that the writing done by Danny Fingeroth is pretty good as he captured Spider-Man’s essence while successfully steering him pretty close to the edge, almost blurring the boundary the separates the good and evil in him. The story moved with a nice pace and there is a good amount of suspense that will keep you wondering if Spider-Man can climb out of the deep hole of darkness he’s in.

More on the plot, I also enjoyed this comic book’s connection with Kraven’s Last Hunt and the early encounter with Venom. If there is any weak point with this story, it is the fact that it served as build-up of something set to happen in the next issue.

When it comes to the art, Jim Valentino did a good job bringing the script to life and that includes framing the character development scenes and the spectacle scenes in interesting ways. I personally enjoyed his take on Venom and Kraven.

Conclusion

Without Mary Jane as a wife, Spider-Man went on to fight the bad guys more intensely.

What If #20 (1990) is indeed a solid, alternate story about Spider-Man. It was gripping right from the start but it lacked a solid conclusion as its last few pages started to build up anticipation for the following issue. In short, this is not a standalone story and to fully enjoy what it started, you have to read What If #21. Still, I love the way Spider-Man is portrayed here and there are some characters involved that long-time fans will enjoy.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of What If #20 (1990), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $53 while the respective near-mint copies of the newsstand edition and the signed edition both cost $105.

Overall, What If #20 (1990) 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 X-Men #5 (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.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s culture and fans of Marvel Comics! Today we revisit the adjective-less X-Men monthly series (Volume 2) that started in 1991 with the combined talents of Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. For those who are unaware, Chris Claremont had his conflict behind the scenes with then X-Men comics editor Bob Harras which led to him departing the X-Men series with issue #3.

Previously I reviewed X-Men #4 which by today’s standards is highly significant and very expensive to acquire as it marked the literary debut of Omega Red who made quite an impact with X-Men fans. It should be noted that Wolverine and Omega Red had encountered each other far back in time and issue #4 marked the renewal of their rivalry.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men #5, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Jim Lee (plot) and John Byrne (script), The art was done by Lee with ink work done by Scott Williams, Art Thibert, Bob Wiacek and Joe Rubinstein.

The cover.

Early story

This for me is the money shot of the comic book. Although Wolverine is absent, you get to see the entire Blue and Gold teams with Charles Xavier as drawn by Jim Lee.

The story begins with Cerebro detecting an unidentified mutant signature in the presence of X-Men members who were out of the mansion. Forge tells Cyclops about the disturbance happening less than five miles away from their mansion. Colossus and Psylocke join in and quickly they leave the mansion with Cyclops using the Blackbird.

Not too far away, Gambit, Rogue, Jubilee and Beast are held captive inside a vehicle with an armed man in their presence. Gambit starts the effort to free his teammates using one of his charged cards.

Elsewhere in a snowy place, Wolverine is seen struggling thinking he defeated his old rival Omega Red. Suddenly the Russian mutant jumped at him and the two resumed fighting. Their fight is being monitored from a distance…

Quality

The Wolverine-Omega Red rivalry is a must-see.

When it comes to storytelling, it is obvious that the writing duo of Jim Lee and John Byrne did their best to push the envelope and break new ground as far as telling an X-Men story goes. For one thing, there is the presence of paramilitary elements which are common with Jim Lee’s creations. There are even flashbacks into the past in which Wolverine (then called Logan) actually took part in a special forces operation with a few notable others. These flashbacks expands further the personal history of Wolverine in a really intriguing way. With the way the story was presented, it is clear that the new creative team pulled off serious moves in modernizing the way X-Men stories were told in comparison to the way Chris Claremont told all those many such stories during his long run.

When it comes to the visuals, Jim Lee did another great job as each page looks great and he proved to be clever with the way he visualized the script. As this comic book was inked by more than one inker, there were subtle differences with regards to contrast as well as ink intensity.

Conclusion

Cyclops and his teammates move out.

X-Men #5 (1992) is another great comic book that involved Jim Lee’s art. Apart from the modernizing of the storytelling, this comic book further expanded the past of Wolverine while successfully giving readers more of Omega Red who is now a major supervillain of Marvel’s.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #5 (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 $79.

Overall, X-Men #5 (1992) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at The Strangers #11 (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, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Malibu Comics! Today we return to the Ultraverse through another tale of The Strangers which has been a pretty solid monthly series that I’ve been reviewing. As of this writing, I’m getting closer to finishing all 24 issues of this particular series and I can say that it has been a lot of fun doing retro comic book reviews of it. I’ve got a retro review about the 11th issue of The Strangers right here.

