A Look Back at What If #61 (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 arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the wild 1990s and examine an alternate universe portrayal of one of Spider-Man’s many events told through the What If monthly series!

If you are looking for a portrayal of Spider-Man going over the edge and into the extremes emotionally, you are about to experience something in this retro review of mine. Some time ago, I reviewed a What If comic book about Spider-Man becoming a murderer which was compelling but ended on a whimper.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #61 published in 1994 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Kirk Jarvinen, Andrew Wildman, Derek Yaniger and Jim Amash.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Richard and Mary Parker (Peter Parker’s parents) arriving in the presence of Aunt May who happens to be visited by their son Peter (Spider-Man). Having learned something from a while back, Aunt May tells Richard and Mary that they are not genuine persons. Suddenly, Peter Parker’s spider sense intensifies and in an attempt to defuse the situation, he leads his aunt to walk out of the house with him. Richard and Mary watch them walk away.

It turns out, Richard and Mary are impostors and they have been working all the time for a secretive boss. Richard calls his employer under an emergency and reports that they have completed phase one of their assignment, that Aunt May knows the truth about them and is about to inform Spider-Man. Richard is then told that under no circumstances is the plan to be jeopardized and anyone who suspects must die. He is also told to flush Mary’s programming and reset her as she showed signs of acting odd to the situation.

A short time later, Richard and Mary – now in morphed forms with vastly different bodies and half their heads resembling their human selves – suddenly break into an apartment surprising Peter, his wife Mary Jane and Aunt May. Violent action by one of them accidentally ripped open Peter’s shirt, revealing his Spider-Man suit to Aunt May. Just as Peter’s aunt figures out the secret, he tells Mary Jane to grab her and get out.

However, the sight of the morphed Mary Parker shocked Aunt May and Mary Jane so much, they failed to move. Mary Parker then morphs her two hands into large, makeshift hammers, and swiftly killed Aunt May and Mary Jane. Peter is instantly shocked by their sudden deaths but deep inside, rage begins to burn…

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Spider-Man already over the edge and reacting violently to the abusive Daily Bugle.

I can start by confirming that Kurt Busiek’s writing is very strong and his alternate take on the events of Amazing Spider-Man #388 (1994) is indeed very solidly composed. In one way, I find the emotional stakes for Spider-Man has been raised a lot higher than what was portrayed in the 400th issue of Amazing Spider-Man (the canon story). The concept of losing his beloved family members to enemies who were impostors that looked like his long lost parents is indeed disturbing as well as highly emotionally charged. In relation to this, Busiek and the illustrators brought to life a Spider-Man who really went over the edge by taking matters into his own hands as the loss of beloved ones led to the blurring of the boundary between good and evil. Even the boundary between innocence and guilt gets blurred which adds more depth to the emotions of the story. As I read the story, there were moments when I felt that Spider-Man became as bad as the evil ones even though he is clearly the victim and his family was targeted.

Apart from showing Spider-Man getting outraged and pushed to the limits, Busiek inserted elements about how people perceive incidents without knowing all the facts and how easily they get manipulated by a news outlet – the Daily Bugle where Peter Parker worked as a freelance photographer – that does not care about ethical journalism nor the pursuit of the truth. In this age of widespread fake news and liberal news media outlets in America doing propaganda for American Communists (read: Democrats, abortionists, LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the terrorists, the climate change extremists and the socialist hordes), this particular aspect of the story makes this comic book strongly relevant to read today.

The story also sheds light on Spider-Man’s connections with other Marvel superheroes who happen to be in New York City. You will see Captain America and Johnny Storm express their concern about Spider-Man’s state of mind as they themselves still tried to figure out what really happened. In short, the superheroes here showed restraint even as Spider-Man goes to the extreme being a victim as well as a fugitive.

If there are any weak points in this comic book, it would be the art which has this cartoon-like aesthetic. Considering the serious subject matter, the visuals are quite contradicting as they make this look like it was made for much younger readers.

Conclusion

Spider-Man takes on the impostors who looked like his parents.

