A Look Back at Break-Thru #2 (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, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the mid-1990s which was a really wild time for comic collectors. To be more specific, this newest retro comic book review revisits the conclusion of the epic Ultraverse storyline Break-Thru which was illustrated by the late George Perez (1954-2022). I encourage you readers – especially long-time fans of the iconic illustrator – to check out my commemorative article about George Perez by clicking here.

For the newcomers reading this, Break-Thru was a 2-part storyline that creatively involved almost all the main characters of the Ultraverse (The Strangers, Mantra, Prime, Prototype, Freex, The Solution, Hardcase, Sludge, Solitaire and others) who got impacted in varied ways by Amber (of the Exiles) who floated high in the air causing chaos on societies below. Specifically, that was the concept of Break-Thru #1 (1993) and issue #2 has the story continuing with a setting in outer space with the moon as the key destination.

With those details laid down, here is a look back Break-Thru #2, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story scripted by Gerard Jones (plotted by Mike W. Barr, Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, James Hudnall, Tom Mason, George Perez, James Robinson and Len Strazewski) and illustrated by the late George Perez.

An epic cover by the late George Perez.

Early story

The story begins at the surface of the moon with Hardcase, Choice and the members of The Solution who just survived the explosion (connected with Hardcase #7 and The Solution #4) of the flying saucer they used on their journey. Nearby, the people responsible for the destruction are riding their own flying saucer, scanning the surface of the moon searching for an entity.

Behind the scenes, the very hidden yet powerful Rex Mundi watches and tells Gate that other ultras are seeking the entity. As the saucer floats to a cave detecting the presence of the entity, the occupants get shaken as Prime hits them hard. Prime tells himself that the entity in the cave feels danger from the searchers and he has to protect it as he has been connected with it (refer to Prime #7). After getting blasted in retaliation by the saucer, Prime finds himself hit even more as Rex Mundi’s enforcers suddenly come out of a portal very near him.  

From a distance, Mantra (refer to Mantra #6) sees the fight happening and needs a life force to survive. Elsewhere, Hardcase, Choice and The Solution witness the arrival of a space shuttle. The Strangers and Prototype (refer to The Strangers #7 and Prototype #5) come out together…

Quality

This is classic George Perez presentation of action and characters using multiple panels in a single page.

Starting with the writing, I should mention that all the writers who were involved in plotting this comic book as well as the previous issue should be commended for their combined efforts on making the Break-Thru storyline happen complete with in-universe ramifications, developments and connections to almost all the monthly comic books via the Break-Thru tie-in issue (also check out Sludge #3, Freex #6, Solitaire #2 and Night Man #3). Clearly Break-Thru was planned to be a major turning point of the Ultraverse by involving and mixing most of the major characters together and have them struggle with tremendous obstacles they simply cannot ignore as the stakes were indeed too high.

More on this comic book, the major conflict was set on the moon which proved to be a very unique setting not just for dynamic battles to happen but also to serve as the place where a mysterious and powerful entity is hidden. When it comes to the story, the entity (more science fictional in concept) is mysterious and cleverly not blatantly evil. It is its mysteriousness that makes the entity a worthy force to have the UV’s heroes come after.

The writers added depth to the plot by showing Yrial of The Strangers and Prototype each having their own vested interests to get to the entity and acquire whatever it has that is valuable. At the same time, Mantra and Prime each discovered valuable knowledge about the entity that impacted their perceptions about their purpose as beings with super powers.

Mantra, Prime, The Solution, Hardcase and Choice.

While the story here still has so many characters expressing themselves and releasing expository information, the narrative is a little bit easier to understand and follow compared to issue #1 (which had a lot more information to release via exposition). That being said, the scenes of spectacle became more enjoyable to read and along the way there were some notable character moments to look at.