Before going to it, I should state a recap of the events in issue #10. That story had the Strangers (without Yrial who by then was held captive by her black tribe) doing a search by the sea in the Caribbean and they eventually discover a portal that sent them to another realm filled with monsters. After a big battle, the team attempted to get away only to fall over a cliff.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Strangers #11, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Rick Hoberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Strangers falling down from what turned out to be a very great height. While his teammates could not do anything, Zip-Zap uses his power to make the air whirl around them and land safely on the ground below.

As they are in the middle of nowhere, searching for the way back seemed like an impossibility. Electrocute realizes there is an answer sensing the something is present in that lost world they are in and she points to some far-away direction. Zip-Zap then proceeds to run towards it leaving the team behind…

Quality

A nice display of fine art and character development.

Starting with the writing, I should say that this comic book’s plot is very simplistic with its concept and clearly lacks the richness of the story told in issue #10. Technically, this story is more like a filler serving as a build-up to issue #12 (which itself has a deeper story filled with spectacle and lots of intrigue). That’s not to say this is a disappointing issue of The Strangers in relation to the overall quality of the series as a whole. It’s just different with its plot structuring. Along the way, there were some short but sweet character development moments that took place most notably with regards to the romance between Atom Bob and Lady Killer.

What this comic book excels at is the really fine and varied artwork done by Rick Hoberg. Through the scenes in which Zip-Zap runs and explores the unknown realm they are lost in, you will really see Hoberg’s great talent with visual details as well as his creativity with regards to making varied locations filled with creatures that are truly out of this world. For the lack of superhero action, Hoberg’s visuals are the true spectacle here.

Conclusion

Really great art by Rick Hoberg.

Even though its plot lacked depth and its execution in storytelling is very different, The Strangers #11 (1994) succeeds in expanding the lost realm and zones within the Ultraverse. As for building up suspense or excitement for issue #12, this comic book achieved it as well. For a comic book that lacked superhero action, this one did not end up boring and that’s quite an achievement by the creators.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #11 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $14.

Overall, The Strangers #11 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (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, fans of 1990s culture, and fans of both Marvel Comics and Archie Comics! Today, I have a retro review of one of the most wild ideas for a comic book crossover that actually got published in 1994. Back then I was still in college and ramping up my comic book collection. Then one day, I saw a print ad for the Marvel-Archie special project about the iconic Archie Andrews crossing over with the Punisher!

That’s right! The unthinkable concept pushed through and way back in 1994, I ordered in advance a copy of the comic book (note: this was actually one comic book published respectively by Marvel Comics and Archie Comics but with their own packaging and slight adjustments to the title) and eventually got to read it.

Behind the scenes, the management of Archie Comics wanted to take part in the wildly popular trend of intercompany crossover comic book publishing not just to boost their sales but also establish a stronger presence in comic book specialty stores. Back then, Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco and Archie Comics editor Victor Gorelick were good friends (note: DeFalco entered comic book publishing while working for Archie Comics) and sometimes they would joke with each other about potential crossover concepts between their companies. Gorelick eventually had lunch with independent comic creator Batton Lash and talked about Archie wanting to get involved with crossovers. The Archie editor told Lash about he and DeFalco joking about Archie encountering the Punisher, and in response the independent creator stated that they should really push through with it.

Lash went on to make a pitch for the series and Gorelick sent it to DeFalco. Marvel’s editor-in-chief loved it and eventually the concept was approved complete with strategic involvement in the production by key talents from both Archie and Marvel. For the artwork, Archie’s Stan Goldberg and Marvel’s John Buscema worked together to maintain different tones by means of drawing settings and characters that are specific with their respective companies. The inkwork was done by Tom Palmer.

Now you must be wondering…was the crazy crossover any good? We can find out in this look back at The Punisher Meets Archie #1, published by Marvel Comics in 1994 with a story written by Batton Lash and drawn by Punisher artist John Buscema and Archie artist Stan Goldberg.

The cover with a die-cut design.

Early story

The story begins in a city where a man (in a trench coat and a cap) is seen running away from someone chasing him. As he hurriedly climbs over a wall, he hears the chaser’s gun click and responds by firing some bullets at him. The chaser climbs over the wall and he turns out to be Frank Castle, the Punisher. The Punisher notices that his target left his cap on the floor, and look at the nearby station full of people.

Inside the said station, the man who got away from the Punisher has red hair and a sinister looking face. He buys a ticket going to Riverdale.

The next day in the town of Riverdale, Archie Andrews rings the bell of the front door at the luxurious residence of the Lodge family. A little boy named Leroy (cousin of Veronica Lodge) surprises him and makes him wet using a water-filled plastic gun. In response, Archie grabs the hose nearby and unleashes water. He accidentally hits Veronica who got so angry, she decided to cancel her date with him.

Still wet, Archie walks down the sidewalk being followed by a car…

Quality

See your favorite Archie characters among them?

