A Look Back at X-Men 2099 #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, comic book collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! This is the continuation of a look back at the Marvel 2099 crossover storyline The Fall of The Hammer which started in Spider-Man 2099 #16 followed next in Ravage 2099 #15. The 3rd chapter of the said crossover filled the fifth issue of the X-Men 2099 monthly series.

For the newcomers reading this, a few of the X-Men of the far future were officially involved in this 5-part crossover storyline that was meant to celebrate the Marvel 2099 franchise back in the 1990s. This was the reason why Skullfire, Meanstreak, Krystalin and Bloodhawk were separated from their team leader Xi’an and the remaining teammates. Last time around, three of the mentioned X-Men got involved with Ravage and eventually reached the floating city of Valhalla together only to get separated.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men 2099 #5, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Ron Lim.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in New York City where a vehicle moves at high speed until it hits a wall and stops. Out comes Tim Fitzgerald/Skullfire who moves away and spots Valhalla above him. In the floating city, Krystalin, Meanstreak and Bloodhawk are in confrontation with a powerful enemy called Heimdall who tells them to bow to him and swear allegiance.

Bloodhawk attacks Heimdall only to get pushed back. Krystalin fires crystal bits at him but to no success. Thinking that he’s too fast for Heimdall, Meanstreak tries a sneak attack from the side only to be hit hard, lose control and crashes to a wall. As the X-Men’s fastest member is down, a shadowy figure approaches him nearby…

Quality

This quick flashback explains how the four X-Men 2099 members went to New York.

As an X-Men 2099 tale, this one felt like a catch-up for Skullfire who was absent in the first two parts of The Fall of the Hammer storyline even though it was confirmed in X-Men 2099 #4 that he joined his teammates and help Meanstreak find his friend Jordan. That being said, there is a good amount of scenes focused on Skullfire as he makes his way up to Valhalla. There is also a quick flashback showing that indeed he was with his teammates as they arrived in New York only to get separated (which explains why only Krystalin, Bloodhawk and Meanstreak approached Ravage). More importantly, the flashback also contains additional details that explain what the X-Men discovered before arriving at Valhalla and why they decided to approach Ravage.

As the 3rd chapter of The Fall of The Hammer storyline, this comic book barely moved the present-day narrative forward mainly due to having to use a few but precious pages to tell the short flashback to explain the X-Men’s involvement. Still, key revelations related to what happened behind-the-scenes added a lot of depth to the narrative and this properly sets the stage of for the remaining chapters. The 2099 major figures like Spider-Man, Punisher, Doom and Ravage all appeared here but very sparsely.    

Conclusion

Ravage 2099 helps Krystalin.

X-Men 2099 #5 (1994) pushed the narrative of the crossover a few notches forward but the revelations written saved it from being a throw-away story. For fans of X-Men 2099, there is a lot to like here and Skullfire’s late entry into the crossover will delight them. The writing was good enough and by the end of the story, the explanations were satisfying and the ending suggested that the stakes would be raised for the final two chapters of the crossover. Those who missed the presence of Thor 2099 should be happy to see him here, even though it was clear that he was being conserved for the last two chapters.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #5 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $6 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $18.

Overall, X-Men 2099 #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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Ravage 2099 #15 (1994)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of Marvel Comics! To those who read my previous retro comic book reviews related to the 2099 universe of Marvel Comics, you know fully well that I found the first eight issues of the Ravage 2099 monthly series to be lackluster even though they all involved the writing of the late legend Stan Lee. After Lee stopped working, the Ravage 2099 series was taken over by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner for the writing duties and those two were in-charge of the Punisher 2099 series.

Eventually, a crossover storyline of the 2099 universe was published titled The Fall of the Hammer. It was told in five parts and each of the existing 2099 monthly series at the time – Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099 and X-Men 2099 – had one issue forming it. The Fall of the Hammer kicked off with Spider-Man 2099 #16 which had solid writing by Peter David.

Part 2 was told in a Ravage 2099 issue. To find out the story and its quality, here is a look back at Ravage 2099 #15, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner, and drawn by Grant Miehm.