Visually, this is unsurprisingly a great looking comic book as it was illustrated by the late George Perez. What I love most about Perez’s art style and visual presentation are all here: high details on each character drawn as well as their surroundings, the dynamic approach on setting up the panels on each page, fantastic looking superhero action, and much more! As with Break-Thru #1 and other Ultraverse comic books drawn by Perez, this one is absolutely great to look at and it easily lifts up the visual/artistic quality of the UV and its heroes. As George Perez was involved in the plot of this comic book, the narrative was never overwhelmed by his great art and the artist really exerted a lot of effort on visualizing each and every one of the established UV characters (including the supporting characters).

Speaking of the established characters, I should state that Perez made Mantra’s face (with mask) look a bit more realistic and feminine while Kevin Green has a more convincing teenage boy look, Sludge looks a bit more creepier and Yrial looks visually identical to the way Rick Hoberg draws her. When it comes to the varied physiques of each established UV hero, Perez captured them all perfectly. Clearly the late artist did his research on every character.

Conclusion

The first physical encounter between Prime and Hardcase. Remember this before reading the UltraForce comics.

Break-Thru #2 (1994) is truly an epic Ultraverse story that also worked as a major turning point of the UV as a whole. Compared to other epic superhero stories that Marvel and DC Comics published, Break-Thru is not the usual large gathering of superheroes who have to work together to defeat an evil force that threatens everyone’s existence. It is more about the UV heroes getting together to solve major obstacles before reaching the main destination. By the time I reached the end of this comic book (and its storyline), I experienced great satisfaction not just from Break-Thru itself but also in relation to how the Ultraverse heroes realized what they are living for and what their respective purposes really are about. What also happened in this comic book explains why jumpstart events happened on Earth. Very clearly, this was an epic story that was planned early and even though this was published just months after the Ultraverse first debuted, the characters were developed enough to make Break-Thru’s concepts sensible and acceptable. There is a lot of fun and engagement in this comic book drawn by the late George Perez (who also worked on DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and Marvel’s The Infinity Gauntlet).

Overall, Break-Thru #2 (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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

George Perez (1954-2022)

George Perez, the incredible comic book artist who made major contributions to illustrated literature (especially the superhero comic book genre), sadly passed away due to complications related to pancreatic cancer. He was 67-years-old and I can say that superhero comic book art and dynamic expressions will not be the same without him.

George Perez with the two Wonder Woman plastic models. (photo source – DC Comics Facebook page)

Already there were comic book industry figures who reacted to the death of the legendary Perez. DC Comics co-publisher and legendary creator Jim Lee paid tribute stating, “We creators may all have access to the same tools of the trade: pen, paper and imagination, but what George could do with his prodigious talents was off the charts.”

For his part, Rob Liefeld stated, “I’ll remember George for his innovative and prolific storytelling. Thank you for all the great memories. Rest In Peace, George Perez.”

For the newcomers reading this as well as those who are simply unaware of Perez’s legacy, he was responsible for visualizing DC Comics’ 1985 epic maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths (note: he drew countless characters complete with varied settings or environments in high detail) and redefining Wonder Woman (note: he also wrote the stories) which made her a more essential pop culture icon. George Perez also worked for Marvel Comics over many projects and was chosen to illustrate the memorable 2003 JLA/Avengers crossover series of Marvel and DC. Perez also worked with other publishers such as Malibu Comics for several Ultraverse comic books and Image Comics for Crimson Plague and Witchblade. In recent years, he was responsible for Sirens published by BOOM! Studios.

For me, Wonder Woman was best defined during the post-Crisis era of DC Comics which involved George Perez and Len Wein who wrote the early issues of the Wonder Woman monthly series in the late 1980s.

In his decades-long career in comics, Perez unsurprisingly earned varied awards and honors (references here, here, here and here to name a few).

I should say that George Perez is a long-time favorite comic book illustrator of mine. I enjoyed reading the superhero comic books he illustrated and I love his art style on the characters, the environments and crowds. If there is anything I love about Perez’s art, it is his distinct style along with his implementation of high levels of details on the characters, objects, creatures and surroundings. Perez is also known to capture the distinct visual elements of superhero characters such as Spider-Man’s costume and his spaghetti-like web, Superman’s physique and distinct letter S, Prime’s overly muscular body and more. Every time Perez is involved as artist, the result is almost always a visual feast that often adds punch to the script prepared.

