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 V #4 (1985)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book, watching the V mini-series (Original Miniseries and The Final Battle) and the 1984 TV series, 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, science fiction enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the V entertainment franchise of the 1980s! Before I start this newest retro comic book review, I am happy to say that I recently received at last my copy of V: The Original Miniseries on Blu-ray disc format! It definitely is a major upgrade and it is the best yet! That being said, looking back into the past, I got to watch V: The Original Miniseries on television, video tape, DVD and now on Blu-ray disc format from 1983 to this year! If you are a fan and you are interested to buy yourself the original mini-series on Blu-ray disc format, head on to Amazon. Now we can return to the 1980s comic book series.

Last time, a small team of the Resistance encountered the Visitors who arrived at an isolated small town in California to collect something precious which is the result of the aliens’ special ties with the locals. That story ended nicely.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V #4, published in 1985 by DC Comics with a story written by Cary Bates and drawn by Tod Smith.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Lorne, a Visitor whose fake human skin on his face got damaged a lot, his reptilian skin and eye have been exposed. He brought with him a transport (carrying what looked like human bodies) and tries to enter the Science Frontiers building to meet with a certain Mr. Bates.

Inside, Lorne meets with Bates who turns out to be his client and eagerly wants to get paid. Bates wants to see first the bodies brought to him and when Lorne pulls the blankets, Ham Tyler and Chris Farber suddenly come out to take on them both. Lorne is pushed out of a nearby window falling several feet down. Ham and Chris cornered Bates who turns out to be dealing with Diana of the Visitors.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Mike Donovan and Julie Parrish are having quality time together cherishing their relationship. They are enjoying the relief and relaxation after successfully surviving in a dangerous encounter with the Visitors at an isolated California town.

As they dance, Julie recognizes a well-known astronomer whose image appears on TV. She suddenly stops dancing and moves closer to the TV, leaving Mike puzzled…

Quality

This shows how sadistic Diana is even towards her own people.

If there is anything that really stood out in this story, it is the entrance of astronomer Earl Meagan (modeled after Carl Sagan) whose presence not only attracts Julie but also rekindles the passion of science in her which she had during her days as a medical student (before the Visitors arrived). He was written to be highly intelligent and insightful which paves the way for the story to be laced with concepts about the so-called advancement of life forms that traveled through the galaxy and evolved. Meagan also symbolizes delusion resulting from scientific theories, as well as letting his own people down in favor of a foreign people.

More on the story, I should state that Cary Bates wrote this comic book to smoothly reconnect with V: The Final Battle by means of including the star child Elizabeth Maxwell who is now a young adult. The connections with the V TV productions solidified even further through more scenes of Diana whose evil nature and leadership tactics are dramatized here.   

Conclusion

Ham and his pal take action!

The creative team delivered another solid and satisfying tale in V #4 (1985). This time around, the narrative got shaken with the introduction of Meagan, the sudden change of attitude of Julie, and the build up for more intriguing events to come in.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of V #4 (1985), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $29 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $38.

Overall, V #4 (1985) 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 Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #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.

Way back in the mid-1990s, something special happened for Star Wars fans. A brand-new story involving Star Wars icons Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and others would be told set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. That story was called Shadows of the Empire and it was released as a special event in the form of a novel (written by Steve Perry), a video game on Nintendo 64 and PC, comic books, a soundtrack, posters, model kits, toys and action figures. What was missing here was a live-action movie.   

