A Look Back at Ultraverse Year One (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 pretty wild time for comic collectors. To be more specific, this newest retro review revisits the Ultraverse through a comic-like publication in the form of a guide meant for UV fans and comic collectors.

The subject at hand is Ultraverse Year One which, as written on the edge of the front cover, was designed to be the “complete guide to the Ultraverse’s first year.” It is a reference guide for those who seriously want to discover each and every Ultraverse comic book that was published during its first year. In my experience as a comic collector, the Ultraverse launch in 1993 was very memorable even though my financial limitations prevented me from acquiring each and every launch comic book and subsequent releases of the time. How useful is this complete UV guide? We can go on and find out.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Ultraverse Year One, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics.

The cover.

Quality

I can say without a doubt that this publication is indeed a complete guide to each and every Ultraverse comic book released during its first year from 1993 to 1994 specifically. You want to know exactly how many issues of Mantra, Prime, Hardcase, The Solution, Prototype, The Strangers and others were published in the first year? This one has it all listed! You want to know which UV comic book involved the talents of Steve Gerber, Norm Breyfogle, Rick Hoberg, Len Strazewski, Aaron Lopresti, George Perez, James Hudnall, Gerard Jones, Steve Englehart, Tom Mason, Terry Dodson, James Robinson, Howard Chaykin, Mike W. Barr and many others under the Malibu Comics banner? This guide has it all listed! What months were Exiles #1, Sludge #1, Firearm #0, Break-Thru #1 and Mantra #1 were published? The answers to each are included. The same can also be said when it comes to which characters appeared in each comic book.

This is what each page typically looks like with details of the Ultraverse timeline on the lower part.
The timeline reveals that the male warrior Lukasz, who would later end up in woman’s body as Mantra/Eden Blake, was born in 1220 BC.

Very clearly, the Malibu Comics people worked hard to collect the essential types of information, organized them and put them all into print media form for readers and collectors to use when it comes to searching just about everything about the Ultraverse’s first year. Things did not just stop there, however.

What I found amusing to look at in each page of this Ultraverse guide are details of the shared universe’s timeline posted on the lowest part. The said timeline – which is limited to text and numbers – reveal interesting details such as what year was Lukasz (AKA Mantra) born, when did Rune begin, when was the Choice corporation established, what year did the island of Yrial’s people move up to the clouds, what years were infants injected by Wetware Mary and more. These details are actually quite encouraging to make readers discover or re-read Ultraverse comic books to see how they are dramatized on paper.

Conclusion

As you can see in the details above, Len Strazewski was involved in both the Prime and Prototype comic book series.

Ultraverse Year One (1994) is a pretty detailed guide that will not only help readers track down each and every UV comic book of the mentioned time period, but also help them spot the precise comic books that has characters included as well as the published works of varied comic book creators. If you are really determined to track down and buy all the Year One UV comic books, this guide is a must-have. If there are any weaknesses to mention, it would be the fact that each comic book’s entire plot got summarized in full which are actually spoilers.

Overall, Ultraverse Year One (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/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

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/

A Look Back at The Solution #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 fans, the enthusiasts of 1990s arts and culture, and comic book collectors! There is no doubt in my mind that The Solution #11 (1994) is a great read as the comic book creators really outdid themselves in raising the level of engagement really high just as The Solution continued the desperate search and rescue of their teammate Aera/Shadowmage only to find themselves caught in the middle of a massive battle between the Darkur and Aerwan armies. While that comic book was a wild, fun-filled read, it was not even the conclusion of the storyline about the captured Shadowmage and her teammates’ struggle for her.

Issue #11 ended with The Solution no longer present in the Darkur-Aerwan battle but in a place that they are about to realize is another very dangerous place to be in. They are moving close to Shadowmage as well as the tremendously powerful aliens called the Vyr.

With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #12, 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 Tech, Dropkick, Vurk and Harmonica who find themselves in a totally new place as a result of using the Vorlexx to get quickly move away from the Darkur-Aerwan battle. Just as Harmonica stated that their situation is not good, Vurk recognizes the place, realizes they are all in trouble and blames Tech for being responsible on bring them there.

It turns out, they are inside the lair of the powerful and dangerous Vyr who surround them. Very daringly, Tech tells the Vyr they have come for their friend Aera and expressed that they want her to be released to them….

Quality

Aera/Shadowmage restrained in a torturous manner by the Vyr.