When I was still actively collecting comic books back in the 1990s, I often get excited whenever I learned that George Perez illustrated upcoming comic books. In 1992, he drew Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect (2 books) which was mind-blowing and intriguing for me! In 1993, I became a fan of the newly launched Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and I got very excited to learn that Perez was hired for their major UV crossover Break-Thru (2 issues). Perez also drew one issue of Prime and most of the early issues of the UV team UltraForce (issues #0, #1, #3, #4, #5 and #6). If you want to see Perez draw ALL the characters of the Ultraverse, you should read the 2-issue Break-Thru storyline.

A page from Break-Thru #2 showing just some of the many Ultraverse characters Perez illustrated. This was published before the release of UltraForce.

Speaking of UltraForce, check out this video by Crypto Comics (with observations on Perez’s art works)…

Going back to George Perez’s amazing run on Wonder Woman, I urge you to watch the video below…

For me, the most defining stories of Wonder Woman ever told in any art form are still the comics that Perez wrote (note: he co-wrote stories with Len Wein on the early issues) and illustrated during the post-Crisis era of DC Comics. Check out my retro reviews of Wonder Woman 1980s comics on this website.

Truly, George Perez will be missed by a lot of people and his countless pieces of works will be revisited in the foreseeable future. In closing this piece, posted below are varied works (comic book covers and interior art) done by the late creator through the decades for your viewing pleasure and learning. This is a tribute to Perez and may he rest in peace!

+++++

Note: All images shown are properties of their respective companies.

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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at The Solution #10 (1994)

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

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! If you’ve got a problem that needs solving, you call The Solution. For the newcomers reading this, The Solution was spearheaded by the late James Hudnall who also led the storytelling of the Hardcase monthly series.

In my previous The Solution retro comic book review, the team had to act as a result of what Aera had done long before she even joined her teammates. Alien forces had arrived on Earth which sparked a chain reaction of unfortunate events. Ultimately, Aera was taken away but not before handing over to Lela, Vurk and Dropkick the one powerful thing that the Vyr wanted – the Vorlexx.

With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #10, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by John Statema.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dropkick hitting his alien teammate Vurk and accuses him for trying to leave their snatched teammate Aera in the hands of the Vyr. As Vurk transforms into his more monstrous form, Tech comes in between them and tells them to stop and come to their senses. As they have the Vorlexx, Tech insists that they should leave Earth before the Vyr comes back to get the precious items.

Holding the Vorlexx, Tech states that they should all travel together to Vurk’s homeworld and anticipate that the Vyr will come there searching for them. She stresses that they might stand a better chance of rescuing Aera this way. Vurk warns Tech that the Vorlexx will corrupt its user every time it gets used.

Tech issues a command to the Vorlexx and they all disappear to another world…

Quality

Lela Cho, Dropkick and Vurk struggle during their quest to save Aera.

While the story of the previous issue brought the fantasy elements of the series raised really high, things went even higher this time as the team went to new worlds far away from Earth which results completely alien environments with creatures that people of Earth had not encountered. This helped pave the way for an encounter between The Solution and a giant monster that reminded about some classic sci-fi tales of EC Comics (note: the Weird Science series) from the 1950s.

More on the plot itself, James Hudnall crafted a script that succeeded in building up suspense and tension as Tech (Lela Cho), Dropkick and Vurk push through with their very difficult mission to rescue Aera. Along the way, you will get to see really nice character moments such as Lela’s leadership traits and Vurk using his knowledge of his past encounters with the Vyr.

There is also a notable twist in the tale which I won’t spoil. In fact, I encourage you readers and those who are just discovering the Ultraverse and The Solution to read this comic book to find out. That twist really added depth to the plot and resulted in some memorable reactions from The Solution.