As far as storytelling and characterization goes, What If #61 (1994) succeeded a lot on portraying the iconic Spider-Man as the superhero who went over the limits of his emotions and his reasoning which is the result of the tragic deaths of two beloved family members caused by individuals who pretended to be his parents. This is a very solid story which also has a powerful ending. Where What If #72 failed, this comic book succeeded and even exceeded it with Spider-Man truly becoming unheroic. I should state that this comic book should convince readers to go to the Amazing Spider-Man series and follow the Lifetheft storyline in issues #386 to #388 (which were released months before this comic book). Kurt Busiek’s script is indeed great and it is easily the driving force of the comic book, more than enough to overcome the cartoon-like visuals.

Overall, What If #61 (1994) is highly recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 What If #10 (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, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the reimagined tales emphasized in the What If monthly series.

For those of you who have gotten very familiar with Marvel Comics’ vast lineup of superheroes, anti-heroes, super villains and supporting characters, the Punisher is one of the most notable characters as he is the most definitive vigilante the publisher ever has in its shared superhero universe. As a comic book protagonist, the Punisher does “good” in fighting crime but he sure is as bad as the bad guys as he commits torture, issued threats of violence, kidnapping, extortion, coercion and even murder towards them. A major factor in the Punisher’s origin (as Frank Castle) was the killing of his family (wife and two kids) committed by a mob as they witnessed acts of killing in Central Park in New York City. The tragic deaths led Castle to become the Punisher who not only relentlessly waged a personal war against criminals but also often wore dark clothes with a large white skull design on the front of his body. The skull symbolized punishment and death to his enemies.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at What If #10, published in 1990 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Doug Murray and drawn by Rik Levins.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Watcher recalling the time Frank Castle spent with his wife and the two kids at New York City’s Central Park. There, they have fun with their picnic. At this point in time, Frank Castle had previously served his country in the Vietnam War and he carries within him bravery, the experience of violence and vast skills to use weapons.

The weather suddenly worsens as rain starts to fall down causing some inconvenience on the Castle family. Frank’s son struggles as his kite got caught by the large plant nearby. On the other side of the said plant, four armed men and their captive (hanging upside down by the tree) are startled and prepare themselves to shoot anyone who appears.

Frank, who does not realize the mob on the other side of the plant, helps his son get the kite back. The Castle family then decide to go back home not realizing that they came close to discovering and witnessing the illegal activity of the armed men. As the family kept on moving, Frank hears gunfire from a distance…

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Frank Castle the family man.

To get straight to the point about this comic book, it’s story is really engaging and it has noticeable amounts of darkness and grittiness without going overboard. While exploring what would happen had Frank Castle’s family not been killed, the comic book shows the Punisher getting involved in public safety as a New York patrolman which puts him in a unique position facing crime in radically different ways from what we comic book readers have been used to seeing. The story also explores corruption within the police and the justice system as well.

The way the events and action turned out showed the creative team focused on realism while also establishing the Punisher’s own place within the comic book’s alternate portrayal of the shared superhero universe. More on the subject matter of this comic book, there is a twist that surprised me a lot and it is something that you readers should see for yourselves.

Going back to Frank Castle, it is indeed very captivating to see him portrayed a lot more as a family man who really strives to support his wife and kids no matter how dangerous his occupation really is. The aspect of family in this comic book is very significant as it will make you realize that the definition of family in America in the 21st century has been distorted as a result of laws or court decisions that reflected wokeness, homosexuality and unrestrained feminism. In short, woke America’s believers reject the concept of the traditional family and the concept of a father leading the family is considered taboo because it goes against LGBT’s so-called values and principles.

Conclusion

Frank Castle as the police officer.

When you think about the legacy of the Punisher not only on comics but also in movies and other forms of entertainment media, you will often remember a one-man-army against criminals. What If #10 (1990) has is a really unique take on the Punisher and I can say it has a very captivating script brought to life with really good artwork. Not only does this alternate version of the Punisher shows how he affects criminals, but also how he impacts other parts of the fictional New York society within the shared universe of Marvel Comics (note: characters connected to Spider-Man and Daredevil are here). From start to finish, this Punisher tale by the Murray-Levins team turned out to be very engaging to read.

Overall, What If #10 (1990) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 X-Men #30 (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, superheo enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts, X-Men fans and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men monthly series of the 1990s and look back at one of its most significant events it ever published – the wedding of Scott Summers/Cyclops and Jean Grey. By the time this particular comic book was published, the 30th anniversary celebration of the X-Men (note: Read my Fatal Attractions storyline retro reviews by clicking here and here) had just been concluded and that includes a major change of direction for the iconic X-Men member Wolverine. It is also notable that the X-Men had Sabretooth contained within Charles Xavier’s mansion (for retro reviews, click here, here and here).