Early story

The story begins at the place of Paul-Phillip Ravage who is now in human form. In his presence are X-Men 2099 members Meanstreak, Krystalin and Bloodhawk. Suddenly Bloodhawk comes after Ravage and tries to make him give out information in relation to the disappearance of Jordan Boone, a friend of Meanstreak. Boone disappeared after compiling data related to Alchemax’s problem with Valhalla.

Ravage then transforms into his monstrous form which surprises Bloodhawk. After the winged X-Men member mentioned Valhalla, Ravage calms down and decides to talk with the team. Soon enough, they fly above the city streets in a vehicle heading towards Valhalla. As they approach the floating city, armed flying personnel move in to attack Ravage 2099 and the three X-Men.

Elsewhere in New York, Spider-Man 2099 finds himself at a disadvantage as Punisher 2099 has a gun pointed at him…

Quality

2099’s Spider-Man and Punisher together.

To put it clearly, this 2nd part of The Fall of the Hammer storyline is where the 2099 heroes begin to actually cross over with each other and the first panel showing Ravage with the three X-Men members is symbolic of that. The plot here is actually simple…Ravage and the X-Men make it to Valhalla which is their common destination. The mutants want information about Jordan Boone while Ravage tries to meet Doom 2099 (whom he met in Ravage 2099 #14). Apart from those objectives, there is a lot of action scenes laced with dialogue designed to move the narrative forward little by little. If you are looking for character development of Ravage, you won’t find much here. What you will find, however, are some scenes of intrigue that show Ravage getting disturbed temporarily as a result of realizing the presence of a certain someone he got close with.

As for Valhalla, the city here is more of a technical playground than an actual threat to the people and societies it flew over. What weakens the story here is the absence of 2099’s Thor.

Conclusion

The money shot of this comic book!

To a certain extent, Ravage 2099 #15 (1994) is a somewhat entertaining read mainly due to the mix up of 2099 characters together here. The story is pretty light but at the very least fans of Ravage 2099 will find their monstrous hero in a somewhat interesting misadventure here. The concept that started in Spider-Man 2099 #16 showing Valhalla as a floating danger is weaker here but at least this comic book sets the stage for the next chapter of the storyline decently.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #15 (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, Ravage 2099 #15 (1994) 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 #24 (1995)

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

Wow! What a journey it has been! Back in the 1990s, I could never forget the first time I read The Strangers #1 which was so captivating, I decided to follow its monthly series and it was easily my favorite superhero team of the Ultraverse. It was also my first time to see the collaboration of Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg leading the creativity which, as the many months and issues went on, resulted a series that was never boring and often satisfying and fun to read. I should state that the literary team of strangers composed of Atom Bob, Grenade, Lady Killer, Yrial, Spectral, Zip-Zap and Electrocute was memorable. Truly Malibu Comics had very talented creators for the Ultraverse which eventually lasted just a few years (read: Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics).

This brings me to my next point…this retro comic book review is about the last issue of The Strangers monthly series ever published. As I love the Ultraverse, it is sorrowful to see the end of an enjoyable monthly series. In recent times, I reviewed the final issue of the Prototype monthly series (which itself was fun overall) which ended in a rather unsatisfying manner. Prototype’s final issue was not even written by the original creators of the series!

How will this final issue of The Strangers series turn out? We can all find out in this look back at The Strangers #24, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Rick Hoberg with inkwork done by Barbara Kaalberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Teknight, Spectral, Grenade, Lady Killer, Yrial, Zip-Zap and Electrocute back together (note: Lady Killer and Yrial went somewhere far in the previous issue). They talked about Electrocute’s codition, Atom Bob being in a comatose state at the Clinique de Parsival, and the dangerous encounter with Taboo.

Meanwhile inside a passenger jet flying above the North Atlantic, a man expresses his passion and fondness of the Strangers to the passenger sitting to his left. The said passenger wants to learn more about the team.

The following night at Union City in California, the same passenger knocks on the window of a van with a man and a lady kissing passionately inside. As the man comes out of the van feeling very annoyed, the passenger introduces himself to him as Taboo. A new team of TNTNT is being formed…  

Quality

Pay close attention to the details on the words of Lady Killer.