Conclusion

The Solution arrived in an alien world by mistake.

The Solution #10 (1994) is fun and engaging to read. As it follows The Solution’s dangerous attempt to save Aera in unknown parts of the universe, the story became more of a science fiction misadventure that remains believable and stable thanks to Hudnall’s strong writing. John Statema’s return as illustrator in this comic book easily raised the visual quality higher compared to the previous issue. I can say that Statema, by this point in this Ultraverse series, is clearly the definitive artist of The Solution.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #10 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16.

Overall, The Solution #10 (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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.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 The Solution #2 (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! Some time ago, I posted my first review of The Solution comic book series. My further retro reviews of the said series were not that many but I had a lot of fun reading one of its character origin stories, the crossover with Hardcase, and most recently their participation in the Hostile Takeover crossover storyline.

For the newcomers reading this, The Solution is a team of specialists that renders varied services for their paying clients.

With those details laid down, we can find more about the team in The Solution #2, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by Darick Robertson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in a secret place where a meeting is being held in. Rex Mundi, the elusive man with power, is very angry. He is fuming mad about The Solution and he tells the people in front of him that he wants them all killed.

On the streets of Tokyo, Japan, Vurk walks down and his unusual appearance caught the attention of a few people near him. It turns out The Solution is preparing for a meeting with their leader Lela Cho/Tech entering a building while coordinating secretly with her teammate Dropkick (thanks to the biochip implanted in her brain). Dropkick is on the rooftop of a building carefully monitoring the situation while Lela climbs up to find a room to meet Kronstein. Their other teammate, Shadowmage, is inside a room located next to the one where the meeting will take place. She is using her magic skills to sense any trouble.

As soon as the door opens, Lela begins her meeting with Kronstein and tells him that he might a leak somewhere on his side. Suddenly, her teammates begin to sense danger. Dropkick turns to see someone carrying swords approaching to strike at him…

Quality

You will see how The Solution reacts when things go wrong.

The concept of this comic book is pretty simple. What is notable is the way the storytelling was executed. While the plot is very simplistic, this comic book’s script was structured to show The Solution’s members in action with match-ups in mind, while managing to emphasize their respective personalities and how they think and act during tense moments.

When it comes to presenting the respective traits of the team members, this comic book succeeded. You will get to see how Lela works not only with leading the team but also being strategic with her business talk and on-field action. Shadowmage, Vurk and Dropkick all had their moments and got developed more.

Beyond the titular team, this comic book also emphasized how deadly Rex Mundi is as a mastermind and recruiter of deadly villains. The match-ups and conflicts here are short but still enjoyable.

Conclusion

Team leader Lela/Tech makes her move knowing that her teammates have set themselves in place.

There is not much depth with the plot of The Solution #2 (1993), but it served its purpose on developing the main characters while giving readers some interesting match-ups through the implementation of the classic good-versus-evil element of comic book storytelling. This comic book technically is a preview of things to come while showing the tremendous influence of Rex Mundi who also appeared in other Ultraverse comic books.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #2 (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 #2 (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 #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!

+++++

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 Night Man #12 (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!

I don’t know with you but I personally enjoyed reading the crossover stories of the Ultraverse. The Strangers had nice crossovers with Hardcase and Prototype in different times. The crossover encounter between Prime and Prototype was very memorable. There also was the first grand crossover of the Ultraverse in Break-Thru #1.

While the Ultraverse no longer exists, for me it was the one superhero comic book franchise or imprint that truly defined superhero comics of the 1990s. Malibu Comics really had great talents and other comic book creators who produced lots of fun comic books to read. Their creators also knew what it took to make Ultraverse crossovers stand out.