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men #30, published by Marvel Comics in 1994 with a story written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Andy Kubert.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside Xavier’s mansion. Jean Grey reads a handwritten letter from Logan/Wolverine, who left the household after getting traumatized from their last encounter with Magneto. Logan refers to her and Scott Summers as special. While reading, Jean is already in her fancy wedding dress being assisted by her mother and storm as Rachel Summers looks on. For Jean, the wedding is about her dedication on spending the rest of her life with Scott as well as possibly gaining Rachel (who comes from one possible future) as a daughter.

Professor X with four of his original team members plus Alex Summers.

Elsewhere in the mansion, the groom Scott spends quality time with his original teammates Bobbdy Drake/Ice Man, Warren Worthington/Archangel and Hank McCoy/Beast. With them also is his brother Alex Summers/Havok. Alex tells Scott that the day of his wedding is the first day of the rest of his life which causes Bobby to say something inappropriate.

Suddenly, Professor X comes in to join them…

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Jean Grey in her wedding dress with her mother, Storm and Rachel Summers present.

To get straight to the point here, this comic book serves two purposes: highlighting Scott and Jean’s relationship to an all new level with the wedding as the main event, and offering long-time or die-hard X-Men fans a whole lot of stuff to chew on. Very clearly, Fabian Nicieza wrote the script with X-Men fans in mind while also making references to the past with some creative touches or shortcuts so that the comic book would not be bloated with excessive fan service.

The wedding itself was executed nicely by the Nicieza-Kubert team and was clearly conceptualized to not only be memorable for the fans but also creatively serve as a major pay-off to all those years of Scott and Jean Grey being together early as teammates, getting separated temporarily and getting together again (note: they were also the original X-Factor team). Right after the wedding was executed, the visuals and words elevated the emotions higher and any long-time X-Men fan will find the moment sentimental.

Opposite the wedding are several scenes showing the other X-Men characters plus those from X-Factor and X-Force (with a not-so-recognizable Cable present). The dialogue written ranged from sentimental to comedic. And then there were also a few lines that I felt were just thrown in as fillers.

As far as visuals go, Andy Kubert’s art here are pretty good to look at. While he did his best to really make the story visually appealing and memorable, there were a few panels of art that look rushed.

Conclusion

So many guests. Can you recognize many of them?

Since it highlights the wedding of Scott and Jean Grey with several other X-Men-related characters mixed in, X-Men #30 (1994) is clearly a commemorative story made with X-Men fans in mind. While a lot of work was done to make the story momentous on its own, readers who are unable to immerse themselves deeply into the X-Men mythos (plus X-Force, X-Factor and others) prior to reading this comic book won’t be able to relate to the wedding and the character moments very much. While it may not be significant to newcomers who find this comic book for the first time, it still marks a significant chapter in the history of X-Men within the Marvel Comics universe of the late 20th century. For the long-time fans who were able to read enough of Scott and Jean Grey’s times together from 1963 until the early 1990s, this is one X-Men tale that they can relate with deeply.

Overall, X-Men #30 (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 as well as making a donation to support my publishing.. 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 Wolverine #75 (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 collectors, 1990s culture enthusiasts and fans of the X-Men! We go back to the year 1993 when the 30th anniversary of the X-Men was celebrated with the 6-part Fatal Attractions storyline. Already I reviewed Uncanny X-Men #304 (Part 3) which was not worthy of the X-Men’s 30th anniversary celebration. X-Men #25 (Part 4) meanwhile was not only great but also shocking and had a years-long impact on X-Men comics.

So now the focus is on the 5th chapter of the Fatal Attractions storyline handled by the Larry Hama-Adam Kubert team on the Wolverine monthly series of the time. With those details laid down, here is a look back at Wolverine #75, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Larry Hama and drawn by Adam Kubert.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in outer space. Carrying Charles Xavier, Wolverine, Gambit, Jean Grey, Rogue and Quicksilver (who participated in the dangerous mission in X-Men #25), the X-Men’s jet (piloted by Bishop) struggles mechanically as it was not designed for space travel. Worse, Wolverine is under very serious condition and the medical unit has been operating in full capacity dealing with his intense trauma.