Going straight to the point, the story here is highlighted by tension, suspense, revelations and characterization which makes it a worthy contrast to the spectacle-heavy issue #11. While it is very clear that The Solution and Harmonica are totally in a disadvantage when facing with the Vyr directly, the said aliens are not exactly bloodthirsty beings who could simply kill them all in just a few quick strokes while their teammate remains captive.

In fact, the Vyr are portrayed to be more intelligent than just being totally destructive and Harmonica knows some things about them a lot more than even Vurk (who encountered the Vyr during his youth). This resulted in some key moments of character development for Tech (whose leadership value has been less significant) and Vurk, as well as notable revelations in the dialogue between the three team members and Harmonica.

As the conclusion of the storyline that started in issue #9, I can say that this comic book is surprisingly satisfying which is quite clever on the part of Hudnall as it was emphasized already that the Vyr are not just overly powerful but are also immortals. How this storyline ended, I won’t reveal. It’s best for you readers to find out.   

Conclusion

Lela Cho, Dropkick, Vurk and Harmonica.

While the previous issue was one wild ride that greatly showed the boundaries of the Ultraverse with a touch of science fiction and a lot of action, The Solution #12 (1994) is a worthy conclusion and it successfully paid-off what it quickly built within its pages (note: issue #11 itself was the big pay-off to the two issues that preceded it). Anyone who loves seeing The Solution as a complete team will have something to enjoy here. When it comes to revelations, the character Harmonica really came in handy without ever looking too obvious as an exposition dump-type of character. In many ways, The Solution learned something new and helpful from Harmonica which added a nice layer of depth into their character development. Along the way, the spectacle in this comic book is much less in terms of content and style which is understandable as issue #11 was epic and bombastic.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #12 (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 #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 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 #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 fans, enthusiasts of 1990s arts and culture, and comic book collectors! As the old saying goes…if you’ve got a problem that needs solving, you call The Solution. What if, for example, The Solution is in another world dealing with major problems and are out of reach?

In the previous two issues I reviewed (click here and here), The Solution got themselves in conflict with the powerful alien force called the Vyr as their member Shadowmage (also referred to as Aera) stole the Vorlexx from them many years prior. During the confrontation in France, the Vyr captured Aera who managed to discreetly pass the Vorlexx to Lela Cho (Tech) before their separation. Since after, The Solution traveled to different worlds with the Vorlexx and teamed up with a man called Harmonica who is knowledgeable about the Aerwan and the Darkur. Unbeknowst to them, the Vyr are watching them from a distance.

With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #11, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by John Statema with ink work by Barbara Kaalberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dropkick, Harmonica, Tech and Vurk in a desperate situation. Just as they need to get away fast, Dropkick notices that the Vorlexx is not working. Harmonica points to the cliffs as the only way out. With his wings, Vurk takes Tech with him to fly up while Harmonica takes Dropkick. As soon as they arrived up the cliff, they find themselves facing the massive Aerwan army whose members are scattered across the ground and the air. An Aerwan military leader tells The Solution to surrender the Vorlexx.

Meanwhile, the Vyr are watching the live video feed of The Solution and the Aerwan army. Shadowmage, who has been restrained in a very painful and humiliating position, has been watching her friends since they exited the cave. While she still remains unharmed by her captors, she knows that her torments are just beginning. The Vyr want her to see what will happen to her friends…

Quality

In the middle of a major battle between two alien armies, The Solution were really pushed to their limits as they pursue their dangerous rescue mission of their captured teammate.

Wow! The storytelling and visual presentation in this comic book got even wilder and the sci-fi element of this particular storyline really went into overdrive! For one thing, much of the tension which started building up in issues #9 and #10 paid off big time in the early part of this comic book as the inevitable battle between the Darkur (Vurk’s people) and the Aerwans (Shadowmage’s people) which easily made The Solution and Harmonica ending up tiny in the middle. Of course, as this is still about the team’s desperate attempt to rescue Aera from the very powerful Vyr, you will really see Lela Cho, Vurk, Dropkick (who carries the Vorlexx) struggle a lot in close encounters with aliens just as they keep on trusting Harmonica (whom they formed an uneasy alliance with) to help them. It is compelling to see how the three mentioned Solution teammates not only struggle to survive but also strive to overcome great odds knowing that if they fail, Aera/Shadowmage will perish. Very clearly, this is a very high-stakes story that James Hudnall prepared and the way I see it, this storyline really added a lot to the development of The Solution.