To start with, I confirm that the usual high quality of writing and art by the Englehart-Hoberg duo is evident in this comic book. Not a single part of it looks rushed to me. The plot is very well structured and the visuals are great to see!

While the story is not as conclusive as I hoped it would be, it is still a lot of fun to read. For one thing, it’s nice to see the Strangers together again (note: Teknight has been with the team for some time already) and it was entertaining to see them face worthy opposition in the form of a new team of their rival TNTNT (with an obsessed Taboo as the new addition). The Strangers-TNTNT battle was not an all-out brawl but the match-ups were nicely done complete with really fun action scenes. I should state that not only did Rick Hoberg frame the action scenes greatly, he pushed his imagination up a few notches with regards to adding a lot of flair to the battle between Teknight and Taboo.  

As mentioned earlier, this comic book was unfortunately the last of the series and clearly it was not written to be the end (note: the comic book ended with the anticipation of the celebration of the Jumpstart). There was a part in which Lady Killer told her teammates about using the funds they made from licensing to build for themselves their own headquarters and Grenade even mentioned having a room for Atom Bob in anticipation of a return. There was also a sub-plot about J.D. Hunt and his very rebellious son who clearly wants to do more while he exists. More on the battle between the Strangers and TNTNT, it’s clearly not decisive and in my own view, a rematch was needed.

Conclusion

The updated TNTNT.

As the final issue of its monthly series, The Strangers #24 (1995) is pretty entertaining on its own. It was definitely not a conclusive story and in fact, art was made for what could have been the 25th, the 26th and 27th issues of The Strangers (see the A Fond Farewell excerpt below). It’s too bad those conceptualized issues did not materialize because there was a lot of good and enjoyable stuff to read in this comic book. This only shows that Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg still had more great and new stuff to tell through The Strangers.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #24 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $50.

Rick Hoberg’s farewell message plus art for what would have been The Strangers #25, #26 and #27.

Overall, The Strangers #24 (1995) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Spider-Man 2099 #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.

By the year 1993, Marvel Comics’ new comic book line of the 2099 universe kept filling the shelves of retailers and made it into the hands of collectors and fans with the monthly series composed of Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099 and the new addition of the year X-Men 2099. Back then, the Marvel 2099 line expanded a lot and saw the establishment of new fans. Even the quarterly series 2099 Unlimited caught the attention of some readers as it told the early stories of Hulk 2099 (who debuted in 2099 Unlimited #1).

Unsurprisingly, there were fans of the 2099 universe who wished for a crossover storyline that would bring together their respective favorite futuristic heroes. Remember the rivalry between classic Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and the Punisher (Frank Castle)? Some wanted Spider-Man 2099 and Punisher 2099 to encounter each other.

Eventually, the crossover dream of the fans came through in the form of The Fall of the Hammer storyline that took place in five parts. Specifically one issue each of Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099 and X-Men 2099. It was also an opportunity for the 2099 creative teams (note: the legendary Stan Lee and Peter David were among the writers at the time) to get together and contribute to make something special under the watch of 2099 editor Joey Cavalieri.

With those details laid down, we can finally start examining the beginning of The Fall of the Hammer storyline in this look back at Spider-Man 2099 #16, published in 1993 (cover dated 1994) by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.

The cover drawn by Ron Lim.

Early story

The story begins with the arrival of the floating city of Valhalla, disturbing the people of the town of Randall below. On the floating city itself, a crowd of people – with Miguel O’Hara and Dana among them – stare at a hammer-wielding, caped blonde man who claims to be Thor (their idol). Accompanied by Heimdall, Thor tells them that a select few among them will remain in the city to act as sentinels while the rest will come with Heimdall to a place of departure.

Thor turns his attention on Dana causing Miguel to intervene and challenge his so-called authority. As Thor reacts to Miguel’s defiance, he throws a punch which got deflected. This causes the so-called god of thunder to be surprised given Miguel looking ordinary to him. In reaction, Thor grabs him and throws his body several feet over many people’s heads. This leaves Dana helpless.