To put things in perspective, the Shadows of the Empire multi-media event was done by Lucasfilm (note: when creator George Lucas was still in control) with its many business partners to reinvigorate the Star Wars franchise ahead of the planned special editions of the original Star Wars movie trilogy. From a business point-of-view, it made sense to release something new for fans to enjoy and more notably it was the chance for Lucasfilm and its creators to explore what happened between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

A limited comic book series was released in 1996 and it involved the novel’s author as a story consultant. Back in those days, my comic book interest faded temporarily and even though I was still into Star Wars, I did not bother to buy and read the Shadows of the Empire comic books. The video game caught my attention a lot more back then. Fortunately, I found copies of the comic books and had the time to read them recently.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1, published by Dark Horse Comics in 1996 with a story written by John Wagner and drawn by Kilian Plunkett.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a group of Rebel spaceships traveling together in the depth of space. Luke, who now has a mechanical hand and has been recovering from the terrible ordeal he went through at Cloud City, is with Princess Leia, C3PO and R2D2 in the medical frigate. The Rebels detect the presence of an approaching ship which they suspect to be hostile.

Luke suddenly decides to take action but is halted when he realizes that his X-wing fighter is still being refitted. In space, Wedge and the Rogue Squadron fly towards the Imperial Strike Cruiser which then releases some Tie Fighters. The personnel inside the Strike Cruiser tried to inform Darth Vader the location of the Rebel fleet…

Quality

Darth Vader!

The first thing I want to mention is that the writing done by John Wagner is solid. That being said, the story itself felt like a natural continuation of The Empire Strikes Back especially when the comic book’s narrative is focused on Luke and the Rebels. The way the recovering Luke, Leia and the two droids were presented following the end of the 1980 movie was believable, and there was that nice touch of characterization when Luke has not yet adjusted with his mechanical hand.

The story then moves into new territory when the narrative shifts on the Imperial side, especially when Emperor Palpatine gives Darth Vader a new order that has nothing to do with pursuing Luke and the weakened Rebels, but more to do with the construction of the Empire’s new weapon. This is also where the new character Xizor comes in and his presence alone confirms something that the movies did not…the Empire is in business with crime syndicates with regards to major projects.

Space ship battles look great in this comic book.

When it comes to characterization, I like the way Darth Vader handled himself when communicating with Emperor Palpatine who viewed Luke’s escape from Bespin a failure on his part. Compared with his private communication with the Emperor in the 1980 movie, Vader bravely questions him about doing business with Xizor backed with his knowledge of the prince and the ties with Black Sun. Vader, who has been part of the Empire for a long time, knew well how risky it is for them to get involved with criminals especially when military cargo is involved.

As for the visuals, Kilian Plunkett does a decent job drawing the characters. While his take makes Luke recognizable and faltered a bit on capturing Leia’s look, his illustrations on Darth Vader, the Emperor and Xizor were really good. Where Plunkett exceled visually are the locations and surroundings, the machines and the space battles (some pages were drawn really dynamically).

Conclusion

This shows how Luke has not fully adjusted with his mechanical hand.

To put it clearly, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1 (1996) has three narratives (the other is about Boba Fett carrying the frozen Han Solo) to build-up on and for a debut issue of a limited series, this one has strength in its execution complete with a good amount of creative stuff that will resonate with long-time Star Wars fans (and also those who love the original Star Wars movie trilogy). It succeeds in telling what happened shortly after the end of The Empire Strikes Back as well as establishing a new sub-plot with Xizor involved. By the time I finished this comic book, I was convinced to look forward to the next issue.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1 (1996), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $48 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $144.

Overall, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1 (1996) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at Freex #6 (1993)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, 1990s arts and culture fans and fans of Malibu Comics! Remember the Break-Thru crossover of the Ultraverse back in late 1993? Already I have reviewed the spin-off issues related to Break-Thru such as Mantra #6, The Solution #4, Prime #6, and The Strangers #7 to name same.  

Today, I got to review another Break-Thru tale told through the presence of the team called Freex. In addition to being connected with the big crossover, this comic book is a continuation of the events that took place in The Night Man #2 and this means a crossover between Freex and Night Man!