In an attempt to alleviate Wolverine’s psychic trauma, Charles Xavier and Jean Grey enter his mind and discover that there is a world full of pain and horror. They see visions of a restrained Wolverine (from his Weapon X days) being attacked by Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike. Xavier explains that they are at the epicenter of Logan’s most suppressed cataclysmic memories which were clearly triggered by the physical damage Magneto inflicted on him (see X-Men #25).

As the X-Men’s jet attempts to enter Earth’s atmosphere, its exteriors heat up dramatically shaking everyone inside. This complicates the situation on stabilizing Wolverine…

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The other X-Men team members at their headquarters expressing worry and concern about the situation of their teammates struggling to come back home from space.

To be clear, this story continues the events of Fatal Attractions but with a bit more focus on Wolverine (compared to the earlier chapters of the storyline that is). There is no real battle between good and evil at all. It’s really all about Wolverine struggling to survive just as his teammates struggle to arrive home.

Before the stories of this comic book and X-Men #25 happened, Wolverine has often been portrayed to be very tough, brave and a walking machine of violence which has been reflected in other X-Men stories told in video games and movies. In this very comic book, Wolverine has been presented to coming close to death. This means Logan, at this particular stage of the history of the literary X-Men, was at his most vulnerable state. In my experience, this was both alienating and shocking to see.

With regards to the writing, Larry Hama did an excellent job with pacing the story from start to finish. Right from the beginning, the story pulls you into the X-Men’s tough situation and as each page gets turned, the tension as well as the suspense builds up until the execution the climax. Along the way, the comic book not only portrays Wolverine struggling on the edge, it also works to make you care more or be more concerned of him. Oh yes, the shocking moment near the end of this comic book remains very shocking and you who read this should read and see it for yourselves.

Conclusion

Wolverine at his most vulnerable state.

By today’s standards, Wolverine #75 (1993) is still a very great comic book to read. In fact, I can say it is not only one of most defining chapters of the Fatal Attractions storyline as well as one of the most significant X-Men comic books of the 1990s, it is indeed a true illustrated literature classic ever published by Marvel Comics. In retrospect, this comic book marks a major turning point in the life of Wolverine who is still one of the most iconic characters in all of superhero literature. All of these were achieved thanks to the creative team of Larry Hama and Adam Kubert (whose are here was great and stylized at the same time). Hama succeeded in writing the continuation of the Fatal Attractions storyline while balancing all of the exposition and still putting Wolverine in the center. That itself is a very great work of writing.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wolverine #75 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $60 while the near-mint copies of the signed-and-numbered edition and the newsstand edition cost $300 and $180 respectively.

Overall, Wolverine #75 (1993) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at The Strangers #16 (1994)

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

Welcome back Ultraverse fans, geeks and comic book collectors! Here is another trip back into the Ultraverse, which for me is the most defining line of superhero comics that was realized in the 1990s. The UV lasted for only a few years and along the way publisher Malibu Comics got acquired by Marvel Comics.

History aside, we are about to explore The Strangers again in the sixteenth issue of the monthly series that was spearheaded mainly by the creative duo of Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg. Here is a look back at The Strangers #16, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Englehart and drawn by Hoberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in a local community in California wherein one of the houses is hosting a block party. Already a disturbance to the neighbors (note: police officers had to temporarily close down a short stretch of the public road and restricted others from getting near), the said party offers people a chance to meet in person Atom Bob who has his teammates with him.

During a private meeting, The Strangers discuss what they encountered lately (note: this refers to their encounters with Gangsta and Brazen. Also involved was someone called the Pilgrim. As they keep talking, Lady Killer stressed that they all need to be ready for further encounters.

Meanwhile in the downtown area of the city, three costumed characters (who previously road a cable car just like The Strangers) are plotting something…

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Meet the opposition.

Let me start first with the art done by Rick Hoberg with ink work by Tim Eldred. I should state that since issue #1, Hoberg not only drew characters, places, creatures and backgrounds with his captivating style, he also maintained a high level of quality and proved he can bring any comic book script into life with images. His art is so good, this comic book is fun reading again and again. I should also state that the coloring for this story is very lively and more dream-like in style thanks to the color design by Moose Baumann and interior color by Prisms.