I’ll start with the story written by Batton Lash. To be clear, this comic book has a dominant Archie Comics tone meaning it is wholesome and fun, and at the same time never childish. The Punisher-focused scenes showed lots of signs of restraint meaning in order to connect well with the overall wholesome tone of the comic book, adulterated stuff and violent concepts related to the Punisher are absent. For me, having an overall wholesome tone works given the fact that most of the story is set in Riverdale and there are tremendously more Archie characters than there are Marvel characters.

More on the story, the concept by Batton Lash is wonderful and the way the plot was structured not only ensured a fun story but also made sense. The plot itself is pretty believable and the story is full of nice and interesting moments to read. There certainly were no boring scenes at all!

To have Punisher encounter Archie without ever using the now overuses versus-battle-type approach here was believable, sensible and even impressive. For the most part, as reflected in portrayals and dialogue, Lash captured the essence of the Archie characters and anyone who loves stories about Archie and the gang (plus Josie and the Pussycats and Katy Keene) will have a lot to enjoy here. Even the disruption in Riverdale caused by the gang of crooks and the Punisher has that strong Archie-tone and never went overboard.

Punisher, Micro Chip, the local cops and a familiar face from the Riverdale high school’s cafeteria.

With regards to Lash presenting Marvel’s vigilante, the Punisher here is subdued in terms of seriousness. While he is not portrayed to be gritty (note: he’s also less violent), he is still rugged and you will still see him firing guns during the right moments. With the reduction of violent action, Punisher does a lot more detective work and has his companion Microchip with him. While rugged, the Punisher is not as snobbish as one might think here. In fact, there are a few pleasant surprise moments in the story with regards to his encountering certain supporting characters of Archie. These moments, although they make Punished look like he’s out of character, I still find pretty delightful.

More on the characters, there is a whole bunch of them here! As the story is set in Riverdale, it comes to no surprise that supporting characters of Archie Comics are present and for the most part they were presented to delight those who love Archie and the gang. Mr. Weatherbee, Mr. Lodge, Reggie Mantle, Betty Cooper, Jughead Jones, Pop Tate, Svenson, Ms. Grundy, Professor Flutesnoot and others are here and they don’t just make mere appearances.  

As this is a special project between Marvel Comics and Archie Comics, there is a lot of fan service here and there leaning towards the interests of Archie fans. For the most part, these fan service elements (note: there are some from Marvel Comics) were actually fun to look at and I personally did not find them distracting.

Conclusion

Punisher and Micro Chip explore Riverdale as Jughead and Archie are in Pop’s place.

While it is essentially an Archie comic book in terms of storytelling and visuals and lacks the kind of adulterated stuff that Punisher fans love, The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (1994) is still a very enjoyable crossover to read, and it sure is fun from start to finish. For one thing, the concept about Archie meeting with Punisher with Riverdale as the main setting works wonderfully even by today’s standards. What was an unbelievable concept got executed nicely into a believable and fun product. I should state that this kind of intercompany crossover comic book is still one-of-a-kind and its literary value (as opposed to financial value) is undeniably high. No doubt about, this crossover is a comic book classic!

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $53 while the near-mint copies of the deluxe newsstand edition and the direct edition cost $105 and $70 respectively.

If you prefer the Archie Comics-published version – Archie Meets The Punisher #1 (1994) – be aware that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $70 according to Mile High Comics as of this writing.

The cover of the Archie Comics-published version of the same crossover. This one is more eye-catching than that of the Marvel version.

Overall, The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (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 The Solution #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.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Malibu Comics! Are you ready for another return to the Ultraverse? I’ve got another retro review of The Solution.

Last time around, The Solution went to Japan on a mission that involved a secret meeting between leader Lela Cho/Tech and a man referred to as Kronstein. However, something unfortunate happened that led to violence. What The Solution encountered was a force of opposition in the form of another team (that was introduced also in issue #1).

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Solution #3, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story by the late James Hudnall and drawn by Darick Robertson (with ink work done by Barbara Kaalberg).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Los Angeles. A lady is struggling with finding her car key as two monstrous figures approach her. One of them is holding her set of keys. They fully transform into over-sized monsters with razor sharp teeth right in front of her. The monsters’ focus gets disrupted when they hear the sound of a harmonica being played by a man sitting on top of a car. As they approach him, the man grabs his rod and fights them fearlessly.

The next day in nearby Hollywood, Lela/Tech and her teammates have a meeting in a hotel room. Dropkick and Vurk express concern about Lela engaging in media interviews that could undercut what they have been trying to do. Lela does not see anything wrong about it and she reminds Dropkick that their team is a business and they could use the free advertising.