As for the art, I can say that this, in my opinion, is John Statema at his grandest with the Ultraverse. While being supported by by Barbara Kaalberg’s detailed ink work, Statema really captured the wild sci-fi tale Hudnall prepared and showed The Solution within a very strange environment surrounded by death and uncertainty. A lot of this comic book’s pages are filled with action scenes (note: lots of bloody scenes but without the color red) that are also nicely structured and each member of The Solution had the appropriate dynamic visuals that fitted nicely with their respective big moments. More notably, Statema really worked hard showing the many, many Aerwans and Darkur warriors who filled the pages – especially the two 2-page shots that each showed a wide view of the field – and succeeded in presenting monsters that were scary and very alien in design.

Conclusion

This is one of two epic views in this comic book by illustrator John Statema, inker Barbara Kaalberg and the colorists. Look at all the details!

The Solution #11 (1994) is a wild Ultraverse concept that succeeded in engaging and entertaining me from start to finish. It is a great pay-off to what was built up since The Solution #9 and having the team lost in another world in their pursuit of their captured teammate really moved this series forward. In fact, when it comes to expanding the boundaries of the Ultraverse itself, this comic book really achieved that! This is also the most ambitious sci-fi tale of the UV that I’ve read.  The ironic thing is that this comic book is not even the conclusion to its storyline. There is still more to come and I can say I’m really motivated to read the next issue.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #11 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48.

Overall, The Solution #11 (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/

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 #9 (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 an Ultraverse monthly series about a team composed of very unique individuals who help their clients solve special problems. Such operations are done with business agreements made between the team and their clients.

But what if one of the members of The Solution becomes a target of some very deadly forces that are not even human? What solutions can The Solution come up with?

With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #9, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by Timothy D. Divar.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins somewhere in North America where three mystical monsters arrived on a mission to hunt. The prey they are hunting is to be taken alive and to be tortured for decades. One of them displays the image of Aera/Shadowmage.

A long distance away, in the presence of The Solution traveling by yacht, Aera senses danger and that she has been found by the monsters. The three who arrived from nowhere suddenly cast magic together and summoned a beast which arrived out of thin air. The beast is then instructed to search and hunt Shadowmage.

Over at the Chinese sea, Aera tells Lela Cho that she has been found by the mystical monsters which she previously referred to as the Vyr. She describes them to be very powerful, the most deadly and the most evil creatures on her home world. Aela admits that she does not have the power to stop the Vyr and their team cannot stop them even when combined in power. Their teammate Vurk expresses deep concern and asked Aera what she did that angered the Vyr. Vurk admits his fear of the Vyr and as long as they after Aera, the team would be better off letting them have her…

Quality

Aera, her monstrous teammate Vurk and the unstoppable monster.

When it comes to storytelling, I should say that the late James Hudnall really ramped up the fantasy aspect of this series right here. That being said, this comic book made the previous issues look more grounded in reality by comparison. Among the members of The Solution, there is a clear shift towards Aera/Shadowmage whose act from a long time ago led to the Vyr hunting her down on Earth which, unsurprisingly, gets her teammate involved. Along the way, key details from the past of Aera (a native from a foreign world) and Vurk/Outrage (the native of another world which is in conflict with Aera’s own people) get revealed which add some depth on the development of the team as a whole. The way the details were presented made for a really intriguing read in my experience.

With a story concept like this, The Solution #9 could have been a creative mess but it turned out orderly, intriguing and engaging thanks to the way Hudnall structured the story and wrote down the dialogue and text descriptions.

If there is any weakness in this comic book’s presentation, it is the artistic style of Timothy D. Divar. Compared to issue #8, I find the visual quality here drop significantly and there were some shots of The Solution members looking a bit like some characters I saw in 1990s comic books published by Valiant Comics. The characters’ faces and expressions also looked clearly less detailed.

Conclusion

There is nothing like seeing The Solution at your household’s front door.

The Solution #9 (1994) is a good read. The strong selling point in it is the team getting involved in a very dangerous encounter with the Vyr (which are way too powerful for them to deal with) which is the result of Aera’s dangerous act. Just as Aera explained what she did and what happened in the past, the tension in the story really went up which makes it engaging to read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #9 (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 #9 (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 #5 (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 revisit the Ultraverse and focus on The Solution, which remains as one of the most entertaining and intriguing team comic book series ever published by Malibu Comics! For the newcomers reading this, I previously published reviews of some The Solution comic books such as issue #6 (a great origin story of Lela Cho), issue #4 (a part of the Break-Thru crossover storyline), and issue #13 (part of a crossover storyline involving Night Man).