When it comes to the story, this comic book’s concept is pretty unique and Steve Englehart deserves credit for coming up with something fresh while still leaving room for spectacle and characterization. The idea of a block party held in the middle of a community of family homes celebrating the presence of superheroes is cool and it opened up new ways to define the characters not to mention emphasizing how their presence affects people not on the city level but on the local community! Having worked as a local community newspaper journalist myself, I know what’s it like when local communities have special activities or events that bring together (or captivate) the neighbors. Along the way, the dialogue is varied (note: lots of characters other than The Strangers had lines), the portrayal of The Strangers is consistent and the story’s pace flowed smoothly.

Speaking of characterization, there is notable focus on Atom Bob and Lady Killer who already have feelings for each other. As the home of Atom Bob’s family serves as the venue of the party, you will get to see the character interact with the local neighbors and others he personally knew for a long time which is a very refreshing way of developing him. Lady Killer meanwhile tries to maintain balance between being the team’s professional leader and having feelings for Atom Bob while trying to respect his parents.

And then there is a growing group of ultras who intend to destroy The Strangers. It was at this stage in The Strangers monthly series in which a genuine opposition against the title team really started to take shape. The good news is that the Pilgrim and the other opposing ultras were not portrayed as generic bad guys but people who are struggling and have a cause.

Conclusion

The Strangers and the guests at the party.

There is no doubt that The Strangers #16 (1994) is a whole lot of fun, very compelling and intriguing to read from start to finish. Anyone who loves the title team will find something to enjoy and follow, while those who keep on enjoying the conflict between good-and-evil will find something new and entertaining here. Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg not only continued to deliver high-quality superhero stories with The Strangers, they really were one of the best creative duos of the 1990s.

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

Overall, The Strangers #16 (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 Bloodshot #1 (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.

You must have heard about the live-action Bloodshot movie (starring Vin Diesel) that failed to make big bucks at the box office. Then you must have learned about Valiant Comics.

To understand Bloodshot before reviewing the early-1990s comic book Bloodshot #1, here’s a look at the history of Valiant Comics.

1
The cover with chromium and Bloodshot drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith.

In the late 1980s, a team composed of former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief, former Allman Brothers Band manager Steve Massarsky and some investors failed in their bid to acquire Marvel Enterprises. Instead of letting their failure stop them, they went on to establish Voyager Communications with the backing of Triumph Capital. Voyager then created the imprint Valiant Comics which went on to launch its first titles in 1991 with Magnus, Robot Fighter (which started in the 1960s in comics published by Gold Key) and Solar, Man of the Atom (also started in the 1960s through Gold Key comics).

Subsequently Valiant’s first original superhero Rai was introduced followed by other original properties like Harbinger and Eternal Warrior. It was within the pages of Eternal Warrior #4 Bloodshot made his first appearance followed by a first full appearance in Rai #0.

Then in November 1992, the same month DC Comics released Superman #75 (The Death of Superman, Valiant released Bloodshot #1 with a cover price of $3.50 (cover dated February 1993) and a very eye-catching chromium cover of Bloodshot drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith.

Now that the history lesson is done, we can finally explore Bloodshot #1 (written by Ken VanHook and drawn by Don Perlin) in this retro comic book review.

Early Story

The story begins at Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom. Immediately after a man and a woman (both wearing coats and hats) performed an exchange with a briefcase, two other men (also wearing coats) reacted to them but Bloodshot jumps into the action firing his gun, taking a shot to his arm and grabbing the briefcase. Bloodshot escapes from the airport.

4
Adulterated action!

Behind the scenes, an old man meets with Thompson and Otomo informing them that Bloodshot was an experiment of theirs under Project Rising Spirit. The project was disrupted when a young blonde male got to Bloodshot and adjusted one of the devices. The young guy was caught by one of the operators until Bloodshot (still bald and naked) got up, attacked the personnel (freeing the young guy), gathered data from their computers and escape.

The old man noticed Bloodshot’s rampage at Heathrow Airport and was able to identify him. He issues orders to Thompson and Otomo.

“I want him returned—I do not care the condition,” he said.

Quality

Looking beyond the eye-catching chromium cover, Bloodshot #1 from the early 1990s is actually engaging and intriguing to read. While it is a superhero comic book, it sure has a dark and gritty tone as well as being noticeably grounded with reality.