Apart from the media talk, The Solution is preparing to meet their new client at 9PM. Vurk, seeking some fresh air and use the free time, decides to head out for a while. Discreetly, Lela asks Aera to use her magic to put a trace on him…

Quality

Vurk in his monster form during his fight with the hunter of his race.

Like issue #2, this one continues to build-up the team but with one notable difference…more focus on the creepy looking Vurk (also referred to as Outrage). While it was established in issue #1 that, like Aera/Shadowmage, he is not human. Rather he belongs to a race called the Darkurians which are oversized monsters in their true forms. In this story, you get to see more of Vurk’s nature as a Darkurian as well as his personality complete with how much he has learned to walk along the many people around him.

This comic book also introduces readers to a new character who hunts Darkurians as part of his campaign to rid the world of them. As it turns out, that man has a history of conflict with Vurk and this issue reignites their conflict. This easily produces the spectacle of this comic book which is filled with hard-hitting action, collateral damage and action moves that Vurk could pull off only in his monster form. It’s pretty entertaining stuff.

Conclusion

The team in their private meeting.

The Solution #3 (1993) is a fun Ultraverse story that succeeded in building up the series’ concept but with more focus on Vurk. Vurk is not exactly an appealing character on face value but at least his background details and his rivalry with the hunter of his race added a good amount of depth into the story. It is also interesting to see Vurk trying his best to be good with the good guys (his team). Having read his incidental involvement with the team in issue #8, this comic book makes more sense out of him.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #3 (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, The Solution #3 (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 Wonder Woman #23 (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.

Before I start another retro review of the post-Crisis Wonder Woman comic book series, I need to share to you readers my observations about the recent social media trends that happened inside three Wonder Woman-focused groups within Facebook.

For one thing, I asked a simple question on all three WW FB groups asking the members if they would want to see Zack Snyder replace Patty Jenkins as the director of future Wonder Woman movies. Their reactions were pretty mixed and among them were a few very toxic responses. One group member asked me why do I hate Patty Jenkins (I have no hatred for her and in fact I admired her work in the 2017 Wonder Woman movie and pointed out her work in my piece about the No Man’s Land scene). Another member (an openly feminist-minded male) condemned me of sexism (completely false).

And in most recent times, I posted a few not so favorable media reviews of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on those same three WW groups on Facebook. This member called me a hater (I’m not a hater and I cannot judge a movie I have not even viewed), another member thought I allowed the negative review to influence me (sharing a post of an unfavorable review does NOT mean I believe in it), while another member took it very personal against me by means of verbal attacks (that person does not even know me and he allowed his uncontrolled fanaticism to go on the offense) on me.

Whew! There sure are a lot of Wonder Woman fans out there who are over-sensitive, who lacked self-control, who allowed themselves to be influenced by the socialists, and who allowed themselves to be swallowed by unrestrained political correctness. Clearly there are lots of hostile minds and likely believers of Cancel Culture among fellow WW fans which is unfortunate. What I posted on those FB groups were simply about entertainment, not identity politics and certainly not about attacking others.

I am still standing here!

Anyway, last time I reviewed an issue of Wonder Woman that I determined lacked depth and only served to build-up suspense and anticipation for future events. What will happen next to Wonder Woman and her companions? Will there be a pay-off to the build-up that happened in the pages of issue #22? We can all find out in this look back at Wonder Woman #23, published by DC Comics in 1988 with a story written and drawn by George Perez with finishes done by Will Blybers.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a print media blast of Diana, her mother Queen Hippolyte, as well as Julie Kapatelis and her daughter Vanessa all occupying varied parts of the front cover of The World Today magazine with a feature about the royal family of Themyscira. At the corner of the cover says, “Memories of a Boston teen.”

At school, the teenage Vanessa (referred to as Nessie) is completely surrounded by other students who want her to sign their respective copies of the said magazine. She is enjoying the attention being the close, personal friend of the Amazons. Vanessa’s friends Eileen and Meekins can only watch the activity from a distance feeling lonely and let down.

In New York, Wonder Woman delivered a speech to the United Nations general assembly. She spoke on behalf of her mother and formally announced that the gates of Themyscira will be opened to the rest of the world (which is the result of the Amazons’ majority vote in issue #22). The response to her speech ranged from enthusiastic to apathetic.

After the speech, Diana finds herself surrounded by news reporters who ask her a lot of questions about her homeland, Queen Hippolyta’s potential visit to man’s world (AKA patriarch’s world) and the way some assembly members reacted to her speech.

Suddenly a mysterious figure whose head and face cannot be seen emerges. Diana senses something is wrong…

Quality

Wonder Woman flying in search of the mysterious figure.