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Freex #6, published by Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Ben Herrera.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Freex listening to someone who tells them not to be afraid and that he is a victim of the world. He introduces himself as Mangle and even though he has a deformed look, the team keeps on focusing on what he tells them. He reveals that he was chased by a murderous crowd led by Night Man. After trying to justify his presence in the Christmas tree lot they are occupying, Lewis of the Freex rejects his idea and states that the situation for his team has been pretty bad as they are not only hunted by the police but also have been demonized through the media. He tells Mangle to stay away. Valerie then starts to lose control of herself which Lewis refers to as the possession. Michael speculates that sky must be affecting them.

Meanwhile, Night Man arrives in the city in pursuit of Mangle. He remembers breaking the freak’s collar bone. On the street, he notices a group of people who are obsessing about the sky above them. Something chaotic begins…

Quality

In the heat of the action.

When it comes to its story, I want to say that the crossover between Freex and Night Man is really short and it happened in the later part of the story. As far as crossovers go, this one is more like Freex-meets-Mangle. The first encounter between the team and Night Man is really underwhelming. As a spin-off tale of Break-Thru, this one dramatizes how a force of influence from the sky causes chaos on the people below. Anyone who is familiar with the existing forces on the moon within the Ultraverse will be able to relate with the concept of Break-Thru.  

When it comes to the other concept of this comic book, also interesting to follow was the significance (expressed in words) of J.D. Hunt and how he impacted the lives of each member of Freex through technology.

There is a decent amount of action as well as character development scenes to balance with the main story. Nothing spectacular to see though.

Conclusion

The Break-Thru effect on the people.

Freex #6 (1993) biggest feature is not really the expected crossover with Night Man. Really, its theme is about a group of freaks following another freak (Mangle) to do something to make their dreams of normalizing and improving their lives come true. This comic book shows just how vulnerable and manipulative the Freex really are as they don’t have a mature leader to guide them. Going back to crossing over with Night Man, this comic book is really the first of two parts.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Freex #6 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $14 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $42.

Overall, Freex #6 (1993) is satisfactory.

+++++

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

A Look Back at The Night Man #2 (1993)

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

Welcome back, superhero fans, comic book collectors, fans of 1990s arts and culture, and fans of Malibu Comics! Today we return to the Ultraverse for another tale of The Night Man, specifically from one of the early issues of its monthly series that launched in 1993.

For the newcomers reading this, Night Man is a solo hero within the Ultraverse who is a musician by day and a crime fighter by night. He was involved in a major accident with a certain cable car in San Francisco that got hit by a bolt of energy from the sky (as told in The Strangers #1). His life was never the same.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Night Man #2, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Gene Ha.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Johnny Domingo (Night Man) failing to sleep during the night. The operation he had recently kept him awake and his mind is just racing. He could not even properly play his saxophone.

He dresses again as the Night Man, takes his motorcycle out of his place and then he speeds away. Shortly after, he senses another person’s thoughts…those of a man wearing a trench coat messing with a young boy. Night Man decides to jump in, intervene and save the boy but to his surprise, the man easily hit him moving him back and making him fall on the road.

Unwilling to give up, Night Man goes back to him and strikes back with a kick to the head. During their conflict, Night Man pulls the man’s trench coat revealing a rather shocking form for a body that looked inhuman. This shocks the costumed vigilante giving the man time to pull down scaffoldings in an attempt to hurt him and the boy…

Quality

Night Man and Mangle fight!

Focusing on the plot, while the first issue showed Night Man beginning as a vigilante and self-made detective, this comic book shows him struggling to do what he believes to be good (by means of saving another person’s life) and having to face both rejection and skepticism from people. Of course, Night Man himself is flawed with his execution and the way he presents himself to others (note: including doing the radical thing of climbing a tall building just to talk to someone powerful). It does not help that he is restless which clearly impacts his perception even though he has the will to be helpful and make local society a bit safer from dangerous people.  

Back to the story, the introduction of a new villain named Mangle is quite intriguing and it seems very fitting that Night Man’s reaction to seeing him in his inhuman form would reflect the same shocked reaction on the part of the reader. Mangle is very distinct from the many other villains of the Ultraverse and he is indeed a powerful adversary to Night Man.