With the spectacle, the action is violent and somewhat bloody. It may look tame by today’s standards but back in the 1990s, this was exceptional and it really aimed towards older comic book readers. To put things in perspective, comparing this comic book with the typical Marvel or DC Comics superhero comic book is like comparing an R-rated action film to a PG-13 action or adventure film. Don Perlin’s artwork has a nice flow when it comes to the action and the dialogue scenes.

The writing by Kevin VanHook is good even by today’s standards. I like the way he handled expository dialogue in the first half of the comic book and from that point on, the spotlight was on Bloodshot and his exploits.

There are some weak spots in this comic book. There really was no room for real character development with Bloodshot. The comic book eerily reflected the hero’s approach to doing things: no slowing down, time to take action from here.  That’s not to say it is a brainless read but rather the plotting is decent and relied on the spectacle to make up for the absence of character development. That being said, Bloodshot as a hero who was a victim under his handlers, is hard to like. Based on this comic book alone, he is a rampaging killer looking as evil as the bad guys. It does not help that he is very unstoppable (because of nanites in his blood system which worked to enhance and heal him) and, at least in this comic book, there’s no real sense of danger for him.

When it comes to supporting characters like Sinclair and Malcolm, I can’t help but keep remembering Commissioner Gordon and butler Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman comics.

Conclusion

While it has some flaws in its presentation, Bloodshot #1 is still good and fun to read. On face value, Bloodshot looks like a typical macho action hero with guns but he actually has an interesting personality even though character development was badly lacking in this particular comic book. I also enjoyed the creator’s approach on emphasizing realism by using gangs and secret sinister organizations (which conduct unethical scientific experiments on people) on the background showing that Bloodshot himself is small player in a dangerous game of secret operations.

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As a standalone story, Bloodshot #1 has more than enough good stuff to make up for its flaws and it is worth reading by today’s standards. This is the true value of the comic book that its flashy chromium cover does not reflect. In other words, this comic book is more than just a gimmick.

If you are a collector, be aware that as of this writing, Bloodshot #1 is worth over $40 for a near-mint copy according to Mile High Comics.

Overall, Bloodshot #1 (1993) is recommended. As a piece of amusement, the comic book is so much better than the Vin Diesel Bloodshot movie. That says a lot!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 Spider-Man 2099 #35 (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.

When Marvel Comics first launched the 2099 imprint of comic books showcasing many futuristic versions of their present-day characters – like Spider-Man, Ravage and Dr. Doom – it was inevitable that the same treatment will be applied to their popular supervillains.

In 1993, the 2099 version of Vulture was introduced and he sure proved to be one tough opponent for Spider-Man 2099. Even back then, there already was clamor for a futuristic version of Venom which at the time was riding high with readers being the featured anti-hero in several limited series (starting with Lethal Protector) of comic books.

Then in 1995, after doing a creative teaser in issue #34, Marvel formally introduced Venom 2099 by releasing Spider-Man 2099 #35. This is my review of the comic book written by Peter David and drawn by Andrew Wildman (X-Men Adventures).

Cover
The cover drawn by Rick Leonardi.

Early story

Picking up from the events of issue #34, the story begins in Washington, DC with Dana freeing herself only to find out that Alchemax’s CEO Tyler Stone was down suffering from a gun shot and losing blood. Minutes later, emergency personnel take Stone’s body for immediate treatment.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara) encounters the SHIELD flyboys in New York. After almost getting into trouble together, Spidey gets informed that US President Doom 2099 ordered them to leave him alone for a period of seventy-two hours while he considers a cabinet offer. Back in Washington, Dana gets interrogated by one of the authorities. President Doom enters the scene telling Dana that she will join Tyler Stone immediately in the medical center.

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Andrew Wildman’s take on Spider-Man 2099 and the future was really nice to look at.

In New York, two guys sitting on the sidewalk witness a moving black liquid coming out of the sewer. The thing turns out to be a living symbiote (or alien costume) forming into a human-like shape – Venom 2099!

Quality

As with other comic books of this particular series, the writing by Peter David is pretty deep and engaging. The usual balance between dramatization, character development, plotting and spectacle is here once again but with a slight touch of horror in relation to the introduction of Venom of 2099. Speaking of dramatization, the portrayal of Venom 2099 as a vicious villain is similar to the 20th century Venom (Eddie Brock) but with a very powerful obsession to kill Miguel O’Hara and Tyler Stone.