I will start first by confirming that indeed, this comic book’s story has some pay-off to the suspense built-up in issue #22. Take note…some pay-off. It might sound disappointing for those who read issue #22 expecting a big pay-off but after going through the theme of this particular story, it is clear that there were planned plot events lying ahead related to the build-up (in issue #22).

More on the story itself, without spoiling much, I can say that George Perez pushed the envelope yet again by involving Hermes a lot more with Wonder Woman here. A lord to Diana, Hermes appeared not merely for a cameo appearance nor as a guide as seen in the early issues of this series, but rather he has a much bigger role than before. Hermes does not just appear with Wonder Woman who strictly follows him, he also makes an impact with the people on Earth.

When it comes to moral lessons, this comic book is boldly written by touching on themes such as how a deity from Olympus would impact people by bribing them, why mortals let their guard down when they believe what they saw or witnessed, and why would a foreign deity (from Olympus specifically) does not want mortals to challenge their authority.

The good news here is that everything is very well written from the way the plot was structured, the clear presence of emotion that filled much of the dialogue and the notable presence of philosophies that added depth to the dialogue.

When it comes to Wonder Woman herself, I love the way how Perez portrayed her on her struggle of doing her duty (for Themyscira and her deities) and maintaining friendship with the people she loved in man’s world. There is that nice touch of fragility on Diana’s personality and the same can be found on Julie Kapatelis whose struggle with being a mother and a friend is nicely dramatized.

Conclusion

Wonder Woman faces the world through the corrupt United Nations.

I can say that Wonder Woman #23 (1998) is a clear improvement over its predecessor by means of having a solid story concept backed with nice artwork (no surprise) and in-depth writing done by George Perez. I also like the fact that Wonder Woman herself gets upstaged in a rather reasonable way which shows Perez was not afraid to take risks when it comes to redefining the Queen of Superheroes in the post-Crisis era of DC Comics. Lastly, this comic book shows how faith is not to be practiced and why deities of Olympus are not worthy of faith and trust of the people. It also shows idolatry is foolishness.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #23 (1988), 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 2nd print edition costs $350.

Overall, Wonder Woman #23 (1998) 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 Wonder Woman #22 (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 and fans of DC Comics! I wonder how many among you readers got to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League? That was the so-called definitive version of the Justice League live-action movie that Zack Snyder originally envisioned and reportedly it was the big dream come true for fans of the director and his own vision of the current cinematic universe of DC Comics superheroes.

While the so-called Snyder Cut of Justice League has Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, I personally am not too excited for it but I will watch it much later on Blu-ray or perhaps 4K Blu-ray someday. What I am anticipating right now is the 4K Blu-ray release of Wonder Woman 1984 scheduled for March 30, 2021.

With regards to the literary Wonder Woman (post-Crisis DC Comics universe) as I’ve been reviewing a lot for some time now, things went crazy with what happened in issue #21. I’m talking about something that involved Wonder Woman with the deities of Olympus.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Wonder Woman #22, published by DC Comics in 1988 with a story written and drawn by George Perez with Bob McLeod credited with the finished art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Themyscira. All the Amazons are called by Diana to a special audience in relation to an pending proclamation of a new decision that shall chart forevermore the path of the Amazon destiny.

In front of a large audience composed of her many Amazon sisters as well as her mother (Queen Hippolyte), the oracle Menalippe and headmistress Mnemosyne, Diana announces that a majority voted yes on the question of Themyscira opening her gates to the world outside and allowing man to set food on the shores of paradise island.

There was no fanfare, no cheers and no applause from the audience as the announcement marked the beginning of the new stage in the history of Amazons.

Meanwhile in outer space, a silvery orb flies around in very fast speed heading towards Earth…

Quality

Wonder Woman’s lifting of the car looked inspired by the famous cover of Action Comics #1 from 1938.

To make things clear, the story of this comic book is mainly a build-up for something significant that will happen later. There is no real battle of good-versus-evil here, nor would you see Wonder Woman encounter someone sinister.

In terms of build-up, the approval by the Amazons of cultural exchange and sharing of access with man’s world is itself a set-up for a significant event for Wonder Woman and her two closest friends on Earth. On other matters, the arrival of the space orb on Earth was presented very nicely and it surely is intriguing to see how it builds up for an upcoming new anti-hero element.

If you are a Wonder Woman fan expecting to see more of Diana getting dramatized and developed, you might be disappointed that this comic book has lesser content about her than usual. In fact, there is a good amount of pages here that pay close attention to Vanessa Kapatelis having a bad day in school, plus her mother Julia attracting the attention of a certain school teacher. This particular comic book really tried hard dramatizing the mother-and-daughter relationship of the two supporting characters but ultimately (and not surprising) it’s nowhere as engaging as that of Queen Hippolyte and Diana.