Miguel crashes through a glass window, falling outside until he shoots a web to control his movement. He takes off his civilian clothes, revealing his costume as Spider-Man of 2099. He sets off to get back at Thor…  

Quality

The highlight of the comic book is Spider-Man 2099’s conflict with Thor.

To make clear the obvious, the writing by Peter David is indeed solid although the sketch-like aesthetic of the art of Rick Leonardi badly needed more visual details.

As for the story itself, it is succeeded in creating tension with regards to the caped figure who believes himself to be Thor who is the central figure of religion in 2099 America and has the means to wield power by even involving technology (with Valhalla as the center piece). That being said, Spider-Man 2099’s encounter with him was inevitable, and so was the result (a bit predictable). The story also sheds light on the perceived omnipotence of Thor and how Spider-Man 2099 (who was previously referred to by some people as Thor’s harbinger) got associated with his legend.

To make things clear, this one is purely a Spider-Man 2099 story that justifies the concept of needing other 2099 heroes as the threat was simply too great for any one hero to handle. I should also state that the crossover between any heroes does not begin until the final page of this comic book.

Conclusion

Nothing like being in a crowd of people watching helplessly in front of two so-called omnipotent figures.

Spider-Man 2099 #16 (1994) is still a good read and as the first chapter of The Fall of the Hammer storyline, it served its purpose well. This is mainly due to the strong writing by Peter David who also succeeded in establishing 2099’s Thor not only as the villain but also as a figure who truly is a threat to the people. This comic book also shows that people in 2099 failed to realize who their true Creator is as they embraced religion (instead of faith) and committed idolatry (which is truly unholy) by believing in a false god like Thor.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #16 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $40 while the near-mint copies of the newsstand and the signed-and-numbered editions cost $120 and $300 respectively.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #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

A Look Back at Prototype #18 (1995)

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

Welcome back, superhero fans, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s culture and fans of Malibu Comics! After going through reviewing seventeen issues of the Prototype monthly series that started with the 1993 launch of the Ultraverse, the end of the said series is here.

Before doing the retro review of the 18th and final issue of Prototype, I should state that the armored hero is indeed one of the most significant Ultraverse heroes of them all. Other than having a standalone monthly series (which includes issue #0) plus a giant size one-shot comic book, Prototype also was part of UltraForce and his presence and overall contribution in that short-lived series were undeniably good. Prototype is also memorable for his conflicts with Prime (read my review of Prime #4). As a series, Prototype also sheds light on the concept about how society would react to an actual functioning, flying armored hero who was also marketed for commercial purposes.

You must be wondering…is the 18th issue a conclusive story of the monthly series? What were the effects of Marvel’s acquisition of Malibu Comics on the creative team? We can all find out in this look back at Prototype #18, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by R.A. Jones and drawn by Paul Abrams.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in a certain department store in Manhattan where a special anniversary celebration is being held and Prototype (piloted by Jimmy Ruiz) is the special guest. The affair turns out to be an assignment for him from his employer. Suddenly an armored figure (human-like above the belt, mechanical below the belt) breaks into the store causing a major disturbance. He calls himself Battlewagon.

Battlewagon suddenly opens fire and hits many items around, causing people to panic. Prototype decides to take action and their conflict causes even more damage.

As Battlewagon speaks out against him, Prototype notices the use of a word which was a reference to the gang that he (Jimmy Ruiz) used to hang out with. Prototype also realizes that his new foe is after him in a rather personal way…

Quality

Does this scene remind you of today’s manipulative and irresponsible news media coverage?

To put it straight to the point, this comic book is not as conclusive as what Prototype fans would hope for. Sure the words “The end.” were written on the last page but, without fully spoiling the story of the comic book, sub-plots that started building up in the few previous issues were left unresolved. You hoped to see Jimmy reunited with Angella in this issue? You hoped to what happened to the deformed Stanley Leland? You will be disappointed.

More on the comic book itself, the conflict between Prototype and Battlewagon is actually written to be intense in terms of dialogue and interaction between the two. While that is a good thing, it does not hide the fact that Battlewagon, as a villain, felt more like an afterthought in terms of character introduction and the flashback relating to collateral damage in Prototype #7 does not really add much to the him. What I liked most in the script written by R.A. Jones was the look back at the past of Jimmy Ruiz when he was younger and was a thug on the streets.