Here’s an excerpt from the dialogue of Venom of 2099: Miguel O’Hara…and Tyler Stone…together again. We…I get to kill you…at the same time…how awfully…awfully…considerate. To show my appreciation…I’ll kill you slowly.

What makes this comic book unique is the artwork by Andrew Wildman who temporarily replaced regular illustrator Rick Leonardi. For comparison, I find Wildman’s art style a welcome thing in this comic book mainly because he draws with a lot more detail per panel and per page than Leonardi ever could. Instead of seeing the usual sketch-like art style of Leonardi, Wildman’s style is livelier and more expressive to look at. I also enjoyed Wildman’s visual take on Spider-Man 2099/Miguel O’Hara, Lyla, Tyle Stone, and the other established characters. Their facial expressions are also livelier to see.

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Venom 2099 appears! Take note of the “liquid” at the edges of the page.

More on visuals, Wildman’s take on Venom 2099 is unforgettable. Like 20th century Venom, he has a dark suit, elongated jaw with rows of sharp teeth and an elongated tongue but with green acid dripping all the time. There are also those tentacles-like things that stretch from his body until the arms. Also his white-colored mask with large eyes make him look horrific.

Conclusion

Despite being shorter than the usual 22-pages, Spider-Man 2099 #35 is still a very engaging and fun old comic book to read. Its purpose was to build-up anticipation leading to the introduction of Venom 2099 was achieved nicely and the respective qualities of the writing and visuals are very good even by today’s standards. More on the presentation of Venom of 2099, it seems like Peter David took inspiration from movie director James Cameron on building-up tension and suspense before showing the villain. That’s a move I enjoyed in this comic book.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #35 is highly recommended. If you plan to acquire an existing and legitimate hard copy, be aware that the near-mint copy of it is over $100 for the newsstand version while the Rich Leonardi-drawn “Venom 2099 AD” cover version is priced at over $80 at MileHighComics.com as of this writing.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Mantra #1 (1993)

If there is any intriguing way of utilizing fantasy concepts to introduce a superhero (or superheroine) to readers, Mantra #1 from the Ultraverse published in 1993 by Malibu Comics is one fine example.

Mantra1
The cover of Mantra #1.

Early story

Written by Mike W. Barr with art by Terry Dodson, Mantra #1 was an Ultraverse launch comic book that follows Lukasz who is an eternal warrior belonging to a group of other warriors which had been fighting another group (led by eventual Ultraverse villain Boneyard) for several centuries.

How did that conflict last that long? As told through the views of Lukasz, any individual warrior who dies will eventually be placed in a new body (often that of an existing person) and take control of it effectively displacing the its soul. Behind it all, Archmage, the leader of the warriors’ group that includes Lukasz, uses magic to ensure that each member will be reincarnated after dying.

Mantra2
A page for your viewing pleasure.

The story takes a major turn for the shocking and intriguing when something unfortunate happens to Archmage and that the protagonist himself gets killed again. Fortunately for him, he gets to live one more time but there is one major difference – Lukasz occupies the body of a woman named Eden Blake (and the revealing scene remains shocking).

At this point, I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story. If you want to find out how Mantra came to be, you just have to read the comic book yourselves.

Quality

From an analytical view, I still find Mantra’s concept very intriguing to this day. In terms of mysticism, it reminds me a little bit of George Perez’s take on Wonder Woman in the mid-1980s and in some cases Mantra/Eden Blake herself reminds me bit of Wonder Woman/Diana albeit in a more motherly way.

When it comes to storytelling, Mike W. Barr’s script is very solid and made very good use of the twenty-eight (28) pages of the comic book. Unsurprisingly, there was a good amount of expository dialogue and narration but it was handled efficiently. The first-person views of Lukasz/Eden Blake are truly immersive to read. Along the way, there were several scenes that were intriguing to read and there were some nice moments of unintentional comedy which helped balance the overall tone of the story.

To say the least, Mantra’s concept about dead warriors’ souls entering bodies of existing people to live again sheds light on the moral or psychological implications of such events. If you were a warrior who just died and eventually got a new lease on life by occupying the body of let’s say a software company’s chief executive officer, would you not be concerned as to what happened to the soul (of the body) you displaced? Would you not think about how your control of that displaced soul’s body would affect not only the person’s established life but also the personal association with other people? Truly Mike Barr’s writing got me hooked and Terry Dodson’s art really brought his concepts to life.