Conclusion

Diana doing her duty in front of a tremendous audience of her Amazon sisters plus her mother Queen Hippolyte.

Behind its beautiful cover, Wonder Woman #22 (1988) is not only an underwhelming follow-up to the epic development in issue #21, it is also the least engaging issue I’ve read about the post-Crisis version of Wonder Woman under the creative direction of George Perez. It’s really more about setting the stages for a future conflict and a special visit to Themyscira (you can guess who would visit to see Wonder Woman’s Amazon sisters). George Perez’s writing is still of pretty good quality and he really knows how to define each character’s personality but it’s the overall concept of the comic book that is underwhelming.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #22 (1988), 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 2nd printing costs $350.

Overall, Wonder Woman #22 (1988) is satisfactory.

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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 #14 (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 Malibu Comics! Previously, I reviewed an issue of The Strangers which happened to be the 2nd-to-the-last issue of its monthly series (which itself was mostly spearheaded by the dynamic duo of Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg).

I was about to do a retro review of The Strangers #24 but realized that there are still some other comic books of the series that I have not reviewed yet. As such, I decided to read those other issues before reviewing the final issue.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Strangers #14, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Englehart and illustrated by Hoberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins when a strong, muscular man with long blonde hair strikes a huge rock formation high in the hills to the east of San Francisco Bay in California. While talking to himself (most likely a way to deal with his isolation), he continues to lift very large piece of rock, smashes more rocks and throws a tractor as if it was just a ball.

“I am…Powerhouse! I am Powerhouse! I…am Powerhouse,” he said to himself.

Still talking to himself, Powerhouse realizes that the world must never know about him as it has done its best to destroy him. He quietly changes into civilian clothes and drives away into the distance in his car.

On the streets of East Bay Hills in Berkeley, Hugh/Grenade and Bob/Atom Bob walk down the fancy commercial zone as they enjoy the time-off Elena/Lady Killer gave them. Soon enough, people started recognizing the two as members of The Strangers even though they are not in costume. This community buzz catches the attention of an executive at a local radio station who then picks Powerhouse (in civilian form) to go to East Bay Hills to report about Hugh and Bob…

Quality

When Powerhouse first gained super abilities.

I’ll got straight to the point about what this comic book is all about. This is the story of an ultra who gained powers very long before The Strangers, Mantra, Prime, Hardcase, The Solution and all the other Ultraverse heroes even started. That being said, Powerhouse is an old man (who really does not look like in his sixties or seventies) whose life turned upside-down as a result of gaining super powers as a teenager in the year 1938 (note: this was the year Superman debuted in comics in real life). Having lost DECADES of his time in the world, Powerhouse became a man who found himself lonely and having trouble adjusting into the modern world (1993 in the Ultraverse specifically). What bothers him even more is the fact that super beings like The Strangers members Atom Bob and Grenade are gladly accepted and celebrated by the public which is the complete opposite of how he was perceived when he became a super being.

The writing done by Steve Englehart is very rich to read and through it all, you will feel the pain, frustration and anguish of Powerhouse. As usual, Rick Hoberg’s art is always great to look at and you can see in this comic book how he adjusts his style when the narrative shifts from the talk scenes into the action scenes and the like.

Conclusion

Really, you only see two of The Strangers in this comic book which contradicts what was shown on the cover art.

Fundamentally, The Strangers #14 (1994) highlights Powerhouse (both his present-day self and his origin) with Atom Bob and Grenade literally pushed out of the spotlight. Powerhouse is clearly inspired by the old ages of superhero comics and the creative team cleverly presented him as a super-powered man who finds himself struggling to fit in the 1990s. While this super being debut story is fun and engaging, its only weakness is that The Strangers have little real presence in the story (note: the cover art looks great but is really misleading).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #14 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $14.

Overall, The Strangers #14 (1994) 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

Xbox-Bethesda excitement intensifies as Phil Spencer emphasizes exclusive games plus key Bethesda games got added to Xbox Game Pass (XGP)

There is no denying that the completion of the most significant video gaming business deal of this modern age of and the integration of Bethesda into Team Xbox are leading to a brighter future in electronic entertainment not only for Xbox fans and PC gamers but also for all other people who can afford gaming.

Yesterday, the fusion between Bethesda and Team Xbox was emphasized even further as top executives from both sides took part in a roundtable meeting titled Bethesda joins Xbox which was shown worldwide online. The YouTube video has been posted below for your convenience and viewing pleasure.

Here are a few notable parts of the roundtable event. Firstly, and most notably, Xbox chief Phil Spencer cautiously spoke about the plans regarding exclusive games that Xbox fans have been eagerly wanting to find out (note: key portions in bold).