Today, we will start a close look at another particular crossover storyline within the Ultraverse titled Hostile Takeover which involves The Night Man, Prototype, Solitaire, Sludge and The Solution! With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Night Man #12, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart with Len Strazewski and James Hudnall as co-plotters. The art was drawn by John Dennis.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the fancy office of J.D. Hunt as he receives a call from the secretive and sinister Rex Mundi. Mundi expressed disappointment in Hunt’s handling of the so-called Ultra Problem but went on to give him a chance to redeem himself. Mundi tells Hunt to take over Ultratech which has gotten into trouble caused by Gordon Bell. Hunt noted that Ultratech is to blame for the Strangers’ hijacking of his space shuttle as the security was handled by the said company.

 After talking with Mundi, J.D. Hunt observes his employees finishing work on a high-tech armor (Teknight) and then communicates privately with The Solution. During the meeting, Hunt reveals to them that he is a major stockholder of Ultratech and he needs them to find out if they got Gordon Bell running things. The Solution takes the job.

Elsewhere, the Night Man secretly jumps on the top of a moving truck which he knows carries NuWare’s secret project Teknight. Upon arrival at the airport of San Jose, California, Night Man carefully sneaks into an airplane which is where Teknight is loaded at…

Quality

Imagine yourself being Night Man in New York and you do not have the technology nor the means to be able to rise up a skyscraper.

I’ll say it straight right now…the story of this comic book is nicely crafted. With Steve Englehart and the contributions of Len Strazewski and the late James Hudnall, this one score nice points when it came to building-up the concept behind Hostile Takeover which involves a strong sense of corporate intrigue (which was often present in comic books of Prototype). The presence of The Solution is pretty small (this is a Night Man comic book after all) but they contributed nicely to the build-up.

The story of Hostile Takeover was told mainly through the eyes of the Night Man. For the newcomers reading this, Night Man is a vigilante who also does a lot of problem solving similar to Batman. Unlike the mentioned comic book icon, Night Man does not have insufficient resources to back him up and pushes himself to travel around and complete his mission. In this comic book, you will see him really go as far as he could with tracking down the powered suit of armor of Teknight. You will also see him struggle and you might as well relate with his limitations.

There is not too much superhero spectacle to enjoy here but that’s okay because there is a nice amount of very interesting details presented in the build-up of Hostile Takeover’s concept.

Conclusion

Night Man on the pursuit as Teknight gets loaded into the jet.

Even though it lacked spectacle, The Night Man #12 (1994) is still an engaging read and it should score well with readers or Ultraverse fans who enjoy detailed storytelling. This comic book succeeds in building up the concept of Hostile Takeover while setting up the crossover elements between key Ultraverse characters. The story also emphasizes more of Night Man’s struggle to get his mission done.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Night Man #12 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $14.

Overall, The Night Man #12 (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 Freex #10 (1994)

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

The Freex, without Boom Boy, struggling.

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

This scene has very strong X-Men vibes.

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

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

Overall, Freex #10 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Mantra #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.

A lot has changed with Mantra since the title character got more involved with the elements (both in character and in plotting) with the different realms which led to a particular quest about her captured leader Archimage. In the last issue, not only were Lukasz (the male soul who occupied the body of Eden Blake and became Mantra) and Eden Blake continued to spiritually interact with each other (going as far as having feelings for each other), the impostor living with Eden’s family was revealed.

Considering the events that took place since then, one has to wonder where would Mike W. Barr lead the Mantra series to next. We can all find out in this look back at Mantra #17, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story by Barr and illustrations done by Jason Armstrong.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in a secret, high-tech facility of Aladdid. Lukasz (as Mantra) quietly begins infiltrating the place by taking out one of the armed guards and doing what he could to gain more access around. Eden tells Lukasz that she does not the fallen guard to be hurt and that her time is almost over. She reiterates to Lukasz that he has to live her life and take care of her children.

Shortly after wearing the Aladdin guard uniform, Lukasz starts to get involved with the other guards. He witnesses a wetware engineering work in progress which reveals a scientist working on a so-called patient (the subject).

Suddenly, the subject begins to move causing trouble in the laboratory. Realizing that the engineer is having trouble dealing with the subject already moving, the Aladdin guards (including Lukasz in disguise) enter the place. As the two guards fire their weapons against the subject, Lukasz instead uses one of the computers to gain access to classified information…

Quality

Time with Eden’s family.