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Solution #5, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by Alan Jacobsen.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with The Solution’s member Dropkick trying to save an infant by carrying him strategically through the burning interior of a tall building. Dropkick jumps out through a window falling down with the infant still with him….

Quality

Before the mission starts, here is what happened.

To make things clear, this The Solution comic book is actually a solo story focused on Dropkick. You will get to see members of the team together but only for a few pages. More on Dropkick himself, this story was written to show not only the team member’s capabilities but also provide readers insight on his personality, specifically about how he thinks and reacts when he is under the heat of a dangerous mission. As there are no scenes showing his personal life as a civilian, James Hudnall wrote the script to emphasize Dropkick as the determined yet vulnerable action hero which somehow reminds me of John McClane in the action classic Die Hard.

Apart from the solid storytelling, you must be wondering if Dropkick himself is interesting enough as one of the many action-oriented characters within the Ultraverse. I can say yes.

Conclusion

Dropkick in action!

Being on the first solo stories of The Solution series, I can say that The Solution #5 (1994) is entertaining enough and the creative team succeeded in defining Dropkick as an essential member of the group he belongs to. Speaking of solo stories, in retrospect this comic book is almost like a warm-up to prepare readers for The Solution #6 which had a really great story focused on Lela Cho and her origin as well as the events that led to forming the team.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #5 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48.

Overall, The Solution #5 (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 Solution #13 (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.

If you’ve got a problem that needs solving, you call The Solution. That’s how it is in the Ultraverse with regards to hiring some specialists (and wild at that) for help. For the newcomers reading this, The Solution is a heroes-for-hire group led by Lela Cho/Tech (note: read about her origin story) with three unique teammates.

In recent times, I’ve been reviewing Ultraverse comic books of The Night Man and Solitaire which formed the first two parts of the Hostile Takeover crossover storyline. From this point on we can see the 3rd chapter in this look back at The Solution #13, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by Scott Benefiel.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a look back at the private communication between J.D. Hunt and Rex Mundi (as seen in The Night Man #12). After their talk, J.D. Hunt hires The Solution to find out what is going on at the headquarters of UltraTech in New York.

Later under the busy streets of Manhattan, the team make their way through the darkness with Aera using her magic to find the building. When asked by Troy why they took the mission considering J.D. Hunt’s reputation as a “sleaze on wheels”, Lela Cho states that she is certain that he only wants them to find information that could be used against UltraTech. She added that she does not believe Hunt.

As they talk, Night Man quietly listens to them staying still. Just after Aera found the way for the team to enter the basement of UltraTech’s building, Night Man follows them. Elsewhere, Gordon Bell becomes aware of the intrusion which Prototype (Jimmy Ruiz) and Ranger (Bob Campbell) witness. Bell tells Bob to go to the basement and tells Jimmy to go to the roof…

Quality

The Solution with Night Man and Ranger.

I will start with the visual presentation. This comic book has the unusual yet engaging approach of using pairs of pages to form these wide-angle images composed of a dominating view with panels of other images filling the remaining space. It can be jarring at first but once you get the hang of the story, these visuals will flow smoothly at a nice pace. It should be noted that artist Scott Benefiel is pretty good in visualizing Night Man, Prototype and other related Ultraverse characters. He also did a good job with images of action and superhero spectacle.

As far as storytelling goes, this 3rd chapter of the Hostile Takeover crossover storyline is the most interesting and the most enjoyable to read yet. While The Night Man #12 worked as a big build-up and Solitaire #10 worked as a mere side-story, there is a good payoff in this comic book and at the same time it moved the storyline forward to the next stage.

James Hudnall also kept the details tight and the way he wrote the interactions as the established Ultraverse characters got mixed up is simply great. I really enjoyed reading Lela Cho/Tech talking with Bob Campbell/Ranger about his getting screwed by the corporation, and Night Man’s interactions with The Solution’s members were nicely done.  

Conclusion

The stage is set for conflict.

The Solution #13 (1994) is very enjoyable and compelling! It is the complete package of solid storytelling, memorable character interactions and spectacle that also adds depth to the narrative of the Hostile Takeover storyline. Superhero stuff aside, the element of corporate intrigue remains present which also serves as a lively reminder about what this crossover storyline is about.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #13 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $14.

Overall, The Solution #13 (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