“We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re going to support those games on the platforms they’re on. There are communities of players. We love those communities and will continue to invest in them. And even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms, that we’ll go do. But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists, and that’s our goal, that’s why we are doing this,” Spencer said.

Even as Microsoft-controlled Bethesda has games and fan communities on other platforms that will be supported, Xbox customers are still priorities for them and Xbox Game Pass is a key factor as it has many millions of subscribers around the world who use Xbox One consoles, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC.

While no titles were mentioned by Spencer, I am confident that Bethesda’s upcoming games like Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI will be released for Xbox Series consoles and Windows 10 PCs and be made available via Xbox Game Pass in the near future.

In my view, and in response to the whining of the PlayStation fanboys (who are agonizing over the Xbox-Bethesda deal) and of the people who hate Xbox spotted on social media, it does not make business sense for new Bethesda games (especially those made with big budgets for at least 3 years) to be released on PlayStation and Nintendo platforms since they are not connected with Xbox Game Pass.  If you look at Team Xbox closely, they are working hard to sell not only gaming hardware, software and DLCs, but also subscription services. In this case, Xbox Game Pass is essential and with 18 million subscribers already counted, the said subscription service is generating billions of Dollars of revenue for Team Xbox per year. Will Sony and Nintendo be willing to have Xbox Game Pass offered to their respective customers for the sake of availing new Bethesda hot new games? Unless something drastic happens, such a scenario won’t happen.

Going back to Spencer’s confirmation of exclusive games for Xbox customers, the integration of Bethesda into Team Xbox easily ensures that Xbox fans will not only have a lot of exclusive titles coming from the well-established publisher (and its many studios), they will also have a wide variety of the types of games from ALL the 23 Xbox Game Studios. The first-person shooter (FPS) genre exclusives to look forward to are Halo Infinite, the next Doom, the next Wolfenstein, the next Rage, the next Prey and so on. RPGs? Try Starfield, Elder Scrolls VI, Avowed, Fable, the next Fallout and the next The Outer Worlds.

Rest assured, Xbox fans have a whole lot of exclusive games to look forward to from Bethesda’s studios and the other Xbox Game Studios in the near future. These assured exclusive games should convince gamers to buy Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X, and then sign up immediately for Xbox Game Pass.

Going back to the media event, Todd Howard took note of the marvel of backward compatibility (itself a great, pro-gamer feature on Xbox) and described how awesome it is that old creations such as the RPG Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is not only playable (on current Xbox technology) but also nicely presented in 4K resolution showing how much life it still has all these years. In relation to that, Aaron Greenberg announced that Team Xbox is already working on providing FPS Boost (enhanced frame rates) on backward compatible games of Bethesda.

And then there is the other big announcement made during the roundtable event…Bethesda adding twenty games into Xbox Game Pass for subscribers to enjoy!

Specifically the games added into the said subscription service are: Dishonored Definitive Edition, Dishonored 2, Doom (1993), Doom II, Doom 3, Doom 64, Doom Eternal, Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Elder Scrolls Online, The Evil Within, Fallout 4, Fallout 76, Fallout: New Vegas, Prey, Rage 2, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood.

Those mentioned games are available on Xbox Game Pass now.

In ending this, posted below for your viewing pleasure are varied gaming-related videos…including one video about the March 17, 2021 release of the next DLC expansion for The Outer Worlds (developed by Obsidian Entertainment which itself worked on Fallout: New Vegas for Bethesda long ago).

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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

Bethesda finally integrated into Team Xbox!

Welcome back fellow gamers, geeks and Xbox fans!

Finally, it has been accomplished and it is something truly worth celebrating and become more optimistic about the future of video games! Very recently, Microsoft announced that it has officially completed the $7.5 acquisition of ZeniMax media which effectively integrated Bethesda Softworks and its eight game studios (Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios) and their respective communities into Team Xbox! The completion was realized after getting approved by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and the regulators of the European Union (EU). Bethesda themselves posted a fine video about their legacy in gaming and the confirmation of becoming part of Team Xbox. Watch it below…

Bethesda and Xbox is a formidable combination!

To put things in perspective, below is an excerpt (note: key parts in bold) from the completion announcement written by Xbox chief Phil Spencer over at Xbox.com. Pay close attention…

Now that everything is official, we can begin working together to deliver more great games to everyone. At every step building toward this moment, I’ve been inspired and motivated by the creativity, insight, and community-first approach of the talented people at Bethesda. Our goal is to give these teams the best foundation for doing their greatest work and to learn from them as we continue to build Xbox into an inclusive platform for all players.

This is the next step in building an industry-leading first party studios team, a commitment we have to our Xbox community. With the addition of the Bethesda creative teams, gamers should know that Xbox consoles, PC, and Game Pass will be the best place to experience new Bethesda games, including some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players.