After going through the mysticism, the intrigue and threads of Mantra’s past in the last several issues, this comic book’s story is a nice change of setting and concept. Instead of the fantasy elements that pretty much dominated Mantra stories, this one has a sci-fi flavor as well as corporate intrigue (which is pretty prominent in Prototype comics and Hardcase comics) and the very concept of this story is pretty good.

Along the way, the story shows the aftermath of the death of a certain uncle named Moe (once occupied by Thanasi, a long-time rival of Lukasz’s), Mantra having a reunion with a key character from issue #1 and even meeting a notable supporting character from The Strangers comics. The good news here is that Mike W. Barr wrote a very strong script that not only resonates with Ultraverse fans but also tell a cohesive story packed with spectacle, character development and something very notable that happened (which I never anticipated).  

Conclusion

Infiltrating a top secret facility.

Mantra #17 (1994) is not only fun and compelling to read. It is also refreshing and, as if the cover was not obvious enough, marked the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Mantra.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #17 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $15.

Overall, Mantra #17 (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 Prime #16 (1994)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse! We revisit the Ultraverse yet again, only this time it will be through another issue from the Prime monthly series.

In Prime #15, an issue illustrated by the great George Perez, the overly muscular hero entered a certain Hollywood house which was believed to be the headquarters of a drug trafficking operation. What Prime found inside were not only junkies but also zombies and terrifying illusions that tested him mentally and emotionally.

So what happened next? We can find out in this look back at Prime #16, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones, and illustrated by Joel Thomas.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Prime struggling with questions from the media. Journalists ask him about his involvement with teenage boys, the truth about his youth crusade, and if he was recruiting boys for gangs. Prime, who is really teenager Kevin Greene inside, bluntly states he cares about teenagers and will do justice for them.

Questions about a certain backpack he (as Kevin) dropped and the young boy’s clothing that he carried bothered him deeply, making him remember he dropped a backpack filled with clothes at the office of Baker. Realizing he screwed up, he gets violent with the reporters who ask him hard questions.

Suddenly police helicopters arrive telling Prime he is under arrest….

Quality

The debut of Turbo Charge.

Set shortly after the events of UltraForce #2, the story here is pretty powerful on its own as the stakes were raised by Strazewski and Jones to develop Prime even further than before. Many times, we have seen how being Prime made life more complicated and harder for Kevin Green. In this comic book, the complications have gotten even bigger and deeper as the media has turned hostile towards Prime affecting not only Kevin but also his romantic interest Kelly and her mother. As if that was not enough, there are many fanatics of Prime called “Prime Gangs” who are so obsessed with their muscular idol, they serious believe they can do anything to honor him…even though it means harassing other people. Also notable here was the way Kevin (as Prime) tries to save his fragile friendship with Kelly. There is also the appearance of Turbo Charge here. Clearly, the writing here is really great.

I cannot say the same for the art done by Joel Thomas. His art style is too cartoony and he drew people’s bodies and faces lacking precision. Many times I had trouble recognizing Kevin, Kelly, her mother and other supporting characters. Visually, this is a letdown.

Conclusion

Powerful talk between Prime and Kelly ruined somewhat by the weak art.

Back by very strong writing, Prime #16 (1994) is absolutely engaging to read and it truly served as a crucial turning point in telling the continuing story of Prime. In many ways, the dramatic events here serve as the climax of all the dramatic build-up seen in the previous Prime issues. This comic book’s portrayal of the overly hostile and unrelenting media will easily remind any reader about today’s news media in which unprofessional journalism, secret agendas, political bias, conspiracy between media and political groups, malice and political activism among so-called journalists are now the norm.  

The dramatic turn of events here are so powerful, Turbo Charge’s presence really got overshadowed a lot. Visually, this comic book has some of the weakest looking Prime art I’ve seen.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prime #16 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $8.

Overall, Prime #16 (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