Conclusion

Chaos inside the department store.

While it is not strong enough to be a worthy conclusion to its series, Prototype #18 (1995) managed to tell its own tale in a satisfying manner by adding another villain for the hero to fight with, and also expanding Jimmy Ruiz’s past as a gang member. Of course, I don’t have the details about what happened behind the scenes at Malibu Comics as a result of getting acquired by Marvel Comics, and how all that impacted the creators working on Prototype. I can only speculate that there were planned stories of Prototype that did not get published. In fact, there was a short announcement of Prototype: Turf War #1 shown.

If this comic book is any indication, its story really felt more like a substitution as it had no references to the plot elements of the immediate few issues before it. Considering what happened at the end of issue #17, Jimmy Ruiz really acted out of character in this story.   

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #18 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $35.

Overall, Prototype #18 (1995) is satisfactory. As a series’ final issue, however, it is a disappointment.

+++++

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 What If #20 (1990)

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

Spider-Man and Black Cat take on Venom!

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Overall, What If #20 (1990) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at X-Men #5 (1992)

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

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

Conclusion

Cyclops and his teammates move out.

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

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #5 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $27 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $79.

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

+++++

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

A Look Back at The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (1994)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cover with a die-cut design.

Early story

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

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

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

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

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See your favorite Archie characters among them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, The Punisher Meets Archie #1 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at Shogun Warriors #3 (1979)

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

When it comes to showcasing giant robots fighting other robots or monsters, there is no denying that Japan is the leader. In my lifetime, I have seen lots of episodes of varied anime TV series, some anime feature films as well as OVAs (original video animation) of such a genre of entertainment made by lots of Japanese creators. While I never saw any episodes of Brave Raideen nor any episodes of Chōdenji Robo Combattler V, I saw episodes of Dangard Ace on home video.

As seen already in issues #1 and #2 of the Shogun Warriors comic book series, the giant robots were adapted but not their respective original concepts and characters the Japanese established. As such, an all-new concept with Westerners in mind was implemented for the said series.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Shogun Warriors #3, published by Marvel Comics in 1979 with a story written by Doug Moench and drawn by Herb Trimpe.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Raydeen, Combatra and Dangard Ace on the field facing three giant enemies (each one representing a different element – fire, earth and water). Right near them is the train (on an elevated track) that they just saved which Combatra (piloted by Genji Odashu) notices.

The battle begins with Dangard Ace taking on the water monster while Raydeen and Combatra take on the fire monster and earth monster respectively. During the heat of battle, the stalled train begins to fall as the elevated track gets damaged…

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The bad guys watch behind the scenes during the battle.

To be clear and specific, this comic book creatively rebounded when it comes to spectacle. Compared to issue #2, this one has a lot of action scenes mixed with suspense and some talk scenes that were supposed to be intriguing. When it comes to exposition, this one is a refreshing change from what happened in issue #2. The exposition was clearly lessened but the creators still managed to insert some scenes to dramatize and explain to readers what the villains are up to and why sorcery is a core element of their power (which kinda explains how they were able to make giant monsters that are capable of talking). Interestingly, this comic book shows that there is division between members of the forces of evil.

Fans who love the three giant robots will have something fun to read. Take note, however, that the action scenes per robot are short and even predictable with the way the spectacle turned out. If you are looking for character development on their respective pilots, you won’t see any here.

Conclusion

Dangard Ace, Raydeen and Combatra fighting their respective counterparts.

Shogun Warriors #3 (1979) does not have much depth but still managed to deliver the goods when it comes to showcasing giant robot spectacle. On the aspect of fun, this one is an improvement over the exposition-heavy issue #2 but that is not saying much. It should be noted that, like the first two issues, this comic book has less than twenty pages of art and story. More notably, there is not much new here other than the very lame and corny attempt by the creators for the big reveal they came up with at the end.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Shogun Warriors #3 (1979), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $35.