Conclusion

So what else could I say? Mantra #1 is highly recommended not only because of its story and concepts but also because this particular series lasted several issues more and, for the most part, Mantra’s adventures and misadventures have often been fantastic and fun.

Even though it is fact that the Ultraverse remained in limbo and Marvel Entertainment showed no intention to revive the franchise, Mantra is still a fun and engaging comic book series to read and this comic book is the golden start of it. Mantra #1 itself is one of the most defining superhero comic books of the 1990s ever published and its mature themes combined with strong fantasy concepts made it stand out among all of those other superhero comic books I spotted on the shelf of a BF Homes comic book store that I visited in July 1993.

You guys can order copies Mantra #1 online at ComicCollectorLive.com, at MileHighComics.com (a near-mint holographic cover version of the comic book is worth over $40) or by visiting your local comic book retailer selling old issues.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you just read on this website is the most definitive version.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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 Solitaire #1 of the Ultraverse

When you fight evil, you do it alone.

solitaire2
Solitaire in action in Solitaire #1 published in 1993 by Malibu Comics under their Ultraverse line of comic books.

The concept of vigilante figures taking the fight against crime alone backed with resources (in the form of weapons) is a long running tradition in superhero comic books. DC Comics has its iconic Batman doing lots of detective work and fighting criminals many times on his own. Similar stories were seen with the Punisher and Daredevil over at Marvel.

When Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse line of superhero comics in 1993, they added variety into the big mix. They had their own parallel to Marvel’s Punisher and DC’s Batman in the form of Solitaire and they boldly launched a comic book series of the character.

Released in late 1993 with story by Gerard Jones and art by Jeff Johnson and Barb Kaalberg, Solitaire #1 introduced readers to Nicholas Lone who wears a purple-and-blue costume with mask and fights criminals as Solitaire. He’s not just a brave, tough guy who daringly goes against thugs. He’s is very talented with martial arts, acrobatics and weapon use.

The comic book begins when thugs working for a crime lord called the King are about to catch a helpless lady who gets saved by Solitaire. The hero easily outmaneuvers the bad guys and he proved to them that he really is hard to hurt.

At his headquarters, the King made it clear to readers that Solitaire has been a problem to him for some time already and feels bad when the hero disrupts his operation. Solitaire meanwhile prepares himself for the next move against the King by returning to his hideout (an old theater), doing some research by computer and coordinating with his contacts on the streets.

Regarding the quality of the comic book, I say the script is nicely paced as it does a good job introducing Solitaire to readers while still having spare spotlight for the King. Within twenty-five pages, the hero got clearly defined as a man of action as well as a person with a purpose. His fight against crime is defined by key parts of his past especially with the fact that his own father – Antone Lone – is a crime lord.

When it comes to super powers, Solitaire has very quick reflexes which makes him a hard target for armed thugs. He also has healing factor which works rapidly and gives him a major advantage over the bad guys. In fact, the presence of the healing factor (which works like that of Wolverine) makes Solitaire more daring and more willing to take risks engaging the bad guys with violence. He can get stabbed and his body can be shot with several bullets and still he will recover quickly to get the job done.

Solitaire is indeed super and yet there is something intriguing with his personality. Apart from being the son of a crime lord, Nicholas Lone’s acquisition of his powers is a painful mark on him personally. This was because his father gave him those powers as a result of his attempt to commit suicide. The powers are the result of the installation of nano-machines into his body.

solitaire1

Overall, Solitaire #1 is a good and intriguing read. It really comes with a flavor that makes it distinct from other superhero-versus-criminals stories and the introduction of Solitaire alone is worth the cover the price. If you can find copies of Solitaire #1 on the back issue shelves of the comic book stores, I recommend buying it as well as the other issues.

It’s too bad that the Ultraverse ended after Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics back in the 1990s because like Prime, Hardcase and Prototype, Solitaire is very unique and intriguing at the same time. In my opinion, Solitaire is the most defining crime fighter of the entire Ultraverse and it’s too bad stories featuring him are not too many.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to your fellow comic book geeks and Ultraverse fans. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format for you to order.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version