As seen above, Phil Spencer led the welcoming of Bethesda into Team Xbox. This is clearly not a simple acquisition because Bethesda is a very big company complete with eight game developers (lots of very talented employees) and very well-established franchises of games such as The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dishonored, Doom and more.

Speaking of Bethesda’s new games, Spencer made clear that the Xbox ecosystem is not just the definitive destination for the said games, it is indeed the best. Xbox consoles clearly includes the many millions of Xbox One consoles still in use as well as the growing number of Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X consoles. PC refers to Windows 10 while Game Pass refers to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) which is a highly successful paid subscription service which has reached 18 million subscribers worldwide. No surprise, PlayStation and Nintendo consoles were excluded. Microsoft, after all, has a stake in Bethesda while Sony and Nintendo do not.

As for Spencer’s line – some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players – I believe he was referring to upcoming games divided between those that can be made only for the Xbox ecosystem (Xbox console owners and PC users), those that can be released on other platforms (note: Spencer mentioned before the case-by-case aspect) and those that are legally bound to be released on a different platform (note: Bethesda has two timed-exclusive games for PlayStation 5).

The way I see it, future games like Starfield and sequels such as The Elder Scrolls VI, Fallout 5, future Doom, future Dishonored and the like will be made Xbox-exclusive (geared more towards the Xbox Series consoles and PC) which makes business sense because Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PCs are what Xbox Game Pass subscribers use. The addition of Bethesda games into XGP will help the service attract even more subscribers from around the world! I also believe that games made with strong single-player gaming experiences in mind will be designated for Xbox and PC gamers.

Future Bethesda games that will cater more on multiplayer and on being a service (technically) can be made for multiple platforms, including the PlayStation and Nintendo consoles.

As such, Phil Spencer’s use of the words “some new titles” makes sense. In due time, I believe, Microsoft and Bethesda will make clear that the Xbox ecosystem is top priority for them and this means eventually locking out Sony and Nintendo consoles when it comes to most new Bethesda games. It should happen in the years to come.

The integration of Bethesda into Team Xbox does not necessarily mean that Microsoft will change the culture of the company to conform to its own. The tech giant will provide Bethesda funds and lots of technical support while respecting their culture. Pay close attention to Phil Spencer’s words in the excerpt below…

As we shared previously, it’s vitally important that Bethesda continues making games the way it always has. We look forward to empowering Bethesda’s creative teams to reach even more players around the world, helping make future Bethesda titles the biggest and most popular games in their history. Xbox and Bethesda have long shared a common vision for the future of gaming. Both as fans and as creators, Bethesda understands the potential of Xbox Game Pass.

The head of Xbox also took the opportunity to lead the honoring of the late Robert A. Altman, who founded Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media. Read on below…

We would also like to honor the life and memory of my close friend Robert A. Altman, founder of ZeniMax Media. Robert believed deeply in the power of gaming and we are privileged to be able to continue his work by joining forces with the teams he built and led for many years.  I will miss the opportunity to work directly with him on the future of our combined teams but I know that his spirit will live on in the shared work we do and motivate us to make this partnership all he envisioned.

With the completion of the $7.5 billion deal, Team Xbox and Bethesda have officially started a brand-new chapter in the history of gaming. To say the least, Team Xbox’s years-old problem of lacking high-profile exclusive games has clearly been solved and Bethesda’s integration adds a ton of value as well as very rich intellectual properties into the Xbox Game Studios group whose other game developers include 343 Industries (Halo), Obsidian Entertainment (The Outer Worlds), The Coalition (Gears of War), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few), Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts), The Initiative (Perfect Dark), inXile Entertainment (Wasteland 3), Mojang Studios (Minecraft), Ninja Theory (Hellblade) and others. Each and every one of those game developers have new games in development and will be released exclusively on the Xbox ecosystem in the years to come. In effect, this makes Xbox Series consoles even more attractive for gamers and consumers in general. This also makes Team Xbox more competitive and even intimidating towards PlayStation and Nintendo when it comes to producing console-exclusive games.

Just what will PlayStation and Nintendo do to counter the Xbox Game Studios juggernaut now that Bethesda is part of it? Buy out Sega? Sony paying Square Enix a lot more money to secure their future games as PS5-exclusive? Sony reviving their White Knight Chronicles RPG franchise to combat Xbox RPGs from Bethesda, inXile and Obsidian? Will the troubled Sony fanboys demand PlayStation’s Jim Ryan to raise money so that the company will buy as many game studios as possible to beef up PS5 1st party games? Time will tell.

In ending this, posted below for your viewing pleasure are varied gaming-related videos including some video reviews of past Bethesda games for some fun nostalgia.  

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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