Overall, Shogun Warriors #3 (1979) 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 Fatale #1 (1996)

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

Before I start this retro comic book review, if you are a fan of comic book veteran Jim Shooter or if you are interested in his past works, check out my reviews of Warriors of Plasm issues #1, #2 and #3.

Have you ever heard about Broadway Comics? That was a short-lived comic book publisher that was established by Jim Shooter (former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and Valiant Comics) in the mid-1990s not so long after the closure of Defiant Comics (a certain lawsuit filed by Marvel Comics drained the company’s funds by means of legal fees). Broadway Comics published a few properties and among them is Fatale which was actually a spin-off of the company’s main series Powers That Be.

Fatale was not just another new project to help a new publisher make a splash in what was back then a lucrative comic book market. There was some inspiration from it as Shooter confirmed in his message in Fatale’s debut issue.

“As we developed Fatale, each person in our group recalled the strong women in their lives,” Shooter recalled.

“I told about my grandmothers, both whose husbands died young, both of whom raised their children alone, struggled and worked into their late eighties. Usually, there were no good jobs to be had (by women), but both did whatever they could, including dishwashing, door-to-door sales, and cleaning hotel rooms. They persevered against all odds, heroically. They taught me that self-reliance and honest work of any kind are the foundation of self-respect,” he added.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Fatale #1, published by Broadway Comics in 1996 with a story written by Jim Shooter, Janet Jackson, Joseph A. James and Pauline Weiss with art done by J.G. Jones.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey in September 1995. A very pretty lady walks down and attracts the attention of a few people. Her name is Desiree Hopewell and it turns out she is a gambler and she thinks luck will come to her that night. Just as she makes positive impact on a struggling gambler and starts socializing with a guy who is so attracted to her, a group of men wearing gloves and masks appeared which compels Desiree leave. She happens to be their target.

Just after exiting the casino, Desiree suddenly finds herself completely surrounded by armed people composed of those carrying shields and weapons. Even as a blast blanket successfully landed on her, Desiree finds a way to tear through it causing the armed personnel to use a drum lift on her.

Even so, Desiree continues to be hard for them to restrain and manages to move away from them…

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Desiree gets a break as the Brotherhood got attacked.

To start with, this comic book has a really intriguing plot laced with twists. Essentially this is the story of Desiree who is a very unusual lady with the ability to absorb something from men she kisses with on their lips (the Fatale thing). More than that, she is caught in the middle of a conflict between the Brotherhood and the Utah Faction, and she is allied with a few people trying to evade the two conflicting groups.

While the very nature of the conflict was not fully emphasized in this launch issue, Jim Shooter and his co-writers successfully defined Desiree’s nature clearly as well as her association with a man named Bill (a former Brotherhood member). That being said, this comic book is character-focused and it went to great lengths to connect readers with Desiree and the supporting cast.

When it comes to spectacle, there is a lot to enjoy here. On face value, Desiree’s uncanny ability evade the Brotherhood’s attempt to capture her was presented with superhero-inspired spectacle but never reaching the point of defining her as a superhero-type of protagonist.

Conclusion

Desiree the attraction and seasoned gambler.

Fatale #1 (1996) is a rather unusual comic book that has some literary stuff to sell to superhero enthusiasts, and at the same time it has a protagonist who supposedly got presented as a strong-willed figure for women (while showing her personal interests and views that were supposed to be relatable to women). Within the pages of this comic book, Desiree is glamorous and attractive visually. Apart from helping a lady by physically stopping the man troubling her, Desiree has not done anything genuinely heroic and is truly more of an attraction of trouble makers.

As far as storytelling goes, you have a conflict between two groups and Desiree is a target for a reason that was not clearly defined (note: saving the answers for later issues obviously). While Bill is an interesting supporting character, the others are just not too interesting. If you are looking for intrigue, entertainment and mystery, you will find some of those here.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Fatale #1 (1996), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $79 while the near-mint copies of the black-and-white Jim Shooter-signed edition, the black-and-white promo edition, and the Jim Shooter-signed edition cost $79, $53 and $70 respectively.

Overall, Fatale #1 (1996) 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