When it comes to the visuals, Gene Ha’s art style is excellent. He has this distinct, gritty style on drawing people as well as their facial expressions. His art on Mangle made the villain look really scary and intimidating. Gene Ha also proved to be good with framing the action scenes while keeping enough creative space for the dialogue or narration to come in for readers to follow.

Conclusion

Nothing like coming all the way down from a very tall building to move on.

The Night Man #2 (1993) is pretty compelling and as it is free from the baggage that came with building up the vigilante in issue #1, this one has a more cohesive story and shows more of the him doing his best to be helpful. The story is good enough to keep me interested for the next issue. I should also state that if readers love seeing a hero struggle in helping others, then there is a lot to like in this story.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Night Man #2 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $14.

Overall, The Night Man #2 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at V #2 (1985)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book, watching the V mini-series (Original Miniseries and The Final Battle) and the 1984 TV series, 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, science fiction fans, comic book collectors and fans of the V entertainment series of the 1980s! Before I proceed with the newest retro review of the V comic book series, I must share to you – both V fans as well as those who plan to discover the 1980s mini-series and TV series – that V: The Original Miniseries, and V: The Final Battle are all available on Blu-ray disc format on Amazon while the V TV Series is available on DVD format. If you are eager to collect them for your home entertainment collection and with your passion for V of the 1980s still burning, I suggest checking them out now by clicking here, here and here.

Wow. It’s been several months since my review of V issue #1. Almost all the retro comic book reviews I published since then were about superheroes. After going through all the superhero stuff, going back to the V comic book series is refreshing on my part.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at V #2, published by DC Comics in 1985 with a story written by Cary Bates and drawn by Carmine Infantino.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in a desolate part of California where members of the Resistance get out of their downed skyfighter. They are actually a short walk away from a small town. Moments earlier, the local residents approached them with smiles and small crates containing something living. After Mike Donovan introduced himself to them, the locals were mystified and ran back to the town leaving the crates behind. It turns out, the town folks thought they were the Visitors and the way they reacted suggests that the race of Reptiloids from space were accepted by them.

Mike, Julie, Willie and Hart discover that the crates contained white mice (which are food for the Visitors) which they let go.

Elsewhere at the marina north of Redondo Beach, Ham Tyler and Chris Farber (still injured) are held at gun-point on boat which turned out to be a drug-runner model. The two Resistance members successfully fight back against the two armed men and quickly took the boat to head out to sea.

Inside the mothers ship orbiting Earth, the sadistic leader Diana rejects the claims of one of her soldiers over the failure related to work farm G7. Diana believes that because the soldiers have been among the humans for a long time, they learned to grovel like them. Finding the failure inexcusable, she releases a flying device that blasts one of them…

Quality

Ham and Chris take on the flying Visitors who approached them.

In terms of writing, this is indeed a solid follow-up to issue #1 and I can say that the creators succeeded in not only continuing to capture the essence of the established V characters, balancing exposition, spectacle and suspense carefully but also raised the tension in key moments of the story which added to the engagement.

What I liked most about this comic book is its concept about a small town whose people (average age is above 60-years-old) bonded with the Visitors, engaged with them with an incredible deal (this alone will make you revisit the first episode of V: The Original Miniseries) and trusted them a lot. This story will also encourage you to reflect upon the whole concept of V and even consider other factors such as how many humans died for their freedom, how Diana’s command impacted Earth, and more.

Conclusion

This scene display’s Diana’s ruthlessness and her own way of improving her squad by making examples that involve death.

To be very clear, V #2 (1985) is a very compelling comic book and it will surely resonate with fans who saw the Original Miniseries, The Final Battle and the TV series. The cerebral approach of this comic book made it a fun read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of V# 2 (1985), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $28 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $35.

Overall, V #2 (1985